Chemicals Direct Fast Action Bike Cleaner Multi-Purpose does exactly what it says on the modestly priced three-litre drum and will delight experienced fettlers who want a versatile concentrate that can make super potent, industrial strength degreasers and ultra-mild bike rinses to suit.
The exact composition is not detailed, but despite reminding me of kerosene or agricultural diesel, we're assured it's a 'biodegradable, non-flammable, non-abrasive that penetrates and removes stubborn grime, mud, dust and oil'.
Most formulas use ionic surfactants - chemicals whose molecules essentially burrow beneath the grime, breaking it down before they're flushed clean with tepid water. When the Chemicals Direct cleaner is diluted 50 to 1 and sprayed liberally over a mucky bike, the foaming blanket is indistinguishable from several competitors.
So long as the recommended two-minute standing time is observed, mud, dirt and similar organic crud slides away into a scuzzy, yet supposedly harmless puddle. However, it was ineffective against grease or chain lubes, let alone that dubious cocktail of road slime, unspent diesel, and oil.
For crossers and mountain bikes in fair to moderate states of muckiness, there's little need to deviate from this script, though running it 10% leaner seems pretty good across the genres and hasn't left unwanted calling cards on carbon/composites or more delicate painted finishes, even when waiting times have been exceeded by a minute or so.
Used neat, it's a really effective degreaser that races through stubborn wet lubes and contaminant with little encouragement, though it's not quite as good as citrus formulas. However, it can be harsh on skin and surfaces so either decant it into a clip-on chain bath, or place grimy bits like cassettes in an old ice cream tub or other parts washer.
Similarly, clear safety glasses might induce some mockery but save considerable pain and an afternoon in casualty. A stray airborne droplet had mine watering quite profusely as I yelped and uttered copious profanity.
Sludgy rings, derailleur cages and jockey wheels were little match for the 50/50 mix sprayed in short bursts and left for twenty seconds but remember that old clean rag to mask other surfaces from overspray.
Capable and versatile cleaner that favours busy workshops or enthusiasts with large fleets
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Make and model: Chemicals Direct Fast Action Bike Clean - Bike Cleaner Multi Purpose
Size tested: 3 litres
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"With a BRAND NEW 3LTR Container this Bike Clean is a great new product - FANTASTIC VALUE UNIQUE CONTAINER with Detachable trigger sprayer and Drum Tap
BIKE CLEAN is a biodegradable, concentrated, non-flammable, non-abrasive high performance cleaning solution. It penetrates and removes stubborn grime, mud, dust and oil.
A multi-purpose all over bike wash".
Pretty much covers it.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
a 'biodegradable, non-flammable, non-abrasive that penetrates and removes stubborn grime, mud, dust and oil.'
Following the standard recipe, it's pretty much on par with everyone else's but the ability to "dilute to context" is a definite plus.
Standard dilution is fairly kind to user's skin but neater stuff can leave sensitive skins feeling a little dry, so avoid prolonged contact or wear gloves.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The main benefit to these brews is the ability to tweak and tailor several different mixes-one for generic washing, another for more tenacious, ingrained sludge and a neat degreaser for drivetrains. Overall performance certainly matches some household names when standing times are correctly observed and the foaming mixture seems kind enough to painted, plated and composite surfaces without streaking or similar imperfections. That said, in neat form use a chain bath/parts washer.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great value, tunable mixture supplied with helpful guidelines.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 40 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)