Last year, I made the case that if you want to get your favorite cyclist a present, you should forget being creative and buy her/him the stuff s/heâ€™s always having to buy anyway.
I still think thatâ€™s a good idea. I donâ€™t think you can go wrong with buying a cyclist any of the following:
- Tubes: Find out what kind of tubes the cyclist uses, and buy a bunch of them. Itâ€™s really nice to have a stash of tubes sitting in the garage whenever you need one. This isnâ€™t all that great of an idea if your cyclist friend has switched to tubeless.
- Genuine Innovationsâ€™ Microflate: An inexpensive, sturdy, tiny, easy-to-use threaded CO2 (or propane, as it turns out) cartridge valve. I really donâ€™t understand why anyone would use anything else.
- CO2 and Big Air! canisters: Make sure that the canisters you buy are compatible with the valve your friend uses.
- Sports food / Sports Drink / Gel: If you know what they eat, drink, or ingest (I have to say â€œingestâ€ when talking about gels, because neither â€œeatâ€ nor â€œdrinkâ€ is the correct word), buy them a bunch of it. Be careful you know the correct brand and flavors, though. As an innovative twist on this theme, maybe try giving them some Matisse & Jacks Bake-at-Home Energy Bar Mix. They work as well as store-bought bars, are easy to make, and taste an order of magnitude better. For now, you get free shipping if you buy five or more boxes, which seems like a good number to give as a gift.
- Helmet: This is something many cyclists replace too rarely. Be sure to get the right size.
- Messenger Bag: Everyone needs a messenger bag. My good friends at Banjo Brothers make great ones for an excellent price
- Entry fee and commitment for support at a race: If your cyclist races, this is a very nice gift indeed
- Smartwool Socks: Several pair of the same kind, so that as the cyclist wears them out, theyâ€™ve still got matching socks.
- Lube: Be sure to get the kind your cyclist has settled on. Itâ€™s nice to have a yearâ€™s supply of lube sitting in the garage, just like itâ€™s nice to have a yearâ€™s supply of tubes in there.
- Shoe cleats: Do you know what kind of pedals your cyclist uses? Buy a new pair of cleats for those shoes. Most cyclists go through a couple pair of these per year, so theyâ€™re nice to have.
- A Floor Pump: When getting started with cycling, most cyclists pick out a cheap floor pump. Then they regret it. But while those cheap floor pumps never quite break â€” allowing cyclists to discard them in good conscience â€” they never really work great, either. Go to your local bike store and ask the mechanic what pump they recommend for someone who uses a pump every day (road cyclists in particular pump their tires up before practically every ride), and youâ€™ll give a surprising, exciting gift. I am not kidding. Cyclists love a great floor pump.
Gifts for the Whole Family
Generally, biking gifts benefit just one person. But they donâ€™t have to be that way. How about:
- A Tandem: Show the rest of your family whatâ€™s so great about biking (one at a time, anyway). A tandem will be my next bike purchase, so I can take my boys out riding with me.
- A Trailer: Got little kids? I guarantee they will like being pulled in a trailer. And nothing in the world succeeds in calming an angry toddler like a ride in the trailer. Burley is a good brand.
Last week, I asked you for your suggestions, as part of the Vicious Cycles Jersey contest. More than 70 of you replied, which makes me think that you guys liked that jersey as much as I do. Of course, if you want to read the full list of comments, just click here. Realizing, however, that most of you will be reading todayâ€™s entry to get ideas for what to buy for your cycling friends, Iâ€™ve condensed the list into items I think would be a good gift for any cyclist.
- Phil riding in New Zealand: My recently found discovery are the snappy cycling t-shirts on www.twinsix.com. Menâ€™s and womenâ€™s! Brilliant stuff. (Note from Fatty: I think â€œThe Deluxeâ€ is a beautiful jersey. I would love one for my birthday (since theyâ€™re not available â€˜til March). Size Large.
- Weean: It has to be some of that fine Cinelli cork ribbon. Theyâ€™re pleasingly retro whilst remaining sufficiently tech for the geek within. And thereâ€™s so many colours to choose from!
- theLurker: What I really want is permission from the TOH to take off on a cycle tour.
- vertigo: I want a donation to Worldbike (www.xaccess.org)â€¦in my name of course so that I can reap the tax benefits.
- Born4Lycra: Iâ€™d like a tool kit. Not a basic one to carry around on rides for emergency or perform regular basic maintenance. I want one of those kits full of tools you might use once or twice a year. The ones you can never quite justify going out to buy because you will hardly, if ever use it and there is always something more boring but necessary to spend your readies on. The same can be said for one of those bike mechanic stands. Yep a serious bike tool kit would be a great surprise. The next problem would then be knowing how and when to use them, but first things first.
- Tim D: Brookes Team Pro leather saddle. I have two of these, one on the tandem and one on my On-One Pompino. Iâ€™ve had one for 14 years and one for 10. They are shaped to me (or possibly I have been shaped to them) and are the most comfy saddles I have. I have done thousands of miles on these saddles and will doubtless get thousands more. I would want someone to break it in for me first though.
