The Muc-Off Dirt Bucket includes a load of great products for getting even the filthiest of bikes clean again, but also some bits that I'm not wholly convinced by. Overall, though, the bucket is ideal for taking hot, soapy water to cyclo-cross races, and with a few tweaks to the contents this would make an ideal set of everything you need to clean your bike properly.
- Pros: Enables you to clean immediately after a race, most of what's included is brilliant and works really well
- Cons: There are better alternatives to some bits of the kit
I'll state it now: it's no secret that I like cleaning bikes just as much as riding them. With my race bikes getting cleaned after nearly every ride and my winter bike needing a wash about twice a week, I'd consider myself well qualified for this here review.
During use, the bucket holds enough water for two bikes. It comes with all the bits I need for cleaning inside, the carrying handle has a rubber finish which is great for wet hands, and the dirt filter seems to work well. The filter is also great for giving the brushes and sponge room to drain after washing, leaving them dry and ready to go for the next wash.
For me, the best part of the kit is the dirt-filtering bucket, which includes a screw-on top allowing you to take bike cleaning water with you. Although you might not think that's very useful, it's been great for taking to races where my bike is going to get filthy. Cyclo-cross events often end up with both rider and bike caked in mud. Not cleaning the rider is okay – skin doesn't stain – but the delicate tubulars on my race bike do, and drivetrains go rusty rather quickly if left muddy.
Taking water is often an issue in a normal car so the sealed bucket has instantly become one of my race day essentials. But what about the rest of the kit? Well, there are good bits and some things I'd leave in the shed for emergencies.
What's in the kit?
- 1 Litre Muc-Off Nano Tech Bike Cleaner
- 500ml Bike Protect
- 400ml Chain Cleaner
- Microcell Expanding Pink Sponge
- Super Soft Wash Brush
- Wheel & Component Brush
- Claw Brush
- 50ml Dry Lube
- 50ml Wet Lube
- Muc-Off Bicycle Cleaning Guide
There's certainly plenty in the set and with the retail price of the individual items coming to £86.91, it represents pretty good value. There are items I'd happily see omitted, though, first of which is the aerosol chain cleaner. Put simply, this stuff is pretty weak when compared to Park Tool's CB-4 or No Nonsense degreaser, which you can get for £9 for 5L.
Next on the leave-it list is the Dry Lube. It's okay as a lube, but my choice would be Squirt. In my experience it stays cleaner for longer and runs quietly, though the Muc-Off stuff is easier to get hold of in an actual shop.
Finally, the generic Claw Brush is still to find a real purpose in my experience. I find an old shoe brush is better for cassettes, and if there is anything wedged into the cassette then cassette removal is much quicker and more effective. For degreaser application, a paintbrush will work the fluid in more thoroughly.
That's the 'emergencies only' out of the way, and those products total £19.47, a fair chunk of cash. But even with those removed you're still saving money – and you have some lube, degreaser and a brush in the shed.
Now for the good things... The Bike Protect spray is a bit of an indulgence, but then my summer bike is a collection of indulgences on two wheels. This stuff is easy to apply and provides an enhanced shine on the gloss paint. Just be careful to apply with the wheels off and out of the way.
The Super Soft Wash Brush is also brilliant. This is perfect for removing stubborn grime from the chain. I found the best practice was to hold it against the back of the chainrings with the chain in the big ring, then backpedal a short while. Scrubbing horizontally on the chain at the three o'clock position on the chainrings quickly removes dirt.
So what could be improved? I'd like to see a polishing cloth to go with the protecting spray, although an old cut-up T-shirt will do. And Muc-Off's pastry-style brush would be way more useful than the Claw Brush. Apart from that, this is a kit that will help you take your weathered winter bike and make it clean again.
Would I invest in the whole kit? If I didn't have degreaser and a favourite chain lube already, almost certainly. If you're starting from scratch, this is a great way to get everything that you need. (You can buy just the Dirt Bucket for £25.)
You'll probably want another sponge too, as one grotty chain will turn any sponge black. It's a 50p investment from Halfords, making it highly worthwhile.
Finding rivals for this set to assess value is tricky. The closest in terms of price and content is the Morgan Blue Maintenance Kit at £79.95. This has a better cleaner, brushes and lube but the bucket is smaller. It does include a chain keeper and polishing cloth, though, so it's a better-thought-out set in my opinion. If you don't need to transport the water, Muc-Off's cheaper £39.99 8-in-1 kit would be a better option (currently reduced to £27.99 at Wiggle).
On the whole, though, I don't think you can really go wrong with this kit. There are items I'd add, and some I might never use, but if you need a complete set for cleaning a bike it's a great place to start.
A great bucket, and with a few tweaks to the contents could be all you need for cleaning your bike
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Muc-Off Dirt Bucket Kit
Size tested: Holds up to 13 litres of water.
Tell us what the product is for
"The Muc-Off Dirt Bucket Kit is the perfect tool for helping to keep your bikes paintwork scratch-free. Featuring an innovative Filth Filter, which sits at the bottom of the bucket, trapping dirt to prevent it from being reintroduced to the sponge or brush whilst cleaning."
The filth filter does seem to work, it has held the bits down in the bottom.
"The Dirt Bucket Kit comes with an award-winning range of Muc-Off products."
Some of that stuff is great. Some is decidedly average.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Muc-Off's Dirt Bucket Kit is made from tough, durable plastic and contains a selection of Muc-Off's award-winning products, including:
1 Litre Muc-Off Nano Tech Bike Cleaner
500ml Bike Protect
400ml Chain Cleaner
Microcell Expanding Pink Sponge
Super Soft Wash Brush
Wheel & Component Brush
50ml Dry Lube
50ml Wet Lube
Muc-Off Bicycle Cleaning Guide
It's a very well-made bucket. The handle is grippy and the lid locks tight with no leaks.
The bucket has coped very well in the back of the car although it's not been bashed around. The lid locks tight and continues to do so.
The brushes are comfy to hold and the handle is grippy for wet hands.
Cheaper than its rivals, with a bigger bucket. Some of the items are better in the Morgan Blue set. I'm slightly annoyed that I'd have to get better chain cleaner and a chain keeper.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The bucket is perfectly leak-proof and I had everything I needed to get my bikes perfectly clean, re-lubed and ready to roll.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The screw-top bucket allows me to transport water for post-race cleaning.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I'm not convinced by the claw brush, and the chain cleaner is weak.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, it's become a cyclo-cross essential.
Would you consider buying the product? I'd certainly buy the bucket. If I needed a full kit then this would be my first choice.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The bucket is brilliant, even if you don't need to transport water, and would score at least 8 alone. I'd change some of the content, though, which is why I've given it a 7 overall. It's definitely a good kit, and with a few additional bits will enable you to tackle any bike.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.