How to Clean Aluminum Fins on a Motorcycle

by Chris Gilliland
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The aluminum fins cast into the cylinder head of an air-cooled engine act as a radiator, drawing heat away from the combustion chamber and into the surrounding air. Unfortunately, the fins also collect dirt, grime and oil over time, resulting in an unattractive mess that can reduce the fins' ability to cool the engine. Use one of several spray-on cleaning products on the market to some degree of success; however, the degreasing agents in these cleaners can affect the paint applied to the engine. As an alternative, clean the cooling fins using household cleaning products.

Step 1

Park your motorcycle away from direct sunlight. Allow the engine and exhaust to cool to the touch.

Step 2

Fill a small, clean bucket with warm water and a grease-cutting dish soap.

Step 3

Rinse the engine's cooling fins with a low-pressure stream of water to dislodge loose dirt and debris, avoiding the motorcycle's air box or air cleaner.

Step 4

Scrub the cylinder head, using a medium-bristled plastic brush, working the soapy water between the cooling fins. Rinse the cylinder often to remove the loosened buildup.

Rinse the cylinder head thoroughly, then blow dry the engine and exhaust system, using an automotive blow dryer set to Low. Wipe any remaining water droplets with a lint-free shop towel to dry.

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