by Rick K. for webBikeWorld
Product reviews, by their very nature, are a
narrative of the evaluator's opinions, feelings and
And you know what? That's fine! There's
nothing wrong with it whatsoever -- in fact, that's what
a review is all about.
Sure, there's some objectivity thrown in here and
there, but opinions are much more fun. Who wants
to read turgid scientific prose, complete with
eye-glazing statistics and mind-numbing tables?
Give me a hearty (and controversial) opinion any day!
Of course, I'm being facetious here, but only
slightly. Opinions are fine but need some basis in
truth, and data that supports the conclusions.
Which happens to be very difficult when the subject is
motorcycle wax and polish.
By the way, we've have quite a bit of discussion
regarding the definition of "wax" and "polish" as it
applies to motorcycles. And while I'm sure there
are many who will disagree, our definition of a polish
is an agent that has either some abrasive or cleaning
properties, while a wax is a product that provides only
a shiny or protective surface.
You'll probably find that it's very difficult (and
sometimes impossible) to tell the difference solely by reading
the manufacturers' product information. Some
polishes also provide shine and protection, while most
waxes don't have a separate cleaning agent. But
it's hard to know by studying the marketing hype, which
makes opinionated product reviews like the one you're
reading that much more valuable!
Speaking of opinions, review articles about waxes, polishes and cleaning
agents will almost always include more opinion than
fact. Why is this? Well, it would take some
very crafty arrangements to actually test, for example,
a comparison of the reflective abilities of one or more
polishes, how they compare in protecting against the
various substances that are in the atmosphere, what they
actually do to the paint surface, etc.
We can control some of this by using the same painted
surface for our evaluations and by trying to keep the
conditions similar. I can tell you also that
experience matters. After evaluating many
different brands of waxes and polishes (and helmets,
jackets, pants, gloves....), you sort of build up a nice
database of information, features and yes -- opinions --
that provide an excellent background for what works,
what doesn't and why.
We almost always use our (now vintage) 1986 BMW R65
for evaluating waxes and polishes. The bike has an
incredibly black paint surface on the fuel tank and it's
the type of paint that is no longer available.
It's very deep and very rich and the black is so dark
that it sometimes has that tinge of blueness to it.
I've never seen another like it, and duplex kudos to
der Malermeisters at BMW for turning this one out.
Ditto for the beautifully applied (by hand)
Note also that the paint on our R65 is not protected by a clearcoat.
Clearcoated surfaces can dramatically alter the results from polishing
and waxing. Based on our experience, we feel that
the "raw" paint on the R65 is an excellent canvas, as it
were, to evaluate different brands of waxes and
polishes. There's no hiding the problems or
benefits of the various types, because everything shows
up loud and clear on the Beemer's shiny black surface.
With that said, our number one choice for motorcycle
paint protection is still held (as it's been for some
time now) by
Glare Professional Polish. We have no
connection with the company whatsoever, but the stuff
just seems to leave a shinier, longer-lasting finish
than anything else we've tried. And we've tried
many...and will continue to do so and we'll report back
if we find something that, in our opinion (natch!) works
The Collinite Corporation has been in business since
1912, and they manufacture various wax formulations for
automotive, marine and industrial uses. I love
finding obscure or unique products that have
applications for motorcycle use, and Collinite wax
certainly fits the bill.
Collinite is one of those "word of mouth" products
that you'll learn about from professional motorcycle and
car customizers. You probably will not find
Collinite at your local Pep Boys; Collinite says that
their "products can not be found in stores where low
prices are more important than quality", which pretty
much covers about 99.9% of the typical auto supply
stores in the world.
They make an extraordinary array of wax products, and
we used Collinite's product information to choose a few for this
evaluation. The Collinite "Marque d'Elegance" wax
is one of their featured products; it is available as a
paste wax in an old-timer metal can that actually has a
lid that must be pried off to get inside. We
figured we'd try it just for old-time's sake.
The Collinite "Liquid Sapphire Auto Wax" is what we'd
call a polish. Collinite says that this product is
a "heavy duty, detergent proof formulation (that)
cleans, waxes and protects the finish in one easy
application. Removes all foreign elements from paint
while leaving a brilliant protective coating that
assures protection from salt, rain, bugs, tree sap,
etc." Sounds perfect for motorcycle use!
In addition to the Liquid Sapphire Auto Wax, we tried
the Collinite "Sapphire Prewax Cleaner", which is not recommended
for clearcoats and is designed to remove previous coats
of wax, in addition to bugs, tar, etc. from painted
surfaces. It's also recommended for chrome and
aluminum surfaces, which we will try in the future.
Finally, we tried the Collinite "Liquid Insulator
Wax". This is a very intriguing product;
Collinite says that it was "originally developed for use
by electric power companies for protection against high
voltage power failure, fires and explosions".
say that it's "primary use is on the finishes of
automobiles, trucks, buses and airplanes where
durability, high gloss and lasting protection are
paramount". How you get from protecting high
voltage power lines from explosions to protecting
airplane finishes is beyond me! The Insulator Wax
is also claimed to be safe for clear-coated surfaces.
The BMW was washed with some basic
automobile soap and water prior to the evaluation. We then used the
Sapphire Prewax Cleaner first to remove any traces of
other wax from the BMW tank. This product seems to
work very well at removing bugs, dirt and tree sap from
the Beemer's fairing. It goes on like just about
any other liquid polish and seems to dry slightly
quicker than most. It does the job as described,
stripping off other layers of wax and dirt.
Although the Sapphire Prewax Cleaner doesn't feel
like it has any abrasives, it did apparently remove some
of the surface oxidation on the BMW fuel tank, as can be
seen in this photo:
By the way, we used brand-new, clean terry cloth and
microfiber towels to apply and remove the wax in this
evaluation. The Sapphire Prewax Cleaner is
relatively easy to remove, but it does appear to leave a
slightly dull finish and some streaks. Not a
problem though, because this product is definitely not
designed to be used by itself, but only as a preparation
step for other waxes.
It is one of the easiest to use prewax cleaners that
we've tried; simply apply it, let it dry and wipe it
clean. It doesn't seem to need much rubbing or
The Collinite "Liquid Sapphire Auto Wax" is sort of a
one-step product designed to clean (polish) and wax a
painted surface. We tried this two ways, on top of
the Sapphire Prewax Cleaner treated surface and on
another, untreated surface. To be honest, we're
not all that thrilled with the results; it works as
advertised, but it just doesn't seem much different than
many other commercially available polish/cleaner type
automotive products that we've tried. It also
leaves tons of white powdery residue.
We then tried a side-by-side comparison of the Marque
d'Elegance wax on one half of the BMW fuel tank and the
Collinite Liquid Insulator Wax on the other side (over a
Sapphire Prewax Cleaner treated surface).
The Marque d'Elegance paste wax seems to have a very hard
the can and it was difficult to get enough of it on the
polishing cloth, so we applied it using a trick that a
car customizer showed us; with the fingers.
Apparently, body heat can help melt the wax on to the
painted surfaces, and many custom painters will use this
method...although I'm a bit concerned about what kind of
chemicals might be absorbed into the body when doing
Note that most waxes and polishes are offered in
liquid form nowadays; one of the reasons for this is
that moving a polishing cloth from the paste to the
painted surface and back and forth can start to load up
the paste in the can with dirt. Obviously, this is
not conducive to high quality.
Although using one's fingers to apply the paste wax
has the potential of giving the applier an advanced
warning that some abrasives may be present, we recommend
avoiding paste waxes whenever possible.
The Marque d'Elegance wax goes on about like one
would expect from an old-time paste wax. We spent
some time rubbing it into the surface of the fuel tank.
It seemed to take slightly longer to dry than other
waxes; possibly this is because it uses fewer drying
chemicals and more carnauba or other natural wax
It is also slightly more difficult to buff out, so
it's important to have a very clean and very soft
polishing cloth, like a microfiber cloth specially
designed for this purpose.
The right hand (split front-to-back) side of the
BMW's fuel tank was then treated with the Collinite
Liquid Insulator Wax. This product has a very
different consistency indeed; it looks as thick as
something like...mayonnaise or maybe one of those thick
hair conditioner products? See this photo:
It definitely goes on differently also; it feels very
"waxy" and "greasy" when applied, and the consistency
means that it must be spread around on the surface.
It eventually provides an even coating, but it seems to
take longer to dry than other products.
Comparing the two shows that they both seem to do a
good job at leaving a deep shine, but it seemed to us
that the Insulator Wax side had a deeper luster and
covered up more of the very fine spider web scratches in
the paint. We don't think the Marque d'Elegance
really offered much more than other premium waxes, but
the Insulator Wax seems to have a thicker, more slippery
Over the last few weeks since the waxes were applied,
the Insulator Wax side seems to still have a level of
protection that is missing from the Marque d'Elegance
side. That said, they both still leave a very
slightly cloudy look to the BMW fuel tank's lustrous
black paint surface.
We've pretty much stopped including photos in our wax
and polish reviews, because it's just so hard to show
any differences in a photograph unless they are very
dramatic. Nevertheless, here are two photos
showing a before/after treating the BMW fuel tank with
the Collinite Liquid Insulator Wax:
BMW fuel tank
(above), treated with Collinite Prewax Cleaner.
BMW fuel tank
(above) after Collinite Insulator Wax treatment.
Spider web scratch marks still apparent after treatment
with Insulator Wax.
We didn't try all of the Collinite products; there
are several more that we may feature in upcoming
articles. Our feeling is that among the
products we did evaluate, the Collinite Liquid
Insulator Wax has the most potential. It seems
to offer a thicker, more protective surface than
most commercially available wax products.
It's also easier to apply and remove
than, for example, the Glare Professional Polish,
which does take some significant effort, including
buffing and two applications. But in the end,
we still think the effort involved for the Glare
product is worth the results, which seem to last
much longer than anything else we've tried.
UPDATE: I'm really starting to like the
Insulator Wax. One thing I realized is that it
does not leave any type of powdery or white residue.
It goes on clear and must be left for quite some
time before it "dries to a haze". It does take
some extra elbow grease to buff it out, as it tends
to feel slightly sticky. The polishing cloth
must be perfectly clean; the inside of an old
sweatshirt works well and then a final buffing with
microfiber really brings out the luster.
We tried it on a clear-coated Harley
and it really brings out a deep shine without as
much fuss as some others. It also seems to
create a super-slippery surface on the paint -- I
spilled some fuel on the Harley's tank by accident
at a gas stop and I was surprised to find that when
I wiped it off the surface was extremely slippery
and the fuel just seemed to disappear off the tank.
It felt like zillions of ball bearings on the
surface and I'll buy Collinite's contention that the
Insulator Wax creates a protective surface layer.
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From: Collinite Products
Suggested Retail Price: Marque d'Elegance is
$26.95 (12 oz. can). Insulator Wax is $15.00 (16 oz.
bottle). Sapphire Prewax Cleaner is $8.00 (16 oz.
bottle) and Sapphire Auto Wax is $15.00 for a 16 oz. bottle.