Solving a problem that doesn’t really exist?
The Muc-Off Pressure Washer Kit comes with a special low-pressure lance, that’s claimed to be safe on bearings.
Most people tend to fall into one of two schools of thought when it comes to bike cleaning. Either jet washing is the ultimate maintenance sin, blasting away grease and oil and decimating the life expectancy of your pride and joy. Or providing you don’t fire the jet directly into your bearings, then it’s nothing to worry about – they’re supposed to be mountain bikes, after all.
If you’re of the former mindset, Muc-Off’s new low-pressure washer aims to convince you otherwise. You actually get three lances in the heavy-duty roll-top carry bag, all with specific applications. One is a regular high-pressure lance, designed for all those heavy-duty cleaning jobs. Alongside that you get a motorcycle attachment, with a slightly reduced pressure, and then there’s the aforementioned bike lance, and a snow foam attachment. Also included for the £20 premium over the jet wash on its own, are two bottles of Muc-Off cleaning fluid.
The jet wash itself gets a familiar hot pink and black colour combo, and feels well made, with all the parts snapping together with reassuring security. There’s also a built-in quiver for the lances and a cleat for the power cable. Certainly it feels better quality than a £50 own-brand job from your local DIY superstore.
So does it work? Well yes, and no. Firstly the snow foam attachment: this screws onto the top of the bike wash bottle and mixes the contents with water to spray a sudsy lather over your bike (or car). As it does with the manual spray bottle, this helps to soften dried dirt so that you don’t need to scrub every nook and cranny during washing. The only difference being that it coats absolutely everything, turning your bike into a ghost and your garden into Santa’s grotto if you’re not careful. After leaving the foam for five minutes you then rinse it off. Don’t expect miracles — the best results still come from attacking the dirt before it’s had a chance to dry — but it’s reasonably effective as a pre-wash.
The real selling point of this pressure washer is the bearing-safe bicycle attachment. So put Muc-Off’s claim to the test, we took a Shimano XT wheel with a cup and cone bearing and pumped it full of fresh grease. Then we blasted it for one minute from 60mm away with the bicycle lance and checked the internals. Inside, the bearings were still thick with grease, but water had got past the seals. It passed our overly demanding test then. Not with flying colours, but successfully enough to suggest that your bearings will be safe if you use it sensibly.
What undermines this result, and herein lays my fundamental issue with this product, is that if you want to wash your bike sympathetically you can just use a hose – you don’t actually need to spend over £100 on a jet wash. The hose is also quicker to set up and pack away, and if you want to mess around with snow foam, you can buy ones that work with a hose attachment. And if poor water pressure means you need a boost from the pump, something like the cordless Worx washer would be less of a faff to use for a similar price.
If you really need a jet wash then, and are happy to pay a premium, Muc-Off’s Pressure Washer Kit is a good product. But it’s also solving a problem that doesn’t really exist.