Pitted and rusty chrome makes a motorcycle look dull and old, but gentle polishing abrasives and a bit of elbow grease can make your ride sparkle again. Once the chrome’s appearance has been restored, regular maintenance is required to keep it shining, but it is easier to maintain chrome than it is to remove rust a second time. Severely rusted chrome might have to be replaced or re-chromed, but some pretty unsightly rust can be cleaned away. After removing rust, a good coat of polish can help to make sure the rust does not come back.
1. Start with a freshly-washed motorcycle
- Wash the bike with soap and warm water, then rinse it with clear water.
- Dry everything with a chamois to remove water spots and get a good look at the finish before beginning work on the chrome.
- In addition to making it easier to see what you’re dealing with, the task of removing pitted rust and polishing the chrome will be easier with dirt particles out of the way so that you don’t smear them around while scrubbing the rusty chrome.
2. Assess the chrome damage
- Determine how bad the damage from the rust is to help decide what product to use first.
- It is easiest to get rid of the deepest rust first, so if the pitting is severe, start with steel wool and a mild detergent, such as dish soap.
- You might want to wear gloves to protect yourself from the sharp edges of the steel wool.
- Scrub a small section of chrome at a time, and rinse off the soap and loose rust every few minutes so that you can see if you are making progress.
- If this does not affect the rusted chrome, you might have to replace it or take it to a chrome plating service to have it re-chromed.
- If it starts to show improvement, you are ready for the next step.
3. Remove light pitting and polish
- Use a cotton wadding product that contains polish to remove lightly-pitted chrome and apply a coat of polish in one step.
- Cotton wadding is mildly abrasive without being scratchy, and the oily content of the polish works its way into the rusted pits to lift the rust out.
- The cotton wadding catches the bits of rust and carries it away while leaving a thin coat of polish.
- Allow the polish to dry to a white, powdery appearance, then buff it away with a soft cotton cloth.
- If you still see some pitted rust after the first application, repeat the process.
- You can repeat this as many times as necessary, as long as you see progress each time.
- If no progress is being made, then re-chroming or getting a new part may be necessary.