First Impressions: The Service Course B.Y.O.B. Wash Kit

Let’s face it, most of us would rather ride than clean our bikes. We put it off as long as possible, and when we do finally break down and clean our rides, it’s usually with repurposed kitchen or household brushes. If you want to clean your bike like a pro–and spend less time doing it–look no further than the Service Course’s B.Y.O.B Wash Kit.

The Service Course started out as a blog back in 2005. When founder Ryan Newill decided to branch out into hardgoods, he kept the brand name, and in 2013, Service Course, LLC, was born. Currently the company offers three products–the Original Wash Kit ($55.00), a mechanic’s hand and nail brush ($5.50), and the B.Y.O.B. Wash KIt ($40.00).

SC BYOB Wash Kit

Service Course’s B.Y.O.B. Kit

Like the company’s Original Wash Kit, the B.Y.O.B. includes three different shaped brushes and a microfiber towel. Instead of a bucket (the second B in B.Y.O.B.), though, Service Course provides a mesh bag for storage. All three brushes have wooden handles and feature natural tampico bristles. What’s tampico, you ask? Tampico is natural fiber made from the Agave Lechugilla plant. According to Service Course, tampico bristles holds more water than synthetic bristles, and they shed dirt and grease more easily.

Pick up a Service Course brush for the first time, and you immediately notice the superior quality. There’s a reassuring heft that’s missing with plastic brushes. Even when covered with soap and water, the wooden handles aren’t slippery. Each brush is intended to serve a particular purpose. The flat brush is for the frame, fork, and wheels. It’s used like a sponge, but unlike a sponge, it won’t get caught on cable guides or chainrings. For getting into tight spaces such as under the fork crown, between the stays, or behind the bottom bracket, the conical brush is ideal. If you want your chainrings and cogs to sparkle, reach for the solvent brush and the short, stiff bristles will make quick work of dirt and grime.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder SRAM CX1 Salsa Vaya The Service Course Speedplay Frog Feedback Sports Rolf Prima

Ready for the rinse cycle.

Does the Service Course B.Y.O.B. Wash Kit outperform generic kitchen or household brushes? Absolutely. Compared to plastic or synthetic brushes, the natural bristles do a much better job of removing dirt and grease. Because the tampico bristles hold more water and rinse better, you actually use less soap and degreaser. Thanks to the brushes’ effectiveness, we found ourselves cleaning our bikes more often, but taking less time to do so. After two months of heavy use, our sample kit has shown no major signs of wear (but we would like to see varnish or other protective coating applied to the brushes’ handles to reduce the ravages of harsh cleaners).

You probably won’t find Service Course products at your local bike shop, but wash kits can be purchased directly from the Service Course. They make a perfect gift for the cyclist in your life, and as an added bonus, the kits work particularly well for cleaning your car’s wheels and grill.

Disclosure: The Service Course provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.

One Year Later

“Did you lose consciousness?” asked the ER nurse. “I don’t think so,” I shakily replied. My eyes darted between the nurse and my wife, hoping that neither one would detect the lack of conviction in my answer. Truth be told, I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened. I knew my name, what day it was, and that I had crashed while riding my bicycle. I was in pain, but I could stand and walk on my own. The nurse cleaned and bandaged my road rash, and the doctor sent me home with a prescription for pain killers.

I spent much of my convalescence attempting to piece together what had happened on that Sunday afternoon. While I was able to remember bits and pieces, there were gaps that I simply couldn’t recall. During this same period, I began experiencing difficulties concentrating and performing familiar tasks. It was as if I knew what to do, but I’d forgotten how to do it. My overall emotional state also changed–I became easily frustrated, and would undergo extreme mood swings. Because I hadn’t yet been given the all-clear to resume riding, I attributed the problems to cabin fever.

When I did resume riding, my reflexes were dull, and I lacked confidence (as well as spatial awareness). Once-familiar trails felt completely foreign, and I avoided the site of my crash for several weeks. As time passed, my road rash faded, and I became stronger and more confident. Along with the physiological recovery came mental and cognitive improvements. Try as I might, however, I was still unable to remember specific details about the crash. The most significant one being the crash itself–I have absolutely no memory of actually crashing. It’s as if that moment in time has been completely erased from my memory.

One year later, the only physical reminders of the crash are the scratches on my 29er’s handlebars. The damaged helmet has long since been replaced, and bowing to superstition, I discarded the tires I was riding. While a small part of me would like to know exactly what happened on that particular Sunday afternoon, it’s probably better that some of the details remain forgotten.

Human memory is a marvelous but fallacious instrument. The memories which lie within us are not carved in stone; not only do they tend to become erased as the years go by, but often they change, or even increase by incorporating extraneous features. — Primo Levi