Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Santa brings goodies to good cyclists, Part 2

Image of Santa Claus on a bicycle
In yesterday's blog entry, I began a discussion of holiday gift ideas for bike commuters. The first post offered suggestions for those cyclists who are visited by an affluent St. Nicholas, or who have been especially good this year. Today I'll consider a few mid-range gifts for bike commuters. My suggested items are only a sampling of categories; your bicyclist might already have favorite brands or models. Hey, everything's subjective.

THE SOLE OF CYCLING
A pair of lightweight, hard-soled cycling shoes combined with clipless pedals will enhance your household bike commuter's pedaling efficiency by improving power transfer. I've tried many kinds of cycling shoes over the years. My present favorites are the Sidi Dominators. These are pricey, but worth it. They are durable and comfortable, and just ooze Italo-cool. I've had my current pair of Dominators since 2000, and they'll likely last another five years. Worth the investment. Of course, comfort and taste are subjective. Any high-end MTB shoe (Diadora, Shimano, Vittoria, etc.) will deliver similar benefits; and get MTB and not smooth-soled road shoes. Your bike commuter may need to walk around some, and will appreciate the MTB's sole.

DRY AND HAPPY
Winter is a challenging season for cyclists. Make your household bike commuter happy with some warm and waterproof apparel. I'm a fan of Bellwether, among other reasons because until recently they are based in my hometown of San Francisco and have been supportive of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I really appreciate my Bellwether Aqua-No Jacket, which combined with my Goretex® Pants keep my core pretty dry. Add some warm shoe covers or booties, a reflective waterproof helmet cover, and warm waterproof gloves, and your bike commuter is sure to return home each day dry and happy.

My wife Marianne and I have also had great success keeping dry with rainwear from Burley Design.

GOODS TRANSPORT WITHOUT REINDEER
If your bike commuter regularly transports substantial loads (change of clothing, tools, office materials, etc.) then some kind of secure pannier is critical. Few panniers come any better than Jandd's Large Mountain Pannier. In addition to everyday commuting, these will be very appreciated if your biker has plans for touring.

If your bicyclist needs to carry dress clothes for the office, Jandd also makes a very nice Commuter Garment Pannier.. A similar product I've had good experience with is made by Two-Wheel Gear.

WHEN YOUR WORKSHOP DOESN'T HAVE ELVES
Riding a bike everyday means there will be a fair amount of needed bike maintenance. Your household bike commuter could do what I've done--acquire tools one at a time as needed which get lost amongst the other household tools--or you could spare him or her that nonsense (and expense!) by gifting a set of great tools. For decades, Park Tools have been the industry leader. Your biker will be delighted to receive a Park AK-32 Advanced Tool Kit complete with 35 tools to make almost any needed repair.

If Santa is in a generous mood, add the four-volume professional-level Barnett's Manual: Analysis and Procedures for Bicycle Mechanics and your bicyclist will be set for any necessary repair. (More likely, the amateur-level mechanic can get by with The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair.)

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