Polish The Aluminum On Sportster Rocker Covers

Most of the motorcycle rocker covers made for the Harley-Davidson Sportster are unpainted with an aluminum finish. While these rocker covers look great and shine like glass when they’re well polished, they can really detract from the appearance of your bike when they’re smudged and pitted. Polishing them is a relatively simple process, but it’s also a long process with lots of steps and required materials. Budget a couple of hours for this project and get ready for stunning results.


1. Wash all of the exposed aluminum on the rocker covers using car or motorcycle wash and water mixed in a bucket. Use a car wash mitt to scrub, but have an old toothbrush ready to get into all the tight spots. Rinse away the suds and dry the rocker covers with old towels.

2. Put on rubber gloves and select a piece of sandpaper somewhere between 200 and 400 grit. Stick to the lower end of this spectrum if you have lots of gunk and scrapes on your rocker covers, and if they look pretty good already, stick to the higher end.

3. Dip the sandpaper in a bowl of water and sand the rocker covers. Work in small sections and sand back and forth, not in a circular pattern. Sand in the same direction across the entire surface of the rocker covers. Dip the sandpaper back into the water every 20 seconds or so to keep it wet.

4. Switch to a finer grit sandpaper in the 400 to 800 grit range. Sand the rocker covers using the same method as before, only this time sand against the grain you established in the previous step. For example, if you sanded side to side in Step 3, sand up and down.

5. Sand the rocker covers again, only this time move up to a paper in the 800 to 1200 grit range. Sand at a 90 degree angle to the sanding pattern from the previous one.

6. Sand the rocker covers up to three more times, using a higher grit paper each time and always switching directions each time you sand. Use the wet sanding method each time.

7. Wipe down the rocker covers completely with a damp cloth and buff them dry with clean microfiber cloths. Examine them closely to make sure that there are no abrasive particles left on the aluminum surfaces, but avoid touching the metal.

8. Push the polishing disc or ball attachment onto the bit clamp of your electric drill and tighten it down. Put on your safety goggles and dust mask.

9. Apply the aluminum polish according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some polishes work better if they’re applied to the metal first, while others are better suited for application to the polishing disc.

10. Polish the entire surface of the rocker covers. When using the drill, apply some pressure to push the attachment against the metal, but do not use so much pressure that the motor in the drill slows down. Work in small sections, shining each section before moving on to the next. You should aim for a uniform shine across the entire section of rocker cover.