When you ride a bike throughout the year, as I do, it can display an alarming tendency to get really filthy, really fast. Especially in winter. The combination of road dirt, salt and generally unpleasantness renders even the most pristine bike distinctly rat-like in a matter of minutes. And if you ride to work and operate the same sort of hours as most people then during the winter your free time with accompanying daylight is both reduced and usually very much in demand.
Having an easy way of cleaning your bike, therefore, is a really major plus. I'll caveat this with one thing. It's only easy if you have somewhere to wash your bike. If you live on the 20th floor and need a hundred metre hose to get fresh water...maybe this isn't going to work for you.
The nice people at Cyko sent me three products to try. They're a British company who have dedicated the last few years to making life easier when it comes to cleaning things. And they seem to be quite good at it, too.
The first thing I tried was their Motorbike Wash and Shine. It's a fairly straightforward product - basically it's a shampoo formulated for bikes. So the expectation would be for it to be particularly effective on the sort of crud we tend to accumulate on our machinery. Dilute it by about 20:1 in warm water, wash your bike using it and a sponge or washcloth and then rinse. It's effective - probably the most effective conventional shampoo I've used and certainly better than another, far more expensive, product I've tested before. It doesn't streak and it doesn't leave any icky deposits. It even smells nice. No rocket science involved in applying it either. Retail price is £9.95 for the 2 litre bottle shown or £16.95 for a 4 litre version. So basically its a really good product for a good price but not exactly ground breaking.
No. The ground breaking bit comes next. Cyko Accelerated Bike Cleaner makes claims that I thought had to be nonsense. Actually I thought rather stronger than that, but this is a family site so I'll leave it at that. In short, Cyko claim that you can simply hose your bike down, spray it with this stuff, leave it for a bit and then hose all the detritus and crud off. Just like that. Which,plainly, is nonsense.
Except that it isn't. If you're got really seriously caked on grime then it may need a nudge with a brush, but for a once a fortnight clean on a used every day bike it works a treat. Far, far better than it has any right to work. I also did my trailer wheels, which haven't been cleaned for about ten years (seriously) and though they did need a bit of help they came up clean with very little effort indeed. Ditto my car wheels, caked with 5,000 moles of brake dust. Bosh - genuinely like new with hardly any effort at all. I'm impressed. It's also not especially expensive, retailing at £6.95 for the litre bottle here.
The next thing I opened and played with was a small pouch containing a visor cleaner. It's a small bottle of cleaning fluid with a spray head and a nice quality microfibre cloth. There's not a vast amount I can say about this stuff, expect that, like everything else, it works exactly as claimed. It's easy to use, doesn't need any additional ingredients (like water) and it does the job. Which is as much as I could reasonably ask. And at £3.99 for the pack shown it won't break the bank.
And finally. Scrubbies. What? Scrubbies. Think baby wipes on steroids. Basically a nice soft cloth, almost like microfibre, impregnated with some super duper soapy stuff. Add water and you've got a washcloth. It's tough enough to do your hands if you've had a bit of a roadside incident and need to get clean to go back to work, and it's big (and gentle) enough to do your entire body if you've found yourself without certain essentials and you're not going home. You could probably actually wash your smalls with it as well, so you wouldn't smell like a tramp the next day. I was sceptical in the extreme about these, but again they really are bloody brilliant and I can't see myself travelling anywhere without one rolled up in my emergency kit. A pack of twelve will retail for £5.99, which is astonishingly good for such a clever product.