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My 310 GS is my first motorcycle and I'm wondering about best practices as far as cleaning and basic maintenance are concerned. I know that there's loads of videos on YouTube about this, but it's hard to tell good advice from bad, or common sense from fanaticism. I have no interest in making a science out of this—which is what people on YouTube tend to do. If you guys have some tried-and-true, reasonable, usable advice for someone in my situation, I'd appreciate it.

So, here goes:

The Situation
  • I live in the South. It's warm and humid most of the year. Winters are mild. There'll be a couple of weeks where temperatures hover slightly above freezing, and there may even be a day or two with snow, but overall winters are moderate.
  • My bike lives outside. I bought a quality cover for it that I put over it once it's cooled down and nothing is wet.
  • I live in an apartment complex, which means that I don't have the conditions which would allow me to use a pressure washer or one of those blow dryers or even a battery tender. I'll be doing whatever I need to do in the parking lot.
  • The bike is my main vehicle. I'll be riding it either daily or almost daily year round. I have no problem riding in the heat and humidity, and I think I'll be fine in winter if I get the appropriate gear. It won't stand around unused for extended periods of time.
My Goals
  • I'm not trying to keep the bike in pristine condition. It's an object that wants to be used, not just admired. What I want to ensure is that over time it'll look used and nice rather than used and nasty.
  • In addition to that, I obviously want to keep it in good working condition, and keeping it reasonably clean is certainly part of that.
  • Lastly, I believe that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. I'd rather do a little bit of work regularly than having to do a whole chunk of work every once in a while.
Overall Cleaning
  • Given my circumstances, I'll most likely be using the two bucket method. I'll get sponges or mitts, some brushes, and microfiber towels. Anything else? And, most importantly, what kind of soap should I get? What kind of product should I use as a general cleaning agent?
  • What's the consensus on the various kinds of spray-on products, like S100 or Muc-Off? Is there anything good that I could use in case I don't want to get the buckets out and the bike isn't too dirty?
  • Finally, how do you take care of your bike while you're on long trips? Just find a pressure washer somewhere to get it reasonably clean? Which parts of the bike shouldn't be sprayed off this way?
Specific Parts Cleaning
  • Does it make sense to get a plastic protectant, like the one 303 makes, in order to prevent the plastic parts from fading? Can protectant be applied on top of the decal stickers? Could this type of plastic or rubber protectant also be used on the seat?
  • What about the painted parts? Is it a good idea to apply some kind of sealant or polish to that? Can it be used on top of the decal stickers?
  • And the exposed metal, like the exhaust? Anything in specific that helps keep those in good condition?
  • Any other general protection advice? Is there some other spray that I should use on other parts of the bike?
General Maintenance
  • How often do you clean and lubricate the chain?
  • After how many miles do you change the oil?
  • Anything else I should be doing or having an eye on between the 6,000 mile checks?
I'm ready to receive your collective wisdom! (And maybe some other people will find it useful, too.)
 

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One trick I learned I learned parking outside is to invest in one of those free standing covers. Otherwise you fight the condensation monster. Sun is also hard on stuff, I’ve gotten so I cover the bike with shade cloth if outside, won’t blow off too easy. Wax is great but I’ve used lemon pledge spray cleaner for years on plastic n paint. Seems to work and smells nice.
A clean bike runs better and you look better on it.
 
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