Unless your bike is brand new, one of the most common areas that give away its age is the condition and vibrancy of plastic trim components, especially the black trim.
They tend to fade to a dull grey and look tired after a year or two of weathering and UV exposure.
I recently noticed this on my Ducati Monster 1200 so I promptly rode to a local store to pick up a suitable product and this is what confronted me:
Where to begin!
I could also check out the best cleaner for car interior plastic.
Trim it back
There were about eight or more products that specifically referenced “restoring plastic trim” or similar “back-to-black” type products with prices ranging from about $20 to over $50.
The most expensive products seemed to lean more towards actually depositing black pigment and I had visions of mess and potential for black sticky residue on paintwork and cloths which I was keen to avoid.
So without overthinking it, I decided to buy three products and pit them against each other so I could answer the questions in my head: Do they work and is there much difference between them?
I settled on testing three prominent brands (left to right):
- Naturally Black by Mothers (355ml $25.99)
- Bumper & Trim Gel by Autoglym (325ml $19.99)
- Trim Detailer by Meguiar’s (296ml $19.99)
Testing Testing 1,2,3
To test the products head to head, I took a freshly washed (and dried) bike and selected a number of the black/grey plastic trim sections/items on either side of the bike.
I tested each product against each other, appraising the (1) Ease of application (2) How much product was needed (3) The resulting appearance – before and after and combined into an overall value score out of five taking into consideration the cost of the product.
Caveat & disclosure: It was quite difficult to capture on camera the side by side performance of the products as light tends to reflect differently on both sides of the bike – which obviously tilts when on the stand and confounds the comparison. To mitigate this as far as possible I used my swirl finding light and compared/guesstimated performance based on the ‘shine’ i.e. reflection of the light on the surface:
Again, this is not perfect where the reflection angle of the light can vary but what I aim to capture in the picture above, and it was more obvious to the naked eye, was that there is less brilliance in the example on the right (Mothers) VS. the left (Meguiar’s). It is possible to argue that this is not 100% fair which is true, however, the test was undertaken across a number of different trim parts, and looked at from many different angles and a subjective determination made across the test.
Results of head-to-head test:
I had not expected a significant difference in the performance of the products though suspected that the most expensive product by Mothers would be the front runner. I was wrong. There was a noticeable difference between the products as overviewed below.
Mothers Performance (Rating 2.5/5)
Application was least easy – requiring multiple applications to get a good finish and actually tricky to not over apply and leave excess on the surface. The end result was reasonable but just did not quite perform at the level of either Meguair’s/Autoglym.
As the most expensive product in the test by about 25% it was quite disappointing.
Meguair’s Performance (Rating 3.5/5)
Meguiar’s product outperformed Mothers, most notably, in ease of application and final appearance. It went on with ease and immediately yielded a good finish.
Autoglym Performance (Rating 4/5 *WINNER*)
Autoglym really stood out in terms of both ease of application and high shine finish, for this reason I chose to remove the ignition surround and use Autoglym on this prominent piece of trim to really showcase the performance.
As shown with the before and after photos the finish was very good indeed with no streaking or a need to use much effort to achieve the results.
I was so impressed with the result from Autoglym that I also applied it to some of the hard plastics e.g. exhaust heat shield and again, the results were stellar as you can see below:
Having since ridden the bike, made it dirty, and washed the bike again, I was moderately disappointed (perhaps unreasonably so?) that none of the products seemed to remain/retain the ‘new’ look. The obvious implication being that I would need to re-apply to maintain the results and it is for this reason I marked all of the products down by -1 .
So back to my original questions: Do these products work? Answer: Yes! Is there much difference between them? Answer: Yes!
For $20 and 30 minutes you can transform the look of the plastics on your bike. However, the only down side is that you can expect to have to reapply every every wash.