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Review: S100 Motorcycle Cleaning Products
You can purchase a complete care package with many of the S100 products. We tested several of them in our review.
Let’s face it, there is never enough time. Not enough time to ride, and certainly not enough time to wash your bike! Many of us would opt to ride a dirty bike than not ride at all. So, short of a half-day Q-Tip detailing session, there must be a way to clean a motorcycle that doesn’t demand a large chunk of waking hours?
The S100 family of motorcycle care products sets out to earn back more of that precious riding time by expediting the cleaning process. Specifically, the products aim to reduce the amount of physical contact required to clean your ride, as opposed to a good ol’ bucket of suds and a sponge.
There are nearly ten separate products in the German-made product line. Some of these products include the “Total Cycle Cleaner”, “Wheel Cleaner”, and “Polishing Soap” and “Detail + Wax.” It was this selection of products we tested out.
S100 Total Cycle Cleaner ($7.99 US spray, $9.99 US aerosol)
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The flagship product of the entire S100 line is the Total Cycle Cleaner. Introduced in 1985 to the U.S. market, the manufacturer claims the first bikers to use this product were “stunned” as insects “virtually fell off the windscreen, oil and road film dissolved immediately on contact.” The official website purports a cleaning job taking hours can now be reduced to a 15 minute task.
The cleaner comes in two forms, a standard spray version and fancy aerosol incarnation. The standard spray is available in a nearly gallon and half size if you’re responsible for a fleet of two wheel fun.
In order to test these claims, we needed a dirty bike; easy enough, our favorite test mule is perpetually dirty so little prep time was required. With a repulsive cocktail of smattered bug guts, dust, road grime, brake dust, a splattering of rain and a day to cook in the sun, we had a nice test sample to challenge the S100 cleaner.
It should be noted that this product should be applied to a cool bike, according to S100. While our bike had sat in the sun the day before, we put it under the cabana for the review and only wheeled it out into the sun to get better photographs.
We tried both the spray bottle and the aerosol variation. The unanimous favorite amongst the two was the easier to apply aerosol. When it comes into contact with your bike, it quickly foams making it very easy to see where you’ve sprayed. Plus, it sticks to the nooks and crannies of your bike and it more likely to dissolve dirt and grime because it doesn’t immediately run down.
With the pump model, your hand is likely to get tired spraying and spraying. Plus, it doesn’t foam like the aerosol which makes it a little more difficult to see where you’ve applied the product and where you need to apply the product. As it runs down, we noticed some streaking where the product actually cleaned whatever it was running over on its way to the ground. Either we let it sit too long or didn’t apply evenly, but the cleaner works.
As far as effectiveness, there was no discernable difference in the cleaning power of one over the other. After letting the product sit, briefly, both managed to dissolve the bug guts and other road grime; mostly without the need of a sponge. The instructions tell you to use a high pressure water spray, not a pressure washer, but a high pressure stream. The idea of a concentrated stream of water substituting the elbow grease of a scrubbing with a sponge is almost effective, but not 100%. As the directions state, you may need to “touch the really tough stains with a sponge.” We did.
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Rinsing was easy, but you must be careful to completely rinse, or you run the risk of spotting as manufacturer warns. We had some splotches appear on the plastic to the rear of our bike. Just make sure you rinse well and you shouldn’t have a problem.
It was in the corners and many nooks found around all bikes where the cleaner needed the most help; the small areas where a large car wash sponge doesn’t fit too well. While the S100 cleaner doesn’t completely remove the need for a sponge, it does lessen the time spent using one.
S100 Wheel Cleaner ($11.99 US)
Perhaps one of the more surprising products we tested was the wheel cleaner. It comes in a spray bottle and it’s easy to apply. In our estimation, the S100 wheel cleaner performed admirably. It’s nearly on par with our standby favorite: Simple Green, but without the somewhat nauseating aroma of concentrated Simple Green. The wheel cleaner is no frills, you spray it on and let it sit. The product is a gel, so the viscosity allows it to adhere to your wheels longer than other spray on wheel cleaners. S100 recommends 15 minutes for the toughest stains, however were a bit concerned that the product would dry in that amount of time so we opted more applications versus a longer sit time.
