Hmm... I've been using "brake cleaner" for a while now. Got two very large aerosol cans of the stuff for cheap and it seems like it'll last forever. Dampen a small rag with it and it seems to immediately cut thru anything. Same thing for spokes. I was cautious with it at first, but now also use it to wipe stays, back of the seat tube, etc. It evaporates so quickly that any part it touches is never really wet. No harm to Trek & Cannondale finishes in about a year of use.
I've always used the eraser method - and then for really nasty rims, an SOS 'Scotchbrite' pad - which also polished out some of the little dings and scratches. CRC Brakecleaner is awesome for the heavy dust - but bear in mind its a very strong degreaser as well - if you spray around parts that need lubrication make sure you replenish that. And for sure shy away from your hub bearings! Some brake cleaners are not plastic friendly - so check before you spray - mainly plastic bits like injection molded sensors, etc, may be affected. Rubber and nylon variants are generally fine.
That's great stuff in the right places, i.e., where you want to remove oil or grease and leave no residue or wetness. I use it on my chain and cassette when I want them looking showroom-fresh before re-waxing.
I wouldn't use it on my frame as a general cleaner as it could screw up the paint surface; soapy water and then wax there.
Just in case you were thinking of cleaning your bike while grilling some steaks, brake cleaner is very flammable, and burning it releases phosgene gas. Painful asphyxiation.
I've previously used ScotchBrite pads or similar for cleaning my rims. Gonna try James' suggestion once I've been to the stationery store. A clean rim is a happy rim.
That stuff is ok but not very eco freindly and I found odinary washing detergent does the same thing, both however it will remove a lot of the surface gunk but not the gunk in the groves on the breaking surface.
The eraser also repairs the burrring caused by impacts to the rim wall.
ScotchBrite pads are good but you need to becareful of the tire wall as they can easily damage them, especailly if you are using spun or cotton wall tires. Also the eraser gets in all the little spaces.
Yeah! Stay away from the tires! Jus damp rag is fine and if you love the new tire look, then some water based tire dressing. BTW - I tried some of the Finishline Citrus degreaser and its pretty good. Makes me feel a little better than using harsh chemical degreaser - though not sure if the Citrus is really that much more 'eco' ...
Thank you for this great advice. I'm using the break cleaner for a while now, but while I got the recommendation about the graphite eraser before, I never had a chance to pick one up. Maybe anybody has a recommendation where to pick one up for cheap? It sounds like snowboard shops might be one spot, but maybe there is an even cheaper alternative?