Pinkbike Poll: Is It Ever OK to Pressure Wash Your Bike?

Feb 9, 2022 at 22:28
by Henry Quinney  
Time to scrape off the mud from qualifying and get things prepped for the real battle that starts Saturday afternoon here in Val di Sole.
Race mechanic's often pressure was their bikes but then again they replace the parts often.

As a cash strapped teenager who was very excited by the prospect of working on and maintaining my bike, I was warned in very strong terms that you should never pressure or jet was a bike. The argument was that a high-pressure nozzle would force water past the seals and trap moisture where it didn't belong. This can then lead to corrosion, rust and a whole litany of other problems. I remember working in a bike shop about 10 years ago and we had a customer that was so eager to use the car garage-grade pressure washer to clean his bike that he, on more than one occasion, cracked rear ends because there was so much bind and stiction in the linkage of the bike.

However, on the other hand, I feel this is an area that has gotten significantly better in the last five years or so. It used to feel like washing your bike was simply a way to introduce another noise. Now, conversely, more and more linkages seem to be genuinely watertight, and gone are the days of seeing red or blue seals protrude around the edges of frame hardware. Headsets have also got better in this regard. In fact, Cane Creek now sell their Hellbender bearings, which itself borrowed from technology in food production to stop bearings from contaminating sausages.

Eurobike 2019
Now, I'm not suggesting all bikes need sausage-grade bearings, although it probably wouldn't be a bad thing to have.

Personally, I wash my bike with a turned-down pressure washer a lot. I hate starting a ride with an already sullied canvas. But, it should be worth noting that I'm almost fanatical in this regard. Helmets, shoes, and bike all get a good clean after every ride. I just feel like a well-maintained bike that looks as good as it can is one less thing to rub away at your motivation as you try and get out the door. I also just accept that me getting merely 5 and not 5 and a half months out of a part is going to come with the territory.

On the other hand, a bit of mud on a non-moving or loading surface never hurt anyone, and if you can help it, as long as moving parts are clean, should we be washing them at all?

There's a big difference between using a bucket and brush compared to a mains-powered water cannon, even if it has been turned down. How often do you wash your bike, what's your method of choice, and how do you feel about pressure washing bikes in general?

How often do you clean your bike?



How do you get the mud off your frame?



Do you pressure wash your bike?



Does pressure washing damage the bike?




210 Comments

  • 144 4
 I've started bringing a 1 gallon garden pump sprayer on muddy days, works great when everything is still wet and soft. Then the bike can get highway dried on the drive home.
  • 73 2
 This is the way.
  • 5 0
 Engine gas flavoured
  • 9 0
 This. Any dirt in my area that's suitable for wet riding also easily washes off with the minimal pressure of a portable garden sprayer. Now if you're a numbnut that insists on riding wet bentonite clay...just know that it won't come off without some serious pressure and consider your lesson learned.
  • 1 0
 genius
  • 11 0
 @robw515: You know, it's hard to contend that point but I think you're right
  • 2 0
 just 1 gallon? once all your friends see you'll need more. i being at least 2-3 gallons
  • 1 0
 My friend has one of these! It's super trick. Great idea.
  • 3 1
 I live on the coast and if you ride in the fog and let the bike air dry it gets corroded so bad stuff breaks. I use a garden sprayer with distilled water to wash the salt off.
  • 34 0
 @bocomtb: one of my bikes still has clay on it from 2006. I think it's ceramic by now.
  • 7 0
 Great idea Mucoff will do one work pink nozzle and sell for 80 usd.
  • 3 0
 I started with a pump garden spray, but I find it's not really powerful enough, our just moved the mud around. Got a 12v power washer that's perfect for getting fresh mud off the bike before going in the car, with enough water spare to clean shoes, legs and pads. Best used with a crank-axle folding stand to avoid leaning the bike on the car, and scratching it when it inevitably falls over
  • 3 0
 This but, a super soaker
  • 1 0
 Wow. So many fellow geniuses! I salute you peeps
  • 1 0
 try it with clay mud
  • 1 0
 I use a pump-up little spray bottle called an AQUABOT. Smaller than a garden sprayer, just enough for a quick bike spray-down. I usually don't dry it unless I'm killing time in the post-shred glory.
  • 2 0
 Trouble is, highway often adds a whack of grit itself
  • 2 0
 I used mine not only to wash of the dirt. With some reversible modifications, and without water of course, a blow from it seated a tubelees tire. Not that is a perfect tool for this job, but it worked.
  • 1 0
 @bocomtb: I'm that numbnut!!
  • 2 0
 hold on a minute ....who the f actually rides their bike in the wet or mud
  • 1 1
 OMG peasants washing bikes , you are so going to have to get a handyman for the estate
  • 2 0
 @OnTheRivet: Yeah... living on the east coast and riding 11 months of the year, my biggest concern for ~4 winter months is all the salt. I'll spray, even in subzero weather just to ensure my spoke nipples aren't rusted out (first thing to go)
  • 117 10
 Seriously. Pull out the garden hose, open, rinse bike. Turn off.
Vs
Find pressure washer, connect garden hose, connect power, open, find correct nozzle and spend 15 mins fitting the plastic demon, faff about with stiff hose to handle, carry contraption outside, pull power cord too much so socket falls out, plug back in, listen to the racket waking up the neighbours, blast everything within a radius of 5 metres, including all bearings, bike flops over and gets a new nice gash in the top tube. Garden hose falls off, spews water inside garage, refit coupling while blasting inside of garage, run back in, turn water off. Get soaked packing it all back together and make a mess trying to wrestle the octopus-like device onto a shelf. Mrs pops out the window; since you've already brought the machine outside you might as well do the cars, oh, and the house needs cleaning too. Etc!
  • 47 1
 Well that was entertaining to read through the lens of a black & white infomercial scene.
  • 1 1
 LOL Too true!
  • 10 0
 I'm hearing ya! My wife got me a snow foam lance for washing my car. The whole process added another 30 mins of setup and packing, Sure it made washing the car maybe 5% better, but it was such a total pain in the balls I only ever use it if the car is filthy. Thanks to working from home I don't even drive anymore lol.
  • 7 1
 @Brasher: people wash their cars?!
  • 1 0
 Just put bike at the bottom of the lift on the rack and use pressure wash that provided by bike park, easy , fast
  • 1 0
 Wow a real day in the life there!
  • 9 0
 You clearly don't live in a small apartment in a big city on a high floor. I don't have a garden or any chance to hose my bike outside. What I do have is a local petrol station with a pressure wash that I can use by hand to clean my bike.
  • 7 0
 Nope. It’s more like stop off at the DIY car wash otw to the brewery, spend ~$2 and a minute to quickly spray off the bike and car without ever taking the bike off the rack.
  • 5 0
 @erikvehmeyer: I was thinking a skit from The Red Green Show.
  • 4 0
 @noapathy: Showing your age and good taste in satirical TV shows. Just need some old neck ties, laundry soap, a pair of pants, some garden hose, scissors and some duct tape.
  • 1 0
 @noapathy: Slow clap for watching a Canadian icon, lol
  • 2 0
 @Stihlgoin: The ladies find me handy! Smile
  • 2 0
 This has effectually summed up all my experiences with pressure washers, while also making my day. Thank-you!
  • 1 2
 Not to forget the CO2 emissions from fabricating, transporting and the electricity used for the pressure washer..
  • 2 0
 knutspeed option 2 is hilarious. Unfortunately very expensive in the long run replacing water/detergent contaminated parts.
I'll stick with option 1. Low pressure hose and wipe off.
  • 1 0
 I don't have a garden hose setup yet so when needed I roll into the DIY car wash for a couple of bucks, but only if she's really muddy.
  • 80 0
 Old mud protects against new mud. It's called SCIENCE Karen...
  • 49 1
 Pinkbike is gonna rake in millions selling this data to the pressure washing industry.
  • 12 0
 That's what all of this stuff is about. Being a source for market research is a massive income base.
  • 11 2
 That's why I give BS answers just to see what others say. Maybe they're all BS also
  • 17 2
 I'm ok with this. Right now I pay $0 to get all this great content. Happy to give over info that has no bearing on my privacy.

