Yep, it’s that time of the year when the Internet is chock full of Christmas gift guides. When it comes to jumping on bandwagons, sometimes we prefer to ride our own wagons, so for this holiday season, Neil, Michael and myself have decided to take a stab at coming up with our own holiday gift lists to not only indulge ourselves in our wants and desires, but to also act as a soft prod to each other when it comes to shopping for the office Christmas party. Click here to check out PART 1 of our Holiday Gift Guide!
With a great job working in a great industry, along with great co-workers and the greatest daughter in the world, for me, the ultimate gift is when my eyes open each morning. So, while it’s impossible to think about what gifts I’d like to have beyond those, here are some stocking stuffers that I wouldn’t mind finding hanging over the fireplace.
ALE CYCLING WEAR
Given that it’s an Italian drama, the industry backstory here is far too complex to bother with, but what is worth knowing about is that Ale cycling gear is Italian made and available for extremely competitive (and un-Italian made) prices. Available in a full range of sizes, Ale shorts and jerseys are definitely geared for the rider looking for a tight, performance oriented fit with an array of exciting and colorful (neon orange camo!!) & well-designed prints.
BONTRAGER FLARE R TAILLIGHT
For years I have eschewed any and all safety devices for all my rides. When I started commuting more frequently last year, in addition to my usual wardrobe of brightly colored lycra, I’d also opt for a taillight if things might get dark. It was after too many close calls with cars that I finally realized that neon green and pink colored jerseys were not enough to best guarantee that I’d been by any one of the million-plus errant drivers that crowd the streets of Los Angeles.
Of the handful of taillights I have tried, the $60 Bontrager Flare R taillight is the one I’d most like to find in my Christmas stocking. With 65 lumens, 260 degree visibility and two each night & daytime flash modes, the Bonti light is easy to use and effective. Sure, there’s the $80 RT version with a wireless transmitter, but it’s just the same light with a bunch of extra gizmos that just further clog the handlebars – and my mind – for no reason. Day or night, everyone should be running a tail light – ride safe, ride often!
CRANKBROTHERS CANDY PEDALS
For anyone looking for a one-stop clipless pedal that will work as efficiently on the road as will a fire road, or even a cyclocross race, look no further than the six model line of Candy pedals from Crank Bros. Built around their groundbreaking and super-minimalist Eggbeater pedal, the Candy simply offers more of a platform for added stability which is especially useful in off-road conditions. Best of all, the cleat works with either a treaded MTB or smooth soled road shoe. No wait, best of all is their buttery smooth engagement. Not as positive as my standard bearer Look road pedals, the Candy pedals nonetheless provide ample attachment.
The family of Candy pedals is based on six different models and the fact that the entry level, $60, Candy 1 uses the same cleat and offers the same engagement as the upper-end $450 Candy 11 New (flush with titanium parts and high-end bearings) tells you something about the wizardry of the overall design. Right now I’m all woozy for the red $165 Candy 7 with a stainless steel spring and wing combo and n Enduro cartridge outer bearing & Igus inner bearing.
SPECIALIZED AIRNET HELMET
Like most of you, I like wearing helmets, especially those with bright colors. My go-to this season has been the fantastic Lazer Z, but new to my lid list in the Specialized Airnet. Weighing in at a very respectable 286 grams, the thing I like most is three-fold: 1. unlike the Prevail, this mold fits my head, 2. this thing moves air like no one’s business – awesome ventilation, 3. Unlike the Lazer, the Airnet is cheap…a whopping $150 (about $100 less than the Lazer).
For some reason Specialized considers the Airnet an aero helmet and they go on about how it’s 21 seconds faster than the Prevail – yeah, whatever. No it’s not as fast as their true aero Evade, but to me, that thing is so ghastly looking it would never even make my (really) long list to Santa. Regardless, I don’t care about seconds saved, I care about protection and ventilation….just look at those exhaust ports (above). The micro-dial retention adjuster is super efficient and the vents work perfectly to store your glasses when not in use. Bottom line? A great helmet for a great price.
REAR VIEW MIRRORS
No, I don’t need a rear view mirror for my Toyota (although I’ve been driving with a windshield that has one big crack running its entire width for years now), but after getting doored twice in the last year resulting in a broken frame, handlebar, hand and scapula plus a deep gash, all I wish Santa would bring to LA drivers is a bit of sense to check their mirror before opening their door – which happens to be the law.
I just discovered Nuun products this year and I have to say they’ve grown on me quickly. On super hot days, their electrolyte replacement tabs are a good option to energy gels. Best of all, they come in a rainbow of good flavors, with and without caffeine and all it takes is one tablet for each bottle to do you some good.
CANNONDALE HOLLOWGRAM SiSL2 CRANKSET
Not just the lightest production crank on the market, but without a doubt, also the best looking. Luckily, you don’t have to buy a Cannondale to get your hands on one – the bike brand does a tidy business selling their growing line of cranks to aftermarket customers. The beautifully machined cranks have all the needed shift ramps and pins for efficient gear changes and best of all, thanks to their SpideRing, the one crank can fit either standard or compact rings. At around $1000 the sub-500 gram cranks are not cheap, but give any bike an immediate hot-rod look – my advice, take the stock rings off and save for re-sale – these are the cranks you’ll want to hold on to.
Sure, there are plenty of tools on the market, but there is only one Park Tool. For me, what’s not to love about a family founded and run business based in Minnesota where you find the dedicated owner sweatin’ it out building his own booth at Eurobike and building the best quality bike tools found anywhere? I like the new MT20 multi-tool for it’s typical sturdy build, but beyond a 3,4,5 and 8 hex and T25 Torx and combo screwdriver, it also has a handy C02 cartridge inflator.
THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL
Having a smart, capable, beautiful, determined, fabulous daughter who ends most of our long distance phone calls with “Love you dad, I’ll call you tomorrow.” It doesn’t get any better!