Mint smells nice, has a close association with freshness and goes well with lamb. Most of these are good affinities to have when looking for bike cleaning products. After all, anyone familiar with the industrial smelling cleaning products of old will know that a bad smell can make bike cleaning a deeply unpleasant affair.
Oxford is the only mainstream brand I've come across that uses a minty fresh scent as a selling point, under the Mint sub-brand that launched in 2018. The question is however, are these products simply nice smelling but ineffective cleaners or genuinely useful ways to keep your motorcycle sparkling?
While not every cleaning product tested was under the Mint umbrella, everything is from Oxford. So with the products assembled and a Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro suitably mucky, I set out to see whether you should be picking up the Mint range for your next motorcycle cleaning session.
The Mint Bike Wash is the spotlight of the brand, labelled an all-purpose cleaner it's designed to be safe to use on all surfaces, is fully biodegradable and should foam up nicely for better cleaning power. Available in either one or five-litre bottles, we tested the one-litre example and found that it foamed up well from the bottle and clung well to the bike's surfaces.
The Bike Wash requires a few minutes to dwell and properly agitate and remove grime, not too much of a concern when the weather is colder but may cause some unsightly streaking if used in direct sunlight during the summer. Still, it was excellent at removing general grime and was surprisingly good at cleaning the exceptionally mucky areas - around the chain for example. Streaking wasn't an issue out in overcast weather and the mint scent was pleasant.
The other Mint bike care products tested were all aerosols but still had a nice minty scent to them. For cleaning, there is Brake Cleaner and Chain Cleaner, for protection there's a Silicone Detailer and General Protectant, and finally, we tested All Lube to replenish the lubricant we'd washed away.
The Brake Cleaner is designed to break down brake dust, a notoriously stubborn deposit that the Bike Wash isn't cut out for. The mint-scented brake cleaner shifted any baked-on brake dust that had built up over time but did a couple of goes to shift absolutely everything.
And because the Bike Wash had done a surprisingly thorough job, there wasn't any need for the Chain Cleaner to do anything more than touch up the tiny spaces that hadn't been penetrated already. The spray made mincemeat of those small remaining pockets of oil and dirt making it a worthwhile investment.
The Silicone Detailer is an interesting choice and whether you like it will fall down to preference. Silicone-based detailers will give off a deeper shine but can look greasy if over applied and aren't the best for the planet. While this one improved the overall look of trim pieces, I'd argue that a non-silicone quick detailer would give similar results and be far kinder to the planet. Still, if you are after the ultimate shine, this spray delivered and was easy to apply to even the thinnest trim pieces.
The General Protectant was also easy to use, can be applied to any surface and Oxford claim it'll offer plenty of protection. Whether the protection is long-term remains to be seen.
A good selection of brushes will allow for more than just chemical cleaning, the scrubbing action will cause more agitation, also called mechanical cleaning. Oxford has a wide range of brushes and each was tested to see if they're actually needed for bike care.
The Detailing Brushes may have been a very generic design and all of a uniform bristle stiffness, but that didn't mean they weren't a welcome and affordable addition to any cleaning arsenal. They allow for better lathering of cleaning product, won't damage any finish and can reach small nooks and crannies without catching your knuckles, a win in our book.
A Chain Brush is an essential part of motorcycle cleaning and the Oxford example did a fine job scrapping off any deposits with its tough bristles and ergonomic design. The best kit hands-down however was the four-pack Brush & Scrub Set, complete with prong brush, barrel brush, soft flat-faced brush and a generic wheel brush. They're in no way the most refined or delicate of cleaning brushes, but the price is incredible and each comes with an ergonomic rubber-coated handle. They do however make cleaning wheels and other spindly bits a lot easier without posing a scratch risk.
Bucket and other accessorises
Oxford also offer a range of cleaning extras perfect including a bucket, microfibre towels and an exhaust bung. Naturally all were used extensively during the cleaning process.
The Bung would have been good for a more traditionally styled motorcycle, as the notched design is perfect for circular exhaust pipes of different diameters. However, the Triumph has a rounded oblong-shaped exhaust (like a massive black Tic Tac) and the bung wouldn't fill it.
The Detailing Bucket is a fairly standard 20-litre example with a robust metal handle and removable grit guard - a little plastic grate that separates grit from your car. It's quite possibly the best value bucket/grit guard combination of the market and is one of the standout pieces from the Oxford range.
There were two types of microfibre included too, a six-piece general set and a bespoke 'Super' Drying Towel. Both were perfectly adequate for buffing and drying but nothing special. They were about average in terms of value although the various colours and lack of tags (which get in the way) do score them some extra points.
While it may seem like a product overload at first glance, Oxford has managed to distil bike cleaning into the basics and nail it. The Mint range is so simple to understand and doesn't overcomplicate bike cleaning which is a massive plus point.
Aside from the minty-fresh branding, there's no whiff of snake oil or marketing liabilities present: the entire range is no-nonsense, a welcome breath of fresh air. Everything is also well-made, thoroughly thought-out and exceedingly good value for money. If you're aware of a couple of the small shortcomings then pretty much everything from Oxford should be worth considering.
Easy to use, no-nonsense cleaning products
Good cleaning ability on the most part
The minty scent is glorious
The Bike Wash is a little slow to act
The Silicone Detailer isn't very eco-friendly