Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Jim's Holiday Cycling Gift Guide!

Shimano's XT wheelset will delight mountain bikers
Hello pedalers - Well, it's time to get shopping for your favorite cyclists again and I'm here to help with my third annual holiday cycling gift guide.

Before I get into a few fun gift ideas, keep in mind that you can visit any bicycle shop and pick up plenty of excellent goodies any cyclist will appreciate receiving.

A few basic examples include cycling socks (everybody likes this inexpensive gift), warm-weather and winter gloves, base layers (these add comfort in all seasons), leg and arm warmers (excellent to carry on rides when the weather may change). Or purchase a gift certificate/card so they can buy whatever they need.

If you know enough about your favorite cyclist, you can also buy bigger-ticket items that'll wow them on Christmas morning, such as a new wheelset (above; one of the quickest ways to improve a bike's performance), a fine new set of tires (not inexpensive but much less than a wheelset), a modern helmet (if they've been using the same one for three or more years, they'll notice a big difference) or new high-end cycling shoes (superior comfort and pedaling efficiency).

Specialized's Globe Live is as gorgeous as it is functional
If price is no object, you could buy them another bicycle - maybe a versatile city bike like Specialized's stylish and smartly appointed Globe Live (women's shown; men's available also) so they don't have to run errands on a bike not made for it.

Or if your loved one is a roadie, blow them away with the current dream upgrade Shimano's Ultegra Di2 electric-shifting components group, which I wrote about here a while back.

Don't worry about buying the wrong gift from a bicycle shop, either. Most stores will happily exchange items (just ask when you buy it to make sure, and save receipts and all packing/tags etc.).

Now, on with my gift ideas. To make shopping easier, I'm trying something different this year and when possible, providing photos and links to the items on Amazon, but many should be available in your local shop, too.

Bellwether Screaming Meemie Cycling Rain Jacket
Plastic jackets like this make a nice gift because they provide excellent weatherproofing and they're much cheaper than high-tech raingear. They offer basic protection - just a polyurethane wrap that keeps out the wet. And you can find them from many makers and for lower prices. But, what I like about Bellwether's Screaming Meemie translucent top is that unlike most others I've ridden in and seen, it has a zipper instead of a Velcro closure.

While Velcro seems easy to use at first blush, when it's rainy and cold, zippers are easier to operate since you can't misalign them. Also Velcro closures have proved fragile for me and I've had them separate from the jacket, whereas zippers are sewn in and usually more durable. Unlike the more expensive rain jackets you might see, these simple see-through ones have a neat trick: they let brightly colored jerseys show through which increases a rider's visibility on the road and lets them show off their club colors too. The Screaming Meemie also sports reflective details for safety, mesh panels for breathability and a tall collar.

Vélo-Rétro's musettes: a unique gift for women and men
Velo Retro Musette Bags and Tees
My friend Chuck of Vélo-Rétro loves classic lightweight road bicycles and celebrates them with his Vintage-Style Musette Bags and T-shirts. Both tell the world that the wearer is passionate about cycling and are sure to get them compliments.

The musette is a handy shoulder bag they'll use all the time. It's made of lightweight cotton, measures 10 x 14.5 inches, has a 40-inch long cotton shoulder strap and a chrome button snap closure.

Chuck lets you choose from his many beautiful advertising logos/scenes from the past (many by great artists), or you can create your own from artwork you provide. And on his tees, you can even send him their favorite shirt and he'll add one of his stunning logos to it.

Casio GW800-1V Men's Watch
I've worn Casio watches for years, both as a professional bicycle mechanic and a racing cyclist, activities where watches are needed but tend to take a beating - and Casio's have always been super helpful and durable.

The watch I'm recommending as a nice gift for cyclists is the model I wear everyday now, Casio's GW800, a solar powered, self-setting workhorse (never needs batteries, resetting or winding) that includes the all-important alarm function for waking them up in time on the day of the big ride, a countdown timer for reminding them when to eat their energy food on century rides, world time in 48 cities, and many other functions (yes, their cell phone does these things but it runs off battery power).

Plus this watch is from Casio's G-Shock series, features tough nylon/stainless-steel construction and is waterproof to 200 meters, so it'll last and last. I love never having to replace batteries or set mine. Incidentally if you want to shop for Casio watches and others like it, one of the best resources is BlueDial.

King Titanium Bottle Cage
Yes, it's just a bottle cage, but it's one of my favorite gift ideas because King Cage's handmade superlight beauty is crafted of hollow titanium tubing meaning it's ultra durable and weighs next to nothing at an amazing 28 grams.

This little piece of art won't mark their bottles and most impressive for such a featherweight cage, it holds fast. It'll keep large bottles and heavy bottle-style batteries from coming loose or shaking out over even the bumpiest singletrack or roughest pavement. Also, titanium will never rust or corrode and it resists bending better than steel or aluminum so this cage will be going strong for many years.

Team 7-Eleven Book
How An Unsung Band Of Americans Took On The World - And Won
Written by cycling journalist and former Bicycling Magazine managing editor Geoff Drake and co-authored by the guy who put together and managed the team, Jim Ochowicz, Team 7-Eleven is an engaging book that tells the fascinating and surprising tale of how Team 7-Eleven was created, and how it was able to go from nothing to winning some of the most famous and challenging road races in the world. And how it lit a fire in American cycling leading directly to the accomplishments of superstars like Lance Armstrong.

Even if your favorite cyclist was doing his thing during the years the Slurpees made their mark (as I was), I'm sure they'll love the behind-the-scenes insights and anecdotes that make up this book. It has a nice collection of photos they'll love, too.

  CycleOps Fluid 2 Indoor Cycling Trainer
 Many people are surprised to learn that today's cyclists are riding more than ever inside  on indoor trainers. So if your cyclist doesn't have one, a fine trainer like CycleOps' Fluid 2 will make her extremely happy.

 Indoor trainers let them ride no matter how bad the weather gets and when it's too dark to ride. Plus they can even travel with them for warming-up conveniently before the start of important rides. On a trainer there are no headwinds or up and downs to deal with, either, which means that it's possible to workout exactly as hard or as easy as they need to to realize their fitness/cycling goals. Plus, since it stays put, they can enjoy movies or music while riding and even keep an eye on the kids if needed.

The Fluid 2 is a great trainer that provides excellent stability, a super-smooth ride, progressive resistance that feels just like riding outdoors and fast folding so they can easily store it or pack it and take it along. They'll wonder how they ever got by without one.

Revolution Cycle Jewelry by Jennifer Green
I really like Jen's Chainring Earrings and think they make an awesome gift, perfect for your cyclist to wear around and show off their love for cycling when they're in their working or casual attire.

The Chainring Earrings are 3/4 inch-diameter sterling-silver 52-tooth rings that look identical to the ones on their bicycle - a minor marvel of miniaturization.

Jen also makes matching necklaces, chain bracelets, keychains and the cool Single Speed Ring for men. And if you're looking for a super unique gift idea, check out her custom head badges - the ultimate way to personalize their most prized possession (and you know how much I love head badges).

Your grease monkey will love Park's DC-1
Park Tool DC-1 Digital Caliper
I can't think of a handier tool for your budding bike mechanic's home shop than Park's DC-1 Digital Caliper. In order to purchase the correct repair or upgrade parts and to ensure they're fitting the correct components together, a tool that provides accurate measurements is a must.

Park's caliper does just that on its large display and instantly converts between decimal and fractional inch, and metric measurements too. It has a stainless-steel sliding rule with a composite body and it comes with it own protective case and even a spare battery.

They'll love their great shop
Your Home Bicycle Workshop Book
Speaking of home workshops, allow me to finish this year's cycling gift guide with a plug for my book Your Home Bicycle Workshop as another great gift idea. From workbenches and repair stands, to laying out a shop and organizing everything, to extensive tool lists and essential small parts to keep on hand, I tell them everything they need to know to build their dream home workshop.

This is an e-book so it's instantly downloadable and features interactivity, so readers can quickly jump around the book using the links in the table of contents and index, follow links in the book to my recommended products and zoom many photos for a closer view.

There are also a few surprises in the book, like some nice art from my vintage bicycle ad collection. I'm sure they'll enjoy it and improve their home shop with it. To gift it, download it to your computer and then copy the 13-megabyte file to a CD or DVD. Or, you can print it out if you want to wrap a more substantial gift, but there's more information and fun in the e-book than a printout so be sure to gift them both.

Happy Holidays!
Jim

1 comment:

getshust said...

Cool guide Jim! A great stocking stuffer is a custom headset cap. Check out http://kustomcaps.com