Few experiences are as riveting as a country road ride atop a roaring cruiser. Ensuring that ride can rumble on for years yet to come means taking motorcycle maintenance seriously – including being choosy when it comes to a motorcycle cover.
A basic motorcycle cover can act as a shield against the direct elements and debris exposure as well as theft. But it won’t stop Mother Nature from gripping hold with tarnish, corrosion, and rust on a bike that’s insufficiently protected. A motorcycle cover that lacks a vapor corrosion inhibitor (VCI) cover can potentially do more harm than good. The reason is a plain plastic, cloth or vinyl cover is going trap humidity and moisture underneath, acting as an accelerating agent to the rust process.
Motorcycle Metals That Rust
Rust is a specific type of corrosion that can occur when iron or iron alloys (also known as ferrous metals) interact with oxygen and moisture or humidity. Examples of ferrous metals frequently found in motorcycle manufacturing (past and present):
- Cast iron. This material was long used for cylinder barrels on air-cooled motorcycle engines. For a time, it was also used for brake drums (now typically made of aluminum), though it can still be used as a brake shoe liner.
- Malleable cast iron. This type of iron is tolerant of local stress concentrations and surface defects and can be easily made into thin hollow or ribbed sections.
- Steel. This metal is still widely used in motorcycle manufacturing, and it comes in many grades and forms. Steel is an ideal option for many motorcycle parts, thanks to its hardness, strength, and heat resistance. It’s commonly seen on oil tanks, headlamp housings, mudguards, exhaust valves, camshafts, sprokets and gears.
It’s also worth noting that rust is just one type of corrosion. Other metals may be susceptible to different chemical process breakdowns when exposed to air and water – or even other metals.
Corrosion – including rust – can crop up very quickly and be incredibly difficult to tame once it rears its ugly head. This is especially true on motorcycles, which are often used roughly and regularly exposed directly to the harsh weather elements as well as other damaging materials like road salt, mud, and sweat. A few pebble-pocks may be all it takes to kickstart the corrosion process. The speed at which it spreads will depend on the climate you’re in and the storage situation, but it’s always going to be easier to prevent rust than to attempt tempering it after the fact.