Keeping on top of your bike's maintenance is the pet peeve of nearly all cyclists, especially over the winter and shoulder seasons. Not many of us enjoy it, but in order for the bike to run smoothly, it needs to be done.
Whether or not you're not lucky enough to have a dedicated bike room or shed, the following five things are great additions to any cyclist's cupboard and take care of your bike and also, your clothing and helmet. A clean bike is a fast bike, and in the long run, by keeping things (including your clothes) in good nick, you'll end up saving money.
These are only some of the bike and riding kit maintenance products we're testing at the moment, and we've already reviewed a bunch of bike cleaning products and apparel wash solutions. Check all of those and more out on our reviews page...
DK Sonic Ultrasonic Cleaner - £199.99
Ultrasonic cleaners have become a spectacle in the cycling world because of their superb cleaning power and if you can afford one, they're gonna revolutionise the way you clean your bikes drivetrain. The ultrasonic machine - which looks a bit like a deep fat fryer - basically sends high-frequency 40Khz sound waves through the liquid (which is just plain water!) scrubbing clean the surface of the parts you've placed into the bath.
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Ultrasonic cleaners come in all sizes and shapes. This specific DK Sonic one we’ve got in to test is six litres in volume, so it should be able to take a cassette and chain easily and get them squeaky clean. You can adjust the timer for up to 20 minutes and the cleaner can heat up the liquid up to 80°c.
Silca Secret Chain Blend Hot Melt Wax - £48
After you've ultra-sonic-cleaned your chain, you can smother it in some wax to prevent it from getting mucky after the first wet ride. Silca says that its Secret Chain Blend brings the same super speed and silence as its Super Secret Chain Lube, but in a hot-melt wax-dipped chain version - and should help extend the chain and drivetrain component lifetime by up to ten times.
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This wax consists of highly refined laboratory-grade paraffin and a high concentration of three sizes of Tungsten disulfide - meaning the blend acts as a lubricant but also changes the surface of the chain. It should fill any crevices of the metal with the highly lubricious and wear-resistant Tungsten disulfide, and overall the wax creates a fast-running, low-friction chain.
In short, Silca promises that you will be marginally faster by using this wax on your chain. It does come with the added faff of the cleaning and waxing process, but with a good ultrasonic cleaner taking care of the pre-waxing clean it might be worth it, especially if you appreciate a formula that is environmentally-friendly.
Black Mamba Latex and Nitrile Workshop Gloves - £30
It’s easy to spot someone who’s been doing some bike mechanics without gloves… their hands will, more often than not, be covered in very persistent black grease. Although a good scrubber soap can help to get most of it off, it’s a lot better to simply protect your hands before getting them dirty.
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These Black Mamba gloves are industrial-strength, powder-free and made of nitrile. They boast three times the chemical and puncture resistance of comparable thickness latex or vinyl gloves - which sounds pretty ideal, considering all the chemicals and sharp edges you will encounter in a bike workshop.
Muc-Off Helmet Care Kit - £30
Your bike maintenance is not the only part of cycling that you should frequently take care of. All of our kit, including the clothing, cycling shoes and helmets, last a lot longer when they are cleaned and taken care of.
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Muc-Off has developed this Helmet Care Kit for just that purpose. It’s more aimed at full-face helmet riders, aka mountain bikers, but most of the products can be utilised for road cycling helmets as well. The kit includes a Foam Fresh cleaner, Visor Cleaner, Premium Anti-Fog Treatment, Microfibre Cloth and Microfibre Detailing Cloth - meaning you can get your lid cleaned inside and out.
Muc-Off Technical Wash For Apparel - £13
UK winter cycling conditions are really unforgiving, and mean that you’re washing your cycling kit much more than you probably wish you were. Clean kit, whether it seems dirty or not, feels a lot better and performs a lot better than dirty kit, but when you constantly keep washing it, you’re also stressing the fabrics and technologies built into the apparel.
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Using a sports-clothing-specific detergent such as the Muc-Off Technical Wash For Apparel can help with this. As Muc-Off says: “The unique, concentrated formula gives your garments a deep but safe clean, whilst protecting any existing DWR treatments and the breathability of the material, so it’s perfect for freshening up and extending the life of those shred threads."
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