Bicycle, Gear

The 2011 Holiday Gift Guide for cyclists

The winter season is approaching quickly and with it comes that time of year where many people exchange gifts to celebrate the birth of the little baby Jesus.  Much like Cal Naughton Jr., I like to picture Jesus as a figure skater. He wears like a white outfit, and He does interpretive ice dances of my life’s journey. But that’s just me and Cal.  You can celebrate anything you want.  Or nothing.  I don’t give two toots.  But if you are looking to spend some money on somebody or yourself.  Here’s a little guide to things that don’t suck.

Tools.  Tools are handy.  There are also so many to choose from.  Multitools to individual shop tools.  Here are a couple that I’ve been thinking are a good idea.

  • Topeak Ratchet Rocket.  A small, fairly lightweight ratchet set for allen keys, a T25 Torx and a #2 Phillips, in a clean little package.  They also have two other lighter, more svelte versions
  • Feedback Sports Pro-Elite Workstand.  This stand is legit.  Whether a home mechanic or taking it to the races- it’s solidly built and will collapse small enough to put in the trunk of a small car.  They’ve also got a number of other handy things for the home and shop like scales, and bike storage stands.

  • Lezyne Alloy Floor Drive Pump.  Do you hate how your bike mechanic girlfriend won’t put her bike tools away when she’s done fixing your bike?  Does the pump she uses to fix your flats just clash horribly with the decor of your studio apartment but there’s no where to hide it?  Well get her a new one!  One that will blend with your Ikea furniture, or your rustic hewn wood furniture all the same.  Lezyne makes some beautiful stuff.  It’s tools for people that don’t have a place to put them other than their living space.  Well designed, and functional- with a very clean appearance.  A good pump will last years and years.  Might as well get her one that looks good.

Tubes.  Tubes you say? Yeah.  Aren’t tubes tubes?  No.  Foss Tubes are crazy.  I haven’t used them.  But they look pretty awesome.  And they are expensive- so it’s unlikely that your broke ass cycling family member is going to drop $20ish dollars on a tube.  But watch the video.  It’s the real deal.  Make sure you are getting them the right size.  When it comes to tubes, size DOES matter. Outside of finding them at your LBS, there is a place online you can get them HERE

Bike Lights.  If you love somebody- help them see the light.  As darkness falls earlier each day, it’s important to see, and be seen.  Reflective clothing is nice, but you really should have lights out there.  There are all different levels of lighting- depending on what they’ll use it for.  When shopping- look for lights that are easy to detach.  If they aren’t- they’ll likely be left on when locked up outside, where they can be stolen.  I’m riding with a Planet Bike Superflash tail light which I love.  They also have a Lightfinder on the website- which is a really neat way to see what kind of light each headlight system throws.  Some beams are more of a flood, some more of a spot light.  When riding in total darkness a flood works well, but with peripheral light, say- in the city, it becomes fairly useless.  In that scenario a spot light works far better.  My main headlight is a Cygolite Expilion 400.  It works ok, it retails for around $130- and though I’m not a big fan of the mount (which is a fairly standard method, but not ideal) The light is a good one for the price before you take the next step up to the $200 range. I also carry a Blackburn Flea rechargeable, which I keep in my bag, just in case.

Art.  Art is always good.  There are a number of amazing artists that have found inspiration in the bicycle.  Etsy is a good place to browse, but there are other design houses, artists and websites with their art for sale.  Screen prints are often available for under $50 and can add some artsy flair to even the most spartan dwelling.  As it is- Etsy has almost 17,000 items listed under “bicycle” supporting these small makers helps these artistic folks out and you can sometimes get some amazing stuff- there is of course also a lot of mediocre handmade goods, but you can be the judge of that.

Books. Books are awesome.  They not only make you seem taller if you sit on them- many people actually assume you read if you keep them around the house.  So I like to collect books that I’ll never read.  Get ones with pictures so even if your giftee isn’t real quick- they’ll have something to look at.

  • On Bicycles:  50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life.  Amy Walker (co-founder of Momentum Magazine) wrote it so it must be good.
  • Cyclopedia: It’s All About the Bike.  I love books like this.  So much about Bicycles
  • The Rider.  A classic about road racing
  • A Dog in a Hat.  Joe Parkin’s story of a good ol’ American kid thrown into the wild world of Belgian bike racing.  Great read.
  • The Jersey Project.  I want this book bad.  And anybody with a love for the history and style of kits and jersey over the years will want it too.  Great project for sure.
  • There are books about racing bikes, old bikes, bike design, fiction, biographies…  Whatever their little niche of cycling may involve.

Skincare.  There are lots of things out there for the cyclist that will help the skin stay healthy. Riding in nasty weather, or long hours in the saddle can be rough on the body.  You can always get them a sports massage too…

  • Embrocation Cream– it is applied to the skin and contains pepper oil, it heats the skin while riding in nasty ass cold.  Mad Alchemy has an array of stuff for your front and your back, your top and your bottom.
  • Chamois Butter– We like Jason’s recipe, Cream of the Gods, made in Portland.

Softgoods.  Things that aren’t for the bike, but show how much they love the bike

  • Coozie of the Month Club.  Yes.  Dank Bags, made in Seattle- are standard issue here in the Emerald City.  Not only does Cory make bad ass bags, he’s got a love for coozies.  If you know someone else who might be as well- this is an easy one for you.
  • Mission Workshop.  High quality backpacks, messenger bags and clothing.  They came out with the Vandal a while back and have been impressing us time and time again since.

  • Swrve Cycling.  I’ve only got one product from Swrve, the Mid-weight wind/water resistant pants, but I’m in love.  They unfortunately got rid of their women’s line, but if you are looking for quality, made in the USA clothing at a price that won’t break the bank- then check them out.  The pants fit me in the waist while still fitting over my large quads and Oakland booty.  If you’re shopping for someone with larger legs, you may be in luck.
  • Laek House.  Fun shirts and hats
  • PDW Mach Schnell Goggles.  Because they’re awesome.  Like much of what Portland Design Works does.

And of course, for the cyclist that has everything else there is the buttcrack jersey.

Other thoughts of things to look out for when shopping for the cyclist in your life:

  • Coffee.  It is an integral part of cycling culture.  Many cyclists love it.  For some, even more than post ride beers.  And get good coffee.  Not cheap shit.  Starbucks isn’t good coffee.  Find a local roaster that does a good job.
  • Cleats.  They wear out and many neglect to keep an eye on them.  If you know what your cyclist wears, they are great stocking stuffers.  Some cleats are designed to have more float (same pedal, different cleat options)  Make sure you get the right ones.
  • Nuun.  We love it.  It’s great for hangovers, or for people that risk dehydration.  I heard one time a Nuun bottle saved a puppy.  I’m not sure how, but it happened.
  • Socks.  New socks day is one of the greatest days.  And it’s fairly easy to get the right size.  Wool is awesome.  Merino wool is the bomb.
  • Cycling caps.  Having a cap that stands out from the crowd is fun.  There are lots of good makers out there locally as well as big companies.
  • Magazine subscriptions.  No, not Bicycling magazine.  Magazines like Cog and Paved are way better.
  • Gloves.  Gloves wear out- especially if your gifted is into riding in crappy weather- think mud, rain, grit, sand..
  • A GoPro camera.  Because everybodys a fucking film maker these days.  Or can be.
  • A coffee mug.  Because as mentioned before, cyclists love their java.  And THIS coffee mug is about as cyclist oriented as you can get- even though it looks hard to ride with.
  • What cyclist’s wardrobe would be complete without a Go Means Go article of clothing screenprinted by none other than the hands that type this very post.  For the cost of an 18pack of shitty beer- you can get a made in the USA printed in Seattle shirt that will last through many 18packs of shitty beer.  Get yours at the GMG store

This holiday season, and every day of the year, do what you can to support your local economy.  Your local bikeshop, local makers, hell- make something yourself (as long as it doesn’t suck.)  Whatever you do- do it from the heart.  Because cyclists can tell if you are faking and you DON’T want to get on our bad side.  Happy Holidays.

The Yuletide L/S shirt from Twin Six

What do YOU want for Christmas?

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