Fight me with your pressure washer.
  • 15 0
 OK, you guys need to take this Outside.
  • 6 1
 @DizzyNinja: Child! Why waste your time? You are getting Pinkbike for free maybe they are interested (genuinely) maybe they sell it - who cares if it help to keep if free.
Or here is an option - don’t vote
  • 2 0
 Yeah its funny people think PB never sells this data to manufacturers while they blindly answer the endless "polls" that mean nothing other than to sell data to manufacturers.
  • 2 0
 selling the data would only make the product more tailored to our needs, no?
  • 1 0
 @scott-townes: how much do you think big pressure wash pays for this data. To be honest, I'm happy to give it away.
  • 30 4
 To clean your bike.
Let the mud dry and use a soft brush to knock off the heavy stuff.

I don’t clean my bike cause if the mud got on my bike it’s lucky to be there and earned it’s chance to hang on as long as it can.
  • 8 0
 A soft brush doesn't cut with a lot of the dirt near me. Far better to use a controlled spray before it dries and hardens
  • 25 0
 I used to dry bush the dirt off but then realized that dry dirt is an abrasive.
  • 7 0
 don't do this if you have clay on your bike. Also never rub or brush paint without lubrication.
  • 7 0
 Agreed - do not ever wait for the mud to dry and brush it off - you will put scratches in the clear coat
  • 8 1
 In my tests, this gave the worst results. It caused the dirt to fall into all the cracks and stick to any grease, especially around bearings. Bearings died faster with this method than spraying it down or not washing it at all.
  • 19 0
 Best compromise I've found is hose down after every ride (avoiding spraying directly at seals/bearings), let it dry, then use a damp rag to wipe off any stuck on dirt. Relube chain, suspension lube, etc before storage. All my components seem to last longer keeping soap away from them. A little bit of dirt hangs around on the drivetrain, sometimes I take a brush to it.
  • 1 0
 Try wiping with a soapy sponge while still wet. Changed my life.
  • 2 0
 Wait, that’s the compromise? What would be the full Monty?
  • 15 0
 I do it all the time. I dont get very close to the bike. About 8-10 feet back quick blast to get the top layer of dirt then get the nooks and cranies with a rag and some car soap. Obviously if you sit 2 feet away from the bike and aim directly at important components you'll damage them but there's no harm in a spray down at a distance.
  • 5 0
 Yea a little common sense goes a long way. If you careful about it there no reason you can't spray down your bike.
  • 1 0
 @Grrtyclt Literally this. It's not exactly rocket science. I stand next to the bike, making sure that the nozzle is about 2m away from the bike... And then I wash it. The pressure that reaches the bike is very mild and I step closer only to get the mud off tyres, in a direction away from the bike. Never had any issues with this approach, nor do I anticipate any.
  • 13 0
 As someone who's been living in apartments for a while, with no garden hose access, I've grown accustomed to strategic pressure washing. It's just easy to swing by a car wash on the way home and spend $2 to get your car and bike cleaned with a light spray around headset/bearings, and harder spray elsewhere.
  • 4 0
 oh finally someone in my situation
  • 12 1
 Eh. I used to have misgivings about it, but I bought a pressure washer 1yr ago and have been really enjoying it for bikes, cars, ect.

I've never had any issues with the bearings, but the pressure washer has stripped the paint off my frame if it's too close, as well as ripped off adhesive frame protectors and stickers. I regularly give my bikes mechanical love and grease where/when needed, so that may slow any damage I'm seeing from the bearings on my bikes.
  • 10 0
 The type of pressure washer makes a pretty big difference as well. 1800 psi washer with plenty of distance between the nozzle and the bike, no problem. 5000 psi washer from the same distance or closer, probably going to cause some issues
  • 29 0
 @Mntneer: I like to add a bit of abrasive from my waterjet cutter to really get the dirt off.
  • 2 0
 I've got something from Karcher that does 4bar so that's about 58psi. People talk about hundreds of psi here. Does my washer not qualify as a pressure washer? It does the job for me though I don't use it often. Just to get the bike cleanish enough after a really dirty ride, to get the detergent off if I've been using that too.
  • 10 0
 I did a three month test. Started with fresh frame bearings and washed with garden hose attachment after every ride. I get to ride 3 or more times a week so put some good wear bike parts. Then swapped out with fresh frame bearings and only did frame wipe downs and detail cleaned drive train. Three months later and bearing were in drastically better condition then with washing. There are many variables not taken into consideration for this very scientific test but it made up my mind. Wipe down with a detail drive train clean only unless absolutely necessary to spray water.
  • 12 2
 I don't get why you'd wash the frame after a ride. The mud isn't damaging it.

Need an option for: I'll properly clean a part when I'm servicing it, but unless I'm taking it apart what's the point?
  • 6 2
 The dried mud acts as an abrasive on the paint. Any pressure ie brushing your shorts against the frame will scratched paint, loading a dirty bike on a bike rack will scratch it. The dried mud will eventually migrate to moving parts and wear them out. Cleaning your bike is not just cosmetic but is maintenance. Bringing a dirty bike indoors …..
  • 5 0
 Tom, I agree with you. I'd pick the option where I gently spot clean as part of inspection and in-depth service, otherwise I never clean.

I recall reading an article from Joe Graney, former head engineer of Santa Cruz Bicycles (now CEO), about how bikes hate two things: 1) not being ridden frequently, 2) being washed. The bikes that got washed and/or sat for extended periods of time were the ones that were noisiest, the kind they thought were the most annoying to fellow riders on group outings.

Mud does act as an abrasive, I'd acknowledge. One muddy ride and a fairly fresh crank got major heel rub marks on it from a muddy shoe. I've seen mud abrasion on a frame with poor mud clearance around tires.

Not sure what others are imagining, when they picture a bike that's ridden in mud frequently but isn't washed. The dirt doesn't accumulate. It gets shed over time from just riding vibrations. Wise men of cycling consider the bike washing to just be a religious-like thing.
  • 2 1
 I’ve wondered the same many times.

The one excuse I’ve heard that made sense was that in the process of cleaning a bike you go over every inch in detail. If there’s anything going wrong like wheel rub or a crack you can catch it before it does serious damage or fails catastrophically.

Obviously using a pressure washer to speed up the process would defeat the purpose entirely.
  • 8 1
 I had a customer in the shop this week, complaining that his bike doesn't shift when it's cold out and his dropper keeps slipping down. The cure was to change all outers and cables because they were full of water from pressure washing his bike. I also flipped over the bike to drain the seattube and had a small pond on my floor.... All bearings where shot as well.... If you pressure wash your bike, at least don't do it to often, keep some distance and do it with common sense...
  • 6 0
 There are very different kinds of pressure washers nowadays that require different responses. I got a Dewalt battery powered pressure washer which is nowhere near the pressure of a gas powered one, or one that plugs into a wall. This has become a favorite tool for getting bikes cleaned up quickly, although honestly it is not that much better than a spray nozzle attached directly to the house. I do like that I can add a soap sprayer and it can be run from a bucket if no hose is available.
  • 3 0
 I got the Worx battery one for throwing in the car for after muddy rides. My garden hose is at the back of the house so the Worx is now my go-to at home too, I just keep it hanging up inside the garage door with a bottle of water in the corner and it's ideal for a quick post-muddy ride hosedown. I still avoid pointing it directly at seals and bearings though.
  • 7 0
 Bob and Doug Mackenzie would say, "No way, eh. Love your bike, don't be a hoser, eh."
  • 1 0
 Oh yah don’t-cha know, eh!
  • 1 0
 Would Hosehead be a good trail dog?
  • 3 0
 @Offrhodes: Only as Superman
  • 2 0
 @Grahatie: needs the white “racing” stripe for an extra fun trail dog….
  • 7 0
 I have never come across mud that requires pressure higher than a garden hose/bucket and brush combo to wash off.
  • 4 0
 In the Front range area of Colorado 90% of time if the trials are muddy they are closed. So my only concern is dust. Usually blow off the moving parts and brakes with compressed air, wax the chain and ready for next ride. Frame gets a patina of dust!
  • 3 0
 Dude, I can’t wait for our trails to dry. Feels like forever!
  • 6 0
 [crys in the UK]
  • 3 0
 @generictrailrider: this winters weather patterns have been brutal. A dump every week with the rest of the week in the 50s = muddy slop everywhere without enough time to dry out, but not cold enough to make a snowbase for fat biking. It's infuriating.
  • 1 0
 @freestyIAM: exactly! Thankfully Spring is right around the corner.
  • 5 1
 Hot water, fairy liquid and brush. Hot water, fairy liquid and sponge. Rinse with warm water. Dry with a clean cloth. Baby wipes. Clean cloth again. Small brush. Baby wipes. Clean cloth. That's my ritual. I should get professional help.
  • 6 0
 Pressure washing is great. Keeps the shop busy chasing creaks, replacing bearing and servicing pivots. I've got 4 mechanics to keep busy, so by all means keep at it!
  • 5 2
 Bike cleaning is the second main reason after looks why I would love to have alu frame with raw finish. I am horrible with how I treat paint on my bikes and this will never change. Mountain bikes are thrown into rough stuff I don't like to be bothered thinking - damn, a scratch! I had these thoughts after buying a brand new carbon MTB frame on two occasions.
  • 2 0
 I ordered my frame in raw AL specifically for this reason.
  • 4 1
 Plus, it looks amazing. IMO nothing beats the look of a raw alloy frame with thick tubes and nice welds. www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCDK3kppkpo
  • 1 1
 I'd go straight to titanium if this were the goal. But actually, I don't mind that much. I can imagine it may be different with carbon bikes where damage isn't pretty in any way. But on a steel bike, I feel it is a bit like wear on jeans or even scars on my body. It just happens, that's life. My previous hardtail (an olive green DMR Switchback) has some slightly rusty spots from cable rub so on my current steel hardtail I have those spots covered with tape. But my daughter rides the DMR now and I don't think the rust will lead to failure or even loss of function. I think it is fourteen years old now. How long do people keep their bikes on here? I somehow feel people are more worried about resale value and/or cosmetics. Which is all valid, but not a concern of mine.
  • 1 1
 @vinay: Titaniums cost makes it a hard sell over aluminium alloy and steel, while benefits are even more "elusive" as with carbon. The mechanical properties are well known, but actual advantage in form of a bicycle frame... not so much. I wouldn't even buy a titanium bolt as they seize like mother effers.
  • 1 0
 @calmWAKI: I've personally never ridden a titanium frame (nor carbon) so I can't tell first hand. But yeah I know the mechanical properties and I can see the advantages. Not for everyone indeed. But as, like steel and unlike aluminium, fatigue is less of a critical design parameter they can allow for more elastic deformation in the frame. Some don't want that so for them the advantage isn't there. But I think I do actually appreciate that. Maybe I don't ride hard enough, maybe I'm just weird. But in choppy sections I noticed I actually tilt the bike to allow for some more move which you don't get if you keep the bike upright. It's been so long ago since I've ridden an aluminium frame so I can't tell for sure, but I think the flex in the system is helping me there. Similarly in corners. I know you can pump them harder if you stay "above" the contact patch (or well, stay aligned with the bike) but when looking for grip you'd tilt the bike a little more (and consequently shift the body weight to the outside) and this tilt probably also helps with absorption. So yeah I can imagine if the bike flexes a little more, it may be a good thing for such riding.

As for bolts seizing, of course. You already need grease to isolate steel bolts from the aluminium (to keep them from reacting and the aluminium oxidizing). Of course titanium would be even worse. I honestly don't get why people use these titanium bolts in aluminium parts (or even magnesium fork lowers). How much weight savings do these even offer? I recall Magura used aluminium bolts at some point for their super lightweight brakes. Which makes sense from a seizing perspective and maybe a little less sense from a fatigue perspective. I don't recall there were issues though.

Either way, in the context of this article, I just mentioned a titanium frame as if you want a frame you can safely neglect, you'd probably be best on titanium. And obviously, if the titanium frame has ISCG05 tabs or PM brake tabs, you'd probably be fine using titanium bolts there.
  • 3 0
 Clean mine after every ride by hand, wet or dry. Bucket of water with a little bit of washing up liquid, a few different size sponges and some rags, then re-lube if required. I always get comments on how good condition my bikes are in, so clearly I'm doing something right.
  • 2 0
 And how many times a week do you ride?
  • 1 0
 @englertracing: it varies. Sometimes once, sometimes everyday.
  • 1 1
 From what I understand, the regular washing up liquid has some stuff that's bad for your bike. If you're going to use a detergent anyway, why not just use the stuff that's made for the metals your bike is made off instead of for glass, ceramics and stainless steel? It shouldn't be that much more expensive. Guy (the guy featured here recently when he got a new custom Orange Five bike) sells the detergent as dry material, just add water. I have a bag of the stuff but haven't yet used it (still need to use up a previous bottle so that I can actually empty the bag in there and add water) but I trust it is good. At least it is cheap and compact (for shipping).
  • 2 0
 @vinay: I've been using washing up liquid for years with no issues, just a tiny bit tho you really don't need much. I've tried things like Muc-Off etc before but honestly that stuff is overpriced and I don't think works as well. I've actually seen some of those products damage paint on bikes if it's not washed off properly.
  • 3 0
 It’s really not that hard to pull your pivots apart , clean and grease and replace the occasional pivot bearing when needed. With relatively cheap tools it’s usually a 1-2 beer job. if riding in the mud or washing your bike a lot, you’re gonna be taking it apart and fixing shit more. Not like a few pivot bearings needing replacing or a fork needing a lower leg service means it’s wrecked, just means it’s being ridden.
  • 3 0
 Quality built bike aren’t immune to pressure wash but damn close in my opinion, have had this experiment with my Santa Cruz Nomad 3 generations, and not only has proven resistant of some sort but improved over time. Obviously you don’t go 60 seconds into the linkage points continuously. It’s the balance of how to use the pressure washer and knowing your bike design and how it handles all of that pressure.
  • 3 0
 I’ve pressure-washed my bikes for more than 20 years and never managed to damage a part. Yes, I wouldn’t hold it directly on a fork seal from a 5 cm (two inches, if you’re that way inclined) distance, but for everything else it’s just fine.
  • 2 0
 As per pressure washing a car engine, be careful with certain areas. No need to point it 2" away at a bearing, for instance.

But for removing dirt in frame crevices and tires, pressure washers are magic. But I've only used one about 3x in 1 1/2yrs, since it's too much to drag out.
  • 3 1
 I clean my bike when it benefits from cleaning - ie when it’s covered in wet mud so light hosing will do it and stop it sitting around with the wet mud holding water against things that can rust. Otherwise if the mud is fairly dry I leave it, ride it to work the next day, knock off larger bits of mud, check the chain etc are clean and lubed and that’s it.

My bikes look pretty filthy most of the time but they work great and I have few problems with bearings etc. I’ve owned my current two bikes for nine years in total and can count the full cleans on one hand.

The majority of cleaning of MTBs is bad for the planet - it wastes water and detergent and lubes, and/or corrodes or damaged parts through standing water or missing lube, it sends nasty chemicals into the ground/sewage, and it’s wasting your time and money too.

It’s pretty obvious what needs to be clean and dry and lubed on a bike - just deal with those bits. Keep full washing for when you need to avoid transporting biological things (pests, seeds etc) between environments.
  • 3 0
 If you go full blast then you're obviously going to break stuff. But if you stand back a bit and let the mist clean the bike, then it's fine.
  • 2 0
 I'll never forget my friend in high-school using the pressure washer to spin his pedals ridiculously fast, only to find out imediatly after he just destroyed the bearings. Use them wisely and there shouldn't be an issue.
  • 1 0
 I love Orbea. I do not love their lack of sealing linkages against dirt and water. Apparently Basque is dry and the dust never gets in. To be honest, many brands are the same. My Giant also eats bearings. It almost tempts me to try a brand that claims to have great seals in their moving parts.
  • 1 0
 If it's dusty, I will give it a squirt with the hose, then dry off with a microfibre cloth. If it's dusty and a little bit of mud, start with hose, then a quick brush with a soft bristle brush while hosing followed by the cloth. If it's proper muddy, get a bucket of warm water with a bit of dish washing detergent. Start with hose to spray off the bulk of the mud, followed by brush and warm soapy water, followed by a final rinse with the hose and a cloth dry.
  • 2 1
 Indiscriminate spraying with pressure washers, and even in many cases "careful" spraying using a pressure washer, definitely lead to fried hub bearings. As does really aggressive cleaner solutions with solvents in them.

Bucket+ rag+brush+garden hose shower, with some gentle soap - cheap and easy on your bike.
  • 5 4
 Not only does PW risk water and grime getting injected into places it shouldn't, but it doesn't even clean the bike! Honestly, just like with cars, it'll get the chunks off, but that fine residue of dirt aint going anywhere without a hand rub of some sort.

Here's what I do, and have done, since 1990 or so:

Garden hose in shower mode.
Bucket with warm water and Carnauba wash/wax mixture
Natural bristle (Tampico) brushes, like you'd find in the Home Depot roofing section. One long conical, similar to a rim brush for a car, one with long bristles that is wide&skinny, and one with a handle that good for cleaning rims/tires.

www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BX7KRT8
www.amazon.com/Teravan-Tampico-Large-Spoke-Cleaning/dp/B07GFRGBTS
www.amazon.com/Osborn-81018SP-Handle-Utility-Tampico/dp/B00QEUJ6GY
www.homedepot.com/p/Anvil-6-in-Acid-Brush-90260/202085664

Carefully spray down bike to get most of the chunks off.
Use appropriate brush for whichever section of the bike you're working on, dunking into solution, brushing, then light hose. You don't want anything drying until full rinse. You don't want to be jetting water into anything.

Final light rinse of the whole bike. Bounce bike on rear tire with brake on to get most of the water off.

Then you can hand dry, use a leaf blower, or just leave in the shade to air dry.

Notes:

If you're gonna clean your chain, use a chain cleaner gizmo and citrus solvent. Do it before hitting the bike with any water. Might as well use a cog brush with solvent to get the cogs, pulleys, ring, too. Then use the high pressure setting of the hose to ONLY jet the chain. So jet in a stationary spot and back pedal. Do it from both sides. Switch to low pressure shower to rinse the cogs and the rest. Then get to cleaning the bike.

I take off the front wheel before starting, lets me get around the fork and caliper easy.
I take off the rear wheel after the chain clean, lets me use the conical brush to get in all the links.
Scrub wheels while off the bike, much easier and you can use conical brush to get into the hub

Sounds way more involved than it really is. Once you get used to your bike, you get the process down to a science and usually done in under 30min. Then you have an actual spanking clean bike without jetting anything into places it shouldn't have been. Also gets you intimate with the bike, so you notice stuff that might need to be fixed or at leased noted.

This has been a message from your friendly Anal Retentive Bike Mech. Smile
  • 2 0
 Brilliant
  • 3 0
 Actually didn't read your whole post. Could you just come over and demonstrate the techniques on my bike? Asking for a friend.
  • 1 0
 flip over bike, aim at underside, aim downward at peddles, aim at rims and get tires spinning, don't point at cranks or cassette. It's not going to be spotless but it'll do if you keep your bike indoors and don't want dried mud falling onto your floors.
  • 3 0
 Go to a car wash, select spot free rinse, don't squeeze the handle. Works well to clean off the light stuff and you can rinse off the car since you're there anyway
  • 3 2
 I know there’s a crowd of cheapskates here who think it’s an unnecessary expense and would rather use dish soap, but I’m telling you, MucOff is magic. Follow the instructions, and your bike is showroom clean with very minimal effort in like 5 minutes. No power washer necessary. Keep your bike clean and bearings in tip-top shape.
  • 2 0
 Muc-Off and most these other so called 'bike cleaners' are a waste of money and massively overpriced. Cheap washing up liquid does just as good a job as a much lower price. If you think that stuff is magic then you're clearly doing something wrong.
  • 1 0
 @Freakyjon: If you say so, man.
  • 2 0
 Living in an apartment, so wet cloth and a some floor cleaning afterwards. Pressure washer at a car wash at low pressure and common sense for serious mud that would make excessive mess when cleaning indoors.
  • 1 0
 Living in the PNW and being able to ride year round comes at the cost of replacing bottom brackets / pivot bearings / headsets usually in the Spring haha.

Really muddy rides, I will usually just blast the bike off with a house quick and call it good.
  • 1 0
 No option for cleaning tour bike with muc off / degreaser and an airline? Infinitely better than using water. If you have to use water, then spray all pivots and seals with water dispersant afterwards is my tip, let it dry in the sun if you can
  • 1 0
 I've got a battery powered Bosch submersible water pump and it's changed the bike-wash game for me. You can use the water butt in your garden to save water or take it with you in the car and dip it in a nearby river with a short run of hose. Brilliant bit of kit.
  • 1 0
 As someone working in the bicycle retail and repair world for half my life i ask that evetryone pressure washes all their bearings as much as possibe...this way i will never run out of customers who need repairs lol! But seriously, avoid pressure washing your bike if you value your steed
  • 5 0
 Anybody else meticulously clean their bike but routinely ignore their car?
  • 1 0
 My bike lives in the house and I don't have an outdoor hose, so I pressure wash all the time in winter -- just keep my distance from the bike and especially any bearings, and only use the low pressure setting aside from a high pressure rinse at the end (but really keeping my distance then, like 5ft or so)
  • 1 0
 My local car wash is convenient and advertises "bike friendly" soaps that won't damage disc pads etc. The Car Wash/Pressure washer is more water efficient as well.
I find that if I avoid close spraying bearing surfaces and simply move back a little that my bits still live an expected lifespan. When I do change parts I don't find any additional wear or rust. The car wash is fast and easy. I can clean my bike to showroom fresh in 5 minutes or less. I dry and lube every time I wash.
  • 1 0
 If you've ever been to a bigger cyclocross race, you know there are long lines of people waiting to use the pressure washers. So on one hand, you know you need to use the pressure washer sparingly on your bike, but on the other hand, if you don't shoot from the hip and blast away, you might not have a clean bike at the end of the day. There's one example of when it's OK to pressure wash.
  • 1 0
 If I have crusty mud, I use the air hose to get it off then snow foam with a low pressure rinse.

General cleaning I run the water through the pressure washer without it being switched on so it’s like a regular hose with a better nozzle.

Some bikes I put a ceramic coating used on cars (just leftovers from doing my cars), and that helps a lot to keep them looking cleaner than normal. Other bikes I just use mr sheen or silicone spray after rinsing.
  • 1 0
 I had two bikes that had completely exposed bearings with no outer gaskets or seals (first gen Transition SBG, lower main pivot), I also ride in wet conditions a lot being from WNC. I had a chance to play with this a bit as a result.

I found that grit and debris caused more issues for bearing life than corrosion did, provided the bearings were packed properly from the factory. The ones that came with the bike were not, they were near bone dry and the little bit of grease in it was in one side of the bearing (maybe covering 20% of the bearings). That may work in bearings that make a full rotation to spread grease, but pivot bearings do not, so the grease never got distributed and they wore out very quickly. The factory also failed to press the bearings in with anything to isolate the stainless bearing races from the alloy shells, which means they would bond together and be difficult to remove.

Once I installed properly packed bearings, I found the life of the bearing was typically limited more by dirt and debris than corrosion. Even washing it aggressively and being caught in major rainstorms, the grease largely stayed in place and repelled the water. I'd do a post mortem on the bearing and pull the seal off, finding sand, dirt, and even part of a leaf inside of the bearing, but plenty of grease and no corroded balls. Once it was flushed out and repacked, it spun smoothly again. The balls themselves wouldn't have much corrosion on it. I think the grease does a good job at keeping the water out, but attracts dirt and debris.

I also found the apocryphal advice of spreading grease around the face of the exterior of the bearing made this much much worse, as the grease attracted dirt/debris and held it there, only to get rubbed into the bearing past the seal.

