Washing bikes: do you use a pressure washer, a garden hose, or a bucket
This is absolutely a subject that divides so many people. There are so many different opinions and so many different experiences that there can’t be a single truth to this issue. Some people use a pressure washer, some just a standard garden hose, and others, a bucket or damp sponge. They all end up getting the job done, but I am sure one of those is much harder when the bike is real dirty.
Before I started riding mountain bikes I rode motor bikes, specifically a 250r trail bike in all types of conditions as there isn’t as much concern about damaging tracks on motor bikes as there is mountain bikes. At the end of the weekends riding, I would watch my dad get out the Karcher and clean our bikes to within an inch of their life. I watched my dad do this for years, and the bikes never ever failed, never had issues with seals, bearings or electrical components. He said he was just smart about how close he got to the vital bits and kept the wand at a decent distance.
Fast forward to mountain biking, and whilst we don’t use a full-size pressure washer anymore, we do still give the bike a thorough cleaning with a garden hose after hitting it with a quality cleaning product like Krush wash, and again, we just use common-sense on where and how much water is sprayed on.
But with this said, I watched as pros and their mechanics hit their bikes with pressure washers at both the Cairns world champs and also Crankworx. Some people say that they are pros and don’t care because they just get new parts. I don’t think that is the case, I think they just use the same caution that my dad did on the motor bikes as they know from their factory testing that these components can handle it. These bikes make them their living, so I think they know how to keep them running at their best as they don’t have a never-ending supply of parts. This was confirmed for me at Crankworx by a design engineer from Germany for one of the big bike brands who told me that they pressure wash the prototypes well past what any normal person would do and they still manage to perform without issue. He said that they don’t even use that much care, just full pressure on everything. They do have occasional failures, but that is the exception not the rule.
I have also seen this done on an episode of GMBN who showed that the pressure and duration needed to do actual damage to a bottom bracket was incredibly difficult, and beyond anything a normal person would do when washing a bike. But I have also read about so many people saying they had failures due to water in seals, bearings etc. I think maybe that the bike maintenance wasn’t up to scratch, as modern grease, well serviced bikes and seals in good condition aren’t likely to cause a failure with a single wash with a garden hose.
Whilst I won’t be washing my bike with a full-size pressure washer at 1600 psi anytime soon, I will continue to use a standard garden hose with a spray nozzle putting out about 50 – 75 psi without any concern. I have done this for the past 3 years and never had an issue. I think competent maintenance, good quality, tested and proven cleaning products like Krush, and the use of a hose with some common-sense and all is good. But equally, I support and pay respects to anyone who wants to use a bucket, brush and damp rag and a ton of elbow grease to keep their pride and joy clean.
By Sam Luff – Pushys Sponsored Athlete