Christmas is approaching fast. Are you stuck for ideas on what to get your bike-commuter friends? Yeah, me too. Lucky for you, I’ve done some research. Here’s my top 5 list of handy gifts for cyclists.
Five gift ideas for cyclists
You can never have enough lights. No matter how bright your clothing is, no matter how covered in Scotchlite™ your body is, nothing beats the visibility of lights. LED lights are cheap, durable, small, and light-weight. White ones for the front, red ones for the back. You can get handlebar mounted lights, seat-post lights, helmet lights (front & back), safety-vests with integrated lights, fender-mounted lights, and rear-rack mounted lights. You can get lights that go on to your valve stems. A personal favourite of mine are lights that get mounted in your spokes. Particularly in Vancouver’s dark, rainy winters, being visible to motorists and pedestrians from all angles is crucial. A recent trend in bike lights is the ability to charge them via mini-usb. It’s a convenient way to keep your lights charged, but it also means you’re hosed if you the battery runs out in the middle of a ride. Unless, of course, you have a dynamo with a usb port on it…
Did you know that according to the City of Vancouver Street and Traffic By-Law No. 2849 that “No person shall ride a bicycle upon a street unless the bicycle is equipped with a bell capable of being used as a warning.” Well, you do now. Adding a bell to a bike is quick and easy, and there’s great variety in bells. You can get a small, classic bell with a thumb-striker, or another classic, the round bell with the rotary striker. But then you can get fancy and quirky too. And although the bylaw doesn’t say anything about horns, there are some pretty loud air-horns that are effective at getting everyone’s attention too.
Every commuter should carry a light-weight pump around with them. You can get quite a variety of pumps that are small and light, ones that fit nicely into a small frame or seat bag, or into your backpack or panniers. But in addition to an on-the-road emergency pump, it’s superb to have a nice floor pump. These are bigger and more expensive, but the most convenient way to inflate a tire short of an air compressor. Set the dial on the gauge for the pressure you want, and start pumping. Most good pumps support both Presta and Schrader style valves, but you should check to see what you need and what the pump supports before buying one.
They don’t have to be big bags: you can get some frame-mounted bags, or better yet, a nice small seat-post (or saddle) bag that stores a few small items. Or, you can go right out and get some panniers; front or rear ones come in a variety of sizes, water-resistance, and price points. Keep in mind that panniers need to be attached to something. Most rear racks accommodate panniers without any modification, but front panniers require special racks. And if panniers are out, there are lots of different types of backpacks that are suitable, including ones with built-in hydration systems for those long, hot rides.
A good bike multi-tool has some tire levers to help you change a flat and a few hex keys and other drivers to let you make adjustments to brakes, seats, and whatever other bits and pieces might need adjustment in the middle of a ride. Pay attention to the reviews, though. The cheaper sets tend not to be very good – they can have many useless tools, and can be overly fragile. It’s worth the extra money to find a sturdy, well-made, and useful multi-tool.
And although lights are already on my list, I want to add a new dimension: Monkey Lights. It’s probably a bit late to get them before Christmas, but they are just … awesome.
Help me out: What are your suggestions for holiday gifts for cyclists?