Cleaning a bike is a good thing to do, and not just because it makes the bike look good (which is reason enough for me). When you clean the cycle, you're removing all sorts of harsh chemicals such as road splatter, bug guts, bird droppings, etc. Left to bake in the sun for days, these chemicals could wear down paint, leather, plastic windshields and possibly stain or damage them permanently. There's also the issue of abrasives. Brake dust, road dirt and other tiny debris can rest on the surface of paint, and while the bike only looks dusty as a result, if you accidentally brush against a dirty spot, you scrape all that dust across the paint, which will invariably scratch it to some degree. Cleaning your bike regularly will help your ride look good and stay looking good.

While a bucket of soapy water and a wash mitt will do just fine, I use that Mr. Clean auto-dry car wash system which is sold, like everywhere now. It's a self contained, hose-connect unit that sprays soap, then rinses, then does the filtered spot-free rinse that looks great when done. The only really unique thing about the system is the final filter rinse (which is still cool and worth it in my opinion) up until then it's just a basic soap and water system. Of course you'll still need to soak/scrub some of the grimier spots, bugs and tar. With this system, you don't need to towel dry the bike either.

Another option for rinsing that works great is using water collected from a dehumidifier. This is about the most sediment-free water you can get at home. Simply wash up the bike, rinse with the hose and finish off with a pour of the dehumidifier water to prevent spots. Try it!

Speaking of bugs and tar, if you really have it bad, I suggest getting some dedicated bug and tar remover, as well as a bug and tar removing sponge. You can pick these up pretty cheap at any auto supply store. The sponge has a fabric mesh over the actual sponge, which really helps to scrub the splotches out.

Most bikes are totally safe to wash, after all, most bikes you can sit out or ride in the rain, so they better be waterproof. In any event, I follow the below rules when washing mine: Waxing and polishing is optional, but does add a good lustre, especially on chrome parts.

Also, Have fun with it! Washing the bike shouldn't be a chore. just like changing the oil, it helps you connect with your baby on a zen-like level, and that's what motorcycling is all about!