Cycling is hotter than ever this strange year, spurred on by the pandemic’s social-distancing restrictions and need to get out of the gym to exercise. But that popularity also meant severe shortages at retailers and devastated manufacturer inventory as supply lines got hit hard by the lockdowns. Now though, at the end of the year, just as the holiday giving season is heating up, most stores (online and off) are ready and restocked with loads of great cycling goodies.
Though it’s not hard to find new bike-gear goods galore, selecting the best and coolest from the lot is no small task; we did that for you to build the ultimate cycling gift guide for two-wheel junkies (and those that love them). From commuters to dirtbags to roadies, there should be a perfect gift—or two—for any bike rider on your list. Plus, cyclists, don’t be shy! There are lots of great ideas to forward on to the gift-givers in your life—hopefully helping make the end to 2020 satisfying for all.
Bikes that can perform well on all types of surfaces, often called gravel bikes or all-rounders, have been gaining in popularity because of their awesome versatility. Diamondback has a solid line of these bikes under the Haanjo name, all with wide stays for bigger tires, mounts for racks and fenders, and either an aluminum or carbon frame. Our choice, if money wasn’t an option, is the brand-new Haanjo 8c Carbon—it come standard with carbon frame, forks, handlebars, seat post, and rims—and hubs! Add in a killer Shimano GRX gruppo with hydraulic disc brakes and all roads are open this year.
[From $750; diamondback.com]
The storied Stumpjumper brand, found first tearing down trails in 1981, is alive and well at Specialized—the latest models are some of the best quiver-killing mountain bikes you can buy. The range comes in “alloy,” or aluminum, versions and carbon options, both using a similar, asymmetrical brace design for supporting the rear suspension and providing better performance on varied terrain. We especially dig the Comp Carbon, which has a 12-speed SRAM NX groupset, 27.5-inch wheels, and a Fox DPS rear shock already tuned for most riders. (Another bonus on the carbon bikes is access to the cavity inside the down tube for storing tubes and a pump, or whatever else you like to stash…)
[From $2,200; specialized.com]
Priority Bicycles Brilliant
Not everyone wants, or needs, the latest featherweight carbon bike that sports features like wireless shifters. A lot of folks just want a basic, moderately priced bike that’ll get them to work and around the city—which is where Priority Bicycles shines. It makes high-quality townie bikes that are thoughtfully constructed to keep upkeep at a minimum (all models come with a nearly maintenance-free Gates Carbon Drive belt) while still offering some style and function. Top picks from its lineup include the 600—a workhorse of a bike with a sweet sealed gearbox that gives you a virtual 30-speed gear range and an integrated hub-powered generator for lighting and USB charging—and the Brilliant L Train, a light and quick and simple chromoly commuter with a slick Shimano 7-speed hub.
[From $549; prioritybicycles.com]
Sena R1 Evo
If you’re buying something for the cyclist who loves listening to music while they ride, this helmet is the perfect pick; integrated speakers above the ears can stream music from a smartphone through Bluetooth. And for seamless communication with friends also wearing a Sena helmet, it has Mesh Intercom tech so you can easily converse in the saddle. Built-in taillights add extra protection and eliminate the need to carry a separate unit. Best innovation in this head-saving package? All three features can be accessed with simple voice commands.
Sweet Protection Dissenter MIPS
For the mountain biker on your list who needs to upgrade his battered helmet, the Dissenter is a great choice since it uses tech from higher-end helmets but comes in at a more affordable price. The shell is made from a single piece of polycarbonate, making it lightweight and low-volume, and the MIPS protection system helps reduce rotational forces on gray matter during a spill. An Occigrip turn-dial makes for quick sizing adjustments while on-the-go.
Thousand Chapter MIPS
We can all agree that helmets, while essential, mostly make you look pretty dorky. The Thousand Chapter though, looks damn cool. It combines classic styling with neat touches for a helmet any cyclist would be proud to profile—we especially like the Club Navy colorway (pictured), which comes with a hand-painted tortoise shell visor. Other standout features include a magnetically attached, rechargeable rear taillight and special pop-out panel for locking your helmet securely to your bike.
5.10 Trailcross LT
If you love the freedom that you get with flat pedals, the new Trailcross flat shoes from 5.10 should be on your list. They feature the company’s famed Stealth rubber sole for extra grip while pedaling your mount, but also blend trail-running features like an extended ankle collar for better protection and quick-drying, breathable upper for extra comfort when out of the saddle.
Specialized 2FO ClipLite
For those mountain bikers who are all-in on the clipless system and need a new pair of killer kicks, the ClipLites are a stellar option. They are lighter than the original 2FO but still offer the same close connection and pedal performance attributes: Body Geometry sole construction to boost power and efficiency, Landing Strip cleat pocket for foot-out riding, Lollipop nylon composite plate for added stiffness, and SlipNot rubber outsole topped by two, easy-to-use Boa snap dials.
