Tag Archives: First Impressions

First Impressions: Jones Loop H-Bar Pack

We’re big fans of Jeff Jones’ Loop handlebars The bars’ swept-back design and multiple hand positions successfully bridge the gap between conventional drop- and upright-bars. Ample real estate for packs and accessories make it a popular choice for bikepacking and adventure riders, and with the introduction of the company’s Loop H-Bar Pack ($80.00 MSRP), you can add convenient storage to the bars’ list of features.

Expertly crafted in North America by the folks at Porcelain Rocket, the single-compartment H-Bar Pack is constructed from 500D Cordura, 200D liner fabric, closed cell foam, and YKK #8 water-resistant zippers. Mounting is simple thanks to four heavy-duty Velcro straps and two cam-lock nylon straps. While the Velcro straps’ positions are fixed, the cam-lock straps have multiple attachment points making it easy to accommodate bar-mounted accessories or other packs. For on-the-go access, the dual-pull zipper can be opened with one hand from either the right or left side. Despite the pack’s use of heavy-duty materials, weight is a scant 120 grams.

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First Impressions: Lizard Skins La Sal 2.0 & Monitor 1.0 Gloves

Lizard Skins has come a long way since the company was founded in 1993. In addition to the neoprene headset seals and chainstay protectors that put them on the map, the Utah-based company’s product line has grown to include grips, handlebar tape, and gloves.

Whether you prefer short- or long-finger gloves, Lizard Skins has several models to choose from. We tested the company’s La Sal 2.0 ($30 MSRP) and Monitor 1.0 ($42 MSRP) gloves, putting them through the wringer over a six-month period.

Lizard Skins La Sal gloves GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder

Image courtesy of Lizard Skins.

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First Impressions: Road Runner Burrito & Drafter Bags

Words and photos by Aaron VanDerlip

Be prepared. There are still plenty of places where riding means being out of cell phone coverage and far from the nearest services. Keeping yourself out of trouble involves carrying a few extra items such as a toolkit, tube, food, and maybe some extra clothing. One school of thought is to put everything into your jersey pockets. The other strategy is to store these items somewhere on the bike.

Road Runner Bags is small company based in Los Angeles, California. Their product line consists of domestically produced, made-to-order bike bags. They sent GRAVELBIKE two bags for review: the Burrito handlebar bag and the Drafter saddle bag.

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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.