- Eufemiano Fuentes: Oury Mountain Grips. Old school cush. Great on a rigid bike. Come lock on or traditional. In many colors to match your outfit that day or just go with cash Black.
- sans auto: Right now, the best thing I have is my Bike Planet lights (http://www.planetbike.com/). The rear has 7 LEDs and runs on 2 AAA batteries. Iâ€™ve only had to replace the batteries once in the last three months of commuting. This light recently broke off my bike when I hit the biggest pothole in UT county, but with a quick email to the Co., theyâ€™re sending replacement parts. Actually, the light still works, but it is now held on by duct tape. The same day my rear light broke off, but still worked, my headlight died for no particular reason (Thus I hit a huge pothole). I replaced it with Bike Planet 5 LED that is brighter than the other two lights that have died on me in the last two months. As an extra bonus 25% of all the companies profits go to bike advocacy.
- Brian C: Swobo wool hat. Keeps my giant head very warm.
- dkirkavitch: I love my Smartwool zip T wool jersey. Iâ€™m wearing it right now after my commute to work. Warm, not sweaty, no smell. I commute 20 miles every day. I usually wash it once a week and no one is the wiser. With polyester, Iâ€™d kill off everything in my wake. Now, if only they made them with the pockets in backâ€¦.
- Brett D: The best Christmas biking gift is a good set of shorts/bibs (depending on preference). The most important connection between you and your bike seems to always be neglected with tattered seams, sewn up rips, and chamois that is far past itâ€™s prime anymore. All I want for Christmas is a set of 10 panel Pearl Izumiâ€™s to replace my ragged, road-rashed shorts.
- Rick Sunderlage (not his real name): A great stocking stuffer would be a packet of â€œhall passes.â€ If you have to ask what a hall pass is, I donâ€™t like you. And for those of you who have not discovered the joy of night riding (MTB), the NiteRider Flight light set up is not a bad gift.
- Roberto: I love my Selle Italia Novus Ferrari saddle. For the first time bought in 1996, I rode about 10 years or 40000 kilometers on it.
- RevBudGreen: I really like the SpaceMan Flask Holster: http://www.ahearnecycles.com/flask.htm.
- Ben: I love my Garmin 305 and all the ridiculous amounts of data that can be obtained from it and pored over for hours. All electrical toys are good but the ones where you can dump the data onto your computer rule. (Note from Fatty: I love the Garmin 305, too)
- Chris H: A bicycle work stand is the perfect Xmas present. Buying a work stand for yourself is very difficult. You can always get by without one, and buying one is admitting that you are growing too old to bend over and work on your bike while it is on the floor. However having one makes it a delight to keep all your bikes in perfect working order. A Park PCS-10 would do nicely.
- Al Maviva: The Fi Zik Arione is the bestestest saddle ever. Lesser saddles pale next to itsâ€¦ Fi Zik-ness. Itâ€™s really, really, really good. Until youâ€™ve done a bunch of 100-140 mile rides, you just donâ€™t appreciate how good this saddle is. It just disappears under you. As for gifts – knee warmers. Skull caps. Headbands. Chamois cream. A date with one of the girls who models for the Colorado Cyclist catalog.
- Andrew: A renewal of a NORBA, USA Cycling racing license, or IMBA membership (or new license or membership). That way whoever is getting you the membership can feel like their money is going towards an organization which helps cyclists. Additionally if the cyclists likes to race they wonâ€™t have to shell out their own cash to race. Another idea is if your cyclist is a racer, see if there are any pictures floating around from races or epic rides theyâ€™ve done. Order the prints, get Kenny to snaz them up, and get them framed.
- Mike: At the moment Iâ€™m loving my new Parentini long sleeve cycling top. I bought it very cheaply on ebay and it is probably the best top Iâ€™ve ever had. Very warm and comfortable.
- DeeperSouth: I felt a twinge of embarrassment when I bought it, and to be honest, I still feel like a bit of a dork when I wear it, particularly on mountain bike rides, but I love my Assos intermediateEvo jersey, which looks just like this: http://www.assos.com/en/mens/detail.aspx?article=39&color=6, even though I donâ€™t. Yes, I know, I know. But it has a wind blocking panel that wicks sweat brilliantly – no other â€œbreathableâ€ windproof membrane in my cupboard works as well. It copes with a wide range of temperatures, it fits perfectly, it has clever reflective aluminium foil looking stuff woven in to blind oncoming cars, and it has useful zippered pocket. (Note from Fatty: Hah! Someone who admits to wearing Assos!)
- JET(not a nickname): A jar of chamois cream. I hardly ever use the stuff, but it is nice when you get some unexpected rubs during a 70+mile/day.
- Lisa B: My SmartWool beanie. Warm head=warm body, keeps the sweat out of my eyes (not that girls sweat, of course), fits under my helmet, and doesnâ€™t get nasty stenchy like the pads in my helmet. And I got it at Sierra Trading Post – cheap! Everyone should have one.
- Desert Rat: I love these shirts: http://evomo.com/. Especially the â€œHurlâ€ and The â€œBlood Donorâ€ designs. Great stuff for giving and receiving!