I've never had issues with hub bearings or headsets, but pivot bearings have always been a problem here. It doesn't help that blind extraction tools on the market for bikes are pitiful and awful, which makes maintenance a chore.
  • 1 0
 I'm socal it's mostly dust so I use the air compressor for an air shower and then a damp microfiber cloth to clean suspension, frame, and chain. Helps prevent that dust from turning to mud and getting into things when I start sweating.
  • 1 0
 i never ever washed my bikes with pressure wash. Strangely, bearings seems to last forever...
i only clean the moving parts, chain and suspensions. Yes, frame is dirty, but who cares? its gonna get dirty again!!
my road bike, 5 years after seeing no water, when went to service the mechanic said: "i had to wash it first, so i could find the bolts!!"
  • 1 0
 I just finished applying 2 coats of ceramic coating on my bike. I had accidentally purchased a kit for 2 cars, but only have one.
Frame, rims, hubs, shock/fork (not the stanchions), cockpit (not the brake levers). Looking forward to see how much it'll help!
I always just hose it down gently avoiding bearings/seals, then wipe the rest of with a microfiber while still wet. Hoping the job will be either faster to accomplish or look cleaner with less effort.
  • 1 0
 I've been pressure washing my fleet of bikes for years. I truly believe that daily use of soap removes the grease not the use of high pressure water. So regardless of options I'm going to keep doing it my way and not give anyone flack for how they choose to clean their rides or not.
  • 1 0
 lower pressure... pressure washer... not a hose... a hose drowns your bike bits in water.... The bikes sold at my LBS hang a label hanging on them to use a low pressure washer and not a hose. When i worked there We had waaaay more issues with people who drown their bike with the hose.
  • 1 0
 Pressure washing is a great cheat way of cleaning your drivetrain. Especially if you're at a gas station and the Pressure washer is heated, absolute magic.

I'll wash my bike when it looks like it needs a wash, normally with the spray nozzle at the back of my apartment complex.
If I happen to pass by a gas station with a car wash (self serve pressure washer) which Vancouver doesn't have many anyway, ill give the bike a blast BUT the kicker is, ill leave it strapped to the roof so its generally getting sprayed from a distance and from underneath so I'm not basking down ward past the seals.
I've owned dirt bikes in the past and they only ever saw the pointy end of a Pressure washer and had no ill impact on the fork seals.
  • 1 0
 My university doesn't have any hoses unfortunately. I store my bike in my room so it needs to be clean when I bring it in, and mucking about with a bucket is the last thing you want to be doing in the dark on a cold winter night. Riding back past the petrol station and paying a couple quid to use a pressure washer is a welcome sacrifice lol
  • 1 0
 If you must wash your bike, which I don't understand at all, and you have compressed air handy, get yourself a pneumatic solvent sprayer. It works wonders on the front range mud and uses very little water.
  • 2 0
 @henryquinney: Your picture of the Cane Creek (SKF Neo/MTRX) bearing, I don't believe Cane Creek is actually using these any longer - FYI.
  • 2 0
 Yep. Swing and a miss on that one.
  • 1 0
 IF I have to pressure wash I only use the spot free rinse setting since it's lower pressure and avoid direct spray to bearings and suspension seals. Usually a garden hose, brush and cleaner.
  • 2 0
 I drink a large amount of monster energy drinks and when I get done with a ride I “R Kelly” the mud right off. I piss on it, drip drip.
  • 1 1
 I just bought a Spank Oozy hub in “excellent” condition. Bullshit! The idiot that sold it to me must have taken the bike to the car wash after every ride!
That’s four destroyed bearings, and that hub was only a couple of years old. I’m saying both freehub bearings, and both wheel bearings, no joke.
This is exactly what happens in the motocross/off road world. Any bearing exposed to the outside world will be ruined with a pressure washer. No matter what the seal.
But if you ride to be seen and no other reason, then please, blast away! Some fool will always give you top dollar for that bike since it looks like new.
  • 2 2
 I've been a professional mechanic for over 20 years and have always pretty much used a pressure washer to clean bikes (customers and my own). Cleaning a chain I definitely get in there with the high pressure washer to clean it, as with the rest of the bike, take a step back from the bike, the pressure from the machine is then no worse than a garden hose and it should be said that the pressure washer uses a fraction of the water that comes out of the garden hose.
I have not had a single bike come back with problems due to using a pressure washer.
E-bikes are an absolute No-No, I do not use one on e-bikes and when washing anything else with a battery (AXS), the battery is removed.
At the end of the day hopefully common sense prevails.
  • 2 2
 Lucky for me my trail head in near a river. When I am done on a muddy day I connect all my dirty clothes together and tie my handlebars to them. I then toss my bike in the swift water and clean both my clothes and bike all in one. Air dry on the way home and a win win for the next day
  • 1 0
 I’m riding a propain tyee 2020 and hat to change all the bearings after last winter. Never used a pressure washer and not even a garden hose. Now i bought myself a hardtail for extreme conditions.
  • 2 0
 I don't pressure wash at home, but won't hesitate to do it at a bike race when I need to. Bearings are replaceable for a reason.
  • 2 0
 Bike on the rack at highway speeds when it's raining .... always figured this is equivalent to a (insert drive time) power wash on the bike and makes me cringe every time.
  • 1 0
 Worx hydro shot using a hot water feed, and towel dry. 5 minutes with a light blast of warm water isn't what does the damage, its the hours of riding in wet, gritty mud that kills the bearings.
  • 1 0
 I take it to the garage to use the really powerful jet washes, get it right in those hard to clean areas, get plenty of foam in there as well, helps break down that nasty grease.
  • 1 1
 Anyone had issues with Industry 9 Hydra bearings wearing out FAR too quickly? I had a set for less than a year and went through two of the same rear bearings, the hub bearing on the drive side. I9 warrantied the first set after 4 months but said that because I live in the PNW where it is notoriously wet and wash my bike with a garden hose they couldn't do anything for me 5 months later when it went out again. Were these very top shelf hubs actually designed for mtn bike use? I've had many lower quality hubs last for years with no issues. Such a bummer that people buy into things like a rad sounding hub but don't hold a company accountable for durability. Very stoked to be rolling on Chris King's now!
  • 1 0
 I feel it is not just the pressure washer, but often the strong soaps and degreasers that get used along with the pressure washers that can be damaging to the bike if used often.
  • 1 0
 Garden hose for win! If you rinse it down before the mud drys there isn’t much more that needs to be done other than wipe down with a microfibre cloth and re-lube afterwards, I’ll do more for a deep clean tho.
  • 9 6
 Nice a quality FREE article , thanks PB...
  • 1 0
 I do it all the time. Biggest problem are your fork seals. You can get water in the lowers easily. Much bigger problem then bearings.
  • 4 1
 Wash my bike ? It's just going to get dirty again .
  • 1 0
 I only pressure wash the 8 bikes in my household and have never suffered any ill effects from it. Stop wasting time and keep the wand moving and everything will be fine.
  • 1 0
 Regarding the "Blasphemy" answer: It would be nice to have an option with the same meaning that doesn't sound like I am 14 years old...
  • 3 0
 do yall even hire editors? if so, wtf is a jet was
  • 1 0
 During winter months over here, washing it "After every ride" is basically the same as "Only when it looks like it needs washing"
  • 2 0
 100%, dick, same here
  • 2 3
 For reasons I'm still struggling to understand, I bought a white mountain bike. Every spec of dirt shows on it, and I can't help but keep it clean because OCD.

