Why you need to keep road salt off your motorcycle
Throughout winter, vehicles covered with road salt after snow and cold weather are a common sight. Unfortunately so are vehicles with heavy rust damage. This is what road salt can do at its most visible extreme. Sadly our motorcycles are not immune to the damaging effects of road salt either. And the damage can go far beyond just a tarnished physical appearance.
What is road salt?
The most economical and commonly used “salt” used on roads is Sodium Chloride (NaCl). The chlorides of other elements, such as Calcium or Potassium, can also be used to produce the ice-melting effect desired to make roads safer during winter weather.
How does road salt work?
The chloride performs the ice-melting magic by bonding with water and lowering the temperature at which water freezes. Chlorides are hydroscopic, so they readily attract and bond with water in both the liquid and vapour state. This is the same reason why people often mix rice with table salt to absorb moisture in the air in high humidity.
There is also sand used in gritting load mixtures that provides both traction and friction and also assists in melting ice.
How does salt cause damage?
The hydroscopic nature of salts harbours the electrochemical process that damages metals. Salt attracts and holds water on any surface it coats. The chlorides in salt— combined with water—form an electrolytic coating that utilise the oxygen in the water to cause corrosion, which is when metals are converted into metal oxide.
The iron in your engine casing for example: 4Fe + 3O2 = 2 Fe2O3
No matter how hard you try salt will get on your bike
Most motorcyclists don’t ride during winter storms, hats off to those brave souls that do! However some of us do ride between winter storms and this exposes our motorcycles to the damaging effects of road salt.
Even riders who wait until early spring to start riding again can get salt on their motorcycles. Although no salt has been spread for weeks, salt remains on road surfaces until it is washed away by several significant periods of heavy rain. Even afterwards, salt can remain trapped in potholes, surface cracks, and along the edge of the road.
If you ride during the time of year when salt is used to treat roads, salt will inevitably get on your motorcycle.
Get the salt off quickly and minimise the damage
It’s easy to see salt on the outer parts of your motorcycle. A good wash with Clean MyRide Wash & Degreaser will clean those surfaces.
However, when cleaning salt off your motorcycle, it’s important to be thorough. Remember to wash and rinse under mudguards and the underside of your motorcycle are obvious places, but consider going further to protect your pride and joy.
A deep clean involving the removal of saddles and side covers—cleaning the out-of-sight areas such as behind chrome and alloy exhaust shields, recesses in rear sets and pillion pegs, engine cooling fins etc.—are areas of bikes often left and are therefore prone to surface corrosion.
Avoid slow, hidden damage
Corrosion is a slow process that affects all the metal parts of your motorcycle. Salt will absorb moisture even in dry weather. So even on a sunny day, corrosion will be at work. In fact, heat accelerates the electrochemical process!
What you don’t see will also cause damage. Salt as a solution or alone as a fine dry powder will find its way into every nook and cranny of your bike. So if you think your motorcycle has been exposed to road salt even just a little, a deep cleaning is definitely worth the effort.
Thanks for reading, ride safe and keep it Clean MyRide shiny side up!
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