With cycling on the rise across the U.S., you probably have at least one rather obsessive bike rider in your close friends and family bubble – someone who insists on biking everywhere and/or disappears for extended periods of time on two wheels. In my family and friends circle, this person is me.
Cycling tends to morph into a lifestyle, often shaping fashion, travel, and companionship choices. I, for instance, measure any shoe against the barometer of whether or not it will slip off a pedal in the rain.
If you have such a person in your life, then you probably already know that a biking themed gift would make them happy this holiday season. There’s a lot of cycling products out there, though. Many cyclists are also adamantly loyal or partial to a particular kind of bike or riding style, and that can make gift decisions overwhelming and confusing. But they don’t have to be.
Check out this list of cycling gear, all of which I, a constant all-weather NYC bike commuter and long-distance cyclist, use on a regular basis for getting around the city and would have been delighted to receive as a gift. Well, except for the bell. I hate bells — but they are technically required on bikes in New York City.
Commuter / general cycling gear
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The AMPP 800 lumen head light has 5 modes: high, medium, low, hyper constant, and flashing. The Rapid X2 (50 lumen) has 3 modes with an acceleration sensor that automatically switches to high when you slow down. The high headlight beam provides ample illumination when traveling in an area without street lights. These CatEye lights make sure your cyclist can see and be seen.
The best thing about this Delta Mount is that it comes with adapters to attach a Garmin or Wahoo GPS bike computer as well as holding any cell phone securely — a one-stop mounting solution for all bike navigation needs.
Nutcase bells attach to bike handlebars and come in a variety of colors and patterns including brass, silver, the Sup Dog and the Tongues Out. They produce a clear, loud ringing guaranteed to startle most pedestrians and annoy other bike riders in your path.
While Hal, beloved dreadlocked bike mechanic of the original SoHo Bicycle Habitat, always says “the best bike lock is owner watching,” the Kryptonite New York Standard Lock is another good option. It’s long enough to go around a bike frame, back wheel, and post with room to spare. It also has a disc style, drill and pick-resistant locking cylinder.
Cyclists get flats. There’s no getting around that. Though I confess that if I’m near an open bike shop, I’ll opt to pay them $12 - $20 to repair my flat. I always carry tubes, levers, and a bike pump. I’ve been through quite a few bike pumps over the years, and this one is by far the best as far as handheld ones go. I’ve pumped up many road bike tires from nothing to almost 90psi with this small but mighty pump. The reason it works so well is that the end is threaded and screws onto the valve of your tube so there is no air leakage at all.
Don't be caught without this, the multipurpose tool to end all multipurpose tools. The Leatherman FREE™ P4 features 21 different tools ranging from basics like pliers and screwdrivers, to next-level essentials like a wire cutter and an electrical crimper. Throw in the fact that the whole thing is one-hand operable and doesn't even weigh nine ounces, and you've got yourself an ideal accessory for all kinds of adventures.
There is no bad weather, only bad gear, someone — probably a bike commuter — once said. I’ve tried many a rain jacket through the years and this one is my favorite. It really is waterproof (so many rain jackets are really just water resistant), and it works well as a wind blocker. It's not too boxy, which means it doesn't flap around in the wind or get too snug, meaning you can fit layers underneath it.
Rain pants are often bulky and noisy. These Alpkit ones are neither. They are extremely low profile and don’t make weird noises when you walk in them. They have sealed zippers at the bottom of the legs and a Velcro tab closure at the ankles. And they weigh, as described on the Alpkit website, about the same as “your average sandwich.”
I have two pairs of these; one I have cleats in to wear on the bike and the other I use just to walk around snowy, slushy, icy streets. I honestly don’t know why more cyclists don’t wear these. Perhaps because they’re a bit heavy? Warm, cozy feet win over aerodynamic, lightweight shoes in my book. And if you or the cyclist in your life live somewhere that gets a lot of snow, these are perfect for fat biking and mountain biking.
Gifts for the avid cyclist
This is a gift for the roadie in your life who is always talking about power, watts, effort and how light this or that component is. Chain rings are not one size fits all so you’ll have to do some sleuthing to determine which to get. Just start a conversation with your cyclist about how chainring size is measured, what they have on their bike, and what cranks they use, and you’ll likely end up with more information than you need.
Revelate, based in Alaska, is often credited with helping found the bikepacking “movement.” Bikepackers favor lightweight, streamlined gear unlike traditional bike touring that utilizes multiple, often bulky, panniers. It's ok if you or your favorite cyclist haven’t discovered bike packing yet. This seat bag is excellent for every day commuting. The bag is completely waterproof and expands to quite a large capacity, making it perfect for carrying rain gear, picking up lunch, and / or ferrying home small purchases.
The Tailfin “rack” secures to the bike at the axle (which comes included) and seat post and has the lowest profile of any rack ever. I purchased mine this past summer, scooping my very knowledgeable bike mechanic in the process. The X series is a quick release rack, so it’s easy to remove when you don’t need it. If your cyclist dreams and schemes about taking multi day trips on the bike but doesn’t like “heavy” touring bikes, a Tailfin rack and pannier set will change their life.
If you’re still not sure what to get your favorite cyclist for the holidays, why not visit (or call) their local bike shop and purchase a gift certificate. And I mean, your real local bike shop — if there’s one in your city or town; not REI or Target or Walmart. A good bike mechanic and a relationship with a local shop is priceless in my opinion. I live in Harlem and travel to Bicycle Roots in Crown Height, Brooklyn (13 miles one way), for my bike mechanic. Also, shop local and support small businesses.