Muc-Off X-3 Dirty Chain Machine - Review

Nov 3, 2014
by Paul Aston  
Muc-Off X-3 Dirty Chain Machine

Muc-Off X-3 Dirty Chain Machine

The X-3 Dirty Chain Machine is Muc-Off's top of the range chain cleaner. For £30 ($48 USD approx) you get the heavy duty machine and a 75ml bottle of Muc-Off Drivetrain Cleaner. The cleaner can either be sprayed directly onto your chain, or poured into the X-3's reservoir, where it can then be released by using the control button located on the top of the device. Between the cleaning teeth and the brush wheel there are a total of 120 contact points that attack the chain from all directions for a thorough scrubbing. The X-3's design allows the dirt and grim to collect at the bottom of the unit along with the used degreaser, which prevents it from being picked up by the cleaning brushes and flung back onto the chain. Once the chain is clean, the unit can be rinsed out, and if you're a good boy or girl and have been using a biodegradable lube, the waste can be poured straight down the drain without killing the poor fishies downstream.

Muc-Off X-3 Review

Before and after, my 9 month old XX1 chain.

Pinkbike’s Take
bigquotesThere are numerous benefits to a clean chain, and with the tight tolerances of today's 11 speed drivetrains, cleanliness is more important than ever. Plus, applying chain lube to a grime-free chain is much more effective, allowing it to stick better and remain useful for a longer period of time since it won't be sitting on top of a layer of filth. As Muc-Off's top of the line chain cleaner, the X-3 cleans more thoroughly than my trusty old Bio Chain Doc, but that performance comes with a higher price, and slightly more mess. Out of the box, fitting the handle is a cinch and filling the top chamber with Drivetrain Cleaner is foolproof, as is releasing the clip to split the machine in two and then installing it around the chain. Release some fluid out of the top chamber and with a few backward revolutions of the cranks you're done. The handle allows you to hold the chain in line with the chainring if you're running a setup without a lower chainguide, thus avoiding needing to deal with annoying chain loss when a hot drink or beer is beckoning post-ride.The X-3 is the best unit I have used in terms of getting the chain clean, however, if you don't use all of the fresh fluid in the top chamber, it can and will leak out into your toolbox if it turns upside down. All told, for quick jobs, the Chain Doc is the way to go, but mechanics and race techs that need the cleanest chain possible will appreciate the X-3. - Paul Aston


  • 65 2
 A chain cleaning device that magically cleans the chain stay too? Seriously, there is more grime elsewhere on the bike than on the chain.
  • 15 2
 dont forget the wheels. they look shined as well.
  • 32 2
 That chain cleaner did an amazing job on the Tires! Amazing =)
  • 4 8
flag chyu (Nov 3, 2014 at 23:01) (Below Threshold)
 wanted to bash, read the comment, scroll back, it's magic.
  • 45 3
 It must be a chain reaction.
  • 1 0
 dazzling powers
  • 1 0
 I use some hope shifter cleaner a nail brush a sponge and a dirty rag and some times a cassette brush
  • 5 6
 I don't know about you, but if I was cleaning my chain I would be cleaning the rest of my rig also... also - if you look at just the chain you can notice a difference.
  • 32 0
 Old toothbrush gets the job done perfectly
  • 4 3
 I'm not saying it doesn't but it consumes way more time to reach the same effect. What I'm also not saying that I would spend £30 on it. I haven't gone mad. 30 quids is so much money that I'm getting excided thinking of how I'm not spending them on that device.
  • 4 0
 I dunno, i find that using a good amount of aerosol solvent gets my chain, rings, and cassette as clean as when they were new
  • 3 0
 two words.. grunge brush
  • 6 1
 Nope. Sorry. I was a toothbrush/rag/solvent guy for years (decades actually). I picked up one of these selfcontained roller brush things (from MEC here in Canada for about $10) plus a 4L jug of citrus degreaser from Home Depot (another I think about $10) and it is well worth it. Faster and simpler; a much easier clean up (just hose out the roller thingajigger and let dry on bench) and it can only do a far superior job.

