The B'Twin 500 bike cleaning kit comprises 500ml of cleaner; 300ml aerosol degreaser; chain/derailleur lubricant; sponge and two cloths. In other words, pretty much everything you'll need for washing bikes, bar a bucket and water.
Working in logical order, the degreaser is seriously potent. Brewed from a mixture of plant based alcohol, citrus strippers, there's formaldehyde and other nasties lurking in there too. Combine this with the propane propellant and you've a recipe for seriously big bangs, so use in well ventilated spaces, store carefully and show Grandpa Joe the door should he start rolling a fag. Ruthlessly effective, it stripped this weathered cassette of space age, pro quality lube and embedded grot in two short blasts and thirty seconds — no agitation required.
Congealed lube literally melts on contact from jockey wheels, derailleur cages, cleat mechanisms, bearing races etc. However, these ingredients aren't overly kind to rubberised/plastic components. Remove the rear wheel, squirt in short bursts and then angle the cassette downwards, allowing solvent and gritty stuff to drain out.
Assuming you're washing the whole bike, rinsing isn't necessary; just reach for the bike cleaner spray. This works to the usual MO and is supposedly kind to all surfaces.
B'Twin is more candid than most when it comes to detailing the ingredients. They include anionic surfactants, which are basically soaps that cut through the surface layer of grime; benzisothiazolin, another popular degreasing agent found in all manner of household detergents including laundry and washing up detergents; and linalool is a naturally occurring plant based alcohol often found in perfumes and cosmetics. Finally we've Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA for short) which is just a stabilising additive.
B'Twin are also refreshingly honest about the cleaner's capabilities, recommending it for frames and wheels, rather than suggesting it'll get drivetrains dinner-plate clean.
From the first few squirts, it's a lively foaming mix that's not far behind some iconic staples and makes relatively short work of organic and general road grime when left for a couple of minutes and gently agitated.
Heavily soiled bikes, crossers and neglected hacks in particular, required more generous applications, which dented the economy somewhat. The same went for stubborn petrochemical splashes such as chain lube, spent diesel oils or waxy home brewed corrosion inhibitors. Lifting ingrained dirt from cork handlebar wraps also demanded firm tickling from a stiff brush (not supplied) but scrubbed up pretty nicely with modest effort.
Overall effects were generally excellent. Gloss enamels, two-pack, lacquered, powder coated, anodised and clear coats positively gleamed. Matt finishes are notoriously tricky. I've experienced no compatibility woes but would recommend testing a small inconspicuous area first and rinsing promptly too.
Talking of which, three minutes standing time is about the limit by my reckoning. Carbon safe products divide opinion. Damage is unlikely with lacquered or painted surfaces. I've erred on shorter standing times and thorough rinsing here.
Longer tended to result in streaking and similar blemishes. Most were easily dismissed with quick furniture polish blow-overs but easily avoided.
The sponge is, well, a sponge that holds a reasonable amount of water and hasn't shown any signs of crumbling ten bikes down the line. That said, it's not obviously better than the pound a pop, jumbo types so beloved of car accessory shops and doesn't swell to a similar size. The pair of cloths is a nice touch and they do a reasonable job of drying, or buffing to a shine.
After all that water sloshing about drivetrains and cables are going to need a quick shot of light displacing lubricant. Enter B'Twin's PTFE based lubricant and 200ml chain and derailleur oil. These are stockier than the usual maintenance sprays but basically boil down to solvents and ISO oils fortified with Teflon.
Thanks to the stubby integral straw delivery is fairly accurate but shield the chain in clean rag to prevent the lion's share winding up on the rear wheel and chainstays. This mix that will stay put longer than post wash primers, is extremely convenient, clean and low friction.
It's great for summer or dry, dusty trail conditions judging by several weeks' mixed terrain stuff, and slips unobtrusively inside a pannier or saddlebag. Indeed, I've found the maintenance spray handy for flushing contaminant from 10w/40 and similarly low-tech wet lubes.
However, in terms of longevity, B'Twin's 920 Teflon all weather oil wins hands down. Even with two generous coats, I've struggled to exceed 180 mixed terrain miles before links and rollers sound a little thirsty.
Bottom line, taking everything into account, this is a really comprehensive and genuinely capable bike care kit that represents superb value for money.
Comprehensive and surprisingly effective care kit with a really appealing price tag
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Make and model: B'Twin Bike Cleaning Kit
Size tested: B'Twin 500 Bike Cleaning Kit
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?
B'Twin says: "A complete clean for your bike. The perfect kit for cleaning your bike".
Decent quality care kit that does a good job for not a lot of money.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
500ml bike wash comprising of Anionic surfactants, Benzisothiazoline (another popular degreaser) , stabilising agents and perfume. 200ml Teflon based derailleur and chain lubricant, water displacing PTFE maintenance spray sponge and two soft polishing cloths.
Not markedly better than anyone else's but hot on the heels of some household names and a good deal cheaper too.
User friendly kit that is very intuitive to use. Usual precautions apply (avoid contact with eyes, minimise that with skin and use away from waterways and aquatic life).
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
While some of the kit has a slightly budget feel, overall results are very impressive and pretty much everything's included. Observe waiting times religiously and rinse bikes thoroughly to avoid any streaking, then apply a light shot of water displacing lubricant to moving parts afterwards. Arguably ingrained dirt requires more owner involvement than some premium potions but you'll still get a gleaming bike after thirty minutes of modest effort.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Does exactly what it says on the tin. Good results, keen pricing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Would happily pay a little extra for a 1 litre bottle of bike cleaner.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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, mtb,
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)