VELO 21 THE DEGREASER
The Velo 21 The Degreaser is designed to remove grot from the bike’s transmission, thus reducing wear upon rings, chains, cassettes and derailleurs. I’ve also pitted ours against more ingrained and impacted grot, with pleasing results.
Pros: Effective on most kinds of lubricant, with the right technique.
Cons: Slow compared with solvent and citrus based formulas.
The degreaser is a clear, odourless blend, which I am told is biodegradable and water soluble. The bottle and packaging are also made here, in the UK and widely recyclable. Caution is urged around paintwork, and obviously, use your common sense, when storing and using. I’ve applied sans gloves, with no problems but minimised my exposure and rinsed any accidental spillages immediately.
In addition to the 500ml “domestic” version, there are 5 and 25 litre options for enthusiast and commercial contexts. These cost £30 and £90 respectively.
Velo 21 recommends pouring a “small” amount into a pot and applying to the chain, cassette, rings, jockey wheels etc, using an old clean brush. This minimises wastage, contact with seals and other delicate areas. Leave marinating a few minutes, then agitate with a stiff brush (transmission, or old nail types being obvious candidates). Leave another couple before rinsing with fresh water.
I have found this “broad strokes” method fine for cassettes, rings and threaded components. I’m also pleased to report my designated receptacle (an old yogurt pot) shows no sign of degrading several weeks and many bikes, later. However, clip on baths proved the most effective and economical mediums for stripping chains.
Given the directions, and indeed warnings, I was initially underwhelmed by its pace on heavily contaminated motor oil and stubborn ceramic wet lubes. (I’d applied via old paint brush, left standing three minutes and agitated with a coarse-bristled transmission brush).
Using this method, it took me four attempts and fifteen minutes to purge my tubby tourer’s chain and cassette of congealed ceramic. Poor compared with Crankalicious Gumchained Remedy, let alone Green Oil Agent Apple Degreaser or solvent based aerosol formulas.
From this point on, I switched to the chain bath. Clipped it in situ, I poured 20ml of degreaser into the reservoir, then turned the cranks 8 times. Satisfied of even coverage, I left the chain marinating a minute, turned the cranks another 20 revolutions and repeated this technique, over the course of 5 minutes.
Cassette and chain rinsed with fresh water, and dried with clean rag, the latter was spotless. Much the same story with other, sophisticated petrochemical formulas, including Rock n’ Roll Absolute Dry Chain Lube.
Bog standard mineral oil/PTFE blends required less product (10-15ml) and were stripped in around half that time, ditto dry lubes, such as Weldite TF2 Ceramic Wax (3 minutes, before rinsing). Not bad, pitted against Pro Green MX Drivetrain Degreaser 1 litre, but more involved and still quite labour intensive, compared with Crankalicious Gumchained Remedy.
Taking things to their logical conclusion, and the formula at face value, I’ve tested ours on several greases. This time, I followed directions to the letter. Candidates included this superficially respectable, my fixed gear winter/trainer’s long serving System EX track crank had cultivated quite an ingrained patina around the spider. Applied via old, clean paintbrush and agitated three times, over a period of ten minutes, the Velo 21 degreaser made credible inroads.
Not something we’d recommend but, in the interests of investigative journalism, I left the cranks soaking for ten minutes. This had negligible effects upon the finish, although it has been regularly treated to high quality polymer waxes. Disc rotors shouldn’t be too clean, but applying a light coating to mine (as part of a more general, sudsy bucket session) removed some glaze and unwanted, pad chewing grime.
Performance was better on basic PTFE based preps-headset cups, seat posts, bottom bracket shells etc. Useful when giving bikes a comprehensive, seasonal/annual strip and overhaul. That said, something like Green Oil Agent Apple would be my choice, if I were preparing a metal frameset, prior to refinishing.
£9.99 is quite pricey, compared with a simple turpentine type solvent cleaner but broadly on par, with similar products. Pro Green MX drivetrain cleaner comes in a quid cheaper. Crankalicious Gumchained Remedy is proportionally more expensive but doesn’t require rinsing, and in my experience, can be reused.
Velo 21 Degreaser is one of several we’ve tested, which are better used, as part of a more intense spruce-up. The sort associated with a week of mountain biking, winter training, or foul weather. Situations where you’d purge the drivetrain, while giving the bike a thorough sudsy bucket seeing to.
Overall results are good, but technique is required to avoid wastage and maximise efficiency. Preps such as Crankalicious Gumchained Remedy have an edge, if you just want to give the drivetrain a quick purge and/or change lube type.