ZEFAL BIO DEGREASER
1 litre £9.99
Zefal Bio Degreaser is a thin, yet effective degreaser. There’s a definite knack to getting the very best balance of performance and economy but it’s versatile, easy to use, won’t scorch the lawn, or leave hands feeling dry.
Pros: Gentle but surprisingly effective on most chain lubes.
Cons: Gel/concentrate types linger longer and work better on greasy components.
Bio Can mean a multitude of things and Zefal weren’t giving a great deal away. Apparently, it’s an alkaline detergent and degreasing agent free of waxes, silicones. Fully biodegradable, we’re assured its safe on all surfaces and to date, I’ve found nothing to contradict this.
In some respects, you can simply flick the nozzle open and blast away, like a bike wash, leave it lingering for thirty seconds, then tickle with your appropriate brush. Add another shot or so as required, scrub and rinse with clean water. This can be a little wasteful, especially if you are tackling a heavily soiled drivetrain.
Scenario 1Filthy chain or looking to change lubes.
Decant into a chain bath (or into two old nail brushes), clip on and rotate the cranks a few revolutions. Leave for thirty seconds, add a bit more, if required, repeat and then rinse with fresh water. Dry, then re-lube.
Scenario 2 Scuzzy Drivetrain
For more sullied drivetrains, I’ve poured a little in an old cut down water bottle or tool caddy, storage type, then basted it over the rings, chain, derailleurs using an old but clean paint brush before doing the agitating with a plastic, transmission type. Add more as required, repeat, then rinse. Warm (though not hot) water accelerates the purging process slightly. Dry, re-lube and you’re ready to go.
As above, decant from the pot using the paint brush and really baste it on-headset races, seat posts, pedal/ bottom bracket and frame threads being prime candidates. Tickle with that stiff bristled transmission brush and for best results, apply some more. Unlike solvents it won’t gobble grime on contact, agitating the mixture is key, whether you’re delivering via a pump spray, or applying via brush.
To some extent, bike washes are essentially dilute degreaser concentrate, So found an old clean pump spray mixed 200ml in, added 80ml water and administered in the time honoured fashion, starting at the bars and working along, letting gravity lend a hand .
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the grime busting prowess, even as a stock formula. Taking things at face value, I started by giving my Univega a proper clean after a few largely dry weeks, and 600 miles. I’d fed the chain a specialist “all weather” wax formula during this period - quite stoical and very clean.
To my astonishment, three short blasts made considerable inroads, visibly breaking it down in the minute, or so it took me to give the bike a foamy blow-over with a gel-type bike wash (One designed to adhere to surfaces, theoretically giving it longer to break down the grot).
Given the predominantly dry conditions, upon rinsing and drying the bike, I replenished the existing lube. After a similar period, alternating between Pro Gold Pro Link and Zefal Pro Dry Lube on my fixed’s transmission, I decided to opt for a thicker, wet blend. This time, I went the pot and brush route.
While thin and filmy, rather like a basic bike wash, a moderate layer (left 30 seconds then agitated with the transmission brush) dissolved these lubes and any residual that had accumulated around the ring.
Coming from a solvent type, such as Crankalicious Gumchained Remedy , this was most apparent at the rinsing stage.
Mind you, it was obvious how much progress the bio-degreaser was making, no disappointment come rinse phase. I wasn’t surprised that stiff ceramics needed a bit more persuasion/rider effort. Basting a light coat of bio-degreaser on the cassette, jockey wheels then pouring a bit intro the chain bath was the best route.
Two maybe three minutes has been all its needed to strip these dinner plate clean, with a warm water rinse. Oh, incidentally it’s been impressive at tackling cross contamination-ingrained chain lube on bar wrap, following a mid-ride flat. On this occasion, faster than some gel-based types.
Spent chain lube, waxy internal frame preserves also shifted with only moderate effort. Ditto scuzzy discs and braking surfaces. However, citrus based gels such as Green Oil Chain degreaser jelly will soften stiff greases, including White Lightning Crystal from seat posts, headset races, pedal threads etc.
Placing parts in a make-shift parts washer (chocolate tub) and using the baste, on and scrub technique was most effective, although those stubborn greases needed a quick, additional squirt and subsequent scrub, followed by a liberal scrubbing.
Bike Wash 3.25/5
Following the 20/80 mix, it’s proven a pretty effective performer on light to moderately soiled bikes. Get your brushes and buckets full and ready first. Starting at the bars, spray all over the bike, give it 30 seconds and then get busy with your brushes.
Organic muck and filmy, oily spatter have just slithered away, including some spots of internal frame preserve that had leached from the breathe holes during hotter weather, accumulated filmy grime around the inside of the rear dropouts etc. I was particularly impressed by its prowess on embossed bar wraps. Following the standard technique and with a medium stiff brush (such as the Green Oil Bicycle Brush these boots, caked in thick coastal mud were restored effortlessly, in a matter of minutes.
Silicone bar wraps, including this Acros Bar Tape responding particularly well to a soft/medium brush tickling. Polymer types, such as the Lizard Skins DSP respond best to being buffed clean with old clean towel, so as not to damage the specialist finish. However, the run-off means you need to respond faster than gel types, including Green Oil Chain Degreaser Jelly .These things aside, results are squeaky clean and without any signs of blemish, streaking or watermarks-at least on gloss and satin finishes. I’d still recommend giving titanium and matt, paintwork a quick lick of specific “polish” to restore their distinctive allure.
Though I’ve tended to concentrate fettling efforts on my designated strip of concrete, deployed on the lawn, the residual puddles and overspray haven’t done anything unpleasant to gras, trees and bedding plants. Prolonged use hasn’t left my hands feeling dry but bio-credentials allowing, I’d still say examination gloves are a good move for people with sensitive skins and rogue droplets in your eye isn’t fun.
To some extent, you are getting tow products in one, but this is true of concentrates, which will always work out cheaper-if you’re a shop/hard core home mechanic. That said; not everyone has the desire, or inclination to brew their own blend-the just want a stock product they can pluck from the shelf and use, knowing it’ll get the job(s) done without doing anything nasty to their bike(s) in the process. £10 isn’t outlandish, especially compared with the aerosol types. Velo21 The Degreaser is a good performer but comparatively pricey, at £9.99 for 500ml. Crankalicious Gumchained Remedy (link above) is another favourite and again, while good value overall, is still a good bit pricier than the Zefal at £12.00 for 500ml. No rinsing may swing the vote for time pressed mechanics who want to focus on components. Green Oil Agent Apple is great for “Kaboom” cleaning and can be re-used up to three times - but avoid painted surfaces, or rubberised components at all costs (unless you’re cleaning an old metal frameset, ready for refinishing).
Though relatively understated, as stock products go, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Zefal Bio Degreaser. It wouldn’t be the only degreaser on my workshop shelf. If I need to blast a chain and cassette at the speed of light, I’d reach for an aerosol solvent. Indeed, I wish it would linger a little longer, thus making it even more efficient, possibly economical but ultimately, its’ an effective and versatile stock product.