Silca Ultimate Brake And Drivetrain Cleaner is a very powerful formula that does an excellent job without relying on any nasties – it won't strip good grease from your bike, or damage paint or components, and it's not harmful to your health either. The price might make you faint, though.
Previously, I wrote about Step 4 in Silca's Bicycle Spa Collection: Ultimate Ceramic Waterless Wash. Silca Ultimate Brake And Drivetrain Cleaner is Step 1 in that same process, also known as Detox, and represents the initial clean and degrease of your drivetrain and your disc brake system, before you get on to cleaning the rest of your bike.
Unlike other drivetrain cleaners, which often contain harmful chemicals, Silca's offering is designed to remove the gunk and oils from your drivetrain (and brakes) without harming your bike's frame or components, and, crucially, without stripping the 'good grease' from anywhere on your bike where it's needed. So you don't have to worry about damaging seals or bearings.
It's also water soluble, so when you wash it off there's no residue left behind when you've finished cleaning. This is a good thing when you're applying lube to your chain and you don't want anything getting in the way of it properly sticking.
Spray, wait, rinse
When you spray it on, you need to wait three to five minutes for the liquid to get to work, at which point it encapsulates and lifts off any dirt or grime, which then simply starts to fall off, and is completely removed once you rinse it off. That's the theory, anyway.
While you wait, you can see the product at work – it turns blood red, which indicates it's working. Interestingly, I've seen this same magic occur with a fallout remover which is used for detailing cars, and funnily enough it smells almost identical – rotten egg – although in the Silca's case it's far less offensive.
And I must say, Ultimate Brake and Drivetrain Cleaner is tremendously effective. I tested it on several bikes – a summer bike with only mild dirt, my gravel bike which has seen plenty of winter gravel action, and a friend's old mountain bike which probably got cleaned back in 2010. On both of my bikes, it did exactly what it promised – it removed all the grime and left a sparkling chain.
On the old mountain bike, it did a similarly good job of cleaning the drivetrain, but – unsurprisingly – it wasn't able to remove the several layers of thick winter-weight oil that had accumulated over the years, even after two applications. To me, that highlights how safe the formula is – if it can't remove the sludge of decades-old oil then it's going to be equally kind to protective grease, too.
OK, so here's the tricky bit. At £36, this is about three times as much as I've ever spent on a degreaser. (I actually buy an eco-friendly water-based degreaser in bulk now, which is super cheap.) I can quite confidently say it is a brilliant degreaser, but clearly it's a huge investment.
One of the priciest degreasers we've tested on road.cc, Finish Line Speed Clean Multi-Degreaser, is a rather paltry £13.49 in comparison. Cheaper, but also more toxic, as it contains toluene, which is a pretty nasty chemical both for the environment and for your health (it's found in paint thinners). Personally, I'd steer well clear.
Juice Lube's Dirt Juice Boss In A Can is a better proposition – it's £9.99 and biodegradable, so no nasties to worry about. Dave thought it was pretty effective, but did note that you would burn through the product quite quickly, it being an aerosol. (It's available in a 500ml bottle too, for £14.99.)
While the price is hard to ignore, there's no doubt Silca has created a fantastic product here, and if you're fanatical about keeping your drivetrain shiny (without damaging anything) and you can afford it, it's one to stick on your shopping list.
Incredibly effective drivetrain and brake cleaner – and incredibly expensive
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Make and model: Silca Ultimate Brake And Drivetrain Cleaner
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?
Silca says, "Eliminate oil and dirt from your drivetrain in 3-5 minutes and watch the cleaner foam to a purplish-red color as in encapsulates and removes that oil and dirt. Eliminates brake squeal and will not attack wax on paint or drivetrain!"
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
* Ecapsulates and removes oils and grease
* 16oz spray bottle
* Cinnamon scent
* Clean Rinsing
Rate the product for performance:
Strips the bad stuff from your drivetrain, makes it looks new again, but doesn't remove the good stuff.
Rate the product for value:
It's very effective, and you only need one application, but still... it's otherworldly expensive.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very powerful, but totally safe on your bike (and it won't harm you either).
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
When the formula bleeds – that's when you know it's working.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's about two or three times pricier than anything we've tested before. Juice Lube Dirt Juice Boss In A Can is £9.99, and Finish Line Speed Clean Multi-Degreaser is £13.49, but it's superior to both.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Too rich for my blood.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.
Use this box to explain your overall score
As a reviewer, when you come across a genuinely amazing product it's hard to not want to give it a five-star rating, and that's exactly what I would like to do in the case of Silca's Ultimate Drivetrain and Brake Cleaner. It's exceptionally good. But it's way more expensive than rivals, and loses points as a result.
Age: 39 Height: 6'4 Weight: 175lbs
I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,
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Thanks Jamie, good advice, will give it a try!