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As the saying goes, a clean bike is a fast bike. Keeping your bike in good working condition takes less than 20 minutes, especially when you have all the right tools. UK based Muc Off started with motorcycle cleaners in 1991 and has since branched out to the automotive and bike industry. Trusted by the likes of Team Sky, their line of cleaners, lubes, brushes and more is impressive. I put a few of their products to the test to see how well these purpose built products worked.
The first step was a general cleaning with their bright pink Nano Tec degreaser ($15). All that was needed was to spray it on, let it sit, then brush it down.
The 5 brush kit ($40) allows you to get to all the critical parts without struggling to reach the smaller areas. The large Soft Washing Brush made it easy to get the major stuff like large tubes. The Detailing Brush worked well for smaller areas like between aerobars and around the cranks. The special shapes of the Wheel and Component Brush were good for quickly getting between spokes and into odd angles. The Claw Brush worked out the grit and grime from my chain and drivetrain. Finally, the large Two Prong Brush was good for hitting the bottom bracket and cranks.
While the brushes worked well, the biodegradable degreaser did a great job of getting the majority of the grit off my bike. The amount I had to scrub was kept to a minimum, though the high traffic areas like the underside of your bottom bracket and crank area will need some extra attention.
After a quick rinse, the next step was to work specifically on the drivetrain. In addition to slowing you down, squeaky chains and pulleys are an annoyance for those around you. Again, this was a relatively straight forward affair. After shaking up the biodegradable Drivetrain Cleaner ($20) and spraying it on my chain, chainrings, cogs and derailleurs I waited few minutes and hit the dirt with the Claw Brush. Another quick rinse took care of any leftover residue.
Muc Off’s Bike Protectant ($15) is a preventive step that helps keep your frame clean. I like this product since it keeps with the theme of reducing build up before it starts. For riders in cold climates, riding in the winter means more grit, sand and general debris on the road so your frame could use a little extra protection. Good for carbon, metal, rubber and other surfaces, this spray provides a protective layer that stops dirt from sticking to your bike. Like the other steps, all I had to do was spray it on, though Muc Off does warn you to avoid spraying your tires and rims.
The last step of the process is to lube your chain. There are many options depending on the conditions, and of course Muc Off has all of those covered. For road rides on dry roads, I chose the C3 Dry Ceramic Lube ($13). For cyclocross, I chose the ultra lush Team Sky Hydrodynamic Lube ($28). Both are applied like any other lube, however, Muc Off provides a small UV light to shine on the chain to ensure that every link is covered.
Both lubes worked extremely well. During a wet and muddy ‘cross race my shifting remained smooth and I had noticeably less debris on my chain. On dry road rides, I did feel that the ceramic coating added some efficiency.
Yes, you can you use a generic degreaser, a brush and some rags to get your bike clean. However, it will take you much longer and you likely won’t have as clean a bike. And no, a protective spray is not a must, but again, preventing grimy build up in the first place cuts down on the work later.
All the products from Muc Off are well thought out with a purpose and performed well. Having the right tools for the job allowed me to get my bike cleaned and prepped in less time than ever. It also took less effort as I let the cleaners simply do their job. Afterwards, my drivetrain felt more efficient and everything was whisper quiet. The added bonus of cleaning your bike is that it can keep you motivated knowing that your machine is ready when you are.
For all the time you spend abusing your bike, make it a habit to give it some love. If not for the bike, do it for yourself since a well maintained bike makes your ride that little bit more enjoyable. Smooth and silent, that is how a bike should be.