Most winter rides end up in an remote car park with no hosepipe or jet wash to hand, but with the latest and greatest portable washers, that's no longer a problem when it comes to cleaning your bike.
It’s a filthy job, but someone’s gotta do it! Washing your bike is either a pleasure or a necessary evil, depending on your viewpoint, but whatever your stance, it’s a lot quicker and easier with a mobile pressure washer. Particularly one that’s bike-safe. These use lower pressures that are less likely to blast past bearing seals and other defences.
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Best overall portable pressure washer for mountain bikes
Weight: 1.85kg | Pressure: 25 bar/360psi | Rating: 10/10
Reasons to buy: Compact, cordless, you don’t need to lug around a heavy tank of water
Reasons to avoid: Not everywhere has ready access to water
Unlike the Bosch Fontus (below), the Worx Hydroshot doesn’t have a water tank, but it does have a 10m water hose, which you can dip into any third-party water source. It also has a filter on the end, so you even run it from dirty water, like a stream or puddle. You also get a fold up bucket, into which you can collect water, you can also clip a standard garden hose and there’s also an adapter for the bottom of the lance to screw on a mineral water bottle. If there’s water out there, the Hydroshot will let you access it.
The Hydroshot lance has three pressure settings and the nozzle rotates to offer five different spray features from a powerful jet stream to a wide fan spray for dousing the bike. Worx claims 2.5Mpa water pressure (about 25bar), which is twice that of the Bosch but in use both units felt pretty similar. Don’t worry though, it’s plenty powerful enough to blast away filth without doing damage to any bearings if you’re careful.
Powering the Hydroshot is one of Worx’s Powershare 20V MAX lithium-ion battery batteries, which means it can be shared with other Worx devices. Overall, a brilliant product for a quick spray down in the car park after a ride, or in the garden/on the drive when you can’t be bothered to faff around setting up a mains-powered jet wash.
Best portable pressure washer for long battery life
Weight: 2.66kg | Pressure: 22 bar/320psi | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: Well made, easy to use, good cleaning power and water volume, good battery size.
Reasons to avoid: Heavy. Lack of accessories.
This is the Kit version of the Power Washer and, like the Worx Hydroshot, it’s a cordless unit designed to use with a separate water source, be that a bucket, stream, bottle or even a muddy puddle. Turn the end of the nozzle and you’ll access three pressures settings, a rinse mode, a powerful strip mode concentrated to a 15º exit angle, and a Turbo setting.
The Ryobi is really powerful for a mobile unit, on paper it’ll deliver 182 litres per hour at 22bar pressure. In practice it lives up to expectations, cutting through dirt a bit like a high powered hose. That big battery is more than enough to clean multiple bikes in one go, and we found it’ll run for more than 30 minutes and the lights on the battery will still be blinking green with enough in the tank for another go. Like a powerful hose it’s ideal for your e-bike without being reckless, and if you’re cleaning your bike at the trail side it’s the best option we’ve come across.
Best pressure washer for long run time
Weight: 7kg | Pressure: 20 bar/290psi | Tank capacity: 15L | Rating: 9/10
Reasons to buy: All-in-one solution. Powerful spray. Plenty of battery life
Reasons to avoid: Heavy when filled. Not as portable as the Worx Hydroshot. Expensive
At 7kg the Bosch Fontus is about the same size and weight of a medium wheelie bag, it even comes with a pull-out handle and sturdy wheels so you can drag it about. However, once you fill the tank it tips the scales at over 20kg so getting it in and out of a vehicle is an effort.
There’s built-in storage for the hose, spray gun, smart brush head and battery pack. The spray gun is small and easy to handle and comes with four different spray patterns. Combine these with the three power modes and you to really dial down the pressure when cleaning delicate areas like bearings and suspension or boost it for stripping dirt from your frame and tyres. There’s plenty of power, too. Plugged into the Fontus is one of Bosch’s standard 18V Lithium-Ion batteries, which is interchangeable with other Bosch tools and accessories. The company claims a one hour run time, but the water in the tank will drain long before the battery (10-15 minutes in our experience). The Bosch Fontus is heavier, more expensive and less portable than the Worx Hydroshot but it’s a great all-in-one option if you want an integrated water tank.
What to look for in a portable jet wash
Portable washers have been around for several years and most feature an internal water tank, mini hose and plug into the cigarette lighter/12V socket in your car or van. However, most are not very powerful and cleaning can often be as involved as using the bucket and brush, which means your hands will still get cold. Thankfully things have moved on and the very latest units now feature cordless batteries and powerful pumps. These are not cheap but the Worx, Ryobi and Bosch, featured here, can hose off a bike in a matter of minutes and if that means less time freezing your bits off, we definitely think it’s a price worth paying.
Although the difference between these two cordless cleaners is basically having a water source included or not, in reality it’s not much of a big deal simply because you can buy a 23 litre plastic container online for about tenner. Stash this in the boot of your car with the Hydroshot and you’ll have more than enough water to clean several bikes.
What pressure is safe for cleaning my bike?
While mains powered, mains-water fed pressure washers can kick out a whopping 70-100 bar (1,000-1,400psi) that kind of pressure can be damaging to the precise seals and delicate internals of a modern mountain bike, particularly electric mountain bikes. It’s impossible to say that there is a single safe pressure, as any water ingress is bad news, most bikes will cope with moderate pressure of around 15-20 bar (220-290 psi) as long as you don’t hold it at point blank range at the same spot for a long period of time. To put this to the test, we aimed Muc-Off’s bike specific lance at a freshly greased front hub from 60mm away for one minute – something no one is likely to do in the real world. And we found that, while some water had got past the seals, it was not a large amount and the grease was still in place and working as intended. If you have an e-bike, however, all the bike and motor manufacturers recommend avoiding a jet wash altogether and sticking with mains water pressure.
What’s more important: power or water capacity?
Assuming you’re looking for a portable unit, you’ll probably be looking for something you can use immediately after a ride. In this case, power is not the number one consideration, as the mud should be wet enough to wash off without too much effort. But you’ll need a reasonable size water tank (around 10L should suffice), a long enough extension cable if you’re taking power from your car battery and a simple, robust design that lets you assemble and disassemble quickly.