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The DK Sonic Ultrasonic Cleaner works incredibly well at cleaning dirt, grime, and oil from drivetrain components or any other small parts. The price is high, though, but for those of us who have more than one bike or who always want the cleanest components, this is a great buy.
Here's a peek behind the reviewer's curtains – sometimes we get to call in products to review. Over the years for me this has generally been requests for cool bits of clothing or new components, but the thing I have wanted to test for at least the last two years has been an ultrasonic cleaner.
If you don't know what they are: well, essentially, they create microscopic bubbles in water, which can generate underneath dirt and lift it off the component. This makes them ideal for cleaning smaller parts that are difficult to clean by hand, most notably cassettes and chains.
I have a bit of a thing for cleaning my drivetrain. Most of all I love being out on the bike – but my second favourite thing is to clean them! I don't know why, but the satisfaction I get from the transformation from dirty to clean is weirdly relaxing. So, I had to try one out.
The one I was given the opportunity to try was the six-litre DK Sonic Ultrasonic Cleaner. The tank is big enough to accommodate almost all drivetrain components, except for large chainrings that I had to do in two rounds, in order to fully submerge both sides.
To use the machine, you first fill the tank with a mixture of water and cleaner (in my case I used carburettor cleaner), turn it on using the switch at the back and use one of the dials on the front to set the temperature – I tended to use 60°C.
Once the correct temperature has been reached you place your components into the basket, lower the basket into the tank, and you can then use the other dial to to turn it on or set the timer. I found that six minutes was more than enough to get rid of all the dirt on whatever I was cleaning.
The machine makes a sound similar to a tattoo gun or the kind of buzz you get from a bug zapper. When the components come out, they aren't immediately clean, but a quick wipe with a cloth instantly gets rid of the kind of built-up oil and dirt, rather than the standard degreaser-elbow grease-repeat method if you were doing it by hand.
I found it especially good on chains, even removing dirt from between the links – so a relatively stiff chain going in is like new again when it comes out. I used this on an old chain that I hadn't cleaned in who knows how long and the difference between before and after was astounding.
It isn't unique to this model, but a well-known issue for all ultrasonic cleaners is that you cannot put anything with bearings in them. This is because the cleaning method strips grease, whether it is internal or external, so it will remove the grease from the bearings. You could always re-grease the bearings afterwards, but this would add more complexity than it would solve.
Once you've used the ultrasonic cleaner, the tank is normally pretty filthy, and on the side of the unit there is a tap to let the cleaning mixture drain out. Within a minute this drains everything away, apart from little bits of sediment that you can just wipe out. It's a much more convenient and safer way to get rid of it than needing to pour it directly out of the tank.
You can use the unit to clean a large number of components of multiple materials. That said, there is a debate about whether you can use it on carbon components; some say it's fine, others say it is risky as you could theoretically delaminate the layup whilst doing it.
I didn't use it on anything carbon – partly because my drivetrain doesn't contain any carbon components and also because the manufacturer DK Sonic does not recommend using it for carbon fibre components. So, you would be doing so at your own risk.
The £199.99 RRP isn't cheap, but in terms of reviews on road.cc it really is unique – an often-overused word. There are both more expensive and cheaper options on the market, so without testing those it is difficult to ascertain the value by comparison. For instance, DK Sonic also makes a much smaller 700ml model while you can pay more than twice as much for the RS Pro 6.5-litre ultrasonic cleaner.
Overall, though, I was very impressed by the DK Sonic Ultrasonic Cleaner – and every drivetrain component in my garage is now spotless. There are a couple of downsides, notably the tank not being big enough to wash a large chainring in one go, and the uncertainty about the safety of cleaning carbon components. And £200 isn't a small investment, but if you are looking to maximise your cleaning efficiency then you may well think it worth the expense.
A cleaner that gets rid of muck that used to take hours to shift in minutes; an extremely impressive albeit expensive product
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road.cc test report
Make and model: DK Sonic Ultrasonic Cleaner - 6 litre
Size tested: 6 litre
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?
This 6 litre Ultrasonic Cleaner with analogue controls is perfect for professional jewellers, watchmakers, tattoo studios, dentists etc. It has a large 6-litre Ultrasonic cleaning tank and manual dial controls for the temperature and timer setting. The ultrasonic cleaning bath will remove dirt, grease etc. The ultrasonic bath can be used for cleaning electronic and mechanical parts. For best results use appropriate cleaning fluid or solvent suitable for the item to be cleaned.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Capacity: 6 Litre tank
Heating Power: 300w
Cleaning power: 180w
Cleaning frequency: 40Khz
Number of transducers: 3
Manual temperature adjustment: 20-80 degrees C
Manual timer adjustment: 0-20 minutes
Tank and body made in Stainless Steel
Includes Stainless Steel basket, lid and UK mains lead
It seems to be well made, the knobs turning well with no looseness or unnecessary movement.
Works incredibly well, lifts off even the most caked-on dirt and grime
Seems well made, I chucked a load of stuff in there and it didn't cause any issues.
We have not reviewed any other ultrasonic cleaners at road.cc so it is not fair to compare pricing with anything else currently on the market.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very, very well – my chains, cassettes and even bottle cage bolts (yes, I clean those!) are the cleanest they have ever been.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Simply how well it gets rid of everything, it is so simple to use and has consistently produced top-notch results.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing major, the size of the tank on this model means that you can't clean a large chainring in one go – but that would be the case with almost any other ultrasonic cleaner I have seen on the market.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
In terms of road.cc reviews this is unique – and we haven't tested anything like this previously.
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 overall score
The performance of this makes me realise how much time I have wasted before now degreasing, brushing, and repeating the process over hours to get a finish that is not close to how effective this cleans in five minutes. It certainly isn't cheap at £199.99, but if like me you have several bikes that you like to keep in the best possible condition, then you may well consider this a price worth paying.
About the tester
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
George is the host of the road.cc podcast and has been writing for road.cc since 2014. He has reviewed everything from a saddle with a shark fin through to a set of glasses with a HUD and everything in between.
Although, ironically, spending more time writing and talking about cycling than on the bike nowadays, he still manages to do a couple of decent rides every week on his ever changing number of bikes.