Can you really restore a motorcycle with affordable aerosols alone?
Restoring a motorcycle is less complicated than a car, thanks to the relatively small number of parts and finishes. It is still, however, a major undertaking if you endeavor to do it the right way. If just a cosmetic restoration is what you have in mind, YouTube channel FortNine formulated a plan to take a crusty barn-find bike and bring it to presentable shape. Even better, the job can be done with just aerosol products. The results are, well, not terrible.
The crusty Yamaha YZ50 that Ryan takes on in this video is rough to begin with, and the finished product is heaps better. But to call it a “restoration” would be cheapening the term. Sure, the clean-up returned this little YZ50 to the way it looked many years ago, but at the end of the day, a full-on restoration is about bringing a project to as-new condition.
In all fairness, this video still has a good amount of useful information. There’s certainly a bit of product placement, but it is also useful to see the exact products used and the result. FortNine also touches on a couple nice techniques that apply to more than just the motorcycle world.
One example: the use of contact cleaner for more than just electrical connections. On modern engines, there are sensors and sensitive electrical bits in every nook and cranny of the engine bay. Using contact cleaner everywhere is a great way to ensure electrical connections are protected from a misplaced spray of something more aggressive that will remove the grime but potentially damage components.
Another great tip is to use wet sanding and polishing to rescue the finish of aged plastic pieces. While it is certainly easier on a motorcycle gas tank, the technique can be used on interior trim pieces that have been baking for years in the sun. It requires a bit of a careful touch, though, so I recommend going to your favorite salvage yard and pulling a few random pieces to practice on before taking the polishing wheel to your beloved parts.
Overall, I might be a bit pedantic in taking the hardline that this is not a proper restoration. The finished product is inarguably multitudes better after the clean-up. Taking something that was unloved for a long time and putting a fresh shine on it is a commendable act—one that everyone should perform.
Have you used some of these techniques to save a project? Tell us your tips or share a before and after photo in the comments below.