- GregP: My Patagonia O2 Velocity shell – very light, very packable, always makes me feel warm & cozy when donned at the coldest part of every winter MTB ride: the end of the sweaty climb & beginning of the windy downhill.
- MTB W: A trainer is a primo gift, particularly for the winter.
- Walter: Craft Pro Cool Mesh baselayer â€” I was a big skeptic, but someone on my PMC team convinced me to try it, and now Iâ€™m a convert: kept me comfy and cool despite heat and humidity all summer long. Doesnâ€™t pill (or feel like itâ€™s going to pill) like the older Craft Pro stuff.
- listless Crab: For a stocking stufferâ€¦ There is simply no better DVD than â€˜Hell on Wheels.â€™
- FliesOnly: A truing stand. Not some high tech, professional grade model, but rather a modest price stand (Minoura Pro Truing Stand @ $69.95 for example) that your average Joe can afford. Speaking from experience, I loath trying to true my wheels by spinning them while theyâ€™re still on my bike and seeing what the rim does relative to the brake pad. A nice, inexpensive (but halfway decent) truing stand would make a perfect gift for any biker.
- Heffalump: A hitch mounted bike rack so you donâ€™t have to spend all that time trying to adjust the rack so as to scratch the least amount of paint. (Note from Fatty: Iâ€™m very happy with the Raxter rack I bought a couple months ago.
- Stan: The Patagonia camelback-like pack: sleek, simple and extremely functional. Add in an MSR bladder and it is water filter friendly. The hip belt pockets hold lots of Smarties or a flybox.
- Susan: What to get for the woman cyclist in your life? An anatomic saddle, a really good sports bra, and that orange Smartwool jersey that matches the trim on my scoot.
- dawn: Stocking stuffer – trail mix that I would not normally buy, say from the organic food store or a specialty mix only available during the holidays. I love trying new stuff, but hate when it tastes horrible and I feel like Iâ€™ve wasted my money. The same could be said for new brands of energy bars and gels.
- Taocat: My IMBA membership – a great organization that, in spite of going global, has retained itâ€™s grassroots feel. My bike club got a $500 grant for trailwork and took advantage of the deal on a B.O.B. trailer to haul our tools AND we got a visit from the Trail-Care Crew: very cool. My wife and I also took advantage of the Subaru at dealer cost when it was time to buy a new car.
- Monica: I love my kevlar-lined tires. Itâ€™s great not to have to worry about swerving to avoid broken bits-oâ€™-glass left outside the party/frat houses on the way out of Mad-town, or the junk that might be on country roads. These tires are great for confidenceâ€“sure, I can ride through that! (Note from Fatty: Iâ€™ve had great success with Specialized Armadillos. Bombproof.)
- SYJ: I really love my REI Armwarmers. Thatâ€™s right folks, turn any jerey into a long sleeved model. Perfect for those fall days when the ride starts out chilly, but warms, or when your flat warmup roads point uphill. Easily stowable in a jersey pocket, or ride with them bunched around your wrists if you wanna look P-R-O.
- greg: A velcro chain stay protector! Cheap, tough, dampens chain slap, and protects your frame. Theyâ€™re under $20 too.
- Miguel: All I want for Christmas is two biking friends. Biking friends are the best in the world. I want a pair of guys who are motivated, driven and yet not so ascetic that they cannot have fun every now and again. These guys must be able to do the following:
a) Ride a road bike. Well.
b) One has to be able to climb at least as well as I do and the other needs to be a sprinter or TT-type guy. That way I can work on both while riding with them.
c) Live near me so that we can ride together without much hassle.
d) Need to be able to mountain bike. If they could be about the same ability as me (or a little better) that would be great. Actually, make one of them really good and the other the same ability as me. That way we can compliment Mr. X while Mr. Y and I figure out how we are going to do the things that X did without even sweating.
e) Enjoy hanging out on the weekends, even if we are not riding.
And the Winner Isâ€¦
Congratulations to Sophia, whoâ€”shameless begging asideâ€”still managed to be random enough to be the winner of the highly-covetedÂ Vicious Cycles Jersey. I love that Sophia proclaims that sheâ€™s a vegetarian, but is all excited about wearing a meat-centric jersey. Hereâ€™s Sophiaâ€™s comment:
Of course there are many bike-related things that I love. I love my bike (although Iâ€™d probably love a new and improved bike even more), I love spin class, and I love my new long-sleeve jersey that makes it comfortable to bike outside as it gets colder.
Then there are those things that Iâ€™m sure I would love if I had them. Iâ€™m now seriously craving an IPOD, probably influenced by Dug and FCâ€™s writings, and pretty much every other biker I know. I now separate music into what I would want to listen to while biking in anticipation of when I finally own one.
Shameless begging section: Iâ€™m also sure I would love that vicious cycles jersey. I like the colors, I like the cow sleeves, and I wear a small or medium. Perfect! And Iâ€™m a vegetarian, so it would be wonderfully ironic for me to be advertising meat! Please, please, please!
Sophia, email me your address and Iâ€™ll ask the Vicious Cycles guys to send the Jersey your way.