With today's drive trains incorporating more alumimum (like the new sram cogsets or even just having one of the new big 42t etc cogs on there) flushing out the aluminum debris from your links is paramount. Nothing causes wear faster than that aluminum mixes with your lube working away as you ride. From Sheldon Brown (check out his site and 'chain maintenance), " Some of the grit is metal wear particles from the sprockets and from the chain itself. Aluminum oxide from chainrings makes chain dirt black -- and it is very hard and abrasive. Grinding wheels are made of aluminum oxide"

I want to get as much life out of my single NW ring up front and my One-Up out back before having to replace them. Drive trains are expensive and if a simple blast through a cleaner is going to be far more effective than a rag and some WD40 or most of the other methods, i'll do it.
  • 21 1
 No need for these gadgets. Just wipe the chain with an old rag. Add lube. Wipe the excess. Ride.

No need to de-grease the chain.

Clean with lube, lube with lube. Smile
  • 7 1
 Exactly. No need to do excessive cleaning. Wipe off the stuff on the outside, leave the stuff that is not reachable. If you degrease too much you'll just make it easier for the dirt to get inside. There is a good reason why factory lube is sticky as Sh*t
  • 15 1
 These chain cleaners are such a gimmick. What about the rest of the drivetrain? They clean chains, that's it.
What a waste of time.
  • 6 12
flag nicolenotavailable (Nov 3, 2014 at 22:14) (Below Threshold)
 They removes the grease everywhere.... hub, kassette, chainring.... every bearing in the near...
  • 8 4
 I have no clue what you are trying to say? It cleans the chain. It doesn't clean cassettes. Sorry
  • 5 1
 I think what @nicolenotavailable is trying to say is, that the degreaser agent gets everywhere else as well - like the bearings in the jockey wheels and chain device rollers. Degreaser and bearings are a bad combo, unless you are going to take them apart, clean them thoroughly and apply new lube.
  • 5 1
 i have got Karcher, not only chain is cleaned but all bikes!
  • 18 4
 This is the oldest fail in chain tech ever!! Sorry but are f*cking serious PB?
  • 11 0
 i get just as good of a result by dipping my chain in an empty soda/beer can, filling it 1/2 full of citrus degreaser from home depot (the zep industrial stuff). let it sit for 5 minutes, block the opening and shake thoroughly, empty degreaser, fill with water, shake thoroughly once more...your chain will be as shiny as day one. obviously you should apply lube after. the $10 degreaser usually lasts me 2 years, and I use it for other things as well...i would love to see how those bristles hold up after 2 years.
  • 3 0
 That's perfect method for cleaning the chain. Only downside is that you need to put the chain off the bike everytime you do that. And if you don't have a QR link on your chain that's really bad idea.
  • 12 0
 I heard (open for debate) that if you put chain in degreaser you actually shorten chain life by removing the factory grease. It's then difficult for then live to reach these areas of the chain thus resulting in increased wear. I just use a rag and a bit of degreaser while cleaning then apply a chain lube after
  • 2 1
 @sewer-rat, that is probably true. The factory grease is the best grease and it's the best applied grease, but at some moment you just need to clean your chain completely and you cannot do that with just a rag and soap water (even if that will give you good result also). To remove dirt that is sticked to the grease of the chain, you need to remove the grease itself. What removes your grease from the chain will remove all the grease - fabric or extra applied. That's my logic.
  • 1 0
 I do something similar. I put my chain in a tupperware container with degreaser and shake. I then rinse, air dry for a bit, then lube and reinstall, wiping excess lube after it has dried. I probably do this twice per season.

