Cheap ultrasonic cleaner, instead of Parktool Cyclone

Hello,
I ride MTB, for commuting and on road (in that order by time spent). I currently use wet drip lubricant (Finish Line Wet lube) and try to clean my chains as best as I can with the Parktool Cyclone and water with dish wash detergent. I use the Cyclone roughly every MTB ride, every 100KM on road and every couple of months for commuting.

After reading the endless FAQ on waxing I decided against waxing (1 reason being I don’t want to use and keep cleaning spirits), but I did wonder if I can improve removing the grit from my chains by improving my cleaning process. I had found some inexpensive small (900ml) ultra sonic cleaners (see pic). In the FAQ Dave Rome mentions that you need a bigger ultrasonic cleaner for getting the chain clean enough for waxing.

Would this kind of ultra cleaner (together with water) be suitable to replace the cleaning with the Cyclone? I’d be happy if I can get the same results as using the Cyclone while not needing the same effort.

1 Like

I bought a cheap Vevor 10 litre for the lab in the winery, does double duty for cleaning chains and works perfectly well.

The bit in the instructions about not turning on the heaters when the thing is empty is very much for real. Ask me how I know.

Also you don’t need to keep and use noxious chemicals for waxing. There’s a thread on that topic on this forum.

1 Like

Thanks. Would you be concerned about the limited volume capacity of the sonic cleaner?

I’ll have a look on the forum about cleaning without chemicals.

I have that exact cleaner as shown in your OP. I bought it after hearing right here about the benefits of such a cleaner. Before that, my routine was to remove the chain, put it in a glass jar bath in mineral spirits (not sure what the problem with spirits is…), and then boiling the chain in hot water for five minutes or so, then dumping it in the crock pot wax bath. So, after hearing about the ultrasonic cleaner, tried it out–following the mineral spirits bath, and the boiling, and there was close to zero particulates removed–meaning the first two steps were enough–I have since set the ultrasonic aside, and just kept on with my original procedure–works great for me. One note, that particular model ultrasonic does not heat the water and honestly, is a bit too small if you want to also place cogsets in there (I would).

1 Like

Thanks for your replies. I happen to chance on a second hand 2 liter model with heating element, for $45. Happy to try that. Maybe some of my cassettes can fit in it as well (probably not my 10-50 Eagle…).

not sure what the problem with spirits is…

Living in an apartment, I don’t really have a good place to handle nor store these. Also where I live there is no proper way to dispose of chemicals when needed. Commonly these are just poured down the drain. For example I am storing used Shimano brake mineral oil, because I have no where to bring it for disposal… At one point I’ll try to ask a friendly car service station if they can help me dispose it.

2 Likes

Also you don’t need to keep and use noxious chemicals for waxing. There’s a thread on that topic on this forum.

Were you referring to your thread asking for beta testers? Or is there another thread specifically about this topic?

1 Like

Yeah saying there’s a thread on that topic is a stretch, sorry.

I should have said there’s information on that in a couple of threads: my beta tester thread and the waxing for gravel thread.

1 Like

Yes, that kind of generic self import cleaner will work beautifully to degrease the chain. I have a 1.3l cleaner that looks the same that I purchased 3-4 years ago for peanuts that is still working and is not only a good chain cleaner but also great for a bit of levity as the warnings and text translation would make it a good fit for engrish.com, it’s also phenomenal for jewelry (not watches).

That being said, I’d look at a different wet lube or cleaning approach. I use Dumonde Tech original, get 200 miles out of it on the MTB and 400 on the road bike and the only time I use the ultrasonic cleaner is the first time I lube it after I wear through the factory lubricant. The remainder of the time I just wash the chain with normal car wash soap and a wash mitt, hit the cassette with a bristle brush and degreaser, and it looks brand new. I remember the Shimano MTB product manager guested on the Bike Rumor podcast and was extremely complementary towards wet lubes (Specifically Pedros and Dumonde) but cautioned not degreasing every time unless you’re doing wax because its more apt to wash out lubricant that clear out dirt, he also advised to wipe down the chain prior to every ride especially early on to clear out the extra lube that gushes out after the first few rides.

