You’re a bike commuter, or you know someone who is — maybe you know many many people who are. (If you don’t personally know any bike commuters I’ll be happy to introduce you to some.)
We’re not so difficult to shop for, but I’ve made it even easier for you. And when your gift recipient says, “Thank you! You’re so thoughtful!,” remember: You owe me.
Sometimes the best accessories are the least obvious, or the least conventional. The accesory that you know your gift recipient doesn’t have, but once they have it they’ll wonder how they lived without it. Even better, they’ll think of you every time they use it.
Late in the day I put out a request on Twitter for more ideas for this gift guide. Jackpot! I’m mildly embarrassed to admit that I never knew until this year that the reason that step-through frames — girls’ bikes — were invented was to avoid peekaboo moments among riders wearing skirts. The Skirt Garter/Clip For Biking was suggested by the blogger at Braking the Limits (“Empowering women to bike and biking to empower women”). I would have thought, you know, pants. But if this device encourages more women to bike (and of course, men in kilts), then I’m all for it.
Ever have to carry your bike up stairs? Yeah. Bike’s weren’t meant to be carried that way. But for people who have stairs at one or both ends of their commute — or for those self-righteous people who won’t take the elevator even when one is available (I’m guilty) — This is a great accessory.
It’s really, really, loud. Give this to a mature adult only. Or if you’re mad at your sister, give this to your young niece or nephew. In the same sonic range as a car horn, it uses compressed air and can be refilled with any regular bicycle pump.
Bike Light Upgrades
I believe in the principle that when you buy a thing for someone as a gift, you should try to buy a nicer thing than the thing the person would have bought for herself. With bike lights, it’s almost impossible to go wrong, because most cyclists have cheap lights — and many have no lights at all.
If you want to give a great light set to a bike commuter, this is what you get them. USB-rechargeable, so it’s not one of those gifts that obliges the receiver to buy batteries forever. The brightness of the Urban 550 headlight is probably overkill for most urban commutes, but great for a commute that’s a mix of lit streets and unlit back roads.
Half the price of the light set above and also USB rechargeable. Works on well-lit streets, and those sketchy shortcuts without lighting. Probably not so good for long stretches of single track.
You cheap bastard. Actually, these are better than the lights I used for a long, long time. I sometimes wish I could hand these out to the Ninja cyclists I see around town. (I suppose if I see them, they aren’t really Ninjas.) If you are shopping for a newly-minted urban commuter, or one returning after a long break from cycling, this set is bound to be an upgrade. And you can boast about how Planet Bike gives 25% of their profits to bike advocacy.
For the Coffee Shop Squatter
If you know a cyclist who is naked without their portable little screen, please make sure they know about this blog. Also, they will probably appreciate having some quality gear for protecting that electronic investment.
A zillion “crater” holes in this sleeve allow a laptop to release heat and cool down more quickly when it’s stuffed into a bike backpack or messenger bag. Also protects laptops from scratches. Also works as a pasta colander in a pinch.
If the giftee’s bike bag doesn’t have a separate compartment, this will protect an iPad from scratches from all the sharp pointy crap in a cyclists bags. Perfect for your friend who takes their iPad and thier pet sea urchin everywhere they go.
With all the great cycling apps these days, you can use a smartphone as as a bike computer. The phone is fully functional while inside the case. Biologic makes about the best smartphone mounts that I’ve seen, with versions for iPhones and Android Phones.
Better Bags for Bike Commuters
It was hard to select just a few, so I’m punting here. The main thing to know is whether your gift recipient is a pannier type, a backpack type, or a messenger bag type. And that narrows it down to about 1000 options.
A great blend of capacity and features for bike commuters. Sold as a single pannier. Unlike panniers made for touring, it won’t flop over easily, because it has base feet. And it kind of looks like a briefcase — if your gift recipient doesn’t want to advertise at work that he or she is a bike commuter. It comes with a padded shoulder strap so it can be worn as a messenger bag after hours (when hanging out with hipsters).
