Wickens & Soderstrom No.1 Bike Cleaner is a clear, colourless formula that works, and seems to be kind to all finishes, but doesn't outshine others on the market.
Predictably, W&S is pretty coy about its composition, stressing instead that it is free of phosphate and phosphonates (acids commonly found in household and industrial cleaners). The bottom line is, we're promised that it hasn't been tested on animals, has reduced environmental impact and, crucially, won't do anything nasty to delicate paintwork, seals and the like.
W&S has shunned the classic 1-litre trigger spray bottle in favour of 120ml of concentrate and a 500ml bottle. This retails at a superficially steep £14 but makes the equivalent of 3 litres of stock product, bringing the price to a more competitive £4.67 per litre. Top it up with tap water, round up your sponge and assorted brushes, pop grotty machine(s) outside and blast liberally from 30cm or so.
Several weeks' continual exposure to wet, salty roads ensured my mile-munching workhorse was an ideal candidate. On the workstand, wheels out, let the exorcism commence...
We're talking subtle suds rather than foaming blanket, which I left to marinate for 40 seconds before introducing a saturated car sponge. Dung, mud and residual organic spatter literally slithered away and into my lawn. Witches brews of residual grease, homemade frame preserve, diesel and their salty, gritty lodgers adorning bottom bracket, rear triangle and wheels demanded second helpings at closer range and more concerted, medium stiff brush persuasion.
Nonetheless, within 40 minutes, my faithful friend was clean and dry. Extending waiting times helps, although in common with most blends this leaves a slightly dulled effect – but nothing that a quick furniture polish blow-over and clean rag buff-up doesn't cure.
Common sense dictates applying the cleaner in sheltered areas but even residual, misty blowback hasn't left my eyes stinging, or my hands feeling dry when cleaning several bikes, and no tell-tale scorch marks on the lawn either.
Economy will very much depend upon filth and owner involvement. In stock form, getting two cyclo-crossers, one mountain bike and one tourer from gross to gleaming took half the diluted bottle, which is pretty competitive, especially when pitted against another, suspiciously similar looking eco-formulae.
Decanting 60ml of neat mix to 940ml tap water (30ml per 500ml) and employing a trigger with built-in agitator produced a much richer, faster acting version, which also proved reasonably effective on drivetrains.
Ultimately, performance is good rather than great, and seems really kind to all finishes. Unfortunately, this statement applies to a wealth of formulas and isn't enough to prise me away from my favourite – Fenwick's FS-1 Concentrate.
Effective bike wash that represents good value but not obviously superior to established competition
road.cc test report
Make and model: Wickens & Soderstrom No.1 Bike Cleaner
Size tested: 120ml E Concentrate (makes 6x500ml bottles)
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
W&S says: "Wickens & Soderstrom No.1 is the first EU Ecolabel accredited bike cleaner, developed in partnership with Delphis Eco. No.1 is designed to be tough on grease & dirt but gentle on your bike & the environment."
Reasonably effective and seems genuinely kind to all surfaces, though a little slow compared with established competition.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Wickens & Soderstrom No.1 Bike Cleaner Features:
* Easily removes dirt
* Safe on paint, metal & rubber
* Reduced impact on aquatic life
* Reduced use of hazardous substances
* Phosphate and phosphonate free
* Readily biodegradable, EC Detergent Regulation 648/2004
* Not tested on animals
120ml E Concentrate (makes 6x500ml bottles) RRP £14.00
Pleasant to use and seems kinder to skin than some household names.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Wickens & Soderstrom No.1 Bike Cleaner has proved itself a gentle but reasonably effective cleaner when tackling the usual road and trail dirt. However, it does take a good minute or so before softening organic and simpler petrochemical grime.
Residual lubes, grease and oily spatter required more rider input than competitors too, although, its' gentler nature bodes well for delicate finishes in the long term. It's also favourably priced when you calculate cost per litre. That said; overall performance is distinctly average and certainly wouldn't steer me from Fenwick's FS10, or its FS1 concentrate.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Gentle and with good streak- and smear-free results in stock form and so long as recommended waiting times aren't exceeded.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slightly pedestrian compared against several competitor formulas of similar price-point, which will do a more convincing job of dismissing oily residue from rings, derailleurs, cassettes etc with less owner input.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? On balance, no.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Worth a look but not markedly better than many others I've used.
Use this box to explain your score
Competent and very gentle cleaner that would be particularly suited to carbon and other sensitive surfaces. Works out relatively inexpensive too. Otherwise, it isn't markedly better than many others I've tested.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)