What is tampico, and why is it better for bike cleaning brushes?

Tampico is a natural fiber made from the Agave Lechugilla plant, which grows in northern Mexico. 

Natural tampico bristles hold about 65% more water than synthetic bristles, and shed dirt and grease more easily. That means they don’t hold and drag grease, dirt, and grit around your bike like synthetic bristles do. They also maintain their properties over time – tampico bristles don’t harden or otherwise deteriorate with use. They will wear out eventually, but it takes awhile. We've been using our initial test set for four years with no signs of slowing down. And they’re made from plants, which are sustainable, and not oil, which isn’t. 

Synthetics are more widely available and less expensive, but they don’t work as well.

What's the difference between your 5-gallon bucket and one I can get from Home Depot or Lowe's?

Well, the bucket for our Original Wash Kit is thicker (90 mil versus 70 mil), it's red, and it doesn't say Lowe's or Home Depot on it. And we include a reusable, watertight, screw-on lid instead of a disposable, snap-on construction bucket lid. If you already have a bucket, though, we hope you'll consider our B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bucket) Wash Kit.

I can get brushes and buckets at the hardware store for less money. Why should I buy yours?

You're right, you can get brushes at the hardware store. But they'll be synthetic, which doesn't shed grease and dirt as well, or palmyra, which is natural but too stiff/scratchy for washing your bike. We offer better brushes made with better materials in the best shapes for cleaning your bike. 

Where are your products made?

Where feasible, we've gone with made-in-the-USA components for our wash kits. If you've read from the top, you already know that not all the materials that go into those components are sourced from the United States, because tampico is grown in Mexico. Some things can't be helped, and sometimes they shouldn't be. 

So here's the rundown: our wash kit brushes, nail brushes, buckets, watertight lids, mesh bags, stickers, and labels are all made in the U.S.A. (as are the packages we ship them in). The microfiber towels are made in Asia, as is our scrub brush. 

What cleaning products do you recommend?

There have been a lot of entrants into the specialty bicycle cleaning products sector over the last several years, and we've heard good things about all of them. That said, our recommendations are pretty simple and non-specialized. For general frame/bars/wheels cleaning, a healthy squirt of Dawn dish detergent in the bottom of your bucket before you fill up will do fine. Warm water is better if you can get it. For drivetrain grime, a good citrus degreaser should work fine. There are certainly stronger products on the market, but we wouldn't really want them near our carbon or tubular glue.

Bottom line on cleaning products? More frequent cleanings work out a lot better than waiting too long and relying on extra-strength chemicals --- better for your bike, for you, and for the environment.

How do I take care of my wash kit?

The idea of the wash kit is to help you take care of your bikes, not give you something else to maintain. Outside of rinsing things off when you're done with a wash, there's really only one key recommendation: let your brushes dry before packing them away.

Why? When you're scrubbing the ride's dirt of your bike, you're also invariably picking up mold spores, and if you lock those and your brush fibers in an airtight environment with moisture, you'll get mold. This isn't unique to our brushes, and it applies to anything, really, including your dank, muddy kit at the bottom of your race bag. If mold happens, it'll wash off, but it's better to just avoid it.

What Bike shops carry Service Course products?

Our products are available in our online store and select retailers. 

Portland Bicycle Studio
1435 NW Raleigh St.
Portland, OR 97209
503.335.835
Map

Vélo Champ 
6112 N Central Ave.
Tampa, FL 33604
813.374.2424
Map

If you're a shop interested in selling our products, please get in touch.

What's your warranty policy? 

Our brushes are high-quality, made by folks who have been making brushes for a long, long time. They are also a wear item, and lifetime will vary depending on use and treatment. We will warranty brushes for manufacturing defects for one year after purchase.

Why does it cost so much to ship an Original Wash Kit? 

Original Wash Kits are big, and they weigh over 5 pounds by the time they're boxed for shipping. Further, in early 2015, FedEx nearly doubled rates for shipping Originals-- some destinations that once cost $11 to reach now cost $24. And they're still the most reasonable option. Rates for both FedEx and USPS saw another steep rise at the beginning of 2016. We're splitting the difference at $18 to keep the Original on the market for those who'd like one. 

When we started, we were distributing kits at local races, so shipping cost didn't factor in too much. Once we started picking up steam with long distance sales, though, it obviously became a bigger factor. That's why we introduced the B.Y.O.B. (Bring Your Own Bucket) Wash Kit, which is far more compact, less costly to ship ($7.45), and still provides all the tampico-bristled goodness of the Original.

Regardless of the product, our shipping charges are reflective of the true cost to ship our products to customers, not a profit center. On average, we lose money on shipping.

What is a service course? / What does service course mean?

This used to be one of our biggest search terms back when the Service Course started as a blog. It's tricky, because while the term sounds like English, it isn't. "Course" in this context is the French term for "race," and the term service course essentially translates to "race support." It's used to refer to the facility where pro cycling teams are headquartered. A team's service course will typically have storage and service areas for bikes and equipment that isn't currently deployed at the races as well as spares, an area for the team's vehicles, offices, and sometimes a kitchenette and guestroom or two for when staff have to pull long hours getting things ready for the season.

The site was originally called the Service Course back in 2005 because we wanted it to be a sort of multipurpose facility in its own right: a place to talk about what we wanted to talk about in cycling, a billboard for some freelance work, maybe a spot to sell some products later, maybe turn it into something bigger. When we started, it was a relatively unique name. Quite a few other Service Courses have sprouted up since. We all get along.

Can you fix my bike?

Maybe, but you're probably not looking for us. Since we began using the name in 2005, a number of other businesses using various versions of "Service Course" in their names have come along, including several full-service bike shops. Add your city to the search terms, and you'll probably find the right one.