There are arguments for and against using machines like this, or cleaning the chain at all. I think most of it is just based on personal experience and anecdotal evidence.
The bottom line is: If you aren't breaking your chain OR experiencing premature wear on your rings/cassette, whatever you are doing to maintain your chain must be working.
  • 1 0
 @sewer-rat where you live can have an impact too: if you live someplace dry & dusty, the last thing you want on your chain is something as sticky as factory grease, even on the inside, as dust can easily be fine enough to penetrate inside the links. One of the reasons I like synthetic lubes so much is that they generally dry to film on the outside, instead of remaining sticky, while still staying wet enough to lubricate the moving parts.
  • 1 0
 Ah fair enough, as I said just what I heard and open to debate. My own experience / method works for me
  • 1 0
 @thrasher2 just reread your response, quick tip: degreasers can leave a residue that can mess with the lube. I find it better to rinse with water after degreasing, then dry, then lube. It's worked better for me.
  • 1 0
 @groghunter Very true about dry conditions. I started riding in West Texas before moving back to Oregon and anything (chain or otherwise) that wasn't perfectly dry would get thick coats of grinding dust. That dust gets EVERYWHERE. The windows of my house, which seemed to block air just fine, would get little piles of dust building up inside on the windowsill, regardless of how often I cleaned.
Rust and Dust are bad for chains. I say use a wet lube if you aren't sure if the ride will be wet or dry. The only chain I have ever lost to bad maintenance was after using a dry chain lube and a surprise rain.
  • 2 0
 if a chain needs lubrication, the factory lube has deteriorated in places where it counts...which is why you need to lube. there is no point in protecting the original lube when friction has already eaten away at it in contact points. thats like never changing your car's oil because the factory one is the best. bottom line, removing some factory lube and re-lubing (not to perfection) is a whole lot better than not getting all the crap off that increases friction and wear.
  • 1 0
 Am I the only one who uses the power link and air compresser method? Take the chain off with the $9 tool. Blow all the crap off reinstall. Also blow off the cassette and jockey wheels. Before I had the power link I'd just cover the brake remove the wheel and blow it all off. Got the bike dirty though. You can hold a rag under the chain as you blow it.
  • 2 0
 @sewer rat, I did experiments with degreaser versus rag/brush only. The more thoroughly I cleaned with degreaser the shorter the life of the chain. One lasted a fifth as many miles as the next non-degreased chain.
  • 1 0
 Thanks , that's what I heard and kind of stuck with being honest- it works for me but not my mate who regularly degreases and had gone through a chain SRAM 11 speed power plate in just over 1000 miles. Personally I think that's low for a chain like that, I have the same and it's still in great condition , albeit with slightly less mles over the same terrain, the LBS actually told him to run 2 chains now to prevent wear to his drive train, again never heard of that one but you live and learn
  • 1 0
 Yep, I only got a thousand miles out of a chain using degreaser. If he still uses degreaser he'll still get few miles from a chain. Once you use degreaser on any chain it is too late. Using two chains is a good idea because it wears the teeth less when you the chain elongates as it wears.
  • 7 0
 How is this an improvement (other than the handle) over the park chain cleaning tool that used the exact same design (minus the handle) TWENTY plus years ago ?!
  • 2 2
 "The X-3's design allows the dirt and grim to collect at the bottom of the unit along with the used degreaser, which prevents it from being picked up by the cleaning brushes and flung back onto the chain."
  • 1 1
 Thats not new. The park one did that also.
  • 2 2
 No, no it didn't. You are wrong.
  • 2 0
 Park's also has a magnet to help collect any metal that has been worked free.
  • 1 0 did, the original park chain mate had that feature. I owned one. I might still own it, its probably buried in a bin of useless tools.
  • 1 0
 The park cyclone has the handle and magnet but the original chain mate had neither.
  • 5 1
 Cheapest consumers I've ever witnessed are pinkbike users. If you don't want it cool, but if you want biking to advance companies have to come up with solutions for bikers that put money in their pockets who in turn employ bikers etc. But if every single article is stupid whining about how it could be found for cheaper start buying your bikes at walmart as well. Stop propping the stupid ass comments pinkbike!
  • 1 0
 Well, I recently spent considerably less $$ for a Pedro's Chain Pig. I have yet to try it out, but I'm expecting good results, and the little stainless steel arm that hooks into the derailleur jockey wheel cage (brilliant!!) means it's hands-off, all you do is spin the crankset backwards.......................

