Gear Review: Mountainwasher Portable Bike Power Washer

Medium velocity washer a good bet for bike—if you use it enough

The Mountain washer power washer for bikes is a good on-the-go bike cleaning solution, if you need such a thing.

The Mountain washer power washer is a good on-the-go bike cleaning solution, if you need such a thing.

The Lowdown: Mountainwasher Portable Bike Power Washer

The versatile Mountainwasher Portable Power Washer provides consistent, medium-pressure cleaning power when you’re far from a hose bib. It works great for cleaning muddy or dusty mountain bikes when you’re off-the-grid, makes for a sweet cyclocross pit set-up, and doubles as a better camp shower than the “real” ones you find in some legit campgrounds. Its quality construction, 15-liter capacity and versatile hose attachments all help make the case. But before parting with $140, you really have to be sure you’d use it enough. And to make it work, you need to be within 20-25 feet of a car or another 12-volt DC power source, like a marine or portable rechargeable battery. Those last two items add additional cost to the kit.

Stat Box
Intended Use: Dirty bikes, gear and people Size: 24 w x 12 d x 18-inches h
Weight: 10 pounds (dry weight) MSRP: $140
Water capacity: 15 liters Rating: 3.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 3.5 Chilies-out-of-5
Warranty: 1 year

  • Quality design and construction
  • Limited usability
  • Nice hoses and accessories
  • Needs car or 12V battery nearby
  • Perfect pressure for cleaning bikes
  • Pricey
  • Good water capacity
  • A bit large for transport

Full Review: Mountainwasher Portable Bike Power Washer

Though the generic instruction booklet that comes with the Mountainwasher give away its origins as a car-washing accessory, we’re not taking any points off for its purveyors’ opportunistic adaptation. The truth is, with its modestly pressurized (40-130 psi) water delivery rate, it’s actually well suited for use on bicycles. It’s strong enough to knock off most mud and muck, but not so powerful that it will easily push water through seals and into bearings—a commonplace occurrence at high-pressure coin-op car washes.

With judicious use of the trigger nozzle, followed by a deeper pass using the included power brush head, the Mountainwasher makes quick work of slung-on mud and grime. True, it was easier to clean a bike immediately after riding when things were still fresh, but we found it required only modestly more effort to remove debris we let dry overnight. The caveat being we only tested it with our local soil type, which tends be of medium thickness — somewhere between sand and clay. We imagine thicker, clay-based conditions would require more effort.

The Mountainwasher generates a spray pressure that’s good enough to knock off mud, dirt and sand, but not so heavy as to easily contaminate bearings.

The Mountainwasher generates a spray pressure that’s good enough to knock off mud, dirt and sand, but not so heavy as to easily contaminate bearings.

SPRAY ON-THE-GO – The Mountainwasher is like having a go-anywhere garden hose at your disposal. It takes care of muck and mud, but isn’t so strong as to easily contaminate bearings.
Prep, set-up and use

The Mountainwasher preps and sets-up simply and easily—just fill the 15-liter capacity reservoir, then attach the quick release hose and a nozzle or brush. Next plug the generously-long power cord into your car’s cigarette lighter port, turn on the unit and pull the trigger.

Though you may be tempted to put soap or a solvent in the Mountainwasher, the company advises against it. We ran it water only and found it got rid of everything but that last little film of dirt—something that came off pretty easily when we wiped our bikes with a rag.

Power concerns

While we liked the functionality of the Mountainwasher, some might find its need for a nearby car limiting. With a hose length of 20-feet and a power cable that’s 10-feet long, you need to be within 20-25 feet of a vehicle to effectively use the Mountainwasher.

This could be remedied by using a portable marine battery or, as we tried, a rechargeable 12-volt DC utility battery. One of our staffers just happened to have such a battery ($30 from Cabella’s) and we added a female cigarette charger receptacle ($8 from Radio Shack) to connect the two.

Though we only used this configuration to test the Mountainwasher as a camp shower, we could see it coming in very handy for use in a cyclocross race pit as well.

Continue to page 2 more details and photos »

About the author: Don Palermini

Chicago-born Don Palermini became a cycling-based life-form in the sixth grade after completing a family road bike tour of his home state. Three years later he bought his first mountain bike to help mitigate the city's pothole-strewn streets, and began exploring the region's unpaved roads and trails. Those rides sparked a much larger journey which includes all manner of bike racing, commuting, on- and off-road bike advocacy, and a 20-plus-year marketing career in the cycling industry that landed him at his current gig with Santa Cruz bicycles. Now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, his four favorite words in the English language are "breakfast served all day," together in that order.

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  • jack says:

    great idea, BUT I bought a sprayer at Home Depot for 20.00 that puts out almost the same pressure, but you have to hand pump the pressure up, AND totally portable

    • adam says:

      Hey jack. Funny you should mention this. I was shopping around for a hand pump garden sprayer to do the trick. Is that what you got? I was unsure of the PSI and whether it would have enough to do a decent job…

  • LiquidSpin says:

    I seriously want one. I don’t own my own place and even if I did I wouldn’t be using the outside hose just to wash my bike as I run the risk (expensive risk) of breaking a pipe due to freezing water.

    During the winter I ride. It’s rare that during the winter I ever get to ride the trails completely dry which is why I would love to have one of these. Besides spraying a bike after a good long ride is perfect as your body is used to the cold and also warmed up quite a bit.

    $140? Price is steep for such a basic device. $80 and I’m sold.

    Maybe next Christmas.

  • LiquidSpin says:

    After Googling other portable bike washers this is actually the cheapest. As most are in the $200 range. They do offer complete portability via a rechargeable battery but still that’s a lot to spend on a bike wash that may or may not be used often enough during one season.

  • Motivated says:

    Use a garden pump-style sprayer – like used for liquid fertilizer or pesticides. Maybe $25 at Home Depot.

  • Sherriff Bart says:

    Interesting concept, especially for f/t off-grid use. In that regard:

    – Does it have a regulate-able trigger on the sprayer, or is it more like a toggle?
    – Does it come with other power connections besides a 12v ciggy plug?

    Put a solar panel and heater on that baby, add some power adapter options, then you really have an off-grid tool. Warm water does a better job of loosening dirt, so less water is needed. I’d pony up for that. Until then, a bucket, soft brushes and a solar shower is gonna keep working for me. Cheers…

  • Mountainwasher says:

    Hey Guys, just a heads up the pricing is in Cdn$ and there’s a discount code available in the checkout. Cheers.

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