Scroll through our holiday gift guide for sure-fire ways to impress your favourite bicyclist this Christmas
Cyclists can be finicky creatures. They know what they like. So, finding the right present can be fraught with problems of sizing, colour and brand. Here are some nearly sure-fire gift suggestions, whether your cycling friend is a bike commuter, a weekend recreational rider or training for the Tour de France.
1. Ergonomic bike grips
Ergon Grips started the trend, but there’s a variety of grips now on the market featuring designs that match the shape of your hand, rather than your handlebars. They aren't ideal for aggressive downhilling or free-riding, where the rider changes hand positions in response to terrain variations, but for comfort on the average commute or recreational ride, these grips relieve pressure on the nervus ulnaris and are a great way to deal with issues like numbness in the hands and sore wrists.
Various models available at any bike store in Vancouver. Price runs $14.99 and up, depending on manufacturer.
2. Bright, easy-to-remove bike lights
Knogs are great because the flexible silicon body features a stretchy strap, so they can be attached to just about anywhere on a bike. Waterproof and easy to remove (essential when leaving your bike unattended for any length of time), they are visible up to 600 metres away. Knogs come in 12 colours and a variety of styles.
Available at many Vancouver bike shops, including The Bike Doctor, Bicycle Sports Pacific and Denman Bike Shop. Price runs $15.99 to $29.99, depending on the model.
3. A stylin' bike helmet
Popular for their style and range of graphics, Nutcase helmets can serve double or even triple duty protecting your head. Not the right choice for your favourite cross-country mountain biker, road rider or triathlete, who will prefer the superior cooling of a multi-vented, lightweight helmet, they are however a great choice for anyone looking for a distinctive lid to ride around town, or those who split their time between cycling, skateboarding and snow sports.
Because these helmets feature a hard shell exterior, they stand up to repeated abuse, unlike traditional bike helmets which are typically designed to withstand a single crash only.
Available at many bike stores, including West Point Cycles, On the Rivet and Bikes on the Drive. Price: $59.99 (MSRP)
4. Floor bike pumps
Lots of people ride on under-inflated tires—which sucks. Because not only does it increase the likelihood of getting a flat, low tire pressure means more pedalling effort. Mini-pumps that you can take with you in case of a flat are a good temporary measure, but having a good-quality floor pump handy makes it easy to keep your tires at the correct pressure. You can pick up cheap pumps made mostly of plastic, but a sturdy steel pump will last for years and years.
The Filzer Zephyr Pro Team is a good example of a mid-priced floor pump. Available in Vancouver at Mountain Equipment Co-op for $49.
5. Bike trip to Vancouver Island
The small town of Cumberland, on Vancouver Island, is catching on as a destination for bikers. There’s a wide selection of purpose-built mountain bike trails right outside of town, and it’s also a great jumping-off point for other outdoor recreation activities in the Comox Valley. Whether they’re seeking off-road trails, or enjoying a tour along the old Island Highway, cyclists will find themselves right at home at the Riding Fool Hostel.
Rates are very reasonable ($22.99 for a dorm bed or $54.99 for a private room) plus there’s a bike shop and café on the premises. Order a Lucky Lager and refer to Cumberland as "Dodge City" and you just might pass for a local. Why not book a weekend? Even if you’re not a cyclist, the Comox Valley has lots to see and do (and eat and drink) while your biker is out riding.
6. Power taps for power riders
If you know someone who’s serious about bike racing, and you’re willing to spend some big bucks to curry their favour, put a power tap under the tree and you’ll be the true Christmas star in your home. A power tap measures the rider’s power output in watts, as well as speed, distance, time and other metrics. It’s the ultimate training aid for cyclists and triathletes seeking to make the most of their training sessions. The wireless CycleOps' PowerTap Pro+ records up to seven hours of data at a one-second recording rate and then downloads all the data via a USB connection. The Pro+ is compatible with PCs and Macs and allows full customization so you decide what data you see and where.
Available online and locally at La Bicicletta in Vancouver. Price is $1,389.
7. Mountain biking lessons in North Vancouver
British Columbia boasts some of the world’s best mountain bike trails, but many of them are challenging even for those with experience. North Vancouver’s Endless Biking offers a huge range of classes including group lessons for beginners, private sessions, women-only courses and training workshops for those planning to take on endurance races, such as the Test of Metal or BC Bike Race, as well as a range of programs for youth as young as 6 years old.
In addition to lessons, Endless Biking offers tours and instructor training courses. Prices vary from under $100 for group clinics, right up to a $2,050 four-day trip of a lifetime including heli-biking, access to private trails, accommodation and meals. Visit the Endless Biking website for complete price and schedule information.
8. Whistler Bike Park season's pass
One of the most interesting developments in mountain biking in the past few years has been the explosion of ski hills offering lift access to groomed mountain bike trails in the summer and fall. At $499 (2010 price) a season’s pass to the Whistler Bike Park is a great deal, or start small with the Triple Play pass ($129) for any three days during the season.
The bike park is open from May to October, with extended hours (until 8 p.m.) from mid-June to September.
9. Books on cycling
Mountain bikers have their favourite trails and roadies usually stick to the best routes for serious training rides, but recreational cyclists will find lots to explore with Easy Cycling Around Vancouver by Jean and Norman Cousins (Greystone Books). It offers 40 routes to explore, with maps, descriptions and trip-planning advice, including public transit accessibility. The suggested tours range from 15 to 45 kilometres. Great for newcomers to cycling or experienced riders seeking short day rides or linking routes to create a multi-day trip.
Easy Cycling Around Vancouver is available online or at local book stores around Vancouver. Price is $19.95.
10. Stocking stuffer: Bike tire patch kits
Some people will tell you tire tubes make great stocking stuffers. But chances are they won’t offer to return them to the store when you buy the wrong size, stem type or just end up buying a brand your favourite cyclist doesn’t like. Instead, pick up a patch kit. The Rema Tip Top patch kit is a time-honoured choice you can trust. Cheap, small, universal.
Every bike store in Vancouver will have patch kits for sale. Price is around $3.
Chris Keam has worked as a writer and editor in Vancouver since 1989. In addition to cycling, he has a keen interest in sustainable living trends, parenting, media issues, current affairs and local history. You can visit his blog at www.chriskeam.com.