Lifeline Citrus Degreaser is designed to strip transmissions of oils, grease and other gunk en route. Cheap as the proverbial portion of chips, it's ruthlessly efficient, non-flammable but potentially cruel to paint, skin and eyes in its neat form – you have been warned.
The exact ingredients are a closely guarded secret, but don't be fooled by the water-soluble formula's sweet, fruity aroma – citrus concentrates can be very nasty, so long sleeves and gloves are sensible precautions.
When tackling chains, Lifeline recommends pouring some in the solvent bath, leaving them marinating for 30 seconds or so, then spinning the cranks. PTFE fortified lubes and 10w/40 motor oils were dismissed first time, while ceramic and fully synthetic stay-put polymer blends required 60 seconds and around 6-8 full revolutions.
Going the brush route reaps similar rewards, but beware of residual spatter – while I was scrubbing grime-encrusted cassettes, my eye took a direct hit, inducing excruciating pain and commensurate cursing. Doused with cold water, there's no lasting damage, but I've been less casual about eye protection since!
Having decided that my beloved fixed-gear winter bike/trainer's wet spray livery was looking a little tatty after 10 years, I left the frame at the paint shop for a two-tone powder coat transformation and set about sprucing the drivetrain components.
Brushing in several overlapping neat coats shifted all trace of spent lubes from its crank spider and sprockets, without hurting the silver anodising or similar coatings.
That said, I never exceeded 30 seconds and rinsed them liberally in cold water. Gungy cartridge bottom brackets also responded well to this therapy, although for best results you need to agitate stiffer synthetic greases with a firm brush midway through the standing phase.
Also, resist the temptation to use hot water. Yes, it will accelerate cleansing but also the caustic side, which isn't good news for decorative finishes, seals and other rubberised components.
So long as splashes are rinsed quickly, there's been no fading, or damage to powder coated or two-pack finishes, but beware that if left unchecked on some cheaper stove enamels and rattle-can acrylics it can lead to localised fading.
You can, of course, dilute it with tap water. Mixed very carefully in a 1:10 (degreaser/water) ratio results in a very passable bike wash.
Citrus blends certainly shift muck and grime, but they can nibble through protective polymer waxes, or result in dulling/streaking. This was easily sorted with a quick furniture polish blow-over and buff up, but spotting in matt colours needed more specialist preserves.
Cheap and versatile workshop staple, but use and store carefully
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Make and model: LifeLine Citrus Degreaser
Size tested: 1000ml
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?
Lifeline says: "LifeLine Citrus Degreaser 1000ml is perfect for degreasing drivetrain components in preparation for the application of fresh lubricant".
When carefully diluted it doubles as a very useful bike wash too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Top Features of the LifeLine Citrus Degreaser 1000ml
*Powerful citrus degreaser
*Breaks down oil and grease
The powerful citrus formula breaks down oil and grease allowing you to clean your components and drivetrain with the minimum of fuss.
Lifeline degreaser is water soluble making it easy to rinse off and giving you the option to dilute it for a more gentle cleaner.
Very effective but use carefully and extend waiting times at your own risk.
A little goes a long way.
Easy to use but gloves and long sleeves are wise precautions.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Lifeline Citrus Degreaser is a very effective agent that makes short work of most oils and gunk. However, these types are caustic, so rinse thoroughly and take sensible precautions around paint, skin and eyes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Inexpensive and ruthlessly efficient.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing given the design brief.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
A very effective and inexpensive degreaser but requires more careful deployment than many off-the-shelf formulas.
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega 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)