Tips for Successful Metal Polishing

Reader Contribution by The Motorcycle Classics Staff
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I’ve never been a particularly patient person, but I’m learning. And nothing helps teach patience like a project that demands patience. Take metal polishing. On the surface (pun intended) it seems like a simple proposition; clean the surface first, slap on some polish, work it in with a clean cloth and voilà, a perfectly polished and gleaming surface results. Unfortunately, when you’re working on old iron, it’s not always quite so simple.

On the bikes we regularly work on around here — mostly an odd assortment of 1970s to early 1980s Japanese and European road bikes — the major issues we see with metal surfaces are pitting and surface degradation from constant exposure to the elements, and — especially on mid-1970s Japanese bikes — hazing of polished engine cases with clear-coat finishes.

Surface degradation from exposure is a problem experienced by all bikes that see regular use. It can easily be kept at bay by simply cleaning your bike after every ride, or at least every other ride. A quick wipe-down of polished surfaces, followed by waxing, will add years to metal and painted surfaces, protecting them and staving off mild oxidation. It’s a best practice we know we’d do well to follow, but often don’t.

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