Jimmy G’s Place
GILOR, CALIF.—Our newly acquired Sportster was already starting to look used. A few small scratches and swirl marks on the tank had taken away some of that new bike look. It was time for a good cleaning and we wanted to do it right, so we turned to detailing expert Jimmy G.
I rode to his shop in Gilroy, California, to pick up some Adam’s Polish products. He’d promised to give us a quick demo so we’d know what we needed and how to make the best use of the products. It couldn’t be that difficult, right? Turns out it wasn’t.
He has a product for just about everything (even washing your hands when you’re done) and he demonstrated some techniques that would improve our results.
I started by offering up our swirly, smudgy, scratchy tank (which had drawn from our editor harsh reprimands, the real impetus for my getting my ass in gear and high-tailing it to Gilroy). Jim sprayed on Adam’s Detail Spray to lubricate the surface for the clay bar he would use for the initial cleaning of the tank. Adam’s lavender- colored clay bar is designed to grab dirt, bugs, and sediment that might have
been picked up from the road and other vehicles. Clay bars are also reputed to safely remove tree sap, tar, and even minor paint overspray; paint shops and owners of show vehicles swear by them. Our tank didn’t have much in the way of stuck-on contaminants, but our headlight was an insect graveyard—and Jimmy G just couldn’t resist it. The clay bar made light work of eliminating the bugs and restoring a clean, smooth surface.
He went ahead and cleaned the forks and triple-trees while he was at it. (Hmm… he can’t stand to leave a surface dirty; this could work out well.) Then he went over the tank again with an application of Detail Spray and Swirl & Haze Remover, a heavy polymer polish that softens swirl marks, on a microfiber pad. Microfiber is important; even the softest cotton rag can create tiny scratches that will take away from the luster of paint or metal. Microfiber cloths are nonabrasive, highly absorbent, and lint-free and Adam’s carries them as towels, applicator pads, and even gloves, which I would find useful later.
While he was working, Jim got to talking, as he is prone to do. He explained that all of the Adam’s cleaners and polishes are polymer-based and nonabrasive. And then we got on the subject of leather. He was enthusiastic about his leather conditioner and wanted to demonstrate its attributes, but alas, our Sportster’s seat is vinyl. “Well, come over here just a minute.” In addition to detailing show bikes and cars, Jim also builds and restores motorcycles. He took me over to one of the bikes he had in house so I could see firsthand the benefits of leather maintenance with Adam’s Leather Cleaner and Adam’s Leather Conditioner. The light-colored custom Corbin leather seat was over four years old and even with regular riding, the seat had maintained its color, shape, and suppleness.
“This leather cleaner works on plastic, vinyl, and rubber, too.” Oh, look, a bagger with a great big fairing that just happens to need a going over. “And this rubber on the footboards, see the difference when it’s cleaned and gone over with the Vinyl, Rubber, & Tire Dressing?” It all looked fabulous, of course, but I was eager to redirect Jim’s attention.
“Oh, what about the vinyl seat on the Sportster? Bet it wouldn’t work on that.” Jim didn’t even flinch. Before long the Sportster was strapped onto a Rider lift and going up. The seat was treated with V.R.T. to seal and protect from sun damage without leaving a greasy film. Then it was on to the chrome and aluminum.
I honestly didn’t believe Jim when he said he could make the aluminum look as good as or better than the chrome, but when he’d finished with the cleaner and followed with an application of Adam’s Metal Polish, I stood there with my mouth agape as he casually said, “And that’s why people love me.”
It went on this way for a while: Me surreptitiously casting doubt on whether the products would really work on one part or another, and Jim proving me wrong (and right at the same time). But he kept avoiding the rear wheel… just because it looked like maybe I’d ridden the bike to an outpost on Mars. When I finally brought it up—“Oh, that back wheel’s probably too dirty for the All-Purpose Cleaner to cut through”—he’d finally had enough. He handed me a pair of microfiber gloves and a spray bottle of the cleaner.
Wha…? When the dismay wore off, I grudgingly set to work. The gloves proved useful for cleaning the stainless steel spokes and they fit into other small spaces too, I found out, as new places for dirt to hide kept turning up. I started to get that look in my eyes and before long I was trying out all the various products on all the various surfaces of the bike. “I’ll need one of those applicator pads, and the superplush microfiber towel… Jim, roll that chair over here, would you?”
A quick demo had turned into several hours in his shop—enough exposure for me to become thoroughly infected with Jimmy G’s passion and perfectionism. It was time well spent. In the end I had a stellar motorcycle and a new standard of clean to take back to the office. And whether it was the pride or the polish, I beamed all the way home.