Before you lube a chain you need to clean it, and doing that dirty little job is made much easier with Smoove Prep, an impressively powerful chain degreaser that brings a shine back to even the most stubbornly dirty chain.
Smoove Prep was specially formulated (aren't they all?) to clean, dissolve and neutralise the company's own Universal Chain Lube and be far more effective than other degreasers, so you need less of it. A bottle contains enough degreaser for cleaning the drivetrain 10 times. I was able to make it last longer by using it more sparingly with satisfying results.
I tried two different methods for cleaning the chain. The first was with an old chain cleaner device, being sure to follow the company's instructions to not fill the device and use one measure, as indicated by the clear ruler on the side of the bottle. This worked effectively, the brushes and rollers clearing the chain effectively.
My other technique, if you don't have a chain cleaner, is to pour a small amount into an old cut-in-half water bottle and use a combination of a scouring sponge and an old toothbrush to work the solution into the chain and cassette. I find this works well and has the benefit of providing targeted cleaning; it also uses a bit less degreaser so you can make a bottle go a little further.
The parts of the bike you want to use it on are primarily the chain, cassette, rear mech and chainset. You don't want to be using it on your disc brakes; there's a big warning on the back of the bottle about doing that. You've been warned!
The results are instantaneous and near-miraculous. Even the most neglected chain and the cassette was brought back to showroom condition, with the accumulated dirt and gunk just falling off. I've not seen this sort of tenacity since testing a Morgan Blue bike cleaner many years ago.
The reason for its potency is down to that special formulation, the details of which Smoove doesn't give much away. There are some strong warnings on the label: keep out of reach of children and animals; this product is flammable; if ingested seek medical advice; prolonged skin contact will dry and irritate sensitive skin; gloves and protection required.
If you're environmentally conscious there are more eco-friendly cleaners available such as Green Oil's Clean Chain Degreaser Jelly.
It's a little more expensive than other bike cleaners like WD-40 Bike Degreaser or Duck Smart The Black Stuff which are both half the price, but the sheer tenacity of the Smoove Prep for me outweighs the price difference. It has a really powerful action that will clean the most stubborn chains, though the toxicity of the ingredients is a concern.
Very effective chain cleaner but pricey, and toxic ingredients
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Smoove Prep Chain Cleaner
Size tested: 250ml
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?
Smoove says, "After months of testing and development, SMOOVE are proud to announce the launch of SMOOVE™ PREP. Think of SMOOVE™ PREP as the conditioner to your shampoo, the milk in your coffee, the seat on your seat post... ok, you get the idea!
SMOOVE™ Universal Chain Lube was developed to be the longest lasting chain lubricant available – and it is – but every now and then, your drivetrain needs some proper cleaning and this is where SMOOVE™ PREP comes in.
SMOOVE™ PREP was developed with special 'stuff' (read: lots of technical polymer science stuff) that is specifically formulated to clean, dissolve and neutralize SMOOVE™ Universal Chain Lube in just two easy steps. You will find it far more affective than other degreasers you usually use requiring far less of it. Each bottle can degrease your drivetrain ten times over."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
1. Requires far less than a normal degreaser.
2. DO NOT FILL chain cleaner to the line noted on the cleaning device. Use only 1x measure as per side of the bottle. That's all you need.
3. Bottle contains 10x measures.
4. Use chain cleaning device as usual slowly turning pedals letting the rollers and brushes do their thing.
5. Rinse off and dry.
6. Use SMOOVE Chain Lube.
Depends... it's more expensive than some other cleaners but it's also extremely effective.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
For getting a chain and cassette gleaming it is hard to beat.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Gets your chain and cassette shiny again!
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's not eco-friendly.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's more expensive than some other cleaners, but in my experience it's more effective than a lot of degreasers.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
For chain cleaning performance it's hard to beat, but for being eco-friendly (if that matters to you) it doesn't score so well.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.