I live in an apartment near the city center and the only way I can wash my bike is using the shower or ride to self-service car wash station. Using shower is messy, mud and oil everywhere and I end up cleaning shower longer than it takes to clean the bike, ride to the car wash is great, but takes about an hour to sit in the queue and just to get there. That resulted in the bike being all dirty in my lobby for few days because I'm lazy.
The solution was pretty simple, some sort of portable washer. Most common solution is bucket and sponge. But I don't have access to tap outside, so I would have to run with 10-liter bucket few times to get bike clean (wash off mud, wash the bike with soap and rinse). Other common solution is huge garden pump mister with a modified nozzle, works as a pressure washer, but much lower power and very tiny water flow. And the third option was battery powered pressure washers, but all of them was very pricey and did not look like they would be up to the task.
Then I somehow found Karcher OC3 when I was again looking at mobile pressure washers, it was just launched with a decent price at around 130$ and it is Karcher - a brand that is known for really good pressure washers.
I was expecting it to be a lot bigger, but it is very small and portable. Size is about the same as for shoe box, but hey, that is the whole point for it to be portable, not a 20l can with a hose.
First test: clean road bike
After a dry ride with my road bike, I decided to test it out and wash off dust. The bike was relatively clean and I wouldn't wash it in normal circumstances. So I got pre-wash detergent,
4 liters was not enough to fully finish the job. When water run out I still had some soap on the frame which I cleaned with a rag. I was able to wash cogs and chain, but not fully wash away all soap. 6l tank would be perfect for this quick wash on not that dirty bike.
Total time spent was less than 10 minutes, which is perfect, no trip to the car wash or messy shower and a clean bike. I also got 10l water can so I can finish washing bike after a muddy ride next time.
Second test: muddy XC marathon race
This is where I really pushed OC3 to the limits. I participated in muddy XC marathon race when all previous day it was raining. The course was crossing small rivers and went through very muddy forests. After
Karcher OC3 was pushing mud away very well. I was able to get bike mud free very fast, used around 10 liters of water and spent around 10 minutes of time.
But there was an issue, my bike is matte black and small dust loves to stick on matte paint. when bike dried, it was all with brown spots. pressure was too low to fully wash all that away, but that is not a big problem, after washing off mud I just need to wash it with brush and soap as well, not just water. Total time spent was
As a portable washer that you can use literally everywhere, it works very well. it is lightweight and really small. It gets the job done fast. The only downside is
It does not deliver comfort level I was hoping for when washing bike near my apartments, but my expectations were very high. I was hoping for a portable pressure washer that will get bike clean effortlessly in the back yard. In reality, I have to bring 10kg bike, 10l water can, Karcher, Industrial cleaner for the drive train, prewash detergent, bike cleaner and 2 brushes and a bike holder from the 4th floor. I can do that in 2 trips or if someone is helping me, but it is still better and faster than a trip to the car wash or messy shower.
I also ordered suction hose so I can use bigger water source like a can or bucket, so I don't have to refill Karcher every 2 minutes.
OC3 does not replace pressure washer, but for those, who have limited access to water or just want to wash their bike before putting it into car OC3 definitely is the answer.