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Community Member
Posts: 212
Registered: ‎12-01-2005

Cleaning old tires

Does anyone have an easy (or at least sure-fire) method for getting the brown residue off the sidewalls of old tires? I'm cleaning up an '81 Yamaha 1100 Midnight Special with under 2K mi. on it, and the sidewalls of the original tires are almost a color match for the gold-anodised wheels! Thanks for any assistance!
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Community Member
Posts: 5,577
Registered: ‎01-26-2003

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
Try a Scotch Brite pad, if the brown color is grime. Don't use it on the wheels or chrome, as it will scratch.
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Community Member
Posts: 324
Registered: ‎01-04-2003

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
81? Are those the original tires? I'm thinking you should take a real good look at the sidewalls for weather cracks and/or other defects in the rubber. Maybe the best way to get clean sidewalls in this case is to put on new tires. 23 year old tires that have been sitting on rims all this time, I don't know, that's getting up there.
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Community Member
Posts: 5,577
Registered: ‎01-26-2003

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
disregard my post and listen to longhair. A much better answer!! I completely missed the facts he points from your o.p.
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Community Member
Posts: 2,783
Registered: ‎01-26-2003

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
I agree, that brown residue is most likely residue from breakdown of the rubber. As it ages the tire dries out, losing some of the petroleum components. You have a great low mile bike, don't trash it by running those tires. Put on some modern rubber and ride.
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Community Member
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎06-16-2004

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
Ditto to post #2. I would be very leary of 21 year old tires, no matter how good they appeared.
As far as cleaning is concerned, I've had the best success using S.O.S. pads. They contain a fairly strong detergent so make sure you clean all the soap residue off very thoroughly with clean water afterwards.
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Community Member
Posts: 1,777
Registered: ‎02-07-2004

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
You have n almost vintage bike with original tire. Dont change them for now (no matter what they say)

Be VERY CAREFUL cleaning them, I am not sure what will work but what you are dealing with is oxidisation, look for a rubber cleaner or wait for more input, before you mess them up with steel wool, especially if they have raised white letters.

Sounds like it is an original paint bike, repaint would kill the value.

Why be so carefull with the tires??

The bike is woth THE MOST if all original, a less than 2K, all original bike, with original rubber ( unless there is major cracking) is worth way more than it will be once you change the rubber. Plus changing them and keeping the old ones may not help their condition.

If you are cleaning it up to auction it, leave it original even if you cant clean the sidewalls, you can always replace the tires, but it is only an untouched original until you do that.

A lot of collectors own bikes that that are displayed & shown more than ridden, that why you often see vintage rubber (with age cracks) being sold for hundreds of dollars just so a bike can be more original.

You cant be too original , and original brings the most money!!

JMO ...dodogas
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Community Member
Posts: 212
Registered: ‎12-01-2005

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
Thanks for the concern, everybody, but I'm trying to make it look its best to sell it - as an under 2K original bike - so I'm not interested in putting new tires on it. What I'm looking for is a way to get the brown off and make them black again. I guess I'll just start through the gamut of cleaners I have and see if anything works. I was hoping someone here had a 'miracle' method!
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Community Member
Posts: 2,783
Registered: ‎01-26-2003

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
I agree with dodogas, if you are only going to show the bike .... very little riding and at slow speeds. A bike is only original once and this brings the most value for resale, or best points for judging.

Personally, I would be leary to head out at freeway speeds in higher temps with added load for an extended period of time. jmo (I sound like a manufacturer spokesman, yecch)lmao

If you do decide to run them, watch your tire pressure closely and watch for cracks on the sidewall & between the tread. If you do replace them, hang on to the originals.
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Community Member
Posts: 2,783
Registered: ‎01-26-2003

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
m-cstuff4u, you sniped me. If selling is your interest, no problem.
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Community Member
Posts: 319
Registered: ‎03-11-2010

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
Try WD 40 with a scrub brush to loosen deposits then a second application with a shop towel to remove the scum...
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Community Member
Posts: 2,420
Registered: ‎01-25-2003

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
They also make a product called "Tire Black" in a pint can that we used to use in the body shop, it is a thin tire paint that does not hurt the rubber, but brightens it up considerably. We did a lot of older cars that way that weren't driven, but trailered to shows. Easy to use, too. Wear gloves though! LOL
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Community Member
Posts: 212
Registered: ‎12-01-2005

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
Well, I finally got around to cleaning those tires, and WD-40 was just the ticket. Thanks flindmc; I probably wouldn't have thought of using that! (At least not until WAY down the list.) I didn't even have to use a brush, just a piece of old terrycloth towel. Very little rubbing was necessary and the brown deposits came right off. Sidewalls are now black like new and, as an added bonus, it cleaned the raised white letters really well, too! So file that in your memory - WD-40 makes great tire cleaner!
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Community Member
Posts: 75
Registered: ‎01-25-2003

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
I know im a bit late on repliying to the original poster of this thread, but had to comment on a product ...this company contact the v-max club i belong to and offered us some to try...wow!!!! excellent stuff...Vinyl, leather, rubber and hard plastic parts right up..without the slipperyness like aurmorall!

http://www.justonce.com/

love it!

Venus
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Community Member
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎12-12-2004

Re: Cleaning old tires

in reply to m-cstuff4u
Sorry to but in... those products are great for looks, but you shouldn't ride with them on your tires. A little shine can create alot of slip. Ride safe.

-Trish

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