Just a heads up if you wash a cassette in them you’ll destroy the anodized coated spider on them, won’t effect their performance but if you’ve got a low profile rear hub you might want to avoid.

2 Likes

Stay away from undersized and underpowered ones.

I recently re-sold a 50€ Aliexpress 3L/60W one that was not doing a great job cleaning my chain. And I was not able to submerge my MTB cassette.

I have reverted back to the bottle-shaking method.

2 Likes

Thanks for the headsup on anodised parts. In fact a quickly google suggests not to put any aluminium parts in the ultra sonic cleaner.

As to the lubes: I might give waxing a go after all. Trying to figure out a bit more about cleaning and how I can manage the cleaning agents.

1 Like

Thanks. I did purchase a 2nd hand one, so will try it and add my feedback in this thread.

From zero frictions cycling guide it looks as if you only need to chemically clean the chain to prep it for the waxing process. You could purchase a prewaxed chain to skip the step of needing the chemicals at all.

Once waxed the chain if used in the dry could be wiped down with a a Silca gear wipe for example and topped up with a drip wax lube or just put back in the crockpot for a new layer of wax.

If it has been a particularly wet and muddy cycle you would immerse the chain in boiling water first.

Often your local Council will have a Chemical Collection day or days at their landfill where you can safely dispose of liquid chemicals. You could contact them and see if they provide this service. They will generally accept insecticides, hydrocarbon based liquids, paints etc,

1 Like

My first experience: I took the chain as was and dropped it in water with dishwash detergent into the ultrasonic cleaner at 50’c. After 2x 25mins it was slightly cleaner. I decided to try once more with some general cleaner detergent, suitable for furniture and floors. After another 25mins that had some decent results. I’d say if I’d run it for half an hour with that detergent, it would be about the same result as using the Parktool Cyclone for a few minutes with a a couple of refreshes of water and detergent.

All in all, certainly not a magical device but it can be effective. I’ll also use it for some other items so will likely keep it. However between using the Parktool Cyclone and the ultra cleaner I’d say it’s probably more practical to use the Cyclone.

Thanks. This is what I will plan to do going forward.

Thanks. Unfortunately where I live (Singapore) it doesn’t seem to work that way.

There’s your problem right there.

An ultrasonic cleaner can be thought of as about a million tiny toothbrushes which will help the cleaning fluid do its job. If you use the wrong cleaning fluid it will be beyond help.

Water won’t wet grease and thus won’t remove it. If you insist on using a water based cleaning regime, at the very least soak the chain in the detergent and then add the water. This gives the detergent a chance to wet the grease then the water can lift the resulting emulsion.

2 Likes

Where do you live? I’ll have to remember not to drink the tap water if I ever visit. :joy:

I figured I would give waxing a go and bought an ultrasonic cleaner to help with the cleaning of cassettes and chainrings as well.

I have not have enough time to do much with the cleaner, but I put a cassette and a chain in with dish soap and water.

Neither came out very clean and so far it seems to be more expensive and much more of a hassle than just a tooth brush and mineral spirits for the cassette and a powerade bottle and some mineral spirits for the chain.

The cassette was also not very dirty. Probably 8-10 commuting rides.

Going to try it later with some Simple Green and see if it does better. If it can get the cassettes and chainrings clean it will be worth it.

I also have a generic chain cleaner like the Cyclone and it works great.

Two questions though:

How do you get the RD pulleys clean since putting them in the USC would strip bearing grease?

Is it ok to leave the water and stuff in the USC? I had to get to work and leave a nice black bath in it today.

It depends a bit on your model of derailleur. However the cleaning and repacking of your jockey wheel is not different if you decide to put in the ultra sonic cleaner. Check this video for example for some instructions: How To Service Jockey Wheels - YouTube

The ultra sonic cleaner tank is typically made from stainless steel and should be fine for a few hours with some soapy water.