How to Polish Motorcycle Aluminum

Dull Motorcycle Aluminum

Dull Motorcycle Aluminum

Whether you’re a fair weather rider, or a rain and shine commuter, if you have aluminum on your Harley Davidson, it will eventually become dull and oxidized. Polishing that aluminum back to its factory shine is often a labor of love, but doesn’t have to be an all day project.

You’ll need some basic supplies to polish the aluminum on your motorcycle.

Soft Cloth – Some old towels or tee shirts make good polishing clothes. It’s important to use one set for polishing the aluminum and one set for wiping the cleaning compound from the aluminum.
Baby Wipes – The metal surface needs to be cleaned of road grime before you apply the polishing compound. An alternative to washing the whole bike is to prep the surface to be polished with a gentle cleaner like a baby wipe.
Polishing Compound – There are plenty of choices when it comes to finding a polish to shine the aluminum on your Harley. If you’re not sure what to use, Harley Bright Metal Polish works well.
Buffing Tool – This helps speed the process up. Mothers car care products makes a sponge buffing ball and extension that attaches to a drill. This ball is big enough to speed up the buffing process on larger items but small enough to be flexible in use.
Metal Preserve – After restoring the shine on your aluminum, protecting the metal will slow further oxidation and make future clean-ups quicker. Again, if you’re not sure what to use, Harley Preserve works well. If you do use Harley Preserve, they recommend that you don’t wash the treated parts for 5 days. So plan ahead!

Getting Started

Increasing access to the aluminum you want to polish will help make the job easier and faster. While the ideal situation would be to remove the part completely, this usually isn’t the best solution. Depending on model Harley Davidson you are working on, removing things like the windscreen, speedometer and headlight assembly will make it easier to polish the aluminum headlight bezel, fork braces etc. Removing the foot pegs, floorboards and shift linkage will open up the various engine covers.

Polish Motorcycle Aluminum

Apply Aluminum Polish


Divide the surface you are working on into sections, applying aluminum metal polish to one small section at a time. If you are using a buffing ball, start with slow rotations as not to splatter the polishing compound all over the bike, gradually increasing speed as you go.

polished motorcycle aluminum

Polished Aluminum

If you are using a cloth, use small circular motions as you work across the surface. Once your are satisfied that the area you are working on is clean, wipe the residue away with a clean cloth. Remember to use one cloth for cleaning the surface, and one for cleaning up the residue. Try to use a clean area on the residue cloth as you work each section.

Finishing Touch

Don’t forget to add Harley Preserve or some other aluminum metal treatment.