Pure bike wash | Dirtwash degreaser review.

I was recently sent some mountain bike cleaning products to review. Two of which were the Dirtwash citrus degreaser and the Pure Bikewash spray. Two very specific bike products. So, how do they fair?

Well firstly you need a dirty bike. Luckily here in the UK that's pretty easy to achieve; just go out for an hour or so. Here's one I made earlier:

As you can see, pretty dirty and fairly typical of being a mountain biker in Surrey. However this is wet, fresh mud - an easy test for a cleaner as 90% of this will just wash off with a hose, as indeed it did. Here I subscribe to the Andy McNab theory of kit care; clean the bike before you do anything else. Bike comes first, rider second. Invariably an initial hose down before anything dries does the job. I'm generally happy with a bike at the 90% clean level and often just leave it at that. However, I did try the Pure Bikewash out of interest seeing as how it was free, to see what it did with regards to the final stuck on stuff. The idea being that you spray the bike with the cleaner, avoiding the suspension and braking bits, then rinse off. Again it worked but seeing as how you have to avoid all of the bits that actually need cleaning, as opposed to bits that don't, i.e. the frame, then, without wishing to sound ungrateful, I can't see the point of the stuff really. I went back to good old brush, water and mild car shampoo which does an excellent job. Really to clean the majority of a bike water and a bit of elbow grease is all that is needed. Perhaps the spray on stuff is meant for the more idle cyclist, whose bike gets washed every six months and ends up covered in oil and grease? If that's you, then it's great stuff!

The chain, though, is different. Chains are oily, messy things that generally cannot be cleaned by water alone. Some of the forums will have you believe that a chain can be cleaned with nowt but an oily rag. Guess if your bike never looks like the above, then I agree but for the majority of off-roaders some form of degreasing solvent is needed firstly to get the oil out, and then to attack all the bits of gunk left behind in the rollers. Naturally if the chain is a mess, then so will be the cassette and chainset, and possibly rear wheel rim. This is where products like the Dirtwash degreaser and Pure bike degreaser come into play. I don't like covering my whole transmission in degreaser. Spraying the whole lot invariably means that the bottom bracket and rear hub bearings get a good dose too. Best avoid doing that then. I just want degreaser on the chain, and a little on the cassette - as little as possible. The Pure degreaser comes out in a very fine spray and you don't need much of it. I just used enough to wet the rear cassette and that was it; brush it over and rinse with loads of water, job done.

The Dirtwash is different. It uses a very fine nozzle so the degreaser can be applied specifically to the chain only. It did a very good job of removing the old oil from the chain. But again I'm old school; I either usually take the chain off and soak in degreaser or run it through a chain scrubber. What I found here was that spraying the chain with the Dirtwash, then running through a water bath afterwards, gave acceptable results. Certainly got rid of that graunchy feeling you can get in a chain.

But degreasers themselves can bring problems. The more efficient the cleaner, the stronger it is, the harder will it itself be to remove afterwards! Sometimes you need a cleaner to remove the cleaner. Some of the really cheap but efficient ones [the gallon containers of degreaser you get from homeware stores] mean that the chain has to be thoroughly washed afterwards, and even then often needs an application of WD40 or similar to chase the degreaser out. Just a faff that, and limits what lube you can use to something compatable with WD40 - rules out my favoured waxes. The Dirtwash took no effort to remove, no secondary cleaning process. A flush with water was enough. I liked that.

Look, what I'm getting at here is this: If you use a strong degreaser some of it will be left within the rollers when you come to lube the chain. Lube on degreaser? Come on! Ineffective. You need to be sure that ALL of that crap is out of there. OK?

Overall the Pure bike wash is a bit of a luxury that can perhaps be avoided. It's probably relatively efficient at what it does, but elbow grease, water, a sponge and an old brush worked as well if not better, given that suspension and brakes still have to be cleaned anyway. If you like a clean frame, or if you leave cleaning your bike for prolonged periods of time, then go for it. It does the job nicely then.

The Pure eco degreaser was a different story. It cleaned the cassette nicely. Not perfectly, but enough for me to be happy. I've also used it in the past to clean my chain in the chainscrubber, a job it does very well. But here's the rub. Being an essentially eco product it has its' limitations. If you use an eco based oil as well, then it works brilliantly. Use normal, tenacious oil and it seems a bit weak at shifting the stubborn bits, and you have to put a bit more effort in. That or just buy a nasty, un-eco product that just cuts through the crap in no time. Hmmm, which do I prefer..... Diluted but quick nasty stuff, or 25ml of "save the planet" stuff and more effort? Actually I went for a 50/50 option. I used a turpentine substitute mixed with the Pure degreaser! The turps got rid of the oil, the Pure got rid of the turpentine. Go figure.

The Dirtwash stuff I quite liked. It did the job efficiently and smelled nice. I didn't need to use much of it to get a 90% clean chain - most people would be happy with that level of cleanliness, and I was too today. Once the chain is dry any form of lubricant may be used on it. If you are taking a bike on holiday and don't want to take tons of cleaning products, then the Dirtwash would be an acceptable space saver. The bike wash I'll probably not bother with again, but the Dirtwash I'll probably use all the time, and may well buy my own in future.


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