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Muc-Off HCB-1
Long Term (6 month) 400ml £16.00

Muc-Off HCB-1 is a protectant spray that isn’t cycling specific but unlike some traditional favourites is kind to carbon composites, rubber seals and electrical components. Getting the best from it requires a little prep and methodical approach but this repays with a relatively clean, durable barrier. A little seems to go a reasonably long way too, which is welcome since £16 for 400ml is quite pricey.

I’ve used ours inside steel and aluminium alloy frames, car engine bays, sills, frame ends, electroplated quick release skewers, trailer hitches, hub cones, derailleur springs, dynamo connectors, computer and lighting battery contacts, work stands workshop strip lighting etc. Thus far, everything’s holding out very well and, in some instances, I’ve only needed a single coat.

Pros:   Convenient to apply, effective against corrosion, seemingly friendly to carbon fibre, composites, electrical and rubberised components.

Cons: Long curing times may be a turn off for some.

test review muc-of corrosion prevention bicycle motorcycle

Specification

Muc-Off wouldn’t give much away but would say it’s a “synthetic based additive” carefully blended from mineral oils and solvents. These are designed to inhibit, prevent and more general corrosion/oxidisation, stop existing rust, while also offering protection from humidity and salt spray. In common with some of Muc-Off's other products it reacts to UV light, so even coverage is easy to spot.

An applicator straw is also included for accuracy and avoids wastage.

I’ve managed to lose ours but can confirm others will fit. Solvents serve two purposes. They make the “good stuff” sprayable and will, to an extent clean and prime the host surface, so the lubricant or protectant can attach itself.

Method/Application

While I might get straight to it with a new frameset, or one back from the spray shop. Otherwise, give bikes/equipment a thorough sudsy bucket clean and towel dry first. Shake the aerosol vigorously for 30 seconds to mix the contents evenly and then deliver a thin layer, allowing this to cure. Muc-Off say this can take up to 24hours and this is certainly the case for surfaces like car engine bays, bulk heads etc-at least those living outside. 

 

Bargain on 12 hours on bicycles, frames and tooling stored in a dry outbuilding/garage. From here, further light layers can follow, say if you’re applying to bikes serving on indoor trainers, cars, motorcycles and similar being stored/standing for longer periods. When the temperature has dropped to single figures, leaving the aerosol standing in a bucket of warm water has helped with the flow. If you want to, remove any overspray with a clean rag now. I’ve tended to leave some behind, but you do you. 

Bike Specific

test review muc-off corrosion prevention

I’ve used HCB-1 inside framesets, to mask electroplated fork blades, frame ends, nickel plated pedal bodies, trailers and tools (especially those with a basic black finish that seems blighted by the familiar orange- brown taint). Stem, crank and other recessed Allen bolts are also prone to corrosion since water can linger unnoticed; especially mudguard and carrier eyelets.

test review muc off hb-1 cycling bike

Bare metal, such as stone chips, or adjustable legs, such as these on a Topeak disc friendly model were also given a single, light coat and left 12 hours. Obviously, metal Ahead fork steerers should not be greased but I’ve found a light misting of HBC-1 a useful precaution when mounting metal stems-especially steel to aluminium alloys, or titanium. Situations where galvanic corrosion can sneak in. 

 

Given Muc Off say it’s safe on carbon and rubber components, I’ve not been overly careful around seals- hubs and bottom brackets being cases in point. The formula is surprisingly invasive- heavier than a water displacer, or more basic maintenance spray but the sort that sneaks in nicely- no need to remove skewers or track nuts if giving frame ends another coat, for example. 

Contexts

I’ve tested ours between August and February, which have been characterised by flooding, storms, ice, road salt, slush and mud. Both cars are parked outside, 17 and 20 years old and serve year-round. Fixed gear winter trainer and Ursula should require little introduction and do big mileages in all weathers. Both framesets have been treated internally with a traditional wax-based frame preserve. Depending on the conditions and contexts, these require periodic topping up. 

 

I’ve given both bikes a quick shot or two through the frame’s holes to hopefully bolster this and to see if the HCB-1 would have a negative effect upon the pre-existing product. I’d never treated the Dawes Edge frameset B internally - it had been stored indoors, encased in bubble wrap for a few years-longer than intended but life sometimes gets in the way.  I’ve applied a liberal amount inside the frameset and plugged the holes for 24 hours so it wouldn’t seep out - it didn’t. 