I don't ride in super muddy conditions because my local trails are mainly clay and damaged easily (and I'm a trail maintenance volunteer, so can't destroy my own work).

Post-ride, I put my bike in the stand, brush/wipe off any obvious dirt, especially around the shock wipers/seals. Then wipe and lube the chain if it needs it. Bike is then ready for the next ride. Every month or so during riding season, I give it a more thorough clean/inspection, and keep the fork, drivetrain and brakes happy. About once a year, I do a thorough disassembly, clean and tune. I like to go on long rides where I'm sometimes 20+ miles from home or car, so I don't want any mechanical surprises. This goes double for my gravel bike, which takes me even farther out.

I also care for my wife's 3 bikes, and the bikes of both my kids, so my home shop is busy.
  • 3 0
 just get a matte frame they always look dirty and shitty!
  • 1 0
 Some of the bikes I’ve owned have been pressure washed precisely one time, at the pay-and-spray car wash. The day I listed them for sale.
  • 2 0
 www.pinkbike.com/photo/22095260
"How do you wash your bike?"
LIKE A FKNG BOSS
  • 1 0
 Heard of cyclocross? My bikes get pressure washed once per lap and twice per lap (1/2 lap changes) on super muddy days. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.....PERIODS...........
  • 1 0
 While I am pressure washing the car one of more or the bikes might get wheeled out to get involved too. Generally don't clean my bikes very often though
  • 2 0
 I have people that do it for me.
  • 1 0
 the manual of fox shocks and forks say not to pressure wash them straight to the seals
  • 1 0
 feeling blessed that my bike gets a bit dusty and that's it... socal riding truly is some of the best
  • 2 0
 Worx 20V Hydroshot is safe, low pressure, can take it anywhere
  • 1 0
 Same here. I live in a flat with no garden and no outside tap. 25l drum of water inside under the window next to the path, hose out through window, and the bike is clean within 5 minutes of getting home/the whole lot can go in the back of the car. Plus only 300psi, so shouldn't be a big problem for seals. 10/10 would recommend.
  • 1 1
 I didn't even realise not everyone pressure washes their bike. I guess not everyone rides in mud every ride too. Would take ages without a pressure washer
  • 1 0
 Like with most things you shoot your jet in the wrong place or long enough and there’s going to be problems
  • 2 0
 I just want hot water for my garden hose so I can use it in the winter.
  • 1 0
 It all depends on the pressure of the pressure washer. They start around 100psi and go over 4000psi.
  • 1 0
 Should have put an option for “bike specific or low pressure power washer”
  • 2 0
 No garden hose with activated pressure thumb?
  • 1 0
 If the bearings and headsets are water tight, why do you need to wash them at all...?
  • 1 0
 Pressure wash whenever you want. Just don't get too close, it's pressurized water, duh.
  • 4 3
 I havent washed any of my bikes in 2 years, still rolling good
  • 20 0
 *blacklists your buysell*
  • 1 1
 To be honest, unless you’re from the Uk, you can’t really comment. Anyone from Wales wins a pressure washer prize
  • 1 0
 I'm originally from the UK, the mud in the Basel area and just over the border in France is another level
  • 1 0
 An atomizer bottle to knock off the moon dust.
  • 1 0
 Que the Muc-Off Pressure washer sales ads!! They kick ass!
  • 1 0
 I pressure wash my battery and the charger. Whhhhiiiiirrrr
  • 1 0
 Just get some Motorex bike wash, that stuff is a bike cleaning miracle
  • 1 0
 A clean rag for suspension and a less clean one for the drivetrain.
  • 1 0
 Literally everyone at Whistler Bike Park pressure washes their bike
  • 1 0
 Spray it with the pink stuff, then hit it with the hose.
  • 1 0
 It's the only option is winter when it's half ice and half mud
  • 1 0
 You only need to wash your bike the day before you sell it.
  • 1 0
 How do I get mud off my bike? I live in the desert.
  • 1 0
 Real loam falls off when dry
  • 1 0
 I found if the bearings are greased well theres no problem
  • 1 1
 Choose how to wash your bike and be a dick about it
  • 1 0
 only at Whistler BP
  • 1 4
 Is it ever ok to blatantly answer these marketing questions like a lil sheep?
  • 3 0
 I feel like if I don't, they'll hide more and more stuff behind the paywall.
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