Harley-Davidson Approves New Zinc Plating Processes

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New protective coating will last even longer than existing surface treatment.

While it’s rare that our motorcycles spend time exposed to salt or moisture, ferrous (that means iron-based) components are prone to rusting. While most components are painted, the fasteners holding the parts of our motorcycles together are typically bare or zinc plated. This makes them especially susceptible to rust.

Many fasteners on Harley-Davidsons are zinc plated to prevent oxidation. This is accomplished through a process called passivation, where the metal is treated in such a way as to make it less likely to react with its surrounding environment (and become oxidized or rusted). During the passivation process, the surface of the metal is lightly coated with a protective material (usually zinc) to keep rust at bay.

Typically, zinc coating appears as a shiny orange/yellow/green coating on nuts and bolts. While it typically holds up well to regular use, eventually it is worn away by use and environmental factors. It’s just a thin surface coating, after all. The result is an initially cloudy finish, followed up by eventual rust.

The good news is that it takes years for the finish to erode, and with the limited, fair-weather use most Harley-Davidsons get, it’s less likely to happen at all. Still, this recent bit of news from Products Finishing, a trade publication for the finishing industry, is exciting.

Recently, Harley-Davidson has taken on Asterion as a supplier, intending to use their Technibrite alkaline and acid zinc plating systems on powertrain components. This new protective coating is reported to last even longer than the existing surface treatment.

Asterion worked with Hydrite Chemical Company to create a finish that looks like shiny, fresh metal while requiring little to no maintenance or upkeep. While it’s unlikely that you’ve ever thought about your motorcycle’s nuts, bolts, and unpainted drivetrain parts before, it’s clear that Harley-Davidson plans to keep it that way.

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Longtime motorcyclist and automotive journalist Cam Vanderhorst is a regular contributor to Harley-Davidson Forums, Ford Truck Enthusiasts, Corvette Forum and MB World, among others.

When he's not busy working on his Harley-Davidson bike, the vastly experienced writer has covered an array of features, reviews, how-tos, op-eds and news stories for Internet Brands' Auto Group and is also a co-founder and co-host of the popular podcast Cammed & Tubbed.

Check him out on Instagram at: Camvanderhorst.

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