Over the years, I’ve tried lots of chain cleaning tools and mostly they’ve been used once or twice and then forgotten about. It wasn’t necessarily because they weren’t good at cleaning the chain, but because they were a pain to use and I usually ended up with my hands just as oily as if I’d tried to clean the chain without the device.
Given my personal history with chain cleaners, I was a bit wary of Muc-Off’s offering until I discovered it has a feature that none of those I’ve used in the past had – a handle. There is even a choice of which way you mount the handle – up or down depending on if the bike is in a work stand or on the ground when you clean the chain. It works, too – clean hands and a clean chain.
To actually get the chain clean, the X3 has a rotating brush with a claimed 120 contact points on it and as the chain passes through that you can control the amount of cleaning fluid flowing on to it from the reservoir above with a simple spring-loaded button. After the chain has passed through the rotating brush it then goes through a set of plastic combs that remove any grime and residual degreaser. The contaminated cleaning fluid is then collected in the bottom of the X3 for disposal when you’re finished.
If you are using the 75ml of Muc-Off Drivetrain Cleaner that is supplied with the Dirty Chain Machine, like I did, it can be disposed of easily as it is bio-degradable. Well, as long as the chain lube you’re cleaning off is also bio-degradable. then you can pour it all down the drain.
The one issue I have with the X3 is that you have to be careful how quickly you turn the pedals as the chain travels through the cleaner. I went too quickly at first and kept losing the chain off the chainrings, so calls into questions Muc-Off’s claim that the X3 will clean a chain in 19 seconds. Once I’d slowed down it wasn’t a problem, and a couple of minutes was all it took. Also, when you have finished cleaning the chain it’s worth leaving the bike for a while to let any degreaser left on the chain, and not swept off by the X3, drip off. You could, of course, give the chain a wipe with an old rag to help with this if you’re really pushed for time.
There are a lot of chain cleaning baths on the market and in my experience they all do a decent job of getting the chain clean, but the Muc-Off X3 Dirty Chain Machine does the job quickly and effectively, and the handle ensures your hands stay clean at the same time.