Performance & Durability 4/5

Longer term corrosion resistance has been favourable. No hint of taint on tooling and that which already sported some freckling seemed to cease and ultimately neutralise, turning a faint black. This was also the case with some superficial, surface rust around my elderly Nissan’s engine bay area. 

tst review bike muc off

I wasn’t surprised to discover electroplated quick release skewers, track nuts, fasteners and small frame chips have all remained free of corrosion.

bike stem hadset test review
tes review muc-off corrpsion prevention barrier

Despite being constantly blasted by a wet, salty, slushy cocktail on the roads and boggy winter trails. I’ve washed both bikes weekly, too. 

test review bike bicycle muc-off

As a precaution, I’ve reapplied two further light coats to Ursula’s frame ends, mothballing them until spring. Still doing its job handsomely. 

muc off hb 1 corrosion prevention test review

Otherwise, there’s been no call to top up through winter. Lighting and computer contacts have done their thing without connectivity issues, while sealing floodwater and similar out. 

test review cycling bike muc-off

Again, no call to reapply to the K-Lite systems, or the SP and Shimano hub contacts. Some faint corrosion had developed around the K-lite switches and the HBC-1, stopped this in its tracks. I’d had some issues with the spring on Ursula’s Tiagra mech turning orange after several wet rides - even with post ride shots of GT85  . A single squirt of HCB-1 cured this, without causing stickiness, or attracting muck like a magnet. 

 

The lubricant properties mean it's also kept lock mechanisms slick without any gumming up, although I’ve been very sparing in my application. Generic synthetic maintenance sprays such as JL69  would be more cost-effective solutions for these, and similar jobs.

 

When it came to the cars, I have given two further, precautionary light coats to the areas discussed - the existing layers were still intact (checked with a UV light) but both cars are exposed to A roads, muddy lanes and motorways. 

 

The Nissan had also had some welding to the sill and only a moderate, bog-standard acrylic primer protecting this. 

Cleanliness 3.5/5

I wasn’t surprised to discover some light, filmy grime but this to me was quite reassuring. Apply an overly thick coat, and don’t leave long enough curing time-expect a gungy, albeit effective beard. Save perhaps for a bike doing extended turbo trainer service, you wouldn’t apply to stems and other contact points but transfer to hands, say during wheel removal was minimal.

Value 3.5/5

£16.00 for 400ml isn’t cheap but as I’ve said, used sparingly a little goes a decent way and seems very kind, yet durable. Having treated three frames, sections of cars along with electrical contacts and tooling a third of the 400ml tin remains.  

 

ACF50 is another popular corrosion inhibitor designed with the aerospace market in mind (also popular within motorcycling circles). Probably the HCB-1's closest comparator, its kind to electricals and modern composites/seals. Cheaper too at £9.99 for a 385ml aerosol. However, while good, I’ve found the ACF50 requires more frequent reapplication in comparable contexts. 

 

Traditional automotive sprays, such as Waxoyl are around the £12.99 mark for 400ml and still have a place on my shelf. However, they’re less versatile. Great for treating steel framesets internally, masking electroplated forks, frame ends, headsets etc. However, not kind to seals, electricals, rubberised components and composites.  

 

WD40 Specialist Corrosion Inhibitor is another household name and again, not cycling specific, so more limited- metal frames, tooling etc. Motorex Bike Protect Dirt Shield is £11.99 for 300ml. Described as “carbon tested”, it’s a filmy type product designed to preserve bikes in storage for extended periods but seems less versatile than the HCB-1, or ACF50.   

 

Oxford Mint General Protectant is another film type formula designed for bicycles and motorcycles.  Recommended for winter and protecting rubber, electrical and moving parts e.g. suspension. £8.99 for 500ml. However, on paper at least, it lacks the same versatility as HCB-1. For example, I’m not sure of its credentials as an internal preserve. 

Summary

There are cheaper protectant sprays, but few seem capable of matching the HCB-1's versatility. It seems safe on all surfaces (save for contact points, disc rotors, rim sidewalls etc) and similarly durable, without attracting the same amounts of grime. It will biodegrade and therefore, require topping up every so often. A year maybe, for bikes in long term, dry storage but carefully applied, our formative helpings are still holding out six hard months later. 

Verdict: 3.75/5 Versatile and effective corrosion inhibitor that plays nicely with composites, rubber and electrical components. 

 

Michael Stenning

 

HCB-1 - 400ml | Harsh Conditions Barrier - Moto, Bike & Car | Muc-Off UK

 

PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 2024

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