If the headline above sounds like a pushy sales pitch, it’s not meant to be. I’ve put off this review for a year or more, unsure about how to share my thoughts on the Muc-off Ultimate Bicycle Cleaning Kit. It’s embarrassingly expensive — $104.99 retail — even more so for a cheapskate like myself. However grudgingly, I have to admit it works much better than anything I’ve used to clean bikes in 25 years of riding.
Muc-Off divides their product line into three steps: clean, protect, and lube. The Ultimate Bicycle Cleaning Kit includes products for all three steps, though I found the cleaning products by far the most useful. Many of us already have our own preferences when it comes to chain lube, and not everyone bothers with frame protection. But at some point or another, every mountain bike will get dirty, and will need a proper scrubbing.
At the core of the Muc-Off cleaning system is the Nano Tech Bike Cleaner. A 1L spray bottle is included in the Ultimate Bicycle Cleaning Kit, and it’s available for about $15 by itself. A 5L jug offers an ever better value at about $40, though that size doesn’t come with a spray bottle. I’ve been using the same 1L bottle for more than a year, washing countless review bikes before shipping them back to their rightful owners, plus my own bikes, and I’ve only used about two thirds of a bottle.
Mountain bikes attract more grime than we often realize: dirt, oil, brake pad dust, sweat, sticky drinks, and grease all make their way onto various bike parts over time. If you’ve ever tried cleaning a bike with dish soap, you know some of that stuff just doesn’t come off very easily. So I was surprised at how well the Nano Tech liquid cut through everything right away. The cleaner is said to be safe for every surface on a bike, so I just spray it on, then scrub everything down with the soft washing brush included in the kit. For most cleanings, that’s it; just hose the bike off, and let it dry.
Muc-Off won’t say what’s in the Nano Tech liquid, but they do claim it’s safe for the environment and doesn’t contain any acids or chemicals.
Perhaps the one part of a mountain bike where Nano Tech may not be up to the job (particularly on a bike that hasn’t been maintained very diligently, ahem) is the drivetrain. The Muc-Off Bio drivetrain cleaner is designed specifically to de-grease drivetrains, and it does a fantastic job. I’ve even used it in the kitchen to clean off sticky, caked-on grease on the range hood, and it works great. At about $20 for a 500ml spray bottle, it’s not cheap, but my bottle has lasted even longer than the Nano Tech liquid since a little goes a long way.
Muc-Off includes a variety of brushes in the Ultimate Bike Cleaning kit, some more useful than others. For those starting out or looking for the bare minimum, I recommend picking up the soft washing brush ($9.99) and the stiffer, two-prong brush (also $9.99). Both of these are different from the old dish and tooth brushes you may be using now and are worth picking up specifically for washing bikes.
Muc-Off sells a nice, large sponge ($3.99) but you can also use a car wash sponge if you have one already. The kit includes a microfiber cloth for polishing and drying, though again, most folks already have one of these laying around. Buyers get a handy toolbox for holding all the supplies, and while it’s nice to have, it’s really not necessary.
Sticking to just the two basic liquids and two brushes, the bill comes to about $55, just over half the cost of an Ultimate kit. (Muc-Off sells a $70, 8-in-1 kit that basically includes the items I recommend, plus the sponge and a couple extra brushes.) Again, it seems like a lot of money for cleaning supplies and materials, but the difference over makeshift tools and multi-purpose cleaners is pretty remarkable. Spread over a year (or two, or three, depending on how often you need to wash your bikes) the price doesn’t seem quite as bad. And that’s not to mention the time it saves and decreased overall bike maintenance costs.
Muc-off products are available online and through most bike shops.
Thanks to Muc-Off for providing the Bicycle Cleaning Kit for review.