Long term update: Ready to face salt onslaught

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Britain is heading for salty roads and freezer-box conditions but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stash the Tracer in the garage – I just need to make sure the Yamaha is properly prepared.

There are days when I don’t take the bike for my 60-mile commute but that’s only when I have to pick up my two children from primary school or when it’s snowing or very icy. I’d rather be a bit cold and wet than stuck in a car following a lorry at 40mph.

British winter roads have an almost unrivalled ability to take any motorcycle, and, if left unwashed, unloved and uncared for, ruin it forever. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

As standard the Tracer is already in a pretty good place. The screen is adjustable for better protection, the LED front lights throw out a decent spread of light, the ABS, traction control and rider modes work well to make the bike nice to ride. The optional Yamaha heated grips are excellent and each of the three heat settings can be adjusted for temperature, while the standard handguards help keep the weather at bay.

It’s all in the preparation
The best weapon in the anti-winter arsenal is a product called ACF50. It’s a petroleum-based anti-corrosion agent and can make the difference between a bike looking like a heap or a hero come Spring.

Excellent as it is, ACF50 needs careful preparation and application to work at its best. A thorough wash of the bike is needed to allow the ACF50 to penetrate where it needs to go. This needs to be a really, really good clean and not just a quick rinse. Letting the bike dry completely will help the ACF50 adhere.

I have a Bruhl blower/drier on test and it’s brilliant at hunting out the smallest of drops of water. At £88 it’s not cheap but works extremely well and I am sure it will be of massive use during the winter as it will allow the bike to be put away in the garage almost completely dry.

Applying ACF50 is best done with a compressed air gun. But I don’t have one of those so I use a hand aerosol canister supplied with a big 0.95-litre bottle (£35). There are bigger bottles of ACF50 available but this has lasted me for two winters now. I cover tyres and brakes with an old towel and then just spray over everything visible except the seat. Plastics, metalwork, suspension, wiring, exhausts, everything.

Once that’s done and I’ve wiped the excess away with a microfibre cloth, I work on the wheels with a cloth soaked in ACF50, and then brake banjo connectors, hoses, calipers and any other non-friction surface. The first time takes a while but after that it’s about re-applying in small amounts where heat might have burnt it off in the meantime.

As well as the anti-corrosion properties, ACF also helps keep the bike clean as a good rinse with the jetwash blasts off most grime without even needing to wash the bike. Twice a week I rinse the bike off with a simple hose and spray trigger. A proper wash and more ACF50 once a week is generally enough to keep the bike in great condition. Winter? Bring it on.

Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter