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Fenwick's Foaming Chain Cleaner



Relatively efficient, but brush-on degreasers work faster and are less wasteful

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Fenwick's Foaming Chain Cleaner is one of the spray-on aerosol types, and goes a lot further than most based around extremely potent butane/solvent mixtures. However, since you need to rinse it with cold water anyway, its FS1 (which can also be diluted to make a bike wash) is arguably more effective and better value.

Fenwick's has always been coy when it comes to ingredients, though I can say this one is acid- and solvent-free, which is great news for all finishes, but carbon/composites and rubberised components in particular.

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Having popped your bike(s) outside, start by giving the Fenwick's a seriously vigorous 30-second shake before aiming a few centimetres from the chain and at 45 degrees.

Depressing its nozzle while rotating the cranks ensures the pink foaming goo penetrates thoroughly, and giving the can a quick shake every 10 seconds keeps the flow constant.

Satisfied that you have even coverage, leave it marinating for a couple of minutes – it'll assume a sudsy state – then run your chain through the coarse honeycomb textured sponge. (This looks tired very quickly, though cross contamination hasn't been an issue to date.)

Lean summer lubes, be they wax or old fashioned ISO/Teflon mixes, will pretty much vanish at the first lick, but heavy duty wet potions (especially those that have become laden with gunge) have demanded three and occasionally four generous helpings.

This is quite time-consuming compared with the old school mechanic's 'brush on and rinse' technique which, by comparison, has done the same job with two liberal helpings and one thorough rinse.

> A clean chain is the heart of a smooth-running bike – here's how to keep it that way

Credit where it's due, the foaming brew does leave chains sparkling clean and ready for relubricating. And lateral thought has prompted me to clip on a chain bath while it's foaming and then turn the cranks again.

Taking this lateral train of thought further, when agitated with appropriate brushes the degreaser does a decent job of gobbling grime from cassettes, chainrings, cleat mechanisms, hub shells and polished/plated frame ends too.

Also, deliberately prolonging exposure hasn't revealed a caustic or spiteful side to its nature, which is arguably where it scores over some breathtakingly efficient store-branded petrochemical types costing half as much.


Relatively efficient, but brush-on degreasers work faster and are less wasteful test report

Make and model: Fenwick's Foaming Chain Cleaner

Size tested: 500 ml

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?

Fenwick's says: "Fenwicks Foaming Chain Cleaner is a wet degreaser designed to stay in place whilst working on the effected areas. Due to its rich foam qualities the degreaser is far less messy to work with as brushing and agitating the product does not fling it everywhere unlike watery degreasers. Can be sprayed directly on to the chain, cassette, and chain rings and washed off with water to leave a clean contaminant-free drive train."

Definitely one of the more economical and versatile spray on formulas but on balance, I prefer its FS1.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Shake can before use.

No need to wet bike beforehand even when dirt is dried on.

Step 1: Place chain in middle gear for ease of use.

Step 2: Whilst turning the crank spray Fenwick's Foaming Chain Cleaner directly on to chain.

Step 3: Leave to soak for a couple of minutes - this can be done whilst you clean the rest of the bike with Fenwicks FS-10 Bike Cleaner.

Step 4: For best results run the chain through the Fenwicks Chain Cleaning Sponge, specifically designed to agitate and, importantly, capture the chain dirt for a cleaner clean.

Step 5: Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
Rate the product for performance:

Definitely one of the better aerosol lube strippers, but applied via brush, the brand's neat degreaser works faster and is better value, especially if you run a fleet of bikes.

Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)

More pleasant to use than traditional petrochemicals.

Rate the product for value:

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Overall, Fenwick's Foaming Chain Cleaner is one of the more effective aerosol lube strippers and performs reasonably well on most types from simple Mineral oil/PTFE types to ultra stubborn space age ceramics. The foaming consistency minimises wastage, since you can redistribute it around the rings, cassette, jockey wheels and so on, and it's also kinder to skin than traditional petrochemicals.

However, having used this and the FS1 degreaser concentrate on a long-term basis, those with a big fleet may find the latter equally effective, less messy and, ultimately, more economical since it can be brushed on or applied via a chain bath.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Reasonably effective on most types of lubricant, and its foaming nature means it can be redistributed around the drivetrain with a stiff bristled transmission/toothbrush.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Can be a little messy and, as with all aerosols, there's quite a bit of wastage.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? No

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Definitely one of the more versatile spray-on blends but I would still steer them towards concentrates.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 42  Height: 1m 81cm  Weight: 70kg

I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike 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, mountain biking

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)

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muppetteer | 8 years ago
1 like

I had ten cans of this and couldn't wait to get rid of it. Whilst its does foam and stuff drips off, I had to use a whole 200ml can to get the same level of cleaning compared to using a standard degreaser and a paint brush. 

Rapha Nadal replied to muppetteer | 8 years ago
1 like
muppetteer wrote:

I had ten cans of this and couldn't wait to get rid of it. Whilst its does foam and stuff drips off, I had to use a whole 200ml can to get the same level of cleaning compared to using a standard degreaser and a paint brush. 

You're doing it wrong.

MartyMcCann | 8 years ago

I'm a big fan of this as well- mine  was recommended to me by my LBS and has lasted me ages - well over a year- and it does a great job on getting rid of the gunk. It initially takes a bit of getting used to when applying the foam but I will probably be replacing it with another can when it eventually runs out.

Dicklexic | 8 years ago

I ride a lot on a coastal path and near a beach with a lot of sand being blown around. I find that Fenwicks foam is the best at getting in and lifting all the accumulated sand out of the cassette. The foam gets in and then expands further, and seems to lift sand and grit out as it goes. I tend to press the nozzle on the can really gently so that the foam doesn't go everywhere. It has a tendency to get quite messy otherwise. 

Tony Farrelly | 8 years ago

Yeah I think it's ace too. My favourite chain cleaner. I would actually buy it but I'm still using the 200ml can I got given at the launch a few years back* - and the sponge. I have been careful about cleaning the gunk out of that afterwards and it still works fine, the only problem I've had is nearly sawing it in half by now (I must've had it four years). 

The great thing about it being foaming is that it sticks to the chain while getting in to the rollers where it needs to go and you can spread any excess around - on to the cassette or the the mechs. I tend to rinse with warm or even hot water rather than cold and I use a brush on the cassette.

*contrary to what some people in the team might think I do actually clean my chain regularly - though probably not as regularly as Shaun. Well, definitely not as regularly as Shaun.

1961BikiE | 8 years ago

I think it's ace. Especially for decreasing cassette, jockey wheels and chain rings in situ. As it foams (and boy does it foam) you think you're using a load but a can goes a long way I find. Finish off any remaining gunk with some 3:1 diluted FS1. Fenwicks are one of my faves for value and efficacy.

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