The key to having perfect chrome and a perfect bike is not to use it and keep it covered in a heated dry garage.
Otherwise, this is for you:
Depending on the bike, I'm sure that you've got some chrome somewhere. When I see a bike that has perfect chrome
that is clean, the "WOW" factor kicks in for me. You could have any old kind of bike in various states of internal disrepair,
but the condition of the chrome says a lot about the bike. Nice chrome sells a bike. Dirt and tarnish doesn't sell a bike at all.
If you want to brighten up your chrome and care for it in the long run, here is some good info.
All chrome should be cleaned, waxed and polished on a regular basis.
WARNING: Only use light chemicals if you don't want to create abrasion.
Some chrome is very thin so too much abrasion will possibly wear through the chrome to expose whatever is under it and then there is no turning back. The trick is to use the least abrasive method that will do the job. Some chrome needs abrasion because it is too far gone.
Abrasives leave scratches that create a place to start the rust going and rust never sleeps as Neil Young would say.
If a piece comes off easily with a couple of screws it might be a better idea to remove it and soak it first if it needs a thorough cleaning.
I have used a very fine wire wheel on a grinder and the kind used on a drill, but only for the worst kind of rust. I used
a dremel moto tool with the fine wire wheel attachment in cracks and crevices. Mild dish washing liquid and very fine
#000 steel wool can get less stubborn stains and rust down to a minimum.
You can use (gently) a wet pot cleaning steel wool pad like a Brillo or SOS pad but in either cases using the soap and
a little water as a surfactant with the steel wool. This will help break down the scum, rust, dirt or whatever, and help avoid too much scratching and abrasion that can make things worse. Try an assortment of brushes to fit into different areas..
And dirt from gaining a foothold again. Use a chrome polish. I like Mother's Chrome Polish. I bought it and used it the first time expecting a thick sort of wax but it's a thin bluish paste that does a great job.
It won't take away the pits, but the chrome sure does shine! There is a product called Wenol that is getting good reviews. Apparently it's a superior metal polish, and I hope to try it soon.
I melted part of my bike cover and something else onto the hot manifold pipes and exhaust. It is ugly.
There is inevitably crud buildup on exhaust systems. The new bikes have smooth chrome but on the older ones chrome gets pitted or scratched and seems to host crud more readily.
Here's a cure. When the pipes are cold, you could try different solvents.
I have heard of someone using a white cotton cloth, or old white cotton sock, or t-shirt, or piece of an old white towel without dye, and applying gasoline, or WD40, or carburetor cleaner, or some other kind of petroleum based solvent to soak for several hours.
The longer the better as long as it doesn't dry out. Do it out doors in a well ventilated area but not too windy as to dry it out, you can wrap a gasoline soaked cloth around the pipe and cover it with something not affected by the solvent like aluminum foil.
You can also keep spraying WD40 or applying the carburetor cleaner. It's not a quick job, but the results are worth it. I like to try to get the bulk of the stubborn stuff off by using #000 steel wool directly on stuff that is stuck on there. Avoid scratching the pipes and persistence will win out.
Glass cleaner is a good pre-soak. Let the magic of chemistry reduce the physical work. I use car wash soap in a bucket, and a large sponge to apply it.
Let it soak and do it's work, then get the grime off with a sponge and rinse with your garden hose. I don't have a power washer, but I would love to try one on the bike at a low setting.
I do have a leaf blower, and I have used it to do different things such as remove snow from my porch, as well as dry the bike after a wash, and to "shoo" my wife away when she is nagging me about the bike while I'm drying it.
I'm tempted to bring the bike to the car wash in the heat of the summer when I can just wipe off the seat afterwards and ride away. The breeze will dry the bike. Now that sounds wacky, but it's good for a laugh anyway.
Great motorcycle tips at www.motorcycles123.com