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Cleaning matte motorcycle surfaces

Many modern motorcycles have matte or satin paint surfaces rather than high-gloss paintwork which gives them a mean and macho appearance.

However, that low sheen surface can easily look ugly when it is covered in fingermarks, road grime, rain specks and petrol splashes.

They show up more than on a glossy surface.

Motul Matte Surface Clean
Can you see the smears, fingerprints and petrol stains?

If you’ve ever tried to remove tham, you will know how difficult it is to get rid of the smears and “rainbow effects” on the paintwork.

That’s because you are probably using detergent or some other cleaner to wash the surface.

Matte cleaner

What you need is a special cleaner that doesn’t contain any oils or detergents.

We like products from French motorcycle company Motul, distributed in Australia by Link International, which make cleaners and lubricants specifically for motorcycles.

Their aptly named “Matte Surface Clean” comes in a 400ml spray can for $21.90.

They don’t say what’s in it, but the formula seems to work to clean and remove any greasy marks and grime without leaving streaks or sticky smears.

Motul says it also contains a UV filter which should help prevent it from fading.

If you’ve ever seen old matte-black Ducati Monsters, you will know how ugly they can look when the paint starts to dull.


Motul Matte Surface Clean
Spray in the outdoors or where well ventilated

Do not use this in a small, confined area. If you are cleaning your bike in the garage, open any doors and windows. Maybe even turn on a fan.

It’s not noxious, but the perfume in the formula can be a little overcoming after a while and give some people a headache. Others, like my wife, actually enjoy the aroma!

Never spray it on a hot bike that has just been running or sitting in the sun.

Keep the can away from naked flames and sparks.

We also suggest spraying small areas rather than trying to work on big surfaces.

Microfibre cloth

Use a microfibre cloth to dust the area down first. Never let a cleaning cloth drop on the ground as it can pick up small amounts of grit that can scratch your paintwork and chrome.

You may also want to give the bike a light wipe first with a wet cloth or spray on some of Motul’s Insect Remover ($11.90 for a 400ml trigger bottle) to get rid of bugs that have dried and stuck to the surface.

cleaning bugs off helmet visor and bike
Bugs can be hard to remove

Spray the cleaner on the surface and gently rub it over with a soft microfibre cloth, then let it sit for a few minutes.

It will look like that fake snow you use at Christmas time.Motul Matte Surface Clean

Before it completely dries, use another dry microfibre cloth to rub the surface.

It comes up in a gentle sheen that enhances the beauty of matte paint.Motul Matte Surface Clean

  1. I’ve never understood the attraction of Matt paint on motorcycles… :/
    To me matt paint belongs on walls & gloss paint belongs on motorcycles & cars… 🙂

    1. Matt-black it and never have to clean it. I think it started with couriers who rode their bikes into the ground, and later became a style and fashion (“rat bikes”), which evolved into the “survival” bike vs lightly-modified “cafe racer” crowds. Then it became a club-bike look, before going mainstream. I think it’s cheaper for manufacturers too, because you can easily spot a cheap/badly done gloss paint job in the ripples (e.g. Triumphs). There’s another advantage for riders: not catching the evil eye (try riding a bright red Ducati 900SS in the UK and see how many car drivers block you off, pull out in front of you or try and stop your overtake).

  2. Use a soft sponge to gently rub the surface and then rinse with clean warm water. For stubborn stains such as grease or oil, use a citrus-based cleaner. Spray the cleaner onto the area and rub gently with a soft sponge.

  3. Check out Bowdens care care products Queensland owned and made. They do a terrific range of products for matte finishes. Having just acquired a new bike with matte paint I have to admit I was very concerned about the care of it and the fact that I love a good gloss finish had me concerned.
    However I went ahead and got the correct products and have to say it’s easier to maintain than the gloss. The matte suits the style if bike I got. To be honest I still prefer a high gloss paint.

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