ZEFAL ZB WASH BRUSH
227g £6.99 Mid Term (3 Month) Test
The Zefal ZB Wash Brush is essentially the big softy brush designed to cover large areas, while being kind to painted, plated, anodized and polished surfaces. Three months down the line, it doesn’t trump my all-time favourite, but it’s certainly covers most bases competently and is very pleasant to use for prolonged periods.
Pros: Tactile, ergonomic handle, paint friendly design.
Cons: Less efficient on touring/mtb tyres than some specialist designs.
Measuring 280mm (11 inches) long and with bristle plot of 150x100cm, it’s designed with coverage and efficiency in mind. Precisely what’s required when cleaning a grotty fleet of bikes and time is short. The handle and top flatform are made from sturdy polypropylene, which has a pleasant, slightly rubberised texture.
A rubberised “scuff bumper” runs the parameter, protecting painted and other surfaces during enthused scrubbing. Look closely and the head/bristle plot are subtly tapered. This in order it can reach those more intricate, harder to reach areas-fork crowns, bottom bracket shell etc. The dense nylon bristle plot feels soft, yet durable.
Overall performance has been very good. It’s been my generic go-to for the past three months. Those bristles retain a decent amount of sudsy water, and turn incredibly supple, so aside from broad strokes around the main triangle, infiltrate fork legs and crowns with equal finesse.
The bristle plot is stiff enough to shift dirt from beneath the saddle and bear wraps-without seemingly doing any damage to more sophisticated blends, making short work of ingrained patina transferred from grimy, following roadside mechanicals and more generic drivetrain fettling (although I’ve been very gentle around Lizard Skins DSP 2.5mm.
That said; important to rinse regularly to prevent any ingrained dirt/grit from causing swirling/similar damage and in the interests of speed, I’ve been inclined to rinse bikes using a jumbo car sponge, or a garden hose on a gentle setting.
With my earlier priviso in mind, tested across a range of wet spray enamels, 2K acrylic, powder coated and anodised surfaces, cross contamination and the damage described have been moot points, although lacquered surfaces also help matters. The rubberised bumper does a similarly good job of protecting host surfaces from accidental knocks.
Level pegging with the Pedros Pro Brush in this respect and in terms of comfort. I’ve been able to do five bikes in just under two hours without my palms suffering, although the ZB’s handle has an edge in the grip/comfort stakes.
Back to the ZB’s bristles... They’ve also done a decent job of cleaning rims of spent chain lube and similar petrochemical spatter, brake pad residue but Green Oil Bicycle Brush wins by a nose here and round the spokes-primarily due to the latter’s coarser bristle plot.
If you didn’t want to invest in a tyre specific scrubber, The ZB’s bristles have sufficient bite for cleaning semi/slick road biased tyres, such as the Continental Contact Speed Reflex but again, the Pedros Pro Brush scores higher when it comes to knobbly and deeper touring/winter patterns.
Given I’ve been using ours exclusively for the past three months, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the lack of bristle molt-I noted three shedding during our first session but nothing since. Elsewhere, save for an odd, oily blemish, the one-piece handle and head remain in rude health.
£6.99 is cheaper than some, steeper than others. The Oxford Big Softy found favour with Steve and comes in at £4.99. Muc Off Soft Brush is £8.99. I’ve used all three and found the Muc-Off very competent, although less nimble than the Zefal. Oxford’s Big Softy is an obvious bargain if you are counting the pennies (as many of us are right now) and want to build a home workshop to tight margins. It may also be a better choice for smaller hands. Green Oil Eco Brush is great, but better for wheels, tyres and drivetrain components, rather than framesets.
While it doesn’t eclipse my all-time favourite, the Zefal ZB Wash brush is a very comfortable and effective brush for general, broad-strokes, surface friendly cleaning.