Mountain biking is an ongoing battle with dirt and mud, especially during the winter. If you’re loading your bike into a car, or need to do a full-body rinse before your significant other allows you in the house, a pressure washer can make quick work of claggy mud.
After a sloppy ride, it’s essential to make sure you get the muck off your frame before it solidifies, because when dry it's harder to break than a diamond.
There is a fair bit of controversy when it comes to pressure washing bikes based around the fear of blasting the grease out of bearings, pushing water past suspension seals and peeling off paint and low-friction coatings. As long as you use your head and don’t direct a stream of high-velocity water at the bearings or suspension seals at close range, there is no need to worry.
BEST PRESSURE WASHERS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. How much power?
If you are looking at a power washer for your bike, you only need enough power to unstick stubborn mud.
When it comes to flow rate, the lower end of the spectrum will be more than enough to clean your bike; look for a jet washer with a max pressure below ~100-bar or about 1400 psi — even then you won’t need the full power — and a low flow rate to minimise water usage.
2. Stand back
Even with a light-duty pressure washer, at point-blank range, you can still strip the paint off your frame, not to mention grease from the inside of bearings. Take a step back and start at the distance where the stream begins to transition to mist, and only move closer for really tough mud.
3. Spray nozzle and lance
Look for a nozzle that fans the water out into a sheet as this will help to get rid of the stickiest mud while also spreading the water pressure out over a wider area.
THE BEST PRESSURE WASHERS FOR MOUNTAIN BIKERS
1. Rinse Kit Plus
Portable power free pressure washer
Capacity: 7.5-litre | Spray Pressure: 65psi | Power source: None | Price: £90 / $115 / AU$150
With a 7.5-litre capacity, the Rinse Kit requires no battery or pumps, instead utilising an internal pressure chamber to drive water through the end of the nozzle. When its time to spray, the Rinse Kit will give you about two minutes at full blast before the pressure starts to drop off — about enough time to de-mud a bike. If you’re cleaning multiple bikes by yourself, there is a pump accessory that allows you to top up the pressure.
The tank is insulated (Rinse Kit also offers a car cigarette-lighter-powered heater), so you don’t need to freeze cleaning up in a trailhead parking lot, and the washer can be filled either using a garden hose or your kitchen sink.
Roughly the size of a small cooler, it comes with a 1.8m hose, meaning it can be left in the back of your car while spraying off bikes.
2. Mobi V-15 Mobile Washer
Putting the cigarette lighter in your car to good use
Capacity: 15-litre | Spray Pressure: 135psi | Power source: 12v accessory plug | Price: £100 / $150 / AU$205
Priced at £100 / $150 / AU$205 the Mobi V-15 utilises a 12v accessory plug to power the pump which pushes water from its 15-litre reservoir out the end of the spray nozzle at up to 135psi. From full to empty the washer will spray for just under seven minutes a full bore.
The hose is long enough to leave the reservoir in the back of your car, and the washer uses a clever anti-lag system to deliver a constant stream from the moment you press the trigger until it runs out, preventing air from finding its way into the pump.
Mobi also includes a showerhead and brush attachment, though neither are particularly useful for bike cleaning.
3. Worx Hydro Shot
Self-contained pressure washer
Capacity: N/A | Spray Pressure: 363Psi | Power source: 2v or 4v Battery | Price: £130 / $149 / AU$189
With the pump located inside the lance; Worx claims the Hydro Shot offers about 363psi of pressure on tap, and the multi-spray nozzle allows you to customise the stream.
It comes with a hose, a collapsible bucket and works with fittings from a standard garden hose — you can even screw a bottle into the bottom.
Worx makes an extensive range power tools, and the Hydro Shot uses the same batteries as the drills, saws, grinders, and leaf blowers; so if you’ve already bought into the ecosystem, all your gadgets will be compatible.
4. Aqua 2 Go
Buy if you have a stable of bikes to clean at the trailhead
Capacity: 17-litre | Spray Pressure: 115psi | Power source: 110v rechargeable battery | Price: £140 / $144 / AU$ TBC
The Aqua 2 Go pressure washer holds 17-litres of water and runs off of an internal 110v rechargeable battery allowing for about 12min of spray time. With the included ‘pistol’ sprayer, the pressure can be adjusted from 44psi up to 115psi, and the 5m hose means you’re not tethered directly to the unit.
It’s one of the denser portable washers with the fixed battery tipping the scales at 7kg before its filled with water - the washer does have wheels for easy manoeuvrability.
The washer also comes with a showerhead and brush with inline mount for soap or bike wash.
5. Bosch Fontus
Perfect for a mucky marathon race
Capacity: 15-litres | Spray Pressure: 218psi | Power source: 18v battery | Price: £270 / $TBC / AU$ 365
Roughly the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, the Bosch Fontus is a fully self-contained unit which runs on the brand’s standard 18v cordless power tool batteries.
For a portable unit, the Fontus has a sizable 15-litre water tank, and weighs nearly 10kg empty — luckily there are wheels and an extendable handle, so you don’t have to lift and carry the hefty unit.
The spray gun looks like a garden hose head and offers four spray patterns and four levels of pressure topping out a 218psi.
6. Muc-Off Pressure Washer
A 'bike-specific' pressure washer you can also use to clean your BBQ and driveway
Capacity: N/A | Spray Pressure: 1450psi | Power source: Mains | Price: £80 / $TBC / AU$TBC
Touted as ‘the world’s first bike-specific power washer’ Muc-Off’s take on the jet wash isn't all that different from a light-duty unit from your local hardware store requiring both a power and water source. It has a flow rate of 6.5-litres per minute and a max pressure of 1450 psi.
It comes with three lances, including a low-power head specifically for bikes — Muc-Off is also offering a snow-foam head, which has an inline mount for a bottle of your favourite bike wash which gives your bike a bubble bath.
For the time being, the Muc-Off Pressure washer is only available in Europe, with the North American and Australian versions still to come.
7. Karcher K2 Full Control
A hardware store pressure washer that's great for bikes
Capacity: N/A | Spray Pressure: 1600psi | Power source: Mains | Price: £89 / $119 / AU$99
When it comes to electric power washers, there is a whole hardware store full of units that will turn your water tap into a concentrated stream. For bike cleaning (and general domestic use) we like the Karcher K2 Full Control.
It's a bit more powerful than the Muc-Off unit with 1600psi on tap but included is a Vario Power Spray Wand which allows you to adjust the water pressure with a twist.
Karsher also includes a foam nozzle which allows you to attach a bottle of bike wash and cover your bike in a layer of foam.