Surviving the Coastal Elements – Salt and Sand on your Motorcycle

You probably don’t know me, but if you ride a motorcycle, I might know a little about you.  That is because most of us that ride, share a lot of the same passions.  I am the Manager of the J&P Cycles Retail Superstore at Destination Daytona in Ormond Beach, FL and this is where you will find me most of the time.  I have only been with the J&P Cycles Team since 2015, but I have learned what seems to be a lifetime of knowledge from the greatest people on Earth.  I didn’t always work in the motorcycle industry and I didn’t grow up in Florida or near the coast, so I am going to share with you some information that I really wish someone would have shared with me when I first moved to Florida.

Let’s start from the beginning.  I relocated from Kernersville, North Carolina to Ormond Beach, Florida in 2010 and brought along my wife, son, dog, guinea pig and my 2008 Road King Classic.  I had purchased this bike new in December of 2007, and just like all my friends, I washed my bike at least every 2 weeks and wiped it down after almost every ride.  Man, I was proud of how nice my chrome, wire wheels and white walls looked even after riding it for almost three years.  In April of 2010, I loaded up and moved to sunny Florida where we could ride all year long. The only thing I had to worry about was keeping plenty of sunscreen in the saddlebags.  Well, that’s when I started to figure out the sun wasn’t the only worry for a biker in Florida, and I am not just talking about grandpa or grandma heading out to bingo on Wednesday afternoon.

At first, I noticed a few things different.  It was 65 degrees and my wife and I were making jokes about everyone wearing jackets, gloves and even chaps while we are buzzing down the road in T-shirts with the wind in our hair, well, her hair anyway.  Our North Carolina blood had us prepared to ride just about anywhere in any weather.  The other thing I noticed was Floridians must not spend time taking care of their bikes like us good ole’ Carolina boys because my bike outshined them all.  Even one year old bikes couldn’t hold a candle to my pride and joy.  Just like usual, I would come home and rinse the bike and take my finest microfiber towel along with the most expensive automotive spray detailer money could buy just to make sure I looked good the next week or two when we were ready to hit the road on two wheels.

Like I had planned, two weeks later I sprayed on some sunscreen, put on my best t-shirt and headed to the garage to pull my baby out.  That is when I made that sound, you know the one, the one your mom made the first time she found a grey hair. I stared in disbelief as I immediately grabbed a cloth to try and wipe away something I had never seen.  I thought to myself, “There is no way that is corrosion. I take care of my bike.”  Just a couple of weeks ago I spent an hour rinsing, wiping and protecting my bike so this couldn’t happen, but it did.  Where did I go wrong?  People are going to look at my bike the way I had theirs and say, “There goes another neglected bike”.  I was sure this had to be a fluke, but just like any other disease, there has to be a way to treat or prevent this from happening. I immediately jumped on the internet and started to do a little research.  The more I read, the more I was discouraged because no one had an answer, at least an answer that I wanted to hear. 

I started to understand a few things after this shocking discovery.  There is a reason why Florida bikes age faster, and now I understand why Florida riders are so in love with black powder coat.  What does this mean for me?  Either I have to turn to the dark side and go black, or I find out how to manage chrome.  Just to be clear, there is no perfect solution. I was pretty sure I wanted to stay with the chrome, so this is what I have learned with the help from the experts at J&P Cycles and the manufacturers of many great cleaners and protectants.  I even reached out to the marine industry to pick up some pointers from them.

One thing that I learned real fast was shiny doesn’t mean clean and what you can’t see can hurt.  There are 2 elements when riding the coast that work together.  Sand and Salt.  Might as well be Bonnie and Clyde because one without the other is bad, but together they are just plain nasty.  I am not talking about riding on the sandy beach, I’m just talking about riding on roads near the beach.  Particles of sand in the air do a great job of cleaning off any protection that you put on your bike just so salt air can creep into every little crack and crevice. Although rinsing and wiping look good, adding water to salt just helps accelerate the process.

So what is the best solution?  It is several things.  First of all, you don’t really polish chrome, you clean it.  Secondly, most motorcycles have several exposed materials you need to clean and protect, whereas a car only has a few.  On my Road King, I have chrome, stainless steel, aluminum, paint, Lexan (windshield), rubber, vinyl, plastic and more to mention. How am I supposed to clean all this and protect it when my local parts house and big box retailer sells stuff for my automobile which is 95% paint and just a couple of other materials that are not critical?  If you’re like I was, you are shopping in the wrong place.

