good, clean fun ?

Well, FUN might be overstretching things a bit, but good and clean are certainly appropriate words to use when describing the new bike cleaning kit from Swissol.

If you're into cars at all you may have encountered Swissol before. They make a range of rather exclusive car cleaning kits which do exactly what everyone else's cleaners claim to do. Except that, unlike most other products on the market, Swissol stuff actually works at least as well as they claim.

Now before you start getting all excited and mailing in to remind us that this is a bike site, not a car one, it's worth noting that Swissol, or more accurately their UK distributor, have cleverly noticed that bikes get dirty too. And that what's good for a car might well be good for a bike. But, recognising that the areas involved are rather smaller than a car and that a car sized kit would go hard before it got used up, they have come up with a smaller kit just for bikes. And recognising that though the principle is the same, bikes don't get exactly the same treatment as cars, Swissol have blended a wax specifically for bike applications. But more on that in a moment.

Swissol have been making waxes and cleaning materials for rather a long time. Over 70 years, in fact. And in that time they have got rather good at it - good enough that Rolls Royce provide a Swissol cleaning kit with each Phantom they sell. Their stuff is typically Swiss. Very, very effective while remaining environmentally sound as well. With one exception, Swissol cleaners are totally natural and organic. They even smell nice. The exception, funnily enough, is the wax on which the bike wax is based which has Teflon added to it. Of course, the other thing that the Swiss are known for is cost. Swissol products are not cheap. Just so you know.

Anyway, the idea is that this kit allows you to give your bike a really thorough clean once or twice a year and to simply wash and dry it off the rest of the time. Except that even after a simple wash and dry it would look as though you had spent hours cleaning. And, even better, the Teflon in the wax would stop the numerous flies that have come to a sticky end on your bike from, um, sticking. An added bonus is that the bike wax is resistant to fuel spills as well. Distinctly useful when you get those irritating splashes while filling up.

Like all good ideas, though, it's only any good if it works. So we tried it out. Twice. Bikes are very difficult to demonstrate shinyness, especially when they are almost new and already clean. But cars, having large flat areas to get reflections in, are far easier. So while Paul, the importer, went to work on our long-term GSX-R, I attacked my trusty but rather tired looking Subaru.

After something over 100,000 miles in 9 years the metallic black paint of my Impreza is showing its age. Even when cleaned and leathered off there is a dullness to the finish that won't go away.

The Swissol cleaning process is threefold. First of all you use a tiny amount of the supplied shampoo in lots of warm water and wash the entire bike. Or car in this case. Then dry it off, ideally with a clean towel. Paul recommends that you keep a washcloth and towel specifically for the job, and regularly pop them in the washing machine (without conditioner) to make sure they don't get any grit in them. He's not a great fan of sponges as they tend to pick up and hold grit that can do all sorts of damage. Anyway, that's the stage we're at in this picture. Clean and dry and looking half decent. Well, to the naked eye it looked OK, though the camera is a little unforgiving.

The next stage is the harder part. Using the supplied applicator pad, you clean the paint properly with the cleaner cream. This is a bit like T-Cut, with one huge difference. While T-Cut is an abrasive that takes a layer of paint off and smooths it that way, Swissol cleaner works like a moisturiser, smoothing the paint by filling all the tiny little cracks and returning the oils to the surface that the atmosphere, sunlight and harsh cleaners have leached out. If you are patient and work according to the instructions, you should expect to take about half an hour to do your bike properly. That car took, um, a little longer. But the results are spectacular. Once the cleaner had been buffed off using another supplied cloth, the finish was literally glass smooth. Not only that, but the paint took on a far deeper gloss than it had ever had before and the faint red fleck in it became more noticeable, especially in the bright sunlight. The final stage is to seal the surface using a small amount of wax. This goes on very easily and buffs off easier still, even in brilliant sunshine. Ideally you should leave the bike outside for a couple of hours for the wax to bake on in the sun, and that's what we did.

It's hard to describe just how good the effect actually is, but hopefully the 'after' picture on the left will give you some idea. The black disc in the top right hand corner is a wax applicator pad, by the way, not a strange dent.

But enough of the wonders of putting it on a car. That's not what we are here to talk about. After treating the bike and leaving it outside to bake on, I went for the toughest test I could think of. A summer evening blast through the countryside, inviting messy and highly adhesive test contributions from the insect population of Kent and Surrey. Who were, it must be said, happy to oblige. Then to round things off nicely I allowed the accumulated detritus to bake in overnight before attempting to clean them in the morning. And here I have a confession to make. When I got in it was dark. And when I came to clean them off I was in a hurry. So I forgot to take any pictures of the before and after. But I can describe it for you. There were, I'd estimate, somewhere around 100 deceased insects decorating the fairing in various states of disassembly. Normally I'd spray them with another cleaner I found, leave that to soak in for 10 minutes or so and then wash the remains off with a cloth. There'd be a good few minutes of scrubbing and I'd have to rinse off very thoroughly because the cleaner leaves nasty white streaks. The screen would need a different treatment entirely to avoid scratching it.

But this time all I did was get a wet cloth and wipe over the front of the bike. The whole lot came straight off - no scrubbing or rubbing required. A quick dry and the bike genuinely looked as good as it had when Paul had finished working on it. Hmm - so far so good.

A dash up to London for a meeting saw the delights of a British summer in the form of a torrential downpour that turned many of the roads into muddy rivers and coated the bike with crap. Another simple cleaning job made the value of this stuff even more apparent. And the same deal on the car - muddy splashes, dead bugs and so on just rinse off and as soon as the paint is dried the shine is as good as new. Hell, it even looks good when it's dirty now!

So Swissol bike cleaner get an unequivocal thumbs up from me anyway. The kit, which consists of shampoo, cleaner, wax, applicator pads, a washcloth, a couple of buffing cloths, wheel cleaner and a brush and a quick cleaner spray, is coming onto the market soon but the price hasn't been decided for sure. And this is where you come in. If you'd be interested then drop us a mail so we can pass it on. Expect the kit to be around £80 but that should give you enough for 2-3 years cleaning. The trouble is I'm going to have to go buy some because I simply can't imagine using anything else now...



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