MUC-OFF DRIVE TRAIN CLEANER
Keeping the drive train pristine may be a matter of pride, even de riguer for Eroica riders. For the rest of us doing away with the worst of the muck is just a very good idea to prolong the life of components and helps to keep leg-wear clean. Muc-Off’s Drive Train Cleaner is a dedicated potion for spraying or dosing the chain-bath. With one or two limitations, I’ve found it ideal for frequent cleansing.
Also available at 750ml £22.99 (trigger not included).
Pros: easy and quick to use for frequent use.
Cons: quite pricey, but you can be sparing.
This is a biodegradable formula, but do take care not to ingest and keep it away from eyes etc., and keep it away from pets, too. I’ve not found gloves necessary, but the formula could cause irritation to the skin, so wearing maintenance gloves, such as Muc-Off's Mechanic's Gloves, may be a sensible measure. Equally, always test on an obscure bit of your bike, as it is not recommended for non-factory finishes nor to be left on carbon for longer than instructed. Of course, it is meant for the drive train, but you’d have to be a pretty clever sprayer not to get any on the paint job.
Shake bottle vigorously and spray over the drive chain (cassette, chainrings, chain and derailleurs). Leave for up to one minute – carbon owners, please note - and agitate with a brush if required. I’ve also found rotating the cranks helps ensure coverage. You can add it to a chain bath, too. Just fill to the required level with the cleaner. After agitation thoroughly rinse off with water. Muc-Off recommend using their Bike Protect to disperse remaining moisture. Fair
enough, it is best to get rid of the water before re-lubing the chain. However, I’ve been in no rush, so have been able to leave things to air dry.
Following the rinse, I added my own wipe of the chain, and other parts, with a lint free cloth. The same with the stays and bottom bracket, to get rid of any remaining cleaner.
The cleaner appears as a yellowish haze when sprayed – helpful to check coverage and spillage, although it does not stay that way for long. The spray is pretty easy to aim, but wipe off carbon or any paint job you are unsure of.
My first test was on a drive-train fresh for 100 miles of winter riding on country lanes, city streets, long sections of filthy canal towpath cycle route, and odd bits of gravel. Dirty, but not so gloopy as some off-road riders would say so. OK, grime did not melt away immediately. However, let the cleaner penetrate, then agitate, as directed. Things quickly began to look clean, if not pristine, with a wipe over. Targeted attention was needed to remove stubborn remnants of the ride. Recent salt and grit on the snowy roads have been dismissed, too.
Perking up road only bikes turned out very well, and was accomplished with little agitation. True, I’d stuck mainly to the cleaner roads and had avoided the ‘farm yard experience’ I generally use to test cleaners and lubes.
I find it tempting to be profligate with sprays, especially when in a rush. I’ve not found the Muc-Off Drive Train Cleaner especially profligate, and careful spraying should between fifteen and twenty clean-ups with a 500ml bottle – depending on how dirty I’ve let things get.
I’ve tended to pour more into the chain bath. Results have been very similar, although for heavily soiled chains, penetration of chain links is more rapid with a chain bath. Likewise, when soaking parts in an old plastic take-away tub – or parts washer. In my opinion, it is most useful and economical with parts in situ.
Fans of biodegradable formulas may see more value than those petro-chemical heads who love powerful degreasers, such as, Oxford Mint Degreaser. The latter is significantly cheaper, but comes as an aerosol-type spray. True, it is very effective, but I’d not expect it last as long as this Muc-Off Drive Train Cleaner. Oxford Mint Chain Cleaner may be a better comparator as it is aimed at the whole drive train rather than any old grease. It is, again, much cheaper, but in my opinion, is not so effective in the same time span.
Green Oil Degreaser Jelly works out at a similar price. It is a bit more time consuming to use, but it has excellent green credentials. Mind you, I’d prefer the Muc-Off Drive Train Cleaner for ease of use, say, at a trail-head, or before loading into a car.
Green Oil's Agent Apple Degreaser is now £14.99 for 300ml and can be reused three times and is a mightly effective "bang, and the grot is gone" formula. Finish line Eco Tech2 Degreaser is rrp £10.99 for 335mm and can be purchased in workshop quantities.
Muc-Off Drive Train Cleaner is a highly-effective and convenient spray to clean up the whole of the drive train, especially without stripping things down. Suitable for both workshop and car park use (so long as you have some surplus water in your bottle), I think I’d go for the value of the 750ml version, at least, next time round – the larger bottle does not come with the spray-head.