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.

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


Pluses

Minuses
  • 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.

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The Mountain Washer's brush attachment is good for removing caked-on mud and grime.

The Mountain Washer's brush attachment is good for removing caked-on mud and grime.​

Accessories, fit and finish


The Mountainwasher fluid tank is made of durable polypropylene and its pump and electronics seem top notch. Its flexible hose is reinforced and coils easily. It features a pair of quick-release fittings to connect to the pump on one end and a wash head on the other without the need for tools.

The Mountainwasher's brush, spray nozzle and shower attachments each add to the unit's versatility.

The Mountainwasher's brush, spray nozzle and shower attachments each add to the unit's versatility.​

The nozzle, brush and showerhead attachments are made of durable plastic and rubber, and each did its duty for us without a hitch. A trigger handle regulates water flow for all three attachments, while the nozzle is adjustable for a spray pattern that ranges from wide and soft, to a narrow and concentrated.

Versatility, Usability

Though we think the Mountainwasher does its job well and will likely endure many good years of service, the tipping point question for potential buyers is this: Will you use it enough to get $140 worth of value out of it?

The Mountainwasher's shower attachment delivers a good spray and one tank of water will give you about a five-minute shower. Just be sure to let the water heat up in the sun.

The Mountainwasher's shower attachment delivers a good spray and one tank of water will give you about a five-minute shower. Just be sure to let the water heat up in the sun.​

If you frequently ride in mucky conditions and would rather rinse your bike off at the trailhead, or you work the pits for your cyclocross team, the Mountainwasher might make sense. Using it as a camp shower-or even to wash your car-might also justify the spend. But if you can't realistically see yourself using it, then the Mountainwasher may just be another thing to trip over in the garage.

For more information visit mountainwasher.com