Toying with the idea of trying out a clipless setup but don’t want to go whole hog and buy some uncomfortable-to-walk-in roadie shoes? Then the new Espresso may be your best bet as they give you top-shelf clipless performance with a pliable, continuous rubber sole that makes trotting around town a no-fuss affair. The inForm Race last gives you a roomier, but still racy, fit and a glass-reinforced nylon plate stiffens up the shoe for no compromises when pedaling hard.
Nite Ize Radiant 125 Rechargable Bike Lights
More bikes on the road means more chances for getting plowed by a car (especially in the early winter darkness), so be sure to get your loved ones some high-quality and high-powered lights like these from Nite Ize. Pick up a front white light (125 lumens) and the red rear (53 lumens) with 180 degrees of visibility that will both last around 3 hours for essential, enhanced safety on the road. Both attach (and detach) quickly with a strong rubber band.
[$30 each; niteize.com]
Hydro Flask Down Shift Hydration Pack
Getting a good biking backpack means selecting one that will give your back plenty of ventilation. The new Down Shift pairs an articulated panel that keeps the pack off your back with Hydro Flask’s bread and butter—tech to keep your water colder, longer. The Cold Flow System marries an insulated reservoir with an inner, reflective-lined sleeve to help chill water for up to 4 hours. A large interior space with pockets galore will keep all of your essentials organized and in place.
Camelbak Repack LR 4 Belt
If you prefer not having a backpack clinging to you like a weak monkey clawing your sweaty back, check out Camelbak’s new waist pack. As well as keeping your upper body cooler, it helps provide a lower center of gravity by dropping all of that water weight (1.5 liters). And the smaller size means you’ll have to carry a more streamlined loadout on the trail (but enough for some tools, tubes, and jacket). Small stash pockets on the sides are perfect spots for a snack or two.
Polar Breakaway Insulated Bottle
For those who don’t want to be burdened by any packs at all, and like to keep it super minimal, loading up with bottles is a must. But if you are a fan of cold water, traditional bottles won’t cut it, so pick a Polar. It fits into a normal bottle cage and holds up with 24 oz of chilly agua, but has a special Tri-Layer inner liner that reflects heat and insulates to keep water colder for twice as long.
Cool sunglasses are a must when cycling, and these are probably some of the sickest out there, especially if you’re into ’90s throwback-style. Rad features include the ChromaPop lenses for making trail details jump out and enhancing contrast, 100 percent UV protection, non-slip Megol temple and nose pads, AutoLock hinges, and a durable TR9/TPU frame. Zubaz pants optional…
[From $209; sithoptics.com]
Wiley X Valor
Wearing sunglasses while riding isn’t just about shielding glare and heightening details and looking sweet—they also function as eye protection from road debris or pokey branches. And the best shades for that are from Wiley X because all models meet stringent ANSI and OSHA ballistic standards for high-velocity and high-mass impact protection. Meaning they won’t get punctured or shattered after a violent encounter. We suggest picking up Valor package which offers three quick-change lenses in clear, smoke gray (glare reduction), or light rust (medium-to-low-light enhancement).
[From $85; wileyx.com]
Shorts and Chamois
7mesh Farside and Foundation
If you wore out your summer kit this year from all of the quarantine riding, add up a new pair of shorts and chamois from 7mesh to your list. These lightweight shorts are made of a four-way stretch nylon faced with a double weave for softness and a looped yarn inside so they don’t feel like a clingy synthetic when damp with sweat. Reflective touches, reinforced crotch, and side-zippered pocket make them extra trail ready. For butt protection, the new Foundation chamois is made with lots of airy mesh and a chamois pad that’s relieved in the frontal area to limit heat build-up and discomfort in the saddle.
[$120 each; 7mesh.com]
Patagonia Merino ¾-Sleeved Bike Jersey
Sometimes a simple, comfortable jersey is just what you want to slip on for an evening ride. This soft and breathable merino/recycled polyester shirt from Patagonia is a great choice because it offers warmth on chilly days and breathability when you heat up. The three-quarter sleeves will cover up elbow pads while not getting bunched up by your hands and the bike-specific tailoring means a longer back hem and tailored seams. A thin cord at the neck lets you dry the sweat out without stretching it.
Rapha Pro Team Thermal Base Layer
Crisp and cold days require a multi-functional base layer like this trick selection from Rapha. The quick-drying polyester fabric has those little nubs that are familiar from traditional thermals—they help trap warm air against the body but still allow for fast wicking of sweat from the skin. Pull up the long turtleneck to cut cold winds on the face and ears when putting the hammer down. Reflective stripes down the back of the neck gaiter also help alert after-dusk drivers to your cycling presence.
Kitsbow Wind Jacket
Stuff this thin but windproof and water-resistant jacket into your jersey or pack for on-the-go protection from the elements. Long side zips give you access to back pockets on your jersey and an asymmetrical front zip moves the rