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Cleaning your motorcycle’s chrome pipes

chrome pipes

Despite repeatedly telling your pillion not to put their boots on your nice, clean, chrome pipes, do they listen? 

The resulting mark burns in and looks disgusting, spoiling your beautiful bike which you spent ages cleaning.

And then there’s that errant plastic bag that is floating around on the highway.

You try to dodge it safely and you seem to be out of harm’s way, but at the last second, it blows straight into your bike and hits the headers where it melts into a gooey mess.
Chrome pipesHowever, it’s not the end of the world.

Oven cleaner

There are several  methods for removing gunk from pipes.

First, try oven cleaner. It works on baked-on grime in your oven, so it will also work on baked-on grime your pipes.

The pipes need to be warm to hot, so leave it about 15 minutes after a ride.

Spray on, leave about five minutes and wipe off with a rag, careful not to burn your hand.

Alfoil and steel wool

If that doesn’t remove it all, you can then use scrunched-up Alfoil or a fine-grade steel wool with a bit of WD40.

You can pick up steel wool from any hardware store. Get the super fine grade.

In Australia, New Zealand and Europe, steel wool is graded by number up to coarse grades of 6. Try to get the finest grade which is 0000, but anything close will be ok.IMG_7880

I’ve also tried fine-grain sandpaper, but it doesn’t seem to be as effective, probably because you can’t get a grain as fine as steel wool.

Obviously, let the pipe cool first and give it a wash to remove any other easily removable grime.

If you’re worried about it scratching your pipe, try an area underneath where no one can see.

This will only work on genuine chrome pipes.

You will notice it leaves no scratches and, in fact, shines the chrome nicely.Chrome pipes

Simply start rubbing on the marked area and keep rubbing until it’s gone.

It will also remove normal road grime, bugs, etc.

Final stage

You should find it so effective, it will be the final stage of your bike-cleaning program as it will also remove water marks and give the chrome a lustrous shine.

Be aware tat it can leave some residue, so wipe it off or use Purple chrome polish to finish the job.

It will also work on other chromed areas of your bike, but be careful as some chrome is simply painted over plastic.

Remember, it will only work on genuine chrome.

I’ve also used it with some reasonable results on some steel and aluminium, but be very careful as it can leave rub marks. Always test an unseen area first.

Sunshine on Chrome
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  1. Far safer on chrome or stainless steel is aluminium foil – because it is a softer metal. Just scrunching up a smallish piece of foil (paperback size) will make a wad of foil that can take the shape of the article being cleaned. It can also be formed into a point to get into crevices. It’s brilliant (pardon the pun) at removing surface rust, before applying metal polish.

      1. How did aluminium foil worked? Is there any specific problem of heating up a bit (touch ok) the chrome exhaust to apply the steel wool?

  2. NOOOOOOOO – Don’t use steel wool, it’ll scratch most chrome and bugger your pipes worse than ever!
    Warm up the pipes to soften the rubber,

      1. Steel wool will leave small shards of iron on the surface which will rust and can promote rusting of the part if there is any microscopic flaw in the chrome. On lower grades of stainless steel, the small iron grains can begin the reaction of the stainless itself rusting.

        Why risk it when you can get brass wool?

  3. I get tar and bug stains so I use tar and bug remover on my chrome only on cold pupes. I then use a non scratch scourer pad to clean my chrome. Also use scpurer pad and tab remover on the harley winsscreen . Been doing it since I brought the bike and leaves no scratches

  4. I have been using 0000 steel wool for several years with great success and any scratching is at the microscopic level. Before using steel wool I wash the chrome parts, oftentimes using windex.
    I then use a chrome cleaner to ‘protect’ the chrome however question whether this actually protects since most require application followed by a polishing action.
    Anybody got some scientific info (vs marketing hype) on whether chrome cleaner protects? Also would like to hear thoughts on other means of protecting chrome; possibly WD40, etc.

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