Machines that are created to make simple tasks easier are most often doomed to failure. The automated car wash, however, stands tall as one of mankind's most notable exceptions to that rule. A human, armed only with a hose, a bucket and a sponge can wash a car in about the same time interval as a seven-dollar car wash takes, but most drivers forgo the cheap route and opt for the entertainment of a mechanized sponge, mop and bucket. Such is the dilemma posed by the Cyclone Chain Scrubber.Photos by Lucas Aguilera
Park Tool's Cyclone Chain Scrubber is designed to use modern non-petroleum-based degreasing agents, and it works well with dish-washing detergent and water. If you ride or race in the mud and wet, the Cyclone can get your chain back in action in a matter of minutes.
Park Tool's Cyclone Chain Scrubber
is the mechanized car wash of the cycling drivetrain - a 25-dollar drive-through kiosk for the chain that bathes the links in a pleasant-smelling degreaser, massages the bits with a series of scrubbing rollers, filters out any rogue metal-chips with a magnetic filter, and then gently squeezes out excess fluid as the chain exits through the opposite passageway. Fact is, anyone could mimic the Cyclone's job with a can of degreaser, a shop towel and a brush - which begs the question: 'If you experienced an easier, mechanized option, would you return to the brush and bucket to clean your chain?'
How the Cyclone Scrubber Works
The Cyclone disassembles by hand and without tools, and replacement bits can be purchased from Park Tool. Two, well-designed stainless steel spring clasps (top-right) hold the halves of the body together. A strong magnet (lower right) at the lower end of the basin separates metal fragments from the cleaning fluid.
The Cyclone's plastic body separates into two halves so that it can be installed over the chain without the need to remove it from the bike. The body is filled with cleaning fluid to a level mark on the transparent body and, after securing the Cyclone over the chain, the home mechanic holds the handle while turning the cranks. The first of three roller brushes scrubs the side-plates of the chain. The links then pass through a pair of vertical brushes that scrub the inside of the chain and finally, the chain passes through a gap in a foam element that removes most of the degreasing liquid and returns it to the device's reservoir.
Park Tool recommends two sessions using fresh degreaser
the second time as a topper. Park also notes that it is best to shift the bike into the smallest cassette cog, presumably so that any excess degreaser that spills from the chain is kept at a distance from hub's ratchet mech and primary bearings. The Cyclone is quite effective at recovering the fluid, however, so we did not follow that precaution.
The Cyclone in Action
Fill the Cyclone's reservoir with about five ounces of degreasing fluid, snap it over the chain and then slowly turn the cranks for about twenty or thirty revolutions until the chain is clean and bright. We thought that the scrubber wold spit fluid all over the bike and floor, but such was not the case.
Park's chain scrubber puts in a good performance, with a clean chain in about three to five minutes. Perhaps the better news it that the Cyclone manages the normally messy task with a minimal amount of dripping and over-spray from the mech. We used a variety of cleaners, from cycling-specific sources as well as off-the rack citrus cleaners from automotive stores, with similar results. Just for fun, we tried Park Tool's suggestion of water and liquid detergent and that actually matched the performance of citrus degreasers. How clean is clean?:
Using the automated car wash analogy, Park's Cyclone can get almost all of the crud off the chain in a single washing. By that, we mean that the mechanized brushes leave the chain looking pretty sharp, but the tool leaves minute pockets of discoloration on the links that might be eliminated by a fastidious hand scrubbing. The Cyclone's results are as good as anyone needs to restore a dirty chain to as-new performance, however, and that is as far as most of us want to take that particular job anyway.
Cleaning the Cyclone:
Before and after pictures of the same chain using only one serving of degreaser. Park Tool advises to run the chain through the Cyclone twice for near-perfect results. We found that the minimal areas of discoloration left by a once-through did not affect the performance of the chain.
No worries when it comes to cleaning the inner workings of the Cyclone. Because the cleaners you will be using are water based, the most effort that will be required is to spray some water in the mech to rinse it out. The degreaser-fluid bath seems to keep crud from accumulating on the roller brushes. If you are on the cheap, run your used degreasing fluid through a paper coffee filter and use it once again.Technical Report
• Like: Replaceable parts, stocked by the most reputable bike tool company in the world
• Like: Minimal mess on the floor and on the bike.
• Like: Uses a relatively small volume of fluid to clean a chain
• Don't like: The Cyclone cannot attain the nearly perfect results of a time-is-no-object, off-the-bike hand cleaning.
Wonder how much mess the Cyclone makes? Not much, as witnessed by the minimal spots left on Pinkbike's outdoor work-space after a thorough chain-washing session.
|We resisted liking the Cyclone Chain Scrubber, because it seemed to be a gimmick designed to convert our money into Park Tool's money. All said, however, the Cyclone is a pretty easy gadget to use. It gets the job done in a hurry with surprisingly little mess or post-cleanup - and it was those attributes that turned us around. Now the Cyclone is a part of our regular maintenance routine. Can you do a better job by hand? Sure. Type 'A' helmet polishers, like retired Firemen who drive 1956 Corvettes, will probably mock the Cyclone's inability to restore chains to out-of the-box condition, but the bottom line is that the little blue box can get your chain running perfectly sweet in minutes. And, about the laziness brought on by yet another automated cleaning device? Well, the downside of today's water-based degreasers, however green they may be, is that the chain must be left dry before it can accept proper chain lubricants - and that can be time consuming. The Cyclone made the job of cleaning the chain so easy that we found ourselves wishing that Park Tool made a tubular brush attachment to fit a hair dryer so we could dry the chain as fast as we could wash it.- RC|