With the ever growing popularity of cheap, no-name products coming out of websites like Ali Express and Amazon sometimes it can be tempting to go for a cheaper option, but is it always worth it?
I recently spotted a chain cleaner for only €4.26 on Ali Express. Curiosity got the best of me so I bought it and waited the usual vague time frame of 1-5 weeks shipping time from China to Ireland.
I can’t remember exactly how long it took to arrive but it eventually landed and I wasn’t surprised at how cheap and flimsy it seemed to be. The shell of the cleaner wasn’t too bad but I was surprised at how small it was compared to brand name chain cleaners like the Pedro’s Chain Pig or the Park Tool Cyclone
The lid of the chain cleaner clips in place to the body and the handle then slides on to lock the lid in place. The the way the brushes are mounted in the shell of the cleaner seems pretty flimsy and and there’s so much wobble and play in them that the cog teeth to turn them all don’t engage properly. On the plus side, they are easily removed so that they can cleaned and kept free from chain gunk that builds up over time on the brushes.
To really test this cleaner I left my bike for a week without being cleaned. To some this might not sound that bad but my daily commute through the sludge in the hard shoulder in February can really wreak havoc on a bike drive train. To clean the chain I use the same Finish Line Degreaser I always use and can trust it’s results.
On the first pass after a few rotations of the cranks the chain cleaner went to work and quickly removed all the crime from the outside of the chain but there was still residue left inside the links. That’s when I noticed that the brushes weren’t turning properly inside, obviously because of the poor engagement between the cog teeth. The chain was so dirty that the degreaser was soon black and the chain cleaner was full of gunk. I gave the cleaner a quick rinse with warm water and on the second attempt it did a much better job at removing all the crud from the chain.
There are a few glaring problems with this cheap chain cleaner. The teeth on the cogs don’t engage properly so the brush don’t turn all the time, the teeth on the big brush wheel that is supposed to catch the chain and drive the brushes are too small so they don’t come in contact with the chain at all and I found it very difficult to position the chain cleaner so it wouldn’t catch the chain and jam up. That being said, the last problem seems to happen on almost every single chain device I’ve used.
Overall, for the price, you cant really fault what you’re getting. For light use every once in a while, it will suit the vast majority of Joe Soap cyclists but for me who cleans their chain every other day because of the conditions I ride in I think I’ll stick with the Pedros Chain Pig, easily the best chain cleaner I’ve come across yet.
https://amzn.to/2XsvYrD – Chain Cleaner Amazon
http://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/xDCGXdQ – Chain Cleaner Ali Express
amzn.to/2Nv7cmk – Pedros Chain Pig
https://amzn.to/2E5lvcO – Park Tool Cyclone Chain Cleaner
https://amzn.to/2BY27hx – Finish Line Degreaser