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.

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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.

First Impressions: Arundel Bottle Cages

When it comes to bicycle accessories, water bottle cages aren’t considered terribly glamorous. That’s definitely not he case for the guys at Arundel Bicycle Company. They’ve been living and breathing bottle cages since they founded the company in 2000. Now, fifteen years later, Arundel’s lineup has grown to include ten bottle cages (in addition to seat bags, bar tape, and even bells).

We recently tested three of Arundel’s lower priced cages–the Flip Flop, Loony Bin, and Sport. All three cages feature design elements from the company’s more expensive cages, as well as some totally unique features. The Arundel cages were tested with bottles of various sizes from CamelBak, Elite, Hydrapak, Polar, and Specialized. Our test rigs included road, gravel, and fully rigid mountain bikes, and each cage was ridden for several hundred miles on terrain that ranged from paved roads to technical singletrack.

Flip Flop
Carrying a full-sized bottle on a small or crowded frame often presents a challenge. Thankfully, the 56 gram Flip Flop ($24.95 MSRP) can be configured for right- or left-sided entry. Arundel’s two-piece convertible design enabled quick-and-easy reconfiguration, and the fit remained precise even after dozens of installations. Unlike the some competitors’ side-entry cages, Arundel’s Flip Flop uses both upper and lower tabs for maximum security. Removing bottles from the Flip Flop cage didn’t require any extra effort or special technique compared to conventional top-entry cages, but replacing bottles sometimes took more than one attempt.

Loony Bin
If you only carry conventional cycling water bottles, Arundel’s 52 gram Loony Bin ($24.95 MSRP) might not catch your eye. But if you want to easily–and safely–transport something like a sports drink bottle, the Loony Bin is the right cage for you. Arundel’s adjustable cage uses a ratcheting dial to accommodate bottles of various sizes (the cage also works well with small stuff sacks and dry bags). The cage also proved especially handy for storing the tool rolls we’ve been testing for another article. Be careful with using very large bottles–some testers noticed that the Loony Bin brushed the insides of their calves when the cage was mounted on the seat tube.

Sport
The 49 gram Sport ($17.95 MSRP) cage may lack the clever names of Arundel’s other cages, but it’s anything but basic. Sure, the Sport doesn’t have the flashy looks of the company’s pricier carbon cages, but it quickly became one of our favorites. Getting bottles in and out was a breeze, and the nylon-reinforced plastic cage kept even the biggest bottles secure on our rigid 29er test bike. With nine colors to choose from, the Sport cages will complement practically any color scheme.

In more than three months of testing, we never lost a bottle from any of the Arundel cages. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying–we descended rocky singletrack, crossed railroad tracks, and bunny hopped curbs without ejecting a single bottle. The cages remained unscathed even though they were regularly swapped between bikes. The three Arundel cages may cost more than the generic knock-off cages you find online, but the outstanding security and peace of mind proved invaluable.

Disclosure: Arundel Bicycle Company provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.