A well functioning set of cleaning products that work effectively as well as being kind to the environment. The chain cleaning machine is straightforward to use and cleaned a grubby chain very well. In addition, they will make your bike and shed smell pine-fresh too!
Mangiacatena Chain Cleaner machine worked well
No aerosol usage
Peg board hole on the cog brush would be nice
Cycling, as we know, is a pretty environmentally sound choice and so the best bike cleaning kit (opens in new tab)s ought to be too. However some of the petrochemical products that we use routinely to maintain our bikes might not be as eco-friendly as we'd like. If we have the option to use sustainable (opens in new tab), plant-based products that are also biodegradable then we should buy them, shouldn't we? Of course, as long as they work properly.
The five products on test here are all from Effetto Mariposa's new sustainable cleaning and lubrication range and include the Mangiacatena Chain Cleaner machine (RRP £30), the Allpine Extra Eco Chain Degreaser (RRP £16, 500ml), the Flowerpower Wax Chain Lube (RRP £12, 100ml), the Cog Brush (RRP £9) and lastly the Allpine Light Eco Bike Cleaner (RRP £14, 1,000ml).
Let's find out how the Effetto Mariposa products perform and decide whether they're worth the slightly higher outlay than standard bike cleaners that may not have the same eco credentials.
Using the Effetto Mariposa Mangiacatena Chain Cleaner with the Allpine Extra Eco Chain Degreaser
Let's start with the chain. The Mangiacatena Chain Cleaner machine is the first chain cleaner to have lamellar elements at both ends (where the chain enters and exits), says Effetto. This should keep more of the degreaser inside the machine allowing the six rotating brushes to remove the dirt in the most efficient manner. The machine is able to be fitted to the upper or lower part of the chain and it can be run in either direction, although if turning the cranks forward the bike would need to be in a stand as the rear wheel would turn. It will accommodate singlespeed chains all the way up to 13-speed chains. I used a seven-speed 3/32" chain to test as it was the dirtiest one around at the time...
So, I decided to start with cleaning a rather grubby chain. The machine fits over the chain so that chain removal is unnecessary. Once the lid and handle are locked into place the degreaser liquid can be applied through the hole in the tip up to the fill line.
First starting the machine is really stiff but once it starts to move it runs well. Subsequent starts get easier with use. The green/blue Allpine Extra fluid changes colour quickly to a muddy brown.
I removed the machine to empty this fluid into a bowl and refilled again. After three lots of fluid turning brown the fourth remained green so I felt its work had been done. I then used a dry rag to partly dry the chain and left it overnight to fully dry but also to see whether the chain would develop any rust.
Effetto uses pine oil in the Allpine Extra as this is apparently a natural solvent. The degreasant certainly smells very piny as the name implies and it did an excellent job at cleaning off a fairly horrid chain. And is certainly much less harsh than removing the chain and putting it in a jam jar of petrol. Allpine will also clean brake discs of oily residue that can contaminate the pads.
Once finished I cleaned the muddy/oily drips off the frame and rim. The lamellar elements definitely keep the majority of the Allpine Extra inside the cleaner but the chain will always transport a bit of fluid around the system. This is a job to do outside or on newspaper.
I then washed the machine out with warm water. It completely disassembles for ease of cleaning and drying. Ready for next time!
Treating a degreased chain with the Effetto Mariposa Flowerpower Wax Chain Lube
The next morning the chain was looking much cleaner and it was free running as well as rust free. I then applied the Flowerpower Wax Lube which is a semi viscous white liquid all over the chain top surface. I then ran it in by turning the cranks backwards and finally took the excess off with a dry rag. After a couple of hours the wax had dried clear.
Effetto has formulated Flowerpower to have a high wax ratio (over 50%) which is derived from sunflower seeds. This is to preferable, they say, to a traditional lubricating oil as it is far less likely to collect contamination which leads to the oil becoming a grinding paste on the cogs and components. Certainly my test chain is remarkably clean and free running a month after cleaning and then waxing it. It is on a utility bike that is used several times a week in all weathers.
Cleaning a cassette with the Effetto Mariposa Cog Brush
The Effetto Mariposa Cog Brush has three areas to help clean out old crud from in-between sprockets, jockey wheels and chains. It is made from nylon and is resistant to solvents.
The curved, thin handle has serrations that will fit in between the cogs to lift out old mud/oil (up to 10 speed cassettes). It measured 2.4mm wide.
The main lateral brush can then clean further in those awkward cog gaps. Compared to my usual Park Tool GSC-1 brush the bristles are a bit softer. However it has an additional tip brush, which the Park Tool doesn't have. These tip bristles are stiffer and more akin to to the lateral ones on the Park Tool. They are really good to run over the jockey wheels to clean up deposits left there. I usually use the tip of an old screwdriver but it's probably gentler to use the brush. It is great to get into nooks and crannies that otherwise might be left alone.
It could be useful to have a hole in the body to allow it to be hung up on a peg board, like the Park Tool one does.
Cleaning the entire bike with Effetto Mariposa Allpine Light Eco Bike Cleaner
Effetto Mariposa has formulated the Allpine Light to be biodegradable and silicone free. Another benefit is that Allpine is harmless to chrome, carbon and painted parts.
Firstly this bike cleaner smells like a pine bubble bath! It sprays on with a mist, leave it a short while then wipe off with a clean rag. Easy! It lifted dirt well and left a nice finish both visually and to the touch. It isn't meant to clean oily/gunky areas but that is when you'd use the degreaser first. Because it won't remove lubricant from a chain you can be fairly liberal with its application and not worry.
The lack of a need to hose the bike down afterwards also benefits e-bikes with their additional electronics. However if a bike is very muddy Effetto recommends that you spray some Allpine on first then rinse off the excess mud.
All in all good news for keeping your bike in top condition.
Value and conclusion
Looking at alternatives to benchmark value against I found the Halfords Cleaning Kit (opens in new tab)(including chain cleaner machine) to be less than half the price of Effetto's but it includes an aerosol for the degreaser. I haven't tested their products so couldn't comment on their efficacy.
Also cheaper than Effetto Mariposa (but more than Halfords) is the Muc-Off 8-in-1 Bicycle Cleaning Kit (opens in new tab), but they don't include a chain cleaning machine. The products of Muc-Off's that I have used over the years work well.
So I would conclude that the Effetto system, if not the cheapest, is reasonable value for money, with the bonus that the products work well, are biodegradable and don't use aerosols.
We know that a clean and well maintained bike is likely to be a reliable bike (and a fast one!) and the Effetto system makes looking after your bike an easy task. I found that all the products worked nicely and the Flowerpower chain wax was still working as claimed after a month of riding without subsequent cleaning or reapplication.
As well as having a clean and nicely functioning bike I also had a pine-fresh-smelling working space!
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