JUICE LUBES DIRT JUICE CHAIN CLEANER
The Juice Lubes Dirt Juice Boss Chain Cleaner is essentially a neat, non-foaming, emulsifiable degreaser stock. One designed to strip greases, oils and their contaminant efficiently. Citrus based formulas are faster acting and aerosols more convenient. However, used carefully, Boss can be very economical and shouldn't damage, or discolour surfaces and delicate rubberized components.
Pros: Non-flammable, seemingly gentle, yet effective on all surfaces, doesn't evaporate when decanted to other pots.
Cons: Less effective on stiff greases, requires rinsing with water, so better used as part of a deep bike clean.
An emulsifying degreaser is essentially a cleaning product employing an organic, rather than petrochemical solvent. These capture and dissolve oils, fats, greases and organic muck, preventing cross contamination when rinsed with clean water.
Biodegradable covers a multitude of sins. Best interpreted as "it will break down, over time". Not necessarily kind to organic life, so use and store away from waterways, pets and children.
Safety glasses and gloves are a sensible precaution, if prolonged exposure is on the cards and/or you have sensitive skin. Juice Lubes were quick to distinguish Boss Chain Cleaner from its bike wash concentrate cousin.
They don't recommend diluting Boss and using it as a bike wash. However, it can be deployed neat, as pre-wash on stubborn Petrochemical grot. For example, fling from some thinner middleweight chain lubes, and waxy internal preserves leached from a steel frameset's breathe holes.
There are two basic techniques. I've tended to pour 50-100ml in a pot, then basting cassettes, rings and other large surface areas with an old, clean paint brush. For surgical strips, remove components, place them in a parts washer, on indeed an old chocolate tub. Leave them marinating in the solvent for two minutes, then rinse with clean water.
Paraphrasing the late Prince Buster, if you have your brush, you can avoid the rush. Chains are very straightforward. Assuming you're not tossing them in the parts washer/chocolates tub, pour a little in the chain bath and turn the cranks 5 revolutions.
The bristles will agitate the solvents and lift ingrained grime. Leave 30 seconds or so, then repeat. Marvel at the slimy black stuff sloshing around the chain bath's sump, then rinse through. It might look vile, but the solvent component means it can be re-used, at least on light/moderately soiled chains. Useful, if you're tending several bikes.
Back at the parts washer
90 seconds in, give cassette, rings mechs etc a quick tickling with a stiff bristled brush. The claw-shaped transmission types are great for detailed work - jockey wheels, cages etc. Kitchen and nail types are dirt cheap and surprisingly effective on cassettes and rings. Leave another 30 seconds, then rinse with clean, tepid water.
Using these techniques, results have been pleasing, although not markedly better than several, similar blends I've tested recently. Components treated to middleweight types (including Weldtite TF2 Performance All Weather Lubricant and Juice Lubes Viking Juice) were gleaming, given three minutes and minimal effort.
Waxy formulas, designed to be applied in several coats (including Muc-Off Dry Chain Lube or Smoove Universal Chain Lube ) can become very congealed and deceptively tenacious between cassettes, rings and derailleur cages. These too dissolved without trace, when agitated mid-marinate. Much the same story when it comes to rim sidewalls and disc rotors, although you don't want the latter TOO clean.
Residual amounts of stiff greases, clinging to seat posts, pedal threads will also shift convincingly using this technique. However, its relatively impotent, faced with sophisticated synthetics, including White Lightning Crystal Grease. True to claims, accidental overspill doesn't seem to erode welcome grease, such as that clinging to free hubs, etc.
£14.99 for 500ml is at the upper end of this middle-of-the road market. Velo 21 The Degreaser is probably its closest rival and a good deal cheaper, at £9.99 for 500ml. In performance terms, it's almost too close to call, in my opinion. Both can be re-used, 2-3 times, without loss of performance, when deployed via old put and bucket/parts washer.
Crankalicious Gumchained Remedy can also be re-used a few times, doesn't evaporate rapidly and doesn't require rinsing.
Juice Lubes Dirt Juice Boss Chain Cleaner is a decent enough cleaner cum degreaser. One which is reasonably effective on moderately grotty drivetrains, and economical, with the right technique. By the same token, it's a fair bit dearer than Velo 21 The Degreaser and less convenient than Crankalicious Gumchained Remedy. At the other extreme, if you’re really looking to blitz vile looking drivetrain components, in a hurry, Green Oil Agent Apple Degreaser .