  • 2 1
 If you're a normal person you clean the whole bike first ,then concentrate on the chain if it needs more TLC. Not as shown in the first pic, it looks like they're gonna clean the chain then the bike , washing all the crap back onto the chain ,then have to do the chain again.
  • 4 3
 my steps to a clean chain: 1. ride all season long 2. remove chain in december 3. bring chain to factory workplace 4. leave chain soak in company's degreaser for 12 hours while you get paid to be there 5. reinstall spotless chain for another season of riding.
  • 10 0
 6. Replace cassette because running an old worn out chain
  • 3 1
 7. Replace chain because you flushed the factory grease from between the links and shortened the life of the chain when you tossed it in the degreaser for 12hrs while you got paid
  • 1 0
 8. repeat. a chain is still a lot cheaper than that cleaner thingy. haha
  • 1 0
 these are jokes, kids
  • 2 0
 My Park Tool Cyclone Chain Cleaner and Simple Green solvent works wonders on chains. Both are affordable and Simple Green is an amazing bike degreaser that won't kill you or the environment.
  • 1 0
 My local manual car wash is $2 for the first 1:30. Few times a season I take it by and pressure wash the shit out of it,chain included. I pay special attention not to wash all the grease out or my headset or pump any water past my fork seals. Its a Chromag Stylus hardtail so no pivot bearings to worry about. Also totally agree that a clean chain performs better after some fresh lube.That also will increase drivetrain life.Don't forget to lube your derailer rivets and jockey wheels as well!
  • 1 0
 Holy shiver! Who knew there would be such a debate about cleaning a chain?! Me personally I don't even use a chain or a cassette or a chainring or a chain guide so I don't need to worry about little things like a chain cleaner or chain lube.
  • 1 0
 So once you get the cleaner / degreaser into your chain, how do you flush it out so that the chain lube doesn't break down once it touches it? I never clean my chain like this unless its off my bike, just wiping it before lubing it works for me. I hate these machines....................
  • 5 1
 Is it just or did the chain not look that dirty to start with...
  • 25 2
 It's just.
  • 9 0
 Yeah my "clean" chain looks like the first one
  • 6 2
 I really think they need to quit MUCking about
  • 2 0
 i like to get personal and just take the chain off and clean each link by hand then move on to the cassette. I use 9spd so my tolerance is a little more giving.
  • 3 0
 I use Squirt Lube. No more dirt on the chain => no need for cleaning. Wink Also my chains last 2 times longer.
  • 3 0
 Alls you do is wipe, lube and ride. Love the stuff! Lowest friction lube on the market, and it's biodegradable!
  • 1 0
 Take the chain off using your quick link = 1 minute

Immerse in white spirit soak and agitate = 2 minutes

Reinstall on bike and re-apply lub = Happy chain !
  • 1 0
 Gimmick and bad for chain and all bearings that get wet from solvent. Humid rag, little bit of dishwashing soap. Wipe. Come on pb...snakeoil
  • 3 1
 too much money for a chunk of plastic... im not saying it doesnt work tho
  • 5 3
 go home pinkbike, your drunk.
  • 2 1
 the most interesting thing here is there's no chain stay on the 1st photo. It's magic.
  • 1 2
 Wipe factory lube off new chain. Liberally apply Squirt Chain Lube. Let dry. Go ride. Wipe. Lube. Dry. Ride. Repeat. Simple and it won't destroy your bearings or factory chain grease.
  • 1 1
 How about you review a used Colgate toothbrush next time or better yet,why don't you do a used toothbrush vrs Muc-Off X-3 Dirty Chain Machine, just a thought!!!!!!
  • 1 1
 I will continue to do it with the bendy depositer on the end of my lube bottle and a rag.
  • 1 1
 Wow did you notice how it also cleaned the chainring, cranks, frame, rim and tire?!? Incredible!!! ahahahahahaha
  • 2 1
 Or you know, a hose...with some water.
  • 1 1
 I still prefer to use my karcher with det mol... Cleans the whole bike and whatever is lying around.
  • 3 1
 another gimmick!
  • 1 0
 I have my trusty Park Tool Chain cleaner
  • 1 0
 Toothbrush, carb cleaner, re-oil.
  • 1 0
 Just get the titian chain scrubber of Price Point its only $10.00
  • 1 4
 it is cheaper to take the bike for a full tune-up than geting the chain cleaner. Inse the bike before you give it to your local bike shop mechanic, it helps them out with the cleanup when they service the bike.
  • 2 2
 what do you suggest for a chain cleaner.... Muck off! catchy.
  • 1 0
 Not enought lol
  • 1 0
 not enought
  • 2 3
 Toothbrush and diesel,as recommended by Zinn
  • 3 5
 Never cleaned a chain in my life, who buys these things?
  • 1 3
 Did you clean yourself at least once in your lifetime ?
  • 1 0
 I take a bath once a week, whether I need it or not...
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