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Tru-Tension Cycle Drivetrain Cleaner is a powerful, super-convenient solvent-based stripper that makes short work of scuzzy cassettes, chains, derailleurs and chainrings. Unlike some, rinsing is unnecessary, and the high solvent content also worked quite well at shifting stubborn parts.
Tru-Tension is relatively tight-lipped when it comes to alchemy. It's basically a blend of solvents with a propellent. Unlike some heavy duty formulas, these are supposedly kind to plastic and painted surfaces, so shouldn't do anything nasty to plastic, painted or rubberised surfaces. That said, Tru-Tension does recommend caution and testing inconspicuous areas first – sound advice given paints and lacquers come in very different grades and qualities. The same goes for anodised, polished and plated parts.
I would also suggest using in well-ventilated areas, away from the bedding plants, and donning mechanics/examination gloves, especially if you have sensitive skin.
It's designed to be delivered in a wide arc for, say, cassettes and rings, or via the straw for very precise, localised jobs such as chains.
To use the cleaner, Tru-Tension says:
Step 1: Place the bike on a stand of your choice and ensure it is secure.
Step 2: Apply Drivetrain Cleaner directly onto chain, derailleur, chainrings and cassette while rotating the pedals backwards.
Step 3: Work any stubborn or built up dirt loose using a brush.
Step 4: Apply a final coat of Drivetrain Cleaner, before wiping all components clean with a clean rag.
This isn't necessarily the most product-efficient use, though, and if you're looking to get the very most from your £10, I'd suggest you shake the aerosol vigorously for 30 seconds, then blast the cassette and jockey wheels, bolt on a chain bath, plug the straw back into the nozzle and deliver the Drivetrain Cleaner into the chain cleaner's bristles while turning the cranks backwards. Repeat until any residual grot has risen to the surface, then give a final blow over before drying chain, cassette and rings with a clean, dry rag.
I've been pleasantly surprised by how quickly it raced through impacted waxy lube that had spread across my rough stuff tourer's cassette and chain.
Lacking the outright ruthlessness of some, such as B'Twin's cleaner, it needed two blasts but that probably explains why it's that bit kinder to paints and plastics. I've been happy to leave wheels in situ, whereas I've always whipped them out when using the B'Twin.
It's a similar story in performance terms when used on four-season middleweights such as Weldtite TF2 Performance All Weather Lubricant.
It's not designed to strip the sort of grease you'd pack a headset or hub with, but given 30 seconds and a stiff bristled scrub in between, congealed preserve that had leached from the frame's 'breathe' holes and around the hub cones largely vanished.
Soaking a rag in the cleaner and then running it around a headset's lower race, it did a convincing job of dismissing a thin but tenacious layer of marine grease.
Maybe it was the marathon sessions and exposure to solvent, but it suddenly occurred to me that products such as Effetto Carbo Move are predominantly solvent, and shift seized metal components quite efficiently... so I started testing the Tru-Tension's effectiveness on a carbon post, dressed in gripper paste. Loosen binder bolt, two blasts, 30 seconds between each... and it released smoothly and cleanly.
I progressed to a stubborn quill stem and my preferred technique for releasing contact points: I wrapped an old padded (bubble wrap) envelope around the base, like a cone, then delivered two generous squirts where quill enters frame, then applied thinner coats around the bubble wrap and let it cascade inside. I gave the contact point a quick tap using an engineer's mallet to hasten things along, returned after 15 minutes, gave the steam another firm tap, and it moved.
A tenner for 500ml puts it on a par with similar degreasers we've tested, though it's more effective than some so actually works out cheaper as you need less.
Juice Lubes Dirt Juice Hero, £11.99 for 600ml, is also quite useful but also requires rinsing, so is less convenient.
Ultimately, Tru-Tension Chain Cleaner does exactly what it says on the tin and to a decent standard. It's definitely a good choice for those situations where the bike's basically clean (so doesn't call for a deep purge) but the drivetrain is a bit grimy and/or you fancy a change of lube.
Powerful and efficient solvent stripper, but use and store carefully
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Tru-Tension Cycle Drivetrain Cleaner
Size tested: 500ml
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?
Tru Tension says: "Perfect for removing grease and oil, it leaves your chain looking new again while protecting against contaminants and corrosion.
'Formulated specifically for cycling, Cycle Drivetrain Cleaner provides you with a perfectly clean drivetrain while being kind to the surfaces and materials of your bike. Choose between the fan nozzle or accurate pin nozzle for those tough to reach places.
'It's easy to use with minimal effort, giving you the perfect surface to apply a fresh coat of lubricant. Spray and watch the grime drip away in seconds."
It's a powerful and convenient degreaser spray which seems kind to surfaces, but its corrosion-inhibiting properties aren't any more obvious than competitors I've used.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Blend of solvent and propellent, supposedly containing corrosion-inhibiting properties and seemingly kind to painted, plated, composite and rubberised surfaces.
Powerful but not harsh.
Very efficient and, used carefully, economical for an aerosol-based prep.
Quite potent, so use carefully in well-ventilated contexts.
It's on a par with others in terms of price per ml – but works better and is more convenient to use than some.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the drivetrain cleaner has been ruthlessly efficient on most types of petrochemical gunk and is perfect for those situations where time is short and the bike(s) are otherwise clean. I have also found the blend quite effective for shifting stubborn parts, which may broaden the appeal. Despite being kind to surfaces, it seems very strong, so use in well-ventilated areas.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Quick, efficient and not overly messy. No need to rinse with water.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing in particular, over and above similar products.
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
Efficient aerosol stripper that will double as a freeing agent in some contexts. However, it's quite potent, so use and store carefully.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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, mtb,
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)