Shopping for the cyclist in your life

You’ve only got a few days before Santa Claus comes to town. If you were good, you’ll have some nice gifts under the tree. For the rest of us, we’re on our own. Gift giving is common this type of year, many religions succumbing to “Black Friday” sales, and the all consuming power of things shiny and new.

Of course gifts made at home with heart and thought are wonderful- but who has time for that? Go out and spend that money honey.

Buying a gift for the cyclist in your life can be difficult. We are over run with products that range in price, quality, and visual appeal. Of course, you need to know a bit about the person you are buying for, at least what type of bike they ride. Really, you can probably tell more about a person by the bike they ride than by the clothes they wear. This being said, there is a lot of personal preference in cycling gear. some people like things a certain way. Wool knickers, though a great gift for someone, may sit in another’s closet unused for years.

Books- There are so many bike books out there. You probably can’t go wrong with a coffee table book, of which there are many. For the Campagnolo fan in your life (who doesn’t like Campy?) you have Campagnolo: 75 Years of Cycling Passion ($26.37 from Amazon) The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles ($31.50 from Amazon) There are books on maintenance, travel, racing, fiction, poetry, you’ve got about everything. I’d recommend A Dog in a Hat, by Joe Parkin. I read it recently, and thought is was great. Another is Roadie, by Jamie Smith.

Lights- You can’t have enough lights. A full set for each bike is just dandy. Headlamps working in conjunction with bar mounted lights is super legit. It’s ok to have extra “loaner” lights. It’s the winter time people. If you love some one, then make sure other people can see them. I like the Super flash rear tail light by Planet Bike. Even little Knog lights are a good gift. I think it’s a good idea to have at least something in your bag to be seen, in case you forgot to charge your big light.

Calendars- The holiday season is a great time to get a calendar. Bike calendars are nice, well, because bikes are nice. Roll from one year to the next with something that will keep you inspired, or make you smile, or scare your houseguests.

Bags- Most bike people like bike bags. I only have one bag right now, and I wouldn’t mind more. I like them. Some people are fanatical about them. Different sizes, shapes, carrying systems… There is something for everyone. Store bought messenger bags vary in quality dramatically. I used to messenger with a Timbuktu bag over 10 years ago, but I wouldn’t dream of it today. They seem to have followed the casual market- those in school, or using it for work. I feel the quality has gone down substantially.

That said, Chrome Bags are offering some solid designs, and for the price, deliver a high quality product. I’m really liking their Berlin ($220), as well as their Warsaw back pack ($240.)

warsawhero_grey_enlarge1Chrome- Berlin

If you want to support smaller companies, get in touch with Cory, and have him make you a DANK Bag. I’ve got the big one strap bag, and love it. He’s got some time now, so contact him at Made in Seattle. And for the right price he may make you one of THESE.


Seagull Bags is in Ohio, and they do great custom work. Freight Baggage is in SF, and have a full range of available products. A tip: Buy your bag from a messenger. Not only does it support small local business, it means that the bag actually works. It’s built the way it’s built for a reason.

Many bag makers also do hip pouches, cell phone/radio holsters, tool bags, beer coozies, etc. If they have a bag, or you want something that costs a little less, then get them an accessory for their bag.

Another option are handlebar bags, rack bags, or panniers. Of course my favorite; makers of solid panniers as well as the amazing Pelican Porteur rack bag and all around great people- are Martina and Jason at Swift Industries. If you know someone with a Cetma 5 rail rack (or similar rack-they’ll customize to order), then get them the Pelican Porteur, they’ll love you for it. They’ve got their “Gifted 2009 package” available that they worked with Partybots on.

Hats- Cycling caps are everywhere. Available with commercial branding printed all over, or handmade locally, sometimes to order. In Seattle, you should look out for McKenzie at 5B and Rachel at Rabbit Lion, both delivering great products, with stock on hand and customs available to order.

Massage- Cyclists work hard. Take care of their bodies with a massage. If you go looking for a massage, you should look for those that work with athletes. You should also make sure they are listed as a “Massage Studio” as opposed to a “Massage Parlor” unless you are looking for a happy ending to thier story….

Warmers- Arm, leg or knee warmers- in natural and synthetic, are very good to have in your bag. Having an extra pair around isn’t too bad either.

Helmet- Helmets are personal- and people should buy what they like. At the same time, if the person you are shopping for doesn’t wear a helmet- get them one. Take them to the shop and make sure they walk out with one. It’s the smart thing to do. They will range in price from around $35 to well over $200. Safety is about the same on all helmets nowadays- what you are paying for is vents, style, and comfort. Peoples heads are made different. If it isn’t comfortable and doesn’t look good, then chances are it won’t be worn. Take that into account. Also keep in mind that though they offer protection, “hard-hats” are not the same as “helmets”. You can see more info on helmet certification HERE.

Socks- You can never have enough socks. Winter socks, summer socks- it’s good to have extra.

Things like saddles, cycling shorts, clothing in general, and tires are generally difficult to shops for- people like what they like, and the saddle that you ride may feel like a 2×4 chunk of wood to another.

When I started writing this post, I expected ideas to roll off the fingers. Now they are coming out sluggishly. What gifts do you like receiving as a cyclist? What is hard for people to mess up as a gift for a cyclist?

Other good choices:

Swobo flask cage $19.99 (with 6oz. flask +$19.99)
Swobo flask cage $19.99 (with 6oz. flask +$19.99)
Soma Morning Rush Coffee mug and holder $39.99
Soma Morning Rush Coffee mug and holder $39.99

I just saw this over at TakeoverLA, who picked it up at BikeRumor.  I like the concept for sure.  Available at Eloicollective.

Bike Signal Tee- available on Etsy


  • Taylor

    December 17, 2009

    I’ve seen a few lists over the past few weeks, this one is tops. Thanks for putting it together. Happy holidays.

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  • koos42

    December 17, 2009

    Thanks for posting the link to the point83 calendar, I just used it to preorder one and have it sent to my parents’ house. That’s gonna be a surprise.

  • Christian

    December 18, 2009

    Well done my friend, well done.

  • jason

    December 18, 2009

    Thanks for giving us a plug. I cannot seem to find your email. Would you send it to me, i have a question/propostion for ya.


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