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Oxford Mint Brake Cleaner spray effectively decontaminates disc brake rotors and callipers and is safe for use on rubberised pads. If you suffer from perpetually squeally disc brakes, this product is a brilliant solution – though not so brilliant for the environment.
The cleaner uses a powerful solvent-based decontaminant to dissolve and remove any impurities that happen to be living on your brake pads and rotors.
It's these impurities – dirt, dust, oil, and so on – that are said to be a main cause of disc brake squealing. At worst, they can also affect brake performance, causing 'grabbing' or 'chattering' when what you want is a smooth application and consistent braking force.
It's an easy product to use, though somewhat counter-intuitively you should use it after a bike wash, when the bike is dry. It's designed to dissolve contaminants and 'clean' the braking surfaces in the absence of water, rather than before you wash it (where contaminants are often applied to the brakes!).
All you have to do is get your bike up on the stand, drop out both wheels, then apply the solvent to both the brake pads and the rotors, and let it evaporate. If you do need to wipe any excess away, then do it with a clean cloth or fresh piece of kitchen paper. Once done, you're free to refit your wheels.
There's really nothing more to it than that, and I've been impressed with how effective it is – given there's no scrubbing or elbow grease involved. On one bike with a troublesomely noisy rear brake, the squealing has practically disappeared.
In addition, I also cleaned up some used alloy rim brake pads with some success as well, returning their effectiveness to something like they were when new. Note: don't attempt this with carbon pads or rims.
In short, it works, and it lasts a good while too. There's no need to over-apply this cleaner: a couple of seconds spray on each surface (both pads, both sides of the disc brake rotor) is enough to achieve the desired effect.
The only downside here is that it's not good for environment. In fact, it specifically carries the 'toxic to wildlife' symbol (unlike even Oxford's Chain Cleaner and Bike Degreaser products). The minty scent characteristic of all the Oxford products in this range is pleasant compared with a typical solvent smell, but it's not a sign of any biodegradability.
Fibrax makes a disc brake cleaner that Mike reviewed back in 2017 and thought was very good, with its 'bike-friendly and non-pad-material-dissolving nature'; it's listed as £6 for a 400ml can, though the cheapest price online seems to be £8.99.
Mike was also impressed with GT85's Disc Brake Cleaner when he reviewed it back in 2016; it was £7.99 for 400ml and is still available on ebay, though GT85 makes no mention of it now.
This is a really effective brake cleaner product, lifting and shifting decontaminants from your disc brakes with minimal fuss. It's not good for the environment, but that's the only real black mark against it.
Effective and powerful disc brake cleaning, but not environmentally friendly
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Oxford Mint Brake Cleaner 500ml
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?
Oxford says: "It's important to keep your brakes clean for efficient braking and to help your regular inspection of moving parts and pads.
"Mint Brake Cleaner is specially formulated to efficiently remove any build-up of brake dust and dirt and leave a decontaminated surface for the perfect functioning of your brakes. It's also acetone-free and safe on rubber components.
"It of course features a clean, minty scent.
"The cleaning power your pride and joy deserves."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Oxford lists these key features:
- Maintains brake performance.
- Easy to use, high power delivery removes brake dust and brake fluid.
- Rapid working formula leaves brakes clean in minutes.
- Deep penetrating action.
- Fast drying leaving a residue-free surface.
- Clean, minty scent.
- Not tested on animals.
I've been impressed here – it does a great job of decontaminating disc brakes (and even rim brake pads, I found).
It's the same price as Peaty's, though that's biodegradable. Fibrax is cheaper, working out at £7.50 for 500ml (£6 for a 400ml can).
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's been brilliant at what it sets out to do.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Effective action, mint fresh smell.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not environmentally friendly.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's the same price as Peaty's Disc Brake Cleaner, which is biodegradable; Fibrax makes a disc brake cleaner that's a little cheaper, £6 for a 400ml can (if you can find it for that price). Mike reviewed that back in 2017 and thought it was very good. He was also impressed with GT85's Disc Brake Cleaner when he reviewed it back in 2016; it was £7.99 for 400ml but doesn't seem to be available any more.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, although I'd be very tempted to opt for something like Peaty's biodegradable cleaner which is less harsh for the environment.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, alongside Peaty's product.
Use this box to explain your overall score
This is a very good, very effective product. If it were less toxic to the environment it'd be even better...
About the tester
I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF SL (2016), Fairlight Strael 3.0 (2021) My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, Dabble in Zwift training and racing