My arsenal of products looks something like this. 

Plexus – I love the fact that it spays on and doesn’t run off allowing it to separate whatever that giant bug was that is now stuck on my windshield.  Also, it is safe for Lexan and Polycarbonate windscreens and windshields.  It is also incredible at cleaning you eyeglasses.

 

 

Pig Spit – Crazy name and equally crazy results.  The primary purpose is it to keep engines and trim black even in the harshest environment but has a few secondary benefits.  You can spray this on areas of high corrosion concerns prior to riding in the salt air elements and it will reduce the amount of time to clean the bike afterward.  This product will not trap moisture against the surface and doesn’t attract dust.

 

Cycle Care Formulas W – I don’t want to mention any names, but there is a product that has become the latest craze in motorcycle protectants that demonstrates muddy water dumped on a bike and it runs right off.  This unnamed product sales for upwards of $80 for a small bottle.  Here’s the good part, Cycle Care formula W does the same thing for less than $20 a bottle and will last a long time.  For best results, it’s designed to apply while the bike is wet after washing and allows you to polish and dry at the same time.  Formula W is also safe on all materials and does not leave white residue on black trim.  By the way, I don’t know how often someone dumps muddy water on your bike, but if it happened, I bet it would only be once.

Cycle Care Formula 22 – When it comes to washing the bike, this product has a lot of benefits.  Although it is aggressive at removing grit and grime, it works to preserve the Formula W already applied.  This is great because I don’t always want to wax every time I wash, but I still want that added protection.  It comes in a spray bottle so you can soak the surface before you wash, allowing it to loosen particles before ever touching the bike. 

 

Cycle Care Formula 1 – This is for all you whitewall guys and gals.  I am guilty of using harsh bleach whitewall cleaners in the past.  The problem with those cleaners is once you have used them, your whitewalls are more prone to stain and discolor.  With Formula 1, you can still get those whitewalls clean but you have the added benefit of keeping your tires looking bike show ready all the time.  This product is also gentle enough that you can use it as an added degreaser on chrome and powder without damaging or dulling the finish.

 

Beer (optional) – Never put this on or in your bike and never drink and drive, but it sure helps when it is 90+ degrees and you want to spend a little time cleaning the bike.

To get what you need to do the job correctly, you have to go to a motorcycle parts and supply company.  There is no such thing as one product does it all, but you don’t need ten products either.  Save your time and money and get the right stuff.  There is no substitute for washing your bike.  You must use cleaners that are strong enough to remove the elements but gentle enough to not damage the materials you are cleaning.  J&P Cycles has everything you need to do it right, make it simple and save money.  If you plan to visit a coastal area and you want to protect your bike, give the guys at J&P Cycles in Florida a call and let the experts help you out. 

Oh, by the way, now when it gets below 70 degrees, I have to wear my jacket to ride.  I still don’t pull out the chaps, but I may be riding with a little of that Carolina blood still in me.

 

John Crotts
Retail Manager
J&P Cycles

253 Destination Daytona Ln.
Ormond Beach FL  32174
https://www.jpcycles.com/daytona

By | 2018-06-06T08:35:21+00:00 June 6th, 2018|Categories: How-To Articles, Product Information|4 Comments

About the Author:

4 Comments

  1. Brenda Davis June 8, 2018 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for the important information! I live in Chesapeake, VA which is about a 20-30 minute ride to the beach. As much as I love the beach, I never ride my bike there because I have this mental picture of my bike falling apart, piece by piece on the way home after a brief visit to the Atlantic on my bike. Now that I know what to use to prevent that mental imagine coming to fruition, I’m looking forward to riding my Fat Boy lo to the beach for the first time since I bought her!!

    • John Crotts June 8, 2018 at 12:44 pm - Reply

      Brenda, you live in too beautiful of an area to not ride. You are riding one of the most iconic bikes on the road and Fatboys’ are made to ride long and hard. If you ever have questions don’t hesitate to call us and we will do the best we can to keep you on the right track.

  2. howard stender June 6, 2018 at 11:15 am - Reply

    John,
    Thanks for sharing your story and expertise. I’m sure I’ll be getting and using some of the products, even though I live in Wisconsin. Sorry about your hair, but, one thing-it is neat that way.

    • John Crotts June 8, 2018 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      Too Funny Howard! don’t apologize about the hair, that is the least of my concern. I just hope you continue to survive those Wisconsin winters.

Leave A Comment