As with the Total Cycle Cleaner, you simply hose off the wheel cleaner after you’ve let it sit. We estimate 75% of the brake dust and road grime was cleaned with the first application and a subsequent application with the assistance of a sponge finished it off. It was only the tight corners of the wheels where the stains were most stubborn requiring manual intervention.
S100 Polishing Soap ($9.99 US)
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The S100 polishing soap was a surprise in a plastic jar. It doesn’t look like much, and reading the ingredients (soap flakes) we weren’t expecting a lot out of it. In fact, we have many products in our detailing arsenal that work just fine; who needs another? Perhaps the best aspect of this product is its versatility. It did a great job on our stainless can, but it also has many uses not specific to motorcycles. You can use this product on almost any tarnished metal surface, though its not recommended for anodized or painted surfaces.
Because of the claimed versatility, we tested it on the stainless “nerf” bar of a pickup truck. There was no need to clean first, just wet the sponge, run it across the product and rub on, rinse off and polish. Both the exhaust can and sidestep bar were restored to a lustrous shine. The polishing soap is also plastic friendly, unlike some other stainless and chrome cleaners that leave a white residue if you errantly apply them to plastics. This is a BIG plus considering nearly all sport bikes combine black plastics with painted plastics somewhere.
S100 Detail + Wax ($9.99 US)
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Once you’ve cleaned your bike, you need to protect it from the elements. By creating a protective coat over the paint, you’re ensuring future cleaning is a lot easier.
The web site for the S100 Detail + Wax states you may use the product without prior washing. Of course, if you have baked on entomologic experiments adorning your faring, you’re best off removing that first. But, if you’ve only got a thin layer of dust and a few spots, then the S100 Detail + Wax is probably a good choice for a quick clean. Best of all, it will leave your paint with that slippery wet feel when you run your finger across. The “unique carnuba and beeswax ingredients” leave the surface well protected.
Are we the only ones that see the irony here? Remove bug guts and protect with…beeswax?
The spray on application aerosol works great and it’s a breeze to apply. Personally, we feel it’s important to thoroughly clean a surface before wiping on any kind of wax or you run into a sandpaper effect. Maybe this is not the case with the S100 Detail + Wax, but we weren’t willing to try. Nevertheless, it’s easy to wipe on and water beads immediately.
Spray on waxes, typically, do not have the lasting power of paste style waxes, therefore you may need to apply subsequent layers a bit more frequently. But, given the ease of doing so even the laziest of the weekend warriors among us ought to be able to rouse up enough energy for this task.
ConclusionDo these products work and will these products save you time? The simple answer: yes. Read on for the complicated answer.
The discussion of “quick” versus traditional method of cleaning could easily transgress into debate akin to “tastes great” versus “less filling” or Ford versus Chevy; a deliberation where there is never a clear victor. Both methods work and we interject that the effectiveness of the products and your allegiance lies somewhere alongside how willing you are to part with your dollars. That, and your level of tolerance for what you consider clean.
A bucket of water and a few ounces of dishwashing soap costs pennies, it’s hard to argue that. The S100 aerosol product cost around a dollar an ounce. Is it fair to compare? Are these products really in the same league? Probably not. After all one was designed to clean lasagna off your dinner plate and one was engineered specifically for your motorcycle.
We like the S100 products, they work as advertised; though the claim of reducing a job taking hours to only minutes seemed a little too good to be true (it was). But, the results are indisputable and it does cut down on the scrubbing. The bottom line question you have to ask yourself is: How clean is clean enough? If you regularly use Q-tips then stick to your suds. If you’d rather ride than detail your bike, then check out the S100 product line.
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