DIRT DOC BIKE CLEANER
1 litre £5.95
Dirt Doc Bike Cleaner is a biodegradable pump-spray which claims to clean and shine. There are a lot of bike cleaners of this type about, so it’s a competitive market. In that context, I’ve used Dirt Doc Bike Cleaner on several bikes, over several weeks, and found it a good performer – easy to use and effective on both dust and oil.
Pros: effective on general bike dirt.
Cons: nothing significant, but this is a competitive market.
Science bit and spec
So, what does the Dirt Doc prescribe for your mucky machine? Well, his Bike Cleaner promises to remove grime and oil and leave a nice shiny finish. It is biodegradable – and environmentally friendly. With a five litre (£19.95) refill available, you can mix up your own strength. Ours was the 1 litre spray, so I’ve not attempted further dilution.
It is claimed to be safe on carbon, anodised, painted and plastic surfaces. You’ll note, there’s no mention of rubber seals etc, in the “safe on” statement. However, it seems to be fine on all surfaces, and I’ve not noticed any impact on seals, old tarps – as per the UPSO Potters Pannier, for example. Having said that, if unsure take their advice and try on a small area – preferably a well-hidden one – before going the whole hog.
Although, biodegradable, take normal safety precaution, as per the instructions on the bottle. I’ve worked bare-handed and not noticed any ill-effects, but wear gloves if necessary.
First, give the bike in question a good rinse with clean water. If cleaning the drive-train, degrease it first. Shake the bottle, and spray away. The spray is pretty accurate, so I’ve not felt that too much was running to waste.
Dirt Doc recommend leaving things to stew for a minute or two, but no longer and certainly don’t let it dry out: that is a common feature od spray-type cleaners. If there are especially grimy corners, then a little agitation with an appropriate brush will aid penetration. Wash away with another dose of clean water.
There’s no instruction to rub over. However, using a soft, lint-free cloth can help avoid streaking and bring a shine.
I’ve found the process convenient enough, indeed it is pretty intuitive.
First test up was on my old tourer-cum-hack-commuter, grease and grime on the drive train and lots of crushed lime dust on frame and mudguards. I degreased the drive-train first, using Muc-Off’s Bio Degreaser; I’d not expect a cleaning fluid to have much impact on a four hundred miles worth of mixed weather accumulations. However, it did leave a nice mix of degreaser and dissolving grease on the chain stays.
Applying Dirt Doc Bike Cleaner, I briefly worked at grime clinging between crank and chain ring and clinging to the spider. The lime dust was largely washed away from the mudguards by the initial wash over with water. However, the Dirt Doc certainly dealt with all but odd bits of the post-degrease concoction on the chain stays, with one rinse. A brief second dose, and all was clean.
Shine-wise, even without a once-over with a clean rag, the plastic mudguards were gleaming. Although the old stove enamelled paint job is long-overdue another strip and respray – frankly it would take a magician to make it lustre – it did look much more like the old racing green that it had once been. The SP Hub looked lovely, too.
Although I’d not tried it on the drive train, I did try it out on a lightly soiled cassette. Although the grime did not melt away, a little elbow grease helped to get the worst away: encouraging, if the degreaser runs out.
An application plus a bit of a scrub has brought the Soma Okami Saddle, on my old single-speed, back to life. The same applied to my UPSO Pannier – used mainly on the commute, these days. As you can see, something stronger was needed for spots of grease, but the general impression on the dust and dirt was very good and left a ship-shape finish.
Fans of concentrates, such as Squirt Bike Cleaner, may want to look at the five-litre version. Those happy to use the single-litre spray, will find plenty of choice. Taking Pure Bike Wash at its recommended dilution, I’d say things were pretty similar in terms of performance, although for that pound or so extra, you get the opportunity to beef the mixture up, too.
Oxford Mint Bike Wash is a pound more expensive, but has many similarities. Around twice the price is SKS Wash Your Bike which is a better bet form very heavily soiled machines, in my opinion. Likewise Green Oil Green Clean Bike Cleaner is very fast acting, and comes in under a tenner.
Pro Green MX Bike Wash is not available at £7 a litre. Coming in at £9 is Tru Tension Monkey Juice, which may edge things on deeper grime.
Dirt Doc Bike Cleaner has sent dirt and oil packing from frame, but, as one would expect, has been less effective on heavier grease. It is effective and comes at a good price. For me, it is perfect for a cleaning schedule that does not leave too many mucky miles between appointments.