SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
Weldtite Bike Cleaner Concentrate
1 Litre £21.99
The Weldtite Bike Cleaner Concentrate will make up to 10 bottles of stock bike wash, can be brewed to custom strengths, or indeed be used neat as a degreaser. Lots to like, although I’m disappointed to discover a 5-litre workshop variant isn’t presently available.
Pros: Versatile, effective and relatively inexpensive workshop staple.
Cons: Not a con as such, but no 5-litre option at time of testing.
It’s brewed in the UK, vegan, cruelty and salt free. Ingredients are commonly used in cleaning/detergents. Anionic and Cationic surfactants. These are commonly used in soaps and similar products, since they lift and suspend grime, so that it doesn’t cross contaminate. The latter also works very well in water-based products, so an obvious choice for bike washes. There’s also a preservative and scent- a choice of lemon or lime fragrances. Don’t be chugging it and store away from little fingers or paws. Closer inspection of the bottle reveals a harmful to eyes and skin label and a warning it may be corrosive to metals. More about that later.
Biodegradable is another term banded about and can mean a wealth of different things. At its simplest, this is a way of saying it will eventually break down. With these things in mind, some sensible precautions-I’d wear examination gloves if you’ve sensitive skin or use for extended periods. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
To brew the factory blend bike cleaner, pour 100ml concentrate and add 900ml (about 30.43 oz) water. Helpfully, Weldtite have printed off 100ml markers, taking the guesswork out of things.
Unless there’s a good reason not to, I brew different strengths for different contexts i.e. a stock blend for everyday washing and a neater brew (200ml concentrate, 800ml (about 27.05 oz) water) for heavily soiled bikes and neat for degreasing/marinating in the parts washer.
Now, I’ve done this for many years will no ill effect to finishes, seals and other delicate components. However, it’s worth noting that I do not exceed waiting times and rinse very thoroughly with fresh, clean water.
When cleaning the bike(s) I round up the bucket of warm water and cold-water chaser, brushes, sponge(s) ready. Deep cleaning, I’ll whip out the wheels, apply the concentrate to cassette, chain, rings etc with a brush, leave a minute before agitating with a stiff brush. If the bottom bracket, chainstay and down tube are similarly encrusted, I’ll apply a light layer of neat concentrate - ditto the undersides of mudguards - then return to the drivetrain, giving it a further tickling before rinsing with tepid water.
I then blast stock bike wash over the frameset- leave another minute or so before gently lathering and rinsing the entire bike - being very thorough where I’ve applied neat concentrate. For a seasonal “tear down” I’ve decanted 100ml of concentrate into the parts washer and basted badly soiled components, leaving them fifteen minutes and in some extreme contexts, overnight.
However, this has been reserved for stainless steel and electroplated rings, chains and sprockets - not painted, or anodised surfaces. I’ve also rinsed and dried them thoroughly afterward. I’m also pleased to report the stock concentrate hasn’t done anything nasty to makeshift degreaser pots made from recycled ice cream tubs.
Now this leads me nicely into the comfort bit. I’ve applied ours with and without gloves and for periods ranging from 20, through to 90 minutes. Despite the warnings, it’s not overly harsh but bare handed, my skin was feeling a little “tight” and dry given 45 minutes, or so’s intensive cleaning. Nothing that a good rinse and light moisturising didn’t sort but where possible, I’d whip the gloves on. Similarly, I had a bead hit me straight in the eye when a breeze swept in, prompting some agricultural language and a sprint to the sink. Again, no lasting damage but we only get one pair of eyes, so safety glasses aren’t a bad idea. Similarly, I haven’t scorched the lawn, but I’d use away from plants and vegetables.
March has been a wet, filthy month. The sort where the bike’s as scuzzy, one, possibly two rides after the last clean. Wet lubes are what’s needed but they also attract mud, grit and grime. I’m pleased to report I’ve turned Ursula around in 30 minutes and the fixed in 20 minutes. Not the fastest perhaps but very respectable and I’d always err on the side of gentler when it comes to delicate bike components. Neat, or otherwise, with proper rinsing here’s been no blotches, streaks, or similar residue. It’s also important to remember these have been treated to middleweight-heavy duty wet lubes, including Muc-Off Wet Lube and Motoverde PTFE Chain Lube .
Two moderate applications of Weldtite Bike Cleaner Concentrate and moderate effort had chains, cassettes and rings stripped in ten minutes - a little quicker if you’ve poured a little in the chain bath (or between two nail brushes and run chains through them). Slightly quicker than Weldtite Citrus Degreaser on comparable lubes.
When it comes to greases, I’ve stripped this Deore Hollow Tech II crank axle of more advanced synthetics (Juice Lubes Bearing Grease, a synthetic closer to a putty in texture) dinner plate clean in ten minutes, again with modest effort.
A little quicker and easier than the pump spray Muc-Off Biodegradable Degreaser. I’ve deliberately left some off cuts of chain and a very elderly Regina BX freewheel marinating overnight with no obvious damage to the electroplated finish. However, I rinsed and dried thoroughly before applying a light helping of Muc-Off Bike Protect. Yes, old school solvents such as white spirit might well do the job faster (I sometimes use solvents to strip any residual gunk and let them evaporate) but they’re not the kindest and being flammable, require careful handling. The neater (200ml/800) mix is also very effective on badly soiled shoes and luggage, although when it comes to genuine leather, allow to dry naturally and apply a light helping of “food” to keep the hides supple and nourished.
Things are competitive, which is great news for consumers. £21.99 is favourable - £2.19 per litre of bike wash, although Squirt Bike Cleaner Concentrate is neck and neck performance-wise as a degreaser, a bit kinder, and £5 cheaper. Then of course, there’s my other old favourite Fenwicks FS1, which will make 11 litres of their stock wash and is another effective neat degreaser - £14.50. There’s also a 5 litre version. That said, Peaty’s Loam Foam Concentrate is £19.99 and “only” produces 4 litres of stock bike wash. Motoverde Bike Wash Concentrate comes as a 5 lite concentrate for £27.99 but “only” produces 10 litres of bike wash, mixed 50/50 and I’ve never tested its degreasing prowess. Muc Off Bike Cleaner Concentrate 1 litre has been discounted to £19.60 and is a tried and tested formula. However, it only produces four litres of their bike wash, which works out dearer than the Weldtite Bike Cleaner Concentrate.
To some extent there’s an element of swings and roundabouts when it comes to bike cleaner/concentrates. The Weldtite Bike Cleaner Concentrate is mid-price wise but more economical when it comes to their stock formula - which has a slight edge on some on the grime busting front-clinging to the host surfaces better, in my experience. It is similarly tuneable and doubles as an effective degreaser. A 5-litre version is for me, a missed opportunity and would certainly extend the appeal to intense fettlers and pro mechanics alike.
Verdict: 3.75/5 Effective bike wash cum degreaser for home mechanics. However, a 5-litre version would give it an edge over some rivals.
PUBLISHED MAY 2023
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH