Maybe it's just me, but most of the commercial degreasers sold in bike shops seem pretty expensive for what they do.
While they work well for lightweight grime, especially when used regularly, they just don't cut it when it comes to cleaning off months' worth of caked-on road grease and filth. Lots of time and elbow grease required (or a stiff brush, which can damage the finish on some parts).
Community mechanic that I am, I often end up sorting out friends' bikes for them. Now when it comes to salvaging a neglected bike, there is only one thing that is cheap and potent enough to make my task bearable: petrol (gasp).
Yes, I know. Awful for your skin and lungs, and the surrounding environment, and a stupendously good fire hazard, but it takes off just about any gunk in seconds. I realise that this may just spell death for a nice laquer finish, but I always use it quickly and sparingly, and I've never seen any ill effects to date. A nice rub down with oil and wax afterwards, and the job's a good 'un.
Seriously - 5 litres of petrol is cheaper than 500ml of degreaser. It is also 5,000,000,000 times worse for myself and everybody around me. Without hating on me for being a terrible being, can anybody recommend me a suitably cheap alternative?