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Verdict: 
Very effective chain cleaner but pricey, and toxic ingredients
Weight: 
220g

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.

  • Pros: Highly effective and very powerful chain cleaner
  • Cons: Flammable and toxic ingredients, a higher price than other cleaners

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.

> How to clean and lube your chain

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.

Verdict

Very effective chain cleaner but pricey, and toxic ingredients

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

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?

Smoove lists:

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.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10
Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

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.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

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.

8 comments

Avatar
huntswheelers [160 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

You can get 5 litres of brake cleaner for £12....  this Smoove is probably the same or similar stuff.... we use Brake cleaner (sparinginly) to get the chains clean from Squirt wax, and a loosen up of the wax on cassettes followed by Ultrasonic bath for the cassettes after..... nice clean drive...then re waxed for a silent ride...

Avatar
StraelGuy [1602 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

Or 2 litres of white spirit for £3 .

Avatar
JF69 [33 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
StraelGuy wrote:

Or 2 litres of white spirit for £3 .

White spirit on its own won't remove completely, ie to gleaming shiny condition, most lubes, certainly not Smoove's own otherwise excellent lube.

Avatar
Butty [300 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes

So what is the secret toxic ingredient? Is it made from a hoarded stash of TCE?

 

Avatar
a1white [157 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

“Keep out of reach of animals”.   Yet as soon as this is washed down the drain, this is exactly what happens. The toxic chemicals don’t just magically disappear, they go into the environment. Why do we allow toxic crap like this to be manufactured, just to clean a bike chain?

Avatar
BikeDibley [8 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
a1white wrote:

“Keep out of reach of animals”.   Yet as soon as this is washed down the drain, this is exactly what happens. The toxic chemicals don’t just magically disappear, they go into the environment. Why do we allow toxic crap like this to be manufactured, just to clean a bike chain?

 

Because sadly, eco-friendly degreasers just don't perform as well as they need to in order to prepare a chain for re-lubrication. Fine for oil, not for advanced lubes like SMOOVE. 

Avatar
BikeDibley [8 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
StraelGuy wrote:

Or 2 litres of white spirit for £3 .

As another user said, White Spirit isn't as strong as is needed to correctly prepare your chain for SMOOVE Lube. The lube requires an absolute residue-free raw surface during application. If that's done right, you can get 600-890 road miles on a single application (if everything is done right and weather is fair). 

And for anyone thinking that using petrol will also degrease a chain...no, it leaves a film behind that resists adhersion of the wax to the chain. 

Avatar
janusz0 [214 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
BikeDibley wrote:
StraelGuy wrote:

Or 2 litres of white spirit for £3 .

As another user said, White Spirit isn't as strong as is needed to correctly prepare your chain for SMOOVE Lube. The lube requires an absolute residue-free raw surface during application. If that's done right, you can get 600-890 road miles on a single application (if everything is done right and weather is fair). 

And for anyone thinking that using petrol will also degrease a chain...no, it leaves a film behind that resists adhersion of the wax to the chain. 

Ah, so we're discussing wax, which won't lubricate until the chain is hot enough to melt it!  A little petrol residue might just fill that gap!  This also suggests that heating an environmentally friendly chain cleaner above the melting temperature of the wax, will solve the cleaning problem as long as you rinse with boiling pure water.  An ultrasonic cleaning bath might also help, but with this level of faff you might get more rides in by recycling  chains every 600-890 miles.