When you've just shelled out thousands on a motorcycle or scooter, finding a new scratch on your bodywork can be heartbreaking. As a bike or scoot goes through life the odd scuff or scratch is inevitable, but there's plenty you can do to ensure they're few and far between, and kept to an absolute minimum.
First things first, if you've got a motorcycle fit a tank protector. With motorcycle styling going the way it has over the past 20 years, where once your bike's tank was low and level with your thighs, its now often right up against your crotch – and in constant danger of scratching from belt buckles, zips and buttons.
The solution is to fit a tank protector. They range from relatively inexpensive, inconspicuous minimalist designs to carbonfibre works of art, but they all do the same thing, in that they protect the area on your bike that's most likely to cop a hiding. Get 'em at just about any bike shop, and fit them yourself in seconds.
Other areas prone to scratching on bikes or scooters include anywhere close to where you're loading soft luggage. For bikes, tank bags in particular are a big offender, which is why Bagster-type tank bag and bra arrangements are popular – providing a firm mount for your bag, while the tank remains protected by a custom-fit, often colour-coordinated bra.
For other tank bags, slipping an old T-shirt between the bag and your tank can work wonders. Beware of magnetic tank bags – they're convenient, but put them down by the side of the road and they'll pick up all sorts of stones and metals with iron content. Put that tank bag back on and ride for a bit, and you may as well have taken to your tank with coarse gauge sandpaper… Old T-shirts are also the go underneath soft panniers, between the panniers and the side panels/tail section of your bike. It mightn't look great, but your bike will love you for it.
And then we come to the travelling bike or scooter rider's best mate – gaffer tape. This stuff is brilliant – anywhere you can see potential for your luggage to rub your bodywork, stick on a section or two to nip it in the bud. It also makes a great makeshift motorcycle tank pad, if for some reason you don't already have one fitted. It can leave a fine line of adhesive when you remove it, but this comes off in seconds with a bit of rag dipped in petrol.