Matt finishes look really sharp yet are a devil to keep clean. Enter Red Ant Matt Finish Bicycle Frame Cleaner, part of a range of specialist potions that also includes dedicated cleaners for carbon and titanium. Careful and considered deployment, rather than a casual, scattershot blow-over is crucial for getting one's money's worth.
All three products share an identical fruity scent, arousing suspicions of possible badge engineering. Distributor i-ride assures me these PH neutral formulas are genuinely surface specific, and mustn't be interchanged. Calling their bluff, I tested a sample of this on a high grade titanium seat post, resulting in some minor staining. Conversely i'm told this one completely safe on all matt materials and encouraged to spray liberally over said parts.
With this in mind, I placed bikes out of direct sunlight before agitating the contents and firing in very short, localised bursts along the main triangle before donning some old gardening gloves and wiping the cleaner along chain and seatstays with a kitchen towel. In common with traditional washes, leave marinating for three minutes or so before rinsing thoroughly with tepid water.
Overall results are pleasing, though pretty much what I'd expect given the price. Petrochemical cocktails like this tend to shift muck faster than traditional washes, and streaking and similar unsightly blemishes haven't been a problem. Mind you, mucky workhorses have required subsequent reapplications, especially around the bottom bracket/chainstay regions.
Mid to upper end plastics - mudguards, helmet peaks and similar accessories besieged by ingrained insects and other foreign objects perk up rather nicely too, suggesting it's genuinely safe on plastics but I'd shy away from using it on helmet shells just in case.
Does exactly what it says on the tin with great results
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Make and model: Red Ant Matt Finish Bicycle Frame Cleaner
Size tested: 500ml
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?
REDANT Precision Matt Finish Bicycle Frame Cleaner is formulated and developed as an effective and safe all over matt finish frame friendly bike cleaner.
* Its PH Neutral formulation protects the original matt finish whilst cutting through dirt deposits and oily road grime.
* Specially designed to effectively release dirt and degrease matt finish bikes.
* New biodegradable precision cleaning technology.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Biodegradable, less than 5% anionic surfactants
Simple enough to use, though minimise direct skin contact/exposure to ingredients.
Used judiciously, a little goes surprisingly far and is very effective.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been very impressed by the seemingly gentle, yet effective formula's ability to restore that illusive showroom fresh effect on stealth colours. While relatively pricey, a little goes a long way when applied via rag or kitchen towel. This also minimises accidental spillage and therefore potential imperfections on gloss/satin finishes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Restores the original beauty of matt effects with comparatively little effort.
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)