Are Motorcycles Waterproof? [ Water Damage ] Rain & Wash

We take the safety of our motorcycles very seriously. It is our number one priority.

All motorcycles are designed to be ridden in inclement weather conditions. Whether you ride a Harley or a Vespa, your bike is built to survive light rain, water spray, or soaking.

So, are motorcycles waterproof?

A ride during a heavy downpour or pressure washing a motorcycle is okay, but do remember that motorcycles have a lot of exposed components. Although manufacturers seal sensitive parts, you still have to avoid certain parts when power washing. 

A focused jet spray with a minimum of 100 to 500 PSi can be powerful enough to break the wire’s connection to the computer box or cause damage to the wires going into the ECU.

A motorcycle is waterproof because of the frame, the engine, and the other parts. We are just talking about a heavy downpour or power spraying here, and that’s something a motorcycle can handle. Going through a flooded street is an entirely different ballgame. We will talk about it in detail below.

Is it safe to pressure wash your motorcycle?

Photo of Black Motorcycle

For years, I’ve used a pressure washer on my motorcycle. If you have a bike that needs to be cleaned off and doesn’t have the time or budget to clean it professionally, it is easy to get it done.

A pressure washer is an excellent tool for cleaning off rust, dirt, grime, and mud from your bike, but not everyone knows how to use one safely. Before washing your bike, it is crucial to consider the following:

1. The right pressure washer does the trick.

Pressure washers are one of those tools that can seem intimidating. But, if you know what you are doing, you can get a good machine for under $300. Just make sure you choose the one that’s not more than 1000 PSI. 

2. What soap to use

You can use any type of soap on your motorcycle, but you should use something like a ph-neutral soap that does not leave a film or residue behind. The main thing is to make sure that it is safe for the surface of your bike.

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3. Keep the nozzle at a safe distance

Don’t let the nozzle get too close to your motorcycle, or you could risk damaging it. If you want to wash your bike, keep it at least 12 inches away from your fairing. If you can’t, then you can use a hose instead. There will be an instance when you need to get closer to get rid of a stubborn dead bug or caked mud, but just make sure you’re not doing this on the delicate components. 

4. Don’t leave the water to dry by itself

You can leave water spots behind when you wash your bike with a hose or pressure washer. Water spots are unsightly and can be difficult to remove when accumulated. That’s why I recommend drying it immediately. 

Blow dryers are great tools for getting your motorcycle looking clean and shiny. A bike has a lot of tight spaces, so using a blow dryer to remove water from these areas will help make it look great and help it last longer.

When dealing with hard-to-reach corners, a blow dryer is the best way to dry the surface of your motorcycle. For quickly drying the surface, chamois cloth works best. 

5. Parts to avoid when pressure washing a motorcycle

Suppose you’re going to use a pressure washer to clean your bike. In that case, you want to make sure that you avoid spraying any of the following components:

  • Computer box
  • Wires
  • Switches and controls on your handlebar
  • Gauges
  • Bearings
  • Wires and sparkplugs
  • Voltage regulator
  • Chain and sprocket
  • Seat (if it has cracks)
  • Audio and speaker system

Riding in the rain

Riding on the highway during a rainstorm is a bad idea, not just for your bike but also for you. Poor visibility is one of the leading causes of motorbike accidents. As such, it is crucial to be cautious. 

Can it handle a heavy downpour? Yes, it can. Except for specific components like spark plugs and wires, your bike is waterproof and can take on a ride in the rain. 

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What about riding through the flood? 

While we are on the water and the potential damage it can cause to a motorcycle, let’s talk about riding through a flooded street. 

 If you are going to consult with a rider on riding through the flood, the best person to ask would be an adventure rider. Here are the tips they will give you about riding through the downpour. 

1. Do not go through the flood without inspecting it first

This is a basic rule in adventure riding. You have to know how deep the body of water is and if there are potential hazards under it. They stop, walk through the water, and check if it’s safe to pass. You can control and look for clues if you can’t walk on the floodwater (probably because you’re on your way to work and don’t want to get soaked). If other vehicles are passing through the flood, note the depth of the water. Find out if potholes, obstructions, or strong currents could put you at risk. 

If you’re not familiar with your engine’s air intake location, now is the time to find it. You need to know if it’s higher than the water level.

2. Go slow and keep your bike straight. 

Keep a steady pace when going through flooded roads. You’re not on a jetski, so going fast and splashing water all over isn’t a good practice. If you suddenly find yourself in a deep section of the flood, your bike stops, tips over, or throws you off. 

3. Keep going

Don’t pull the clutch and keep your throttle engaged, and whatever you do, do not change your gear while you are in the water. If your tires are over loose gravel, just open the throttle slightly until you can move out of the unstable ground. 

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4. Exiting the flooded area 

Your bike might have collected dirt and debris while going through the flood, so do not gun it immediately. Increase your speed gradually but give the bike the time to dislodge whatever trash is collected. 

5. What if you fall or the bike stalls while still in the water?

Turn the engine off and do not start it. You will have time to do this since you’re riding at low speed. Why? Your bike’s engine has internal combustion that sucks in air, mixes it with fuel, compresses the mixture, and sets it on fire. If you don’t turn off your engine, you are now at risk of flooding the internal combustion system, and water mixed with air and fuel is never suitable for your bike. If the bike has fallen over while it’s in the water, pick it up and do not start it. 

Instead, push the bike until you’re out of the water; pull out the spark plugs and airbox cover to check if there is water in them. If the sparkplugs are wet, don’t put them back. Then, try to turn on the bike’s ignition and crank the starter repeatedly to help push the water out of the combustion chamber. At this point, you might want to call for help.

Conclusion

Even though motorcycles are waterproof, some components are not and can be damaged by power spraying or riding through a flooded road. If you know what to avoid and what to do if it happens, you can save a lot of money on the repair. Indeed, it’s always better to be prepared. 

I hope this article was helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

Good luck and have fun riding!