$144.99 Currently on Sale for $114.29
Will you be there when the presents are being opened? Want to see your hipster giftee squeal like a little girl? Get them a bag or accessory by Chrome. These bags are well made, and the kids seem to think they look nice. May lead to tattoos.
This Citizen is $158.99
This bike backpack can be used for commuting and expanded for day trips. It has a built-in hydration system — not intended for use with coffee. You can do the gift-within-a-gift trick with this too — put water bottle into the side mesh pockets. That kind of thing.
$98.99 Currently on Sale for $79.00
Deck the Halls with Bowser Hauling
These are not gifts for minimalist fashionistas. Some bike commuters are serious about replacing their car, but don’t want to compromise on how much they can haul. (And I won’t pitch the Burley Travoy Bike Cargo Trailer for the third year in a row — not that it doesn’t still deserve consideration.)
If you know someone who has to make the heartbreaking choice each day between biking to work or taking their dog to work, it’s probably hard to feel too much pity for that lucky person. But a dog bike trailer will let them have it both ways, and they come in sizes from Fifi all the way up to Clifford. (I’m one of those lucky people, BTW. But I just walk to work when I bring the dogs.)
If you are like me, you will get a Ridekick for your wife, but you’ll be the one who uses the most. I don’t have the new model with a Lithium battery, but you can get one and taunt me with it.
SLA Battery: 698.99
Lithium Battery: $1358.99
Here are some smallish gifts that have enough cool factor to create the perception that you put a lot of thought into the gifts — instead of me doing the thinking for you. Your welcome.
A multi-tool, wallet, bottle opener — and stocking stuffer. A 15mm axle wrench, two screwdrivers, multiple hex wrenches, and a spoke wrench. It’s not exactly a complete roadside repair kit, but the bottle opener makes up for that.
Speaking of bottle openers combined with other tools… I got one of these for my birthday this year, so I can personally attest that it makes a great gift. It comes in handy all the time. I never get caught rummaging through the kitchen drawers at the homes of my friends looking for a bottle opener. From Resource Revival, who make lots of things from recycled bicycle parts.
You can’t put a safe road in a stocking, but you can put this. When you donate $25 or more to PeopleForBikes.org, you get this limited edition bike bell. You also get safer roads for cycling — but not immediately.
$25.00 or more
Nora and One Left put out this album earlier this year. It’s bright, cheerful, toe-tapping bike-themed pop. Even if you are not a fan of this particular style of pixie pop, you’ll like her just for the fact that Nora rides in the rain and in the winter — or at least she sings about it. This song is my personal favorite — and it’s as dark as Nora gets:
$16.69 for the physical CD from Amazon.com
$9.99 on iTunes (good luck putting it in a stocking)
$9.00 Direct from the band (MP3 or FLAC)
I’ve been meaning to write up my review of this, so here’s the short version: It’s like an eight-hour long episode of This American Life — but on all the kinds of topics that I like, with ambient sounds, and interesting interstitial music. Byrne is at his most erudite when on the topics of music and art, but he also likes to talk out of his ass about philosophy and evolutionary biology — just like I do. But whether or not the chapter is specifically about cycling, the bike is always there; a part of Byrne’s perspective on everything.
$9.95 on iTunes
Subtitle: “Commuter Angst, Dangerous Drivers, and Other Obstacles on the Path to Two-Wheeled Transcendence.” This site should have been one of the first to review this book on bike commuting, but we may be the last bike blog in the Web to get around to it. I haven’t finished reading it yet. That says more about why we don’t review more books on this blog than it does about how much I like this book. I like it at least as much as the first book by BikeSnobNYC. My review, when I finish it, will include an interview with the author.
Do you have more gift ideas? Leave them in the comments, with Web URLs if possible.
I went nuts and wrote Yet Another Holiday Gift Guide >>