Crankalicious Mud Honey Foaming Bucket Wash is a concentrate formula that – as the name suggests – you pour sparingly into a bucket of warm water and agitate with a jumbo sponge or bike brush until it assumes a rich, foamy lather. I've been pleasantly surprised by its performance and frugality.
Believing it was a boutique eco-friendly 'artisan' blend, I was a little alarmed by the caustic warning triangle and safety precautions. Closer inspection revealed this was only problematic to the concentrate rather than dilute formula. Minimise exposure to the concentrate, don't get it in your eyes and, obviously, use and store away from animals and small children.
Tony at Cranklicious graciously declined to discuss specific chemical composition, but he would say the Mud Honey is a 'very high concentration' pH neutral bucket wash, with high quality surfactants' – grime-gobbling compounds to you and me.
Used as directed, it's completely safe on all surfaces and finishes, including carbons and matt paintwork.
How to use
For best results pop two, possibly three, capfuls – depending on how grime-encrusted your bike is – into a bucket and then fill with very warm tap water. Stir up to agitate the mix and produce those sudsy bubbles.
Once outside, cover machine(s) under a rich sudsy blanket. Like most, it's best applied out of direct sunlight. Give ingrained dirt a good tickling with your brushes, sponge or wash-mitt during this phase. When you're ready, rinse off with a low pressure hose, avoiding direct contact with bearings and seals.
Obviously, a second bucket of clean, cold water works just fine but a hose avoids frustrating cross contamination that can strike when cleaning a fleet of mucky bikes.
Force of habit sees me rinse bikes in cold water to start with. In winter, this will greatly reduce the likelihood of residual road salt and other caustic elements taking a bite out of your frameset or components.
Given the warnings, I ummed and ahhed about gloves, but 45 minutes and three bikes later, my skin didn't feel uncomfortably tight or dry, though I'd encourage folks with sensitive skins to reach for the marigolds. Warnings about eye contact weren't idle talk either – a stray droplet induced a yelp and some moderate cussing.
As was obvious from my opening paragraph, I've been pleasantly surprised. Most formulas, bike-specific or otherwise, cut through organic grime, road and trail spray, silty spatter, watermarks and so on. However, the Mud Honey's surfactants quickly break down grime, which slithers away into a frothy pool beneath, with nominal effort.
Impacted horse/bovine dung and notoriously acidic seagull poop that had cured during the course of a very warm ride also shifted with remarkable ease. By contrast, achieving similar results with decent bike washes demands elbow grease and, sometimes, judicious deployment of very warm water.
Though my Holdsworth was basically clean, the warmer weather had caused its waxy internal preserve to seep out and congeal at various points. This cheesy looking layer was easily dismissed with gentle agitation. It was the same story for more basic chain lubes, which sometimes fling off and leave splashes along the chainstay, although stouter/more sophisticated petrochemical types needed a bit more persuasion.
Tickling silicone and cork bar wraps with a stiff brush, ingrained grime lifted satisfyingly before the eyes.
Mud Honey can be used as a stock for a spray-on bike wash, too. Why would you want to? Well, perhaps a fleet of lightly soiled bikes need prepping pronto. Pour 1-1.5 capfuls into a spent bike wash bottle, add your water, trigger spray and get busy.
Provided you've followed the directions and rinse promptly, streaking won't be an issue, at least on gloss paints. Sure, I've found the odd watermark, but these vanish with a quick mist of furniture polish buffed to a sheen. Matt finishes are difficult customers full stop, so apply some dedicated protectant afterwards to remove faint oily marks.
If your bottom line is price, then 2-in-1 car products will do a very reasonable job for around £1.99 a litre. However, assuming you didn't want the wax component, the Mud Honey goes a very long way and makes short work of tough grime.
Sensibly priced and very effective alternative to spray-on bike washes
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Crankalicious Mud Honey Foaming Bucket Wash
Size tested: 500ml
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Crankalicious says: "A pH-neutral foaming bucket wash, for use on all areas of your bike.
"Fresh from the road or covered in last week's trail mud, this foaming pH-neutral bucket wash will rid dirt from all parts of your bike; whether for a quick rinse down, or in readiness of using a more specific product."
My feelings are that it does exactly what it says in the blurb and to a very high standard.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
From Crankalicious: "Mud Honey is a very high concentration, PH neutral, bucket wash that has no fillers (i.e. "wasted ingredients") and high quality surfactants."
Ingredients seem to live up to their hype and packaging is pretty robust too.
Very effective at shifting organic and basic petrochemical muck, leaves behind a streak-free effect on pretty much all surfaces, though matt finishes still require "polishing" afterward.
Not unpleasant to use and when dilute, but just be careful when storing and pouring the concentrate. Rubber gloves would be a good move for people with sensitive skin conditions.
Good value full stop, although as the thriftiest fettlers will point out, twice the price of 1 litre 2-in-1 wash 'n' wax formulas.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been pleasantly surprised by its concentrated cleaning prowess, and a couple of capfuls is easily enough for tackling two or three very mucky bikes. Talking of which, it's particularly effective at lifting baked-on bird poop and as long as you don't leave it too long between washing and rinsing, streaking and other unsightly marks won't be a problem. Properly diluted, it also doubles as a surprisingly capable bike wash.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good foaming mix, very effective at tackling most types of dirt and very good value when compared with boutique formulas.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The concentrate needs more careful handling and storage than some blends. Nothing outlandish but could be a deal-breaker for some.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes but with some reservations.
Use this box to explain your score
Effective and economical foaming wash concentrate that bridges the gap nicely between 2-in-1 wash 'n' wax formulas and boutique shampoos. However, in concentrate form it isn't particularly kind to humans, animal or aquatic life, which may be a deal-breaker for some.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)