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The Proper Cleaner by Guy Martin Starter Pack is described as the workhorse of his range, suitable for cleaning bicycles, motorcycles, "or owt else with wheels (or tracks) on". Apparently kind to all surfaces, it actually works pretty well on most kinds of generic grot. It's better than some iconic pink blends, and on par with several others I've reviewed recently.
Rather than supplying a ready-made bottle of product, the kit comprises a 750ml trigger spray bottle and two sealed sachets of grot-busting lime green elixir. The argument being that 70 per cent of the world is water, so why ship it?
Produced and packed here in the UK, each capsule produces 750ml of product and two-pack replenishments can be bought for £5. Unopened, these have a three-year shelf-life, so no worries if you've been stock-piling for the apocalypse.
Chemically speaking, I can tell you this brew is alkaline-based, contains no solvents, hasn't been tested on animals, and is 100 per cent biodegradable. We're also assured it's safe on all surfaces, including carbon composites and rubberised components. With that in mind, use your common sense: avoid contact with eyes, store away from curious pets/small children, and minimise exposure to skin.
Fill the bottle to the lines prescribed, drop in a sachet and reaffix the trigger spray. I used recently boiled water, which accelerated the mixing process slightly, but cold or luke-warm tap-water works just fine. Give the bottle a quick shake and leave to settle for 30 seconds.
Proper Cleaner is designed to work with a wet surface, so give recipient machines a cold-water rinse before you start blasting.
In common with some very effective favourites, it's a moderately bubbly blend with a slightly sugary, pineapple odour. Leave bikes marinating for 2-3 minutes, depending on the filth factor.
I wasn't surprised to discover dung, mud and similar organic muck slithering away at the first hint of a soggy car sponge, but I was quite impressed at how quickly a congealed mess of spent diesel, PTFE-based maintenance spray and Finish Line Cross Country Wet Lube dissolved with nominal effort (there's no risk of this dilute product stripping welcome, drivetrain lubricant – unless you give it a good scrub). However, it wasn't noticeably better than Crankalicious Pineapple Express Spray Wash or M16 Extreme Bike Clean.
Removing similar ingrained detritus from embossed bar tapes and saddle covers required more intense persuasion with a stiff bristled brush and warm water. Nonetheless, I had my fixed gear winter trainer and four seasons rough stuff tourer gleaming within 30 minutes, the latter having done some seriously mucky miles before braving the 'Beast from the East'.
Extending waiting times hasn't resulted in unsightly streaking (which can be a problem with Muc-Off Nano-Tech Fast Action Bike Cleaner).
Results seem universally good on powder coated, stove enamel, two pack paints, plated and anodised surfaces. However, matt finishes, regardless of paint type, are trickier customers and benefited from post-wash 'polishes' to restore that effect. Some titanium components also benefited from a quick buff.
Bike washes seem to polarise people into love/hate camps. As generic pump-spray cleaners go, Guy Martin's Proper Cleaner does what it says on the tin, to a decent standard, and is pitched at the going rate price-wise.
However, a concentrate such as Fenwick's FS1, which I have used for several years in different strengths to suit purpose, will produce up to 10 litres of wash at roughly £1 a time. I tend to brew a few batches of wash and leave the remainder neat, for stripping duties.
Whichever way you cut and dice it, the Proper Cleaner is still four times the price, and certainly no better.
Effective cleaner but pricey compared with some concentrates
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Proper Cleaner by Guy Martin Starter Pack
Size tested: Makes 1.5 Litres
Tell us what the product is for
The Proper Cleaner blurb says: "The General Cleaner is the 1st product to be released by Proper Cleaner & it's the workhorse of the range. For cleaning your push bike, motorbike, or owt else with wheels (or tracks) on, week in week out, it's the tool for the job. Just fill the bottle with your own water, drop in a complete capsule, leave it 20-30 seconds, give it a shake and it's reet!
"The liquid is alkaline based, fully biodegradable & not tested on Nigel the Dog or his mates. It's safe to use on all surfaces, including carbon fibre & anodized parts and it won't affect the performance of your disc brakes. You get 1.5 litres of cleaner, but because we're not shipping you 1.5 litres liquid it has a smaller carbon footprint than other cleaners on the market & the technology behind it is trick!"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From the website:
* Price: £6.50 for 1.5 litres. (£4.33 per litre)
* Safe to use on all parts and surfaces, including carbon fibre, anodized parts & rubber seals.
* Disc rotor & pad friendly.
* Alkaline based & contains no solvents, acids or CFCs
* Liquid is 100% biodegradable.
* Capsules can be used up to 3 years after the date on the back of the resealable pouch.
* Not tested on Nigel the Dog or his mates.
* Designed, tested and manufactured in the UK
Up to the job but equal, rather than superior to, the majority of off-the shelf preps.
Prolonged exposure hasn't caused any obvious skin irritation or dryness, but gloves are a wise precaution for people with sensitive skins.
Cheaper than some, but compared with a concentrate such as Fenwick's FS1 it's expensive.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, when standing times are correctly observed, it does a decent job of shifting organic and non-organic grime and spatter.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Straightforward to use, seemingly agreeable with painted, plated, polished and anodised finishes. So long as waiting times are observed, doesn't require much user effort to dismiss road and trail grime.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing specific when compared with other bike washes per se, but it's on par with rather than better than the majority I have used over the last decade or so.
Did you enjoy using the product? Pleasantly indifferent.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Not over a wealth of competitors.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Competent overall but not markedly different to a wealth of similar formulas.
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)