Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jim's Bicycle Gift Guide

Here are a few gift suggestions sure to please the cyclists on your list. Keep in mind that you can roll into any bicycle shop and find plenty of other cycling gifts from staples like socks and gloves, tools and spare tires and tubes, to complete bicycles.

Many shops offer valuable services they'll love, too, such as bike fits, bicycle tune-ups and overhauls or upgrade packages to turn her old bike into a thoroughbred. Plus, stores often have gift certificates and cards. Or, pick up one of my suggestions below.
Crud Catcher Roadracer Fenders

Crud Catcher Roadracer Fenders, $45

This is a super-cool and functional seasonal accessory for anyone who owns a full-on road racing bicycle - the racier, the better. These sleek machines typically have almost no clearance between the wheels and frame, so it’s difficult to impossible to find full fenders that fit - especially on sculpted carbon framesets.

Plus, even if they find fenders for it, they look all wrong on their two-wheel Ferrari. Enter Crud Catcher’s Roadrace fenders, incredibly minimal full fenders that weigh only 180 grams per pair, provide exceptional coverage to keep them and their bike dry and clean, and perhaps most amazingly, actually complement the elegant look of their dream bike.

Feedback Sports Stand
Feedback Sports Pro-Classic Repair Stand, $200

If they like to work on their own bicycles (and what cyclist doesn’t?), they’ll love getting Feedback Sports’ Pro-Classic Repair Stand. It has a sturdy tripod base, their simple-to-use and safe Slide-Lock clamp, an adjustable working height from 42 to 71 inches (short or tall they’ll wrench in comfort) and 360-degree bicycle rotation for easy access to all systems. It also folds small and weighs only 11 pounds so they can use it at home and on the road. I’ve been using an early version of this stand for over 10 years and it has been exceptional.

If you'd like to help equip them to actually get some work done on their new stand, consider gifting them a few key tool that every bicycle mechanic needs, and that most shops stock, such as a nice pedal wrench, an allen wrench set and a bicycle cable cutter (a special tool that cuts bicycle cables without fraying).

DeFeet Wool Gloves
DeFeet DuraGlove Charcoal Merino Wool Gloves and Woolie Boolie Charcoal Merino Wool Socks, $18.50 and $15

Give them the gift of comfort with DeFeet’s Merino wool gloves and socks. They insulate, breathe and wick moisture away from the skin to keep their fingers and toes warm and dry on all their winter rides. Plus, wool is unique in that it will keep them warm even when it's wet.

The gloves feature silicone grippers on the palms and fingers for excellent braking and shifting control. Both socks and gloves are machine washable for easy care and impressively durable for long life. They're quite popular for cyclocross racing and every bit as useful for everyday wear.

IMBA Mountain Biking Calendar
VeloPress Cycling Calendars, $14.95 each

Whether they're a professional road-racing fan, a mountain biker, a triathlete or just getting into the sport, VeloPress has calendars that'll remind them of you and inspire them all year long with beautiful action shots from the top photographers of some of the most famous races and racers in the world.

Choose from the VeloNews Road Racing Calendar, the IMBA Mountain Biking Calendar and the Inside Triathlon Calendar. Also on the VeloPress site is a wide assortment of cycling books they'd love to read on bike maintenance, nutrition, racing history and even cycling fiction.

Shimano Ultegra Wheelset WH-6700, $695

Shimano Ultegra Tubeless Wheelset
Every road rider will love a second set of wheels, and Shimano’s WH-6700s are no ordinary hoops. Even though they’re significantly less expensive, they boast most of the features of Shimano’s top-line Dura-Ace wheels and only weigh about 138 grams more. What’s most special about these wheels, and why your giftee will be thrilled to get them is that they accept tubeless tires (I recommend Hutchinson Fusion 3 tires).

This means they’ll enjoy noticeably smoother, more-efficient rides and suffer fewer flat tires too. Plus, they boast all of Shimano’s wheel-design wizardry, from the bladed, direct-pull stainless-steel spokes (20 rear, 16 front), to the ideal 24/23mm (F/R) aero rim profiles, to the reliable, easily serviced Ultegra hubs, to the 8-/9-/10-speed Shimano/SRAM cassette compatibility and the included Shimano quick releases and special tubeless valves. I've been riding on Shimano tubeless wheels since they were first introduced and I believe tubeless technology is one of the most significant improvements in ride quality available today. It's nice that you can now get it at a lower price point.

CatEye HL-EL135 Headlight, $20

CatEye HL-EL135 Headlight
When they said the best things come in small packages they could have been talking about CatEye’s miniature marvel, the HL-EL135. It’s only 3 ¼ x 1 ⅞ x ¾ inches (L x W x H) and takes up so little handlebar space that you’ll hardly know it’s there, and you’ll have room for other accessories too. Plus, CatEye’s simple tool-free FlexTight constricting-band mount lets you put it on any-diameter bar in seconds.

Best, it boasts 3 brilliant white LEDs powered by 2 standard AA batteries, steady and flashing modes and the beam is boosted by CatEye’s OptiCube reflector to ensure you’re seen. Note that this is a minimal light designed for safety, which is the kind of light I like to use on my bike. It's so small you can carry it in your pocket or backpack and always have it available.

If your cyclist needs a wide, powerful beam to illuminate roads and trails for hours on end, you'll want to consider that gift certificate at your bicycle shop I mentioned. With it they can visit and select their ideal torch. There are just too many features and price points to take a chance on gifting them the wrong light if they need that type.

Crank Brothers Multi 17
Crank Brothers Multi 17 Mini-Tool, $27

Gift them a little insurance on all their rides with this invaluable stocking stuffer from Crank Brothers. The Multi 17 all-in-one provides all the tools they need to fix minor breakdowns on the road and trail from tightening a loose part, to truing a warped wheel, to fine-tuning the shifting, to fixing a broken chain, to just about anything else that could go wrong.

And this nifty ride-saver is a folding design so it's compact enough to always take along and all the tools are easily accessed and built to last. There's also nothing that can fall off and get lost, and it's available in grey and gold.

Giro Prolight Helmet, $200
Giro Prolight Helmet

If your favorite cyclist has been riding for years, the chances are good that he's using a helmet that's a few years old. Do him a huge favor and gift him Giro's new Prolight, a super-light (184 to 218 grams depending on size), ultra-comfortable lid that'll make him feel like he left his helmet home.

The best part is that it's so light it takes less effort to hold your head up so he'll feel great no matter how far he rides. And, this featherweight has impressive safety and comfort features, too, such as Giro's tough Inmold construction, 25 air-channeling vents to keep him dry, Giro's easily adjusted and secure Roc Loc SL fitting system and antimicrobial X-static helmet pads that feel great and eliminate odors.

Specialized S-Works Road Shoes
Specialized S-Works Road Shoes, $350

Okay, $350 is a lot, even for a pair of serious road shoes, but the S-Works are actually so advanced they'll probably make your cyclist feel like a new rider (that's what they did for me). What they'll notice right out of the box is the lightness (about 235 grams per pair in size 42), which means energy savings on every pedal stroke. It's courtesy of the Specialized FACT high-modulus, unidirectional carbon soles and the featherweight and breathable Micromatrix uppers.

The lightness is great but the stiffness of these shoes is off the charts, and it's an amazing feeling of more power when you hit the gas to flatten a hill or close a gap. They'll also love the dual Boa closures that allow them to dial in the perfect fit and the Specialized High Performance footbeds that offer excellent support and prevent hot spots. Yet, the most impressive feature may be Specialized's Body Geometry design, which helps align their feet with their knees so that they pedal more efficiently and comfortably, and remain injury free mile after glorious mile.

Happy Holidays!


velogirl said...

I installed the 2011 CRUD Road Racer M2K fenders and they're amazing! I stay clean and dry, the bike stays clean and dry, and my riding partners stay clean and dry. But make sure to get the new, improved version (M2K) as they have much better coverage than the previous version.

Jim Langley said...

Thanks for that additional information on the Road Racer fenders VeloGirl. Appreciate it!


Tony said...

I use the Dura Ace version of Shimano's road tubeless wheels and Jim is right, they do transform your ride like nothing else. The Ultegra models use mostly the same great technology as the Dura Ace model at a lower price point. Instead of running 110 - 115 lbs of air in my tubes I'm running 90-95 lbs of air in these tubeless tires for a much more comfortable ride. I am also using the Hutchinson Fusion 3 tubeless tire.