The reddish-brown or reddish-yellow coating formed on iron or steel by oxidation, as during exposure to air and moisture: it consists mainly of ferric oxide, Fe2O3, and ferric hydroxide, Fe(OH)3
Any coating or film formed on any other metal by oxidation or corrosion; any stain or formation resembling iron rust.
Cancerous RUST causes damage by eating metal, consequently weakening and possibly defecting, key components like the chain, wheels, frame and tank.
If it eats away at other essential areas, the resultant… is costly replacements of those undermined parts.
If the motorcycle has not been correctly maintained and these areas aren’t detected early, parts may even snap or break off. Not something you’d want happening as you’re cruising down the freeway.
But not all is doom and gloom… regular cleaning and general bike maintenance will pick up the majority of rust issues.
So… what causes a motorcycle to rust?
Excessive exposure to oxygen and moisture. If left unattended an oxidisation process causes corrosion, converting metal to rust.
Types of moisture:
- Moist sea air
- Water left undried
Additional elements from the road surface, that increase the oxidation process:
Inefficient maintenance can create a direct course for rust to attack, so be vigilant and keep a close eye on your prized steel steed.
Proactive rust control
If rust is caused by oxygen and moisture, the best way to prevent it is to protect your bike from water. Sounds easy enough then…
If you live in an area where it rains a lot or is humid, leaving your motorcycle outside may cause quicker corrosion than if it was inside.
- Parking in a garage/shed or under a carport where possible, when not in use for lengthy periods
- If outdoors, an awning would help
- The bare minimum is a quality bike cover.
The chain also can be adversely affected, as well as the breakdown of bearings and bolts and the rapid demise of the bike’s factory finish.
Regularly washing and drying your bike will remove most of the dirty elements, also keep a rag handy to address problem areas swiftly when they first appear, especially if you know you can’t wash your bike for a while.
If you live in an area with sea spray in the air, additional precautions should be taken in addition to the above, preferably by adding a thin waxy/greasy film over the metal parts. This provides proactive protection to resist moisture that initiates the oxidation process.
Boeing, (an aircraft company,) developed a rust inhibitor with excellent penetrating qualities, called Boeshield T9, which contains lubricants and waxes, that dry to a waxy film and can give months of protection. As a bonus, it is also an excellent chain lubricant.
A terrific all-rounder WD-40, (where the WD stands for Water Displacement,) is a multi-purpose product, great for rust prevention and is brilliant to unseize nuts and bolts. A definite toolbox staple, for various applications.
Silicon sprays, a generic product that works well as a rust inhibitor, are sold by several lubricant manufacturers. Spray, then wipe off any excess, or for extra protection, let it dry naturally.
Be aware however the side effect of these types of sprays, will attract dust; so the idea is to apply them sparingly.
It’s not advisable to use on your paintwork though, so carefully apply to your unpainted/non-powder-coated, metal bits only.
For those lovers of all things natural… Linseed Oil, yep, true story. Boiled oil will dry speedier than cold-pressed oil and will form a much harder surface.
A great corrosion inhibitor for post-wash use is Muc Off Bike Protect.
Apply a reputable auto-paint wax to protect your paint. For those unavoidable paint chips, dab a little clear nail polish on the scratch as a quick fix. Touch up paint is available for virtually every vehicle so a phone call to your dealer can help you with that.
Corrosion can also affect internal metal parts, so keep the fuel tank full if not riding for lengthy periods and keep an eye on oil levels to ensure moving parts are properly lubricated.
What to do if Your Motorcycle Rusts
Rust can occur over time anyway unless the bike never leaves an airtight container. Some parts are simply poor quality too, so will rust easily. Smaller areas on the bike where water pools, like some bolt types, are hard to spot.
So, if you see some rust that wasn’t there last maintenance, no panic needed… clean and protect the area and make sure you note it as a spot to check more regularly. If the problem persists, it may be due to inferior product, so replace when you can with better quality, if it concerns you.
Hey and here’s another quick fix tip… for minor rust on steel, try rubbing it with aluminium foil… you’ll be surprised at how well it removes it…
If you have as serious rust problem, get in touch with a professional to discuss your options.
By Katarina Dálaigh