Friday, December 12, 2008

Bicycle Gift Ideas

The Competition Bicycle With another pre-holiday weekend upon us, here are just a few bicycle gift suggestions I think most cyclists will like. First, is Jan Heine's second coffee-table bike book, The Competition Bicycle, A Photographic History, which, in 176 large-format (12 x 14) glossy pages, covers 34 stunning racing bicycles from over 100 years of competition around the world. Almost all are the actual bikes raced, often pulled right out from under the pro and put away for posterity. Photographer Jean-Pierre Praderes has an expert eye for the important details and the shooting skills to bring the machines to life. And Heine is passionate about cycling and explains the significance of all the changes over the years and, just as fascinating, puts each bike in context with insightful stories about the racers and races that made history, like the rivalry between Coppi and Bartali in 1949. The Competition Bicycle is available for $60 from Vintage Bicycle Press While you're there, check out Jan's equally impressive book, The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles, and consider gifting your cyclist a subscription to Jan's fine magazine Bicycle Quarterly.
Your Home Bicycle Workshop
Speaking of giving books, if someone on your list enjoys maintaining and working on bikes as much as riding them, they'll enjoy my new e-book, Your Home Bicycle Workshop ($19.95). This is not a bike-repair manual, it's a guide to setting up an efficient and organized home shop to make working on bikes as easy and fun as possible. I spent 6 months writing the book and shooting the photos, however the advice and tips in it come from over 30 years working in the bike industry as a mechanic and service manager. I cover how to choose a good space for a workshop, buying and building workbenches, budget home-made repairs stands and pro models, truing jigs, provide the most comprehensive tool and parts list you'll find and much more. I also include some vintage illustrations from my collections to add interest and fun. Also, the book is an e-book, which means you download it to your computer and can burn it to disc for easy gift giving. And, as an e-book, it's full of links, you can zoom in on photos to see all the details and you can easily print the book, too. You can learn a lot more, see sample pages, and buy it here You'll also find gift certificates and an entire e-bookstore at where there are plenty of other gift ideas.

CycleAware Stow Away At the Interbike Bicycle Show this year, I spotted an inexpensive gift idea any cyclist will appreciate, CycleAware's $15.95 Stow-Away - The Reflective Packable Backpack. Here's how I wrote it up for the show: Let's face it, jersey pockets are handy, but easily overstuffed. Enter CycleAware's Stow-Away. This featherweight mesh/nylon bag folds into its own pouch and fits into any pocket. Then, when you need a place to stuff your leg warmers, jacket, gloves, that lost garden gnome you found next to the road; simply remove the Stow-Away, open it up and it turns into a mesh backpack. The airy mesh ensures your back stays dry and you remain cool and comfy, and inside you'll find a built-in ID card, a key ring and ample space for all your gear. Plus, the straps are soft, there's a sternum clip to keep them in place and there's a large reflective panel for safety. It's so handy every cyclist should have one.

Knog FrogAnother super handy item is the Knog Frog, a very cool safety light that's small, flexible and light enough to mount almost anywhere, such as on a seatpost, helmet, frame, handlebar, pack, etc. This is possible because the Frog is made of stretchy, tough, silicone and has a simple clip closure. Just stretch the Frog's "legs" around anything, hook them on the clip and the Frog sticks in place beautifully. It has a bright LED visible from 600 meters away, flashing and steady modes, over 160-hour run time, and is powered by 2 CR2032 batteries, which are included. Frogs also come in many colors. Most bike shops stock them and they sell for around $15.

Bar Mitts

Also seen at the Interbike show last fall, were Bar Mitts, a nice gift idea for the winter road warrior. Similar to the hand warmers motorcyclists use, Bar Mitts slip over your bike's dropped handlebars and levers forming cozy neoprene pouches that block the wind and wet to keep you dry and warm. They're easy to install and remove and do a nice job keeping numb fingers or worse at bay. You do have to get used to having your hands inside pouches but it's possible to brake and shift even with your hands outside the Bar Mitts so it won't take you long to get used to them and you'll appreciate the additional protection and the quality construction. Cost is $64.95 from

Presta InflatorAnd, lastly, this gift idea is for someone who already has a pro-level bike workshop (or is planning one), complete with an air compressor for inflating tires the easy and fast way. Typically, air compressors come with simple chucks that let you inflate car and bike tires with Schrader valves. When you need to inflate tires with Presta valves, you must screw an adapter onto the valve or you might have one that you've attached to the chuck. Either way, it's an extra step. Also, most chucks do not include gauges so there's no easy way to tell if you've got the pressure right. So, you have to take another extra step and double check with a separate gauge. Things get much simpler when you have the Presta Inflator $39.95. This beautifully engineered upgrade fits Presta and Schrader valves, has an accurate, easy-to-read color-coded gauge, and is built of heavy-duty steel to last. Plus, it works like a variable-speed drill. The more you squeeze the handle, the faster you inflate the tire, so you will never blow a tire off a rim again. The Presta Inflator folks also stock a full selection of replacement parts and even other chucks your giftee might like. This is one cool tool, so nice that apparently Trek bicycle company equipped all its benches with them.

I hope these gift ideas are helpful. If none seem right for your cyclist, be sure to visit or call your local bike shop where you're sure to find many more great ideas from maintenance packages, to clothing, to the latest components and accessories. Remember that even something as simple and affordable as a new pair of socks or gloves is sure to please, too. Happy cycling holidays!

1 comment:


Yours is a very informative blog. Thanks for providing these wonderful content Great ideas! Thanks for the reminder. Well, I just got a cute gift