How To Clean Spoke Wheels On A Motorcycle

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How To Clean Spoke Wheels On A Motorcycle

Do you own a glittering Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but it’s becoming dirty because you’re unsure of how to clean the spoke wheels on your bike? If so, then this article will be of great use for you as here you’ll get to know all about it.

Cleaning spoke wheels on a motorcycle is a fairly easy task as long as you know the right instructions to carry out the process. Many beginners feel that cleaning spoke wheels is a challenge, as the hard-to-clean spots can be a real pain. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. You’ll need to start by wetting your bike, rubbing, rinsing, and repeating to terminate the rust. Remember to spray the wheel with a soapy solution and use a soft brush on the spokes to clean the dirt deposits.

In this article, you will get to know all about cleaning spoke wheels, what are spoke wheels, how to clean spoke wheels on a motorcycle, additional tips to keep in mind, and more. Continue reading to get all the answers that you are looking for.

What do you mean by spoked motorcycle wheels?

Spoked wheels have been in the motorcycle scene for as long as, well, motorcycles. However, it wasn’t actually until the 70s that cast wheels started to appear on production street bikes, but this didn’t make spoked wheels obsolete. Interestingly, spoked wheels are still seen as the best approach to keep things rolling on tourist bikes, adventure bikes, dirt bikes, and custom and classically styled street bikes. However, with the spokes comes the need for extra maintenance and in certain cases, actual truing of the wheel.

The spokes attach the hub to the rim for creating the wheel, and the spokes are under tension to provide the wheel strength. The engineering and physics of how it works are massively complicated, but without proper tension, the wheel’s strength is compromised. This is all that most people care about at the end of the day, a strong and sturdy wheel so that you can enjoy your ride.

How to clean spoke wheels on a motorcycle

Nothing looks as awful as a Harley-Davidson bike having rusted wheel spokes. However, this is where the problem lies. Considering that the wheel might have close to 80 chrome-plated spokes, cleaning the spoke wheels is not an easy task.

Moreover, it isn’t just Harleys. There are many motocross motorcycles and dual-sports machines that still make use of spoked wheels. The reason for that is, spoked wheels offer added strength and rigidity as the spokes create added tension between the hub and rim. It also enables the bike’s wheels to withstand more radical forces. 

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It is done to increase the spoke wheel’s ability to withstand aggressive forces of braking and acceleration. Additionally, it will also improve the torsional strength. When you ride over rocks or rough terrains, the wheels must have a certain amount of flex to withstand the deforming forces. Moreover, spoke wheels are spectacular for this purpose without the rim getting deformed. This changes the entire perspective of bikers who think spoked wheels are “low tech”. 

Step 1: Gather the necessary products for the job

You’ll need some sort of plan and preparation if you’re going to clean the spokes of your motorcycle. Here are some of the things that you’ll be needing for the job – 

  • Gloves and safety glasses
  • A wheel cleaner or dish soap 
  • A soft cloth or microfiber cloth
  • A soft brush 
  • A spray bottle
  • Warm water
  • Rust cleaning liquid 

Ensure that you aren’t using any abrasive materials or acidic chemicals to clean the spoke wheels. They can potentially damage the spoke material while also removing any protective coatings of the metal surface. With that said, there are also super fine brass wools or steel wools that cause negligible scratches. You can use them to clean any rusty spokes.

Moreover, modern bikes come with sensitive components and sensors on the wheel. It’s not recommended that you should use high-pressure water or steam jets for cleaning.

Before you start, look for the right area for cleaning. In case your garage doesn’t have a proper drainage system, clean on a driveway.

Step 2: Wet your bike’s spoke wheels

Place your Harley-Davidson bike on the kickstand. Engage the gear and then turn off the ignition. Either use the wheel cleaner or mix the soap in warm water before spraying it around the periphery of the wheel and the spokes. It will loosen up any hard deposits like mud or scales on the material. Then, rotate the wheel and spray it all over the spokes.

If possible, make use of hot steam, as it can be extremely effective in dislodging stubborn dirt and grease.

Step 3: Rub, rinse, and repeat

Once the spokes and the rim are thoroughly wet, you should use a soft brush or cloth to wipe them. Another option would be to use baby wipes for cleaning the surface. You can wrap the baby wipes around the spokes and rub them slowly by using a to-and-fro motion to clean the deposits.

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Of course, cleaning the spokes will take a bit of time. However, if you do things the right way, the chrome will start shining like new. Moreover, the rewards will be well worth the effort.

Finally, you should wipe the wheel using a microfiber towel. This way, you’ll be able to remove any traces of moisture. Next up, you should use a blower to dry them completely. In case the first round doesn’t give the best results, repeat the process on the areas that seem a bit grubby.

But what if you don’t have ample time to go through the entire process of spoke cleaning? Don’t worry, there is a fast way to do it.

First, you’ll need to spray the wheel using a soapy solution. In the next stage, you should add a soft brush to a power tool before using it on the spokes to clean the deposits. Remember, this won’t do as thorough of a cleaning job like the original method.

You can even use fast-acting cleaners that give you the option of touchless cleaning. You can spray it on the spokes, wait for a while, and then wash it off. However, these cleaners are slightly pricey and might not work for stubborn deposits. Another cleaner that you can use is kerosene. It’s easy to apply and will do a tremendous job of cleaning the grime.

Step 4: Terminate any rust

If you find rust deposits on the spoke, it’ll be time to bring out the rust remover. In case you’re using a gel or paste, apply it to the spokes by using a soft brush. Leave it according to the instructions and use a baby wipe or sponge to scrub the spokes. Clean the spokes individually and then use a brush on the areas around the spoke joints of the rim and axle hub.

If you’re using steel wool, softly scrub to prevent any damage to the chrome finish. Once the rust has been removed, use a microfiber towel for cleaning the spoke and wheels thoroughly. In case you’re using a high-pressure jet, you should avoid spraying on the hub area. Allow your bike to dry under sunlight for an hour or two to dry the wheel completely.

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Even if the spokes are not rusty, you should then apply a preventive coating as a precaution. To achieve that, use a soft cloth and apply the product to every spoke. Another option would be to use spoke covers or spoke skins for protecting the spokes from rusting. However, if you’re moving through muddy terrain frequently, you will still have to clean the spokes. Ensure that you’re buying top-grade spoke covers that offer the best protection and are the right fit.

Before And After Picture Of A Rusty To Clean Motorcycle Wheel

Additional tips to remember when cleaning spoke wheels

  • If you don’t have enough room, take your Harley-Davidson motorcycle to a local car wash/bike wash, and it’ll work well too.
  • Use the wheel cleaner for cleaning the spoke, as the extra pressure will help wash away the dirt and debris.
  • For touchless cleaning, you should prefer using products like Moto Clean Plus or similar products. These products can be sprayed on, allowed to sit in, and then rinsed off.
  •  In the market, there are different spoke brush options available too. These are very similar to the bottle brush in structure, but they’re built with stiffer bristles for additional cleaning power.
  • When cleaning the inner hub, a large strip of sheet can be cut to wrap around or a back strap loofah that can be used instead for extra scrubbing power.
  • The time and effort that you’ll need to take care of spoke wheels will be worth it. Without regular care and maintenance, they’ll start to tarnish.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about cleaning spoke wheels, what are spoke wheels, how to clean spoke wheels on a motorcycle, additional tips to keep in mind, and more. Cleaning spoke wheels on a motorcycle is a fairly easy task as long as you know the right instructions to carry out the process. Many beginners feel that cleaning spoke wheels is a challenge, as the hard-to-clean spots can be a real pain.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. You’ll need to start by wetting your bike, rubbing, rinsing, and repeating to terminate the rust. Remember to spray the wheel with a soapy solution and use a soft brush on the spokes to clean the dirt deposits.

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