Most mountain bikers would like to think of our sport as somewhat green, or environmentally friendly. The products we use to keep our bikes clean, though, aren’t always too earth-friendly. One Canadian brand, Mint’N Dry, is trying to change that.
The Quebec-based brand developed a full line of biodegradable, plant-based cleaning products and lubricants. Mint’N Dry’s products are environmentally friendly, locally made and, most importantly, they work. After a few months of testing, we’re impressed with their ability to clean off winter grime. A gentle citrusy scent instead of a chemical odour doesn’t hurt, either.
We caught up with Pascal Chandonnet, founder of Mint’N Dry, to find talk about why he is so intent on making plant-based formulas work and the advantages of making the brand’s products right here in Canada.
Local production and living up to high standards
To Chandonnet, local production and an environmental ethos go hand-in-hand.
“One of the key environmental problems we’re facing today is, in part, caused by goods’ transportation,” Chandonnet says of the decision to produce Mint’N Dry in Quebec. “The fact that there was no locally made alternative for bike cleaning products was a strong motivation for us.”
Joining Canada’s legacy of homegrown mountain bike brands, which include now-iconic brands like Devinci and Rocky Mountain, came with a sense of expectation, too.
“Canada is the birthplace of so many quality bike brands,” says Chandonnet. “To achieve quality while bringing something new, it takes a lot of discussions and testing. Keeping production close to home was really beneficial for us. It let us refine our formulas to reach the level of quality we had set for ourselves.
Mint’N Dry merges “Green” and quality
The ability to experiment, refine, and adjust Mint’N Dry’s products through small batch production is another benefit of making its wares in Quebec. “Our strong motivation to start this company was to bring more sustainability in a category that is still heavily reliant on petroleum derivatives,” Chandonnet says. He admits that quality hasn’t always been there for green cleaning, as recently as 10 years ago but adds that that’s changed in the last few years. “Many industries have been looking to improve their environmental footprint. A huge amount of research in creating new solutions,” he says, means “We can now count on stronger expertise and better raw ingredients.” Better raw materials, in turn, makes better cleaning formulas.
“Our pride is that we’re able today to deliver the same or superior performance with more eco-friendly products.”
Strong local supply chains unshakable through global uncertainty
As the bike industry continues to be rocked by supply chain woes, Mint’N Dry has found an unexpected benefit to local production: reliability. Throughout the pandemic, the Quebec brand has not yet had to leave any of its retailers back-ordered. Local production is better for flexibility, and quality control, “We’re not in a dynamic where we need to produce before spring and store products in a warehouse waiting.” But this success is also a result of building strong relationships at both ends of the brand’s production.
“Through the years, we have established many solid relationships with local suppliers. They appreciate that we chose to make and buy most of our raw material in Canada, that we made that part of our mission. This is true for labels, boxes, bottles, ingredients,” says Chandonnet. “When we grow, we’re all growing together. Each dollar invested in our products is also invested in these other local companies.”
That made it harder to get Mint’N Dry off the ground but paid off when the pandemic hit. “Instead of being a small fish fighting against bigger players and international suppliers for materials,” Chandonnet says, “We’ve been well supported by our local partners.”
For consumers, that means Mint’N Dry will reliably be there and available when you need it. But how well do the Quebec-made products work? We’ve been putting them through a wet West Coast winter to find out. So far, the results are impressive.
Review: Mint’N Dry wash, degreaser and ceramic lube
True to Mint’N Dry’s green leanings, our samples showed up packaged in a recyclable cardboard box and padded with paper instead of plastics. The three pieces of the brand’s line we chose to test lean towards the heavy-duty side, as the sleek-looking bottles were set to arrive in Victoria, B.C. mid-winter.
We’re testing Mint’N Dry’s Dirt Bike Wash, Microemulsion Degreaser and Wet Ceramic Lube.
Mint'N Dry's clear formula Dirt Bike Wash
Caked on dirt
Gets a foamy soapy treatment
Even the tires and fork legs are safe (avoid the disc rotors, of course)
Comes out clean
Mint’N Dry Dirt Bike Wash
Dirt Bike Wash is the stronger of the Quebec brand’s bike cleaners. There is also a No Rinse cleaner and Bike Shine protective spray. The Dirt Bike Wash is a soapy spray designed to remove stuck-on mud and dirt while protecting the frame and sensitive moving component parts. The clear formula is colourant-free, solvent-free and uses no artificial fragrances or anticorrosives and, like most Mint’N Dry products, biodegradable and Made in Canada.
We tested the Dirt Bike Wash on a few bikes with different finishes. On gloss and semi-matte frames almost all dirt came off clean with a simple spray and rinse. A few of the more set-in marks on a ghost white Canyon Spectral required a light brush or wipe with Mint’N Dry’s microfibre cloth. But all marks were wiped clean with minimal pressure.
Restored to a bright happy chain
Comes out clean
Mint'N Dry Microemulsion Degreaser
Mint’N Dry -Microemulsion Degreaser
Degreasers can be the most industrial side of bike cleaning, but Mint’N Dry gets impressive results sticking with a plant-based and biodegradable formula. According to the brand, the “microemulsion formula creates active microscopic bubbles when shaken and leaves a dry finish after wiping.” What that looks like in real life is a shiny clean chain with minimal effort.
The Microemulsion Degreaser has a light and natural citrus smell, very unlike the overpowering chemical “citrus” scent. It’s proven effective at cleaning the mud-grease combo off of semi-neglected mountain bike drivetrains through muddy winter riding. It also did an impressive job removing a thick coating of grime caked onto my extremely neglected commuter. The latter did require a bit more elbow grease to remove, which is entirely reasonable, while the mountain bike drivetrains were good with a spray, soak, wipe and rinse.
Mint’N Dry says the Microemulsion Degreaser is safe on all surfaces including carbon fibre, metal, alloy, plastic and rubber.
Mint'N Dry Wet Ceramic Lube
A viscous white formula sticks to the chain to keep grit out.
Mint’N Dry Wet Ceramic Lube
Mint’N Dry makes three versions of its ceramic lube. Dry, All Conditions and the Wet lube tested here. The Wet Ceramic formula is designed for mountain biking, off-road (gravel) or, with increased corrosion protection, winter biking as well as for higher-torque electric bikes. It is biodegradable and made here in Canada.
While it will take a bit longer to properly test our initial impression is that the thick white lube goes on clean – instead of goopy – and feels smooth. It doesn’t have the same industrial smell that some competing brands do but it still feels like it lasts well in less-than-favourable conditions.