We’ve discovered that it’s really hard to review motorcycle polishes. All of our reviews are done under real-world conditions that any webBikeWorld visitor might experience. So we like to take on-the-job photos (amateur though they may be!) to illustrate our product reviews.
But taking photographs that capture the before/after differences of polishing a motorcycle is a seemingly impossible task! It’s very hard to get the lighting correct, and the very limited resolution available on computer monitors means that subtle differences will be just about impossible to spot.
Also, most of the motorcycles around these parts are kept in spotless condition, so it’s hard to find a bike that needs a shine! Nevertheless, we persevere in the interests of webBikeWorld visitors!
If you cruise around the Internet looking for motorcycle polish, in no time you’ll come across various references to Crystal-Glo Acrylic Motorcycle Polish. This product has won its share of kudos; everyone from Motorcyclist Magazine in the U.S. to the U.K.’s Motorcycle News have raved about it. Crystal-Glo has been available since 1987 and has been a best seller in Europe for about the last 10 years and is now available in the U.S.A.
Besides the difficulty in photographing polished surfaces, it’s also hard to compare different motorcycle polishes against each other, as each manufacturer claims their product is better than its competitors at protection, brilliance of the shine and ease of use.
But when you read statements like “To say we were impressed…would be a severe understatement. This stuff is absolutely amazing” by Motorcyclist Magazine (who also gave it their highest rating), it kind of makes you sit up and take notice.
So what makes Crystal-Glo Acrylic Motorcycle Polish different from the rest?
The word “acrylic” is the key — there are no silicone or petroleum-based chemicals in this product. To tell the truth, this didn’t mean much to me until I realized the implications: Crystal-Glo leaves no streaks and does not leave any white chalky residue on any of your bike’s parts, including all the black plastic bits.
I consider this to be an important feature of the product — even though motorcycles have less surface area to polish than, say, a car, all the little nooks and crannies on the typical bike make the job a chore. I hate having to spend more time trying to clean up all the dried white polish from all of those little bits than I did applying and removing the initial coat of polish.
And you never seem to get all the white residue off anyway. If you’ve always wondered why they couldn’t make a polish that didn’t leave a residue…well, stop wondering, because this is it!
Crystal-Glo also has no abrasives. This allows the manufacturer to claim that it can be safely used on all paints, clear coat, fiberglass, polished aluminum, chrome, metal, and smooth plastic. Motrax even recommends it as the only polish to use for carbon fiber parts.
What we discovered is that this also means that you need to make sure the bike is thoroughly cleaned before you apply Crystal-Glo. This isn’t a problem, as I’m sure that you always wash your motorcycle prior to polishing anyway. You do, don’t you?
The typical “cleaner/polisher” mass-market products are typically formulated with some very mild abrasives or various types of aromatic solutions that help them to remove light grime and insect residue.
Even though I washed the motorcycle just before I tried Crystal-Glo, I noticed that some little tiny bug residue spots that would come off very easily with other types of polishes are unaffected by this formula. So I believe the manufacturer’s claims that Crystal-Glo is more of an acrylic protective coating than a “polish”.
The company does say that the formula “deep cleans”, but I’m not sure precisely what they mean by this. Perhaps this refers more to the acrylic coating that they claim can be built up on older surfaces to eventually bring out a shine, rather than the cleaning that can take place when using an abrasive cleaner/polisher designed to remove light scratching and bugs.
Crystal-Glo is also very easy to apply and remove. I used a brand-new microfiber application pad; you simply wipe Crystal-Glo on and you can either wipe if off immediately or let it dry to a slight haze. The product comes with a nice, soft buffing cloth that works well to bring out the shine.
Speaking of shine, does Crystal-Glo truly “bring out a deeper, richer, more vibrant shine”? My experience so far is that it’s hard to tell. Many polishes will make the paint look great immediately after application; it’s the long term shine and protection that’s important. So we’ll be reporting back over time with any updates that can help resolve this question.
To try and get a good understanding of how the product works, we used Crystal-Glo on three different motorcycles, representing three different generations of paint technology.
First, we tried it on a 1977 BMW R100RS. This was the first year for that classic bike and it has the original silver-blue paint. They didn’t use clearcoat in those days and the paint sometimes started out pretty thin and didn’t get any better over time.
This bike was no exception, but there were painted sections on the bike that were still in fairly good shape. Maybe we took the company’s claims too literally, but to be honest, we couldn’t tell if there was any difference after applying several coats of Crystal-Glo to various painted parts, so we’ve left out the photos, as there really isn’t anything that they could illustrate.
Next, we tried it on a red metallic 2000 Suzuki Bandit. The bike is in great condition to begin with and has a nice shine from a recent polishing. But there’s an area on the fuel tank where the tank bag dulled the finish slightly and left some very light scratches.
After applying two coats, we did notice that the sample area had a deeper luster to it than the control areas. The acrylic coating seemed to do its job on the light scratching also — it made them less noticeable and did not leave any white residue.
Here are the un-retouched before/after photos of the tank — as I mentioned, it’s very hard to photograph and resolve the differences that occur as a result of using a polish, but if you look closely at the area just above and to the left of the yellow arrow in the “before” photo, you can see the very light scratch marks and dulled area.
The photo on the right was taken after two coats of Crystal-Glo applied according to instructions on that area. Hopefully you can notice the difference, although the deeper luster to the finish that was a result of using the Crystal-Glo is unfortunately not apparent, due to the slight shifting of the clouds, which changed the exposure.
I tried the product next on the old standby test mule, a 1994 BMW K75. This bike has a thick clearcoat that reacts strangely to some polishes; many of them leave noticeable streaks that look almost like swirls of areas where the polish “took” and didn’t take. This effect is especially noticeable when using cleaner/polish type formulas.
1994 BMW K75 Before
The Crystal-Glo was again easy to apply and I’m pleased to report that it did not leave any streaking. The bike had a pretty good shine to begin with, so there really is no difference apparent in the photos. But you can notice that there is no white residue on the black plastic fuel filler cap!
The manufacturer’s claim that Crystal-Glow works on plexiglass seems to hold true. It’s as easy to apply on windscreens as it is on painted surfaces. I was pretty impressed with the results — I don’t know if you can tell from these photos (I deliberately took them with the fence in the background to try and illustrate the differences in clarity through the windscreen), but I think I can say that the product made this ‘screen seem more transparent than any other plexiglass cleaner I’ve used, either dedicated or not.
I still had to remove bits of insect residue manually (I am surprised that Crystal-Glo doesn’t seem to remove even the lightest bug remains), but the product really did make the glass crystal-clear. You can just see in the “before” photo on the left that there is a slight haze to the windscreen that is missing from the “after” photo on the right, and the windscreen was very clear to begin with, so the product does exceed my expectations for this use.
BMW OEM windscreen Before
The manufacturer also claims that Crystal-Glo is “resistant to fuel spills, road grime, salt corrosion and acid rain”. This deserves a long-term test, so I will continue to use the product on this bike and I’ll be reporting back with updates on our experiences.
The bottom line is that I think this is a good product that meets or exceeds most of the claims made for it. I’m very pleased that there is finally a polish available that doesn’t leave streaks or white residue. I also like the way it works on plexiglass. I can’t tell if it really does “produce a deeper, richer, more color intensive gloss”; it seemed to do that on the Suzuki Bandit, but I didn’t really notice a difference on the black tank of the BMW K75.
I think the product deserves a longer-term test for further evaluation, so check back for more updates in the future. I can say now though that I think Crystal-Glo is better than many other polishes, and just the fact that it doesn’t leave streaks or residue and its ease of application is good enough for me to continue using it.