There are countless tips and advice out there when it comes to maintaining your motorcycle. We don’t doubt you’re the master of farkles, but do you look after your gear as carefully as your bike? It’s tempting to just dump your muddy boots or dusty leathers in the garage and forget about them till the next ride. However, looking after your gear is essential if you want to keep it in top shape.
Gear designers and manufacturers put a lot of effort, tech, and thought into the stuff you wear when you’re riding your bike. Do your part and give your leathers or Kevlar a little TLC once in a while, too. After all, it’s what keeps you safe.
Here’s how to look after your motorcycle gear.
Cleaning Your Helmet
We’ve said this before: your helmet is the most important piece of your riding gear, so be sure to give it a good clean every couple of months or so. Depending on how much you ride, you may want to do it more often. Don’t wait until it gets ripe!
Don’t let your helmet get ripe!
Most helmets have removable inner linings, so giving your helmet a wash is a pretty straightforward task. Simply remove the lining and hand-wash it in a sink using lukewarm water. Ideally, wash it with baby shampoo as it doesn’t have any irritants or aroma. Leave to air-dry.
For the outer shell, use a soft microfiber cloth or rag. If your visor is covered in dead bugs or road grime, wash it off with the cloth, then leave to dry.
Washing Your Motorcycle Riding Suit
Now that your helmet’s squeaky clean, it’s time to take care of your riding gear. If you aren’t a motocross maniac or a track rat, chances are, your gear is probably made of textile. Cordura jackets and pants remain among the most popular, so here is how to clean your textile motorcycle jacket and pants.
First off, remove the inner lining and take out all the armor pads. Before you put it in the wash, do up all the zippers and buttons. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before washing the jacket and pants. Most textile riding suits, however, can be washed in the washing machine. Simply make sure you put it on a gentle cycle and use a mild detergent but skip the fabric softener.
If the sweat and grime got at your armor pads, hand-wash them with lukewarm water and soap, then leave on a towel to dry.
Once your riding pants and jacket are washed, hang the suit up to air-dry or, if you’re in a rush, you can use the tumble dryer. However, make sure it’s on a mild temperature setting.
Keeping GoreTex Waterproof
If your riding pants or jacket has an outer GoreTex layer, machine-wash them in cold water and air-dry. Once the gear is dry, put it in the tumble dryer for 15-20 minutes. This will reactivate the water repellent treatment on the GoreTex, so it remains rainproof, but make sure the heat setting is mild.
Looking After Your Kevlar Jeans
Kevlar jeans are the easiest to look after
If you prefer to ride in denim and usually wear your Kevlar jeans, the care is much easier. Just like with a textile riding suit, you need to remove the armor pads from your jeans and make sure all the zips are done up. Other than that, however, you can happily throw your Kevlar in the washing machine, use a short cycle with cold water, then tumble dry. The only big “no-no” when it comes to Kevlar, or any other piece of motorcycling gear for that matter, is dry cleaning and bleach.
Cleaning a Leather Motorcycle Suit
If you’re too cool for textiles and can usually be found at the track, chances are, you’re clad in leather head to toe. Cleaning motorcycle leathers is a tad trickier than Kevlar jeans or textiles as you can’t use the washing machine and tumble dryer as liberally. However, no mission is impossible.
Motorcycle leathers need extra care
For your leather suit, most manufacturers recommend cleaning it every three to four months or so. Hang your suit on a hanger outside (or in your shower, if all else fails) and gently wash it by hand with soapy water. Alternatively, you can use saddle soap: it has a few mild conditioning elements to it, such as lanolin. Saddle soap has been around for a good while, originally used to clean and condition horses’ saddles and bridles. It’s a perfect cleaning product for your leather suit, too.
Once you’ve washed your leathers, leave them to air-dry. Never use artificial heat sources to dry the leather as heat can easily damage it. Finally, unlike textiles or Kevlar, leather can crack, so it isn’t enough to just wash and dry it. Make sure to use a conditioning product as often as you can to keep your leathers soft and supple.
Washing Motorcycle Gloves
This is the easy part: most motorcycle gloves can be put in the washing machine, then tumble-dried. If you have a pair of leather gloves, those should be hand-washed in cold or lukewarm water using a mild detergent or soap. As with your leather riding suit, do not tumble dry your leather gloves to avoid shrinking and cracking.
Cleaning Motorcycle Boots
Last but not least, your motorcycle boots need a wash once in a while just as much as the rest of your gear. Some motorcycle boots have removable soles or even inner lining, especially the motocross variety. If that’s the case with yours, simply remove the soles and lining and stick them in the washing machine. Wash the outer shell of the boots down with a hose.
Boot odors? Stock up on tea tree oil!
On the other hand, if you can’t remove the soles or the inner lining, your boots can quickly unpleasantly ripe. Bad odor is caused by bacteria, so if you can’t wash ‘em, trick ‘em: a few drops of tea tree essential oil can kill bacteria and eliminate the funky smells within minutes. Tea tree essential oil is available at most pharmacies and health stores, and the best part is, all you need is a few drops to get rid of the boot odors.
So there you have it: give your gear some TLC as often as you can, because grime and bacteria just aren’t your friends.
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