Winter is coming. For some that may mean very little, maybe a touch colder, a touch wetter, but nothing to worry about. However for us in the UK it means salt. Cheap, nasty salt that gets thrown over every road whether it is +6 degrees or -6. Although to be honest it is more likely on the +6s!
So the roads get salted, and that is a good thing. It is for road safety, to stop ice and keep us on the black stuff and out of the nearest hedge, whether you are on two or four wheels.
However the salt may as well be concentrated sulphuric acid as far as your bike is concerned. It will corrode it and destroy anything metal or shiny within a matter of hours, leaving your pride and joy looking like a neglected rust bucket, and you will pretty much be able to watch as the £££s fall off the bike’s value.
However all is not lost! Enter ACF50. This wonder juice treats your bike to a protective coating that prevents (and if necessary stops any further) corrosion from even happening.
The product itself is an oil based liquid that you spray everywhere (except brake components and tyres – as basically it will make them too slippery to stop you or keep you upright – honestly do not put ACF50 anywhere near the brakes or tyres). Once on it works itself into every nook and cranny of the bike protecting everything it touches.
Another article I found really useful in researching and subsequently choosing what winter protection to use can be found here :
I think this experiment speaks for the benefits of ACF50 far more than I could do here.
So now that you have researched a little and are maybe thinking I could do with some of that, what can you do now?
Two options. Firstly do it yourself, or secondly have a professional do it for you. Most professional motorcycle valeters now offer ACF50 protection as part of their services, some have even based their entire business model around it. It would be hard to find a pro. Equally it isn’t hard to do it yourself.
If you decide on the latter and opt to do your own then I have a few tips for you. I have been doing it myself for a number of years now and this year the results speak for themselves. Earlier this year I traded in my BMW F800GSA, it looked like it had sat in a showroom its whole life. The dealer really wanted it and it became obvious a week later why, when I went back into the store to see it sitting with a SOLD sign on it. Apparently it lasted less than a day.
So here is it, the basic one, two, three of applying ACF50 yourself.
- Buy some ACF50 – it costs about £30 for a 900ml bottle delivered, every now and then a deal will come up, but realistically this is the figure you can expect to pay. You can also buy an aerosol can of the stuff for about £17, but my advise is don’t, it comes out far too quickly, and far to thick. The secret and benefit of ACF50 is that a little goes a very long way.
- Clean your bike. Clean it well, take some time, use a cleaner like SDoc100 Motorcycle Cleaner, biodegradable motorcycle degreasant, good shampoo, with a good microfiber cloth, rinse it well, clean and polish the exhuast, make it as clean as you can, take a day over it and let it dry, properly dry. Even use a blower if you have one but make sure it is bone dry before moving on.
- Cut up some bin liners, and use them to completely cover the tyres, and brake systems, front and rear. Put some on the floor to to catch any wayward drips.
- *If you decide to use a compressor to apply the ACF50 go straight to Point 7)*
- Boil the kettle and fill a Pyrex bowl with the boiling water.
- Fill your ACF50 Applicator Spray with some ACF50 and place the applicator bottle in the boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes. This makes the ACF50 much more fluid, it makes the mist spray finer, giving better coverage, easier coverage and much less wastage. (The applicator spray bottle has now changed from a manual pump spray to a more traditional misting bottle, and this is a very welcome change that works so much better – so make sure you pick a bottle with the spray bottle over the pump bottle).
- Start spraying, cover everything with a fine mist of the product. Everything, engine, forks, under the seat, shocks…everything, just not the tyres or braking systems ACF50 is electrically safe so don’t worry about it getting on or near the battery or wires or anything. Give the entire bike a covering, front, rear, topside (not the seat obviously), underneath. Let it sit. ACF50, being a liquid, will move, so let it.
- If you have missed anywhere use a paintbrush (or a cloth) to ensure everything gets a coating. I normally try to leave it for at least 24 hours just to let the ACF50 soak into every nook and cranny, you don’t have to do this however, if you go for a professional job, you’ll most likely be riding the bike 10 minutes after (s)he has finished.
- Do the plastics too, ACF50 brings blacks up especially well!
- Enjoy winter protection.
A few points of note.
- ACF50 is oily, therefore it is sticky, therefore road grim will stick to it. It will make your bike look dirty after not very far. Worry not the protection is still happening under the dirt.
- You can wash your bike when it is being protected by ACF50. Use only a garden hose (no power hoses) and wash off the dirt. However see point 1. You will not want to use shampoo, degreaser etc as this will remove the ACF50, leaving you unprotected. You are best just accepting that your bike will not be gleaming over the winter, instead be happy in the knowledge it is protected. Bur use away at a gentle garden hose to wash any big nasties off.
- ACF50 will last a long time, most people get a full winter season out of one application. You will know when it is time to top up the coating when water stops beading and running quickly off the bike. Think of a freshly polished and waxed car panel beading the water. When that sort of effect stops it is time to top up.
- When the roads are salt free or you decide to give the bike a good deep clean see point 2 of the process above, the most important bit will be the degreasant, so use a good one.
- Keep your wheels right. After riding make sure to rinse off your wheels. Rinse them really well, Corroded wheels will take the good look of your bike all year round! To keep my wheels in good nick I cover the spokes with some Corrosion Block Grease – made by the ACF50 people.
How often should I use ACF50?
That is really personal choice, I use it all year round. However make sure you apply it before the first salting of the roads. If the roads are already salted you can off course still use it, the importance of a good deep clean of your bike can not be stressed enough in these circumstances.
For me personally I deep clean the bike in early October and do the winter ACF50 coating. Then I top it up as outlined above as the winter progresses. I hose it after every ride, especially the wheels.
If the bike gets too grubby I will degrease it and go again, but staying on top of the hosing it down will keep it clean if not spotless.
Come the spring and when I am happy the gritting lorries are parked up I will deep clean again and give a light covering again to the bike. Personal choice, and not to everyone’s needs or even taste.
Corrosion Block Grease is another product really work checking out. I treat all my nuts and bolts with a thin coating when removing installing something new and also when doing my winter protection, A quick dab of a fingertip in the grease then onto the heads of the nuts and bolts to keep them nice and shiny all winter long!
Call it a bit of overkill but when rinsing the bike I am also a fan of a liberal spraying of Scott Oiler FS365 this is another corrosion solution that neutralises salts. It is a fine mist as well so I make sure to get in around the forks, engine and up above the rear wheel.
Here’s a video I made a few years ago in relation to ACF50 application, everything remains true as off now except the applicator is now a spray bottle as mentioned above…
One of the most concerning moments for a first time ACF50 user is when they turn their bike on for the first time after applying. Almost instantly the heat of the engine and exhaust will cause the excess ACF50 to burn off and as a result of this smoke…
I have read one article that suggests as the engine and exhaust heat the metal therefore expands, the result is that the ACF50 can actually penetrate deeper into the metal, protecting further. The one thing I can assure you after years of use is that the smoking is harmless.
This video is from the exact same effect from Scott Oiler FS365, but it is the same – as is the outcome – nothing – it’s harmless and will happen, so worry not!
Any questions at all, just ask away, comment on the videos and I will endeavour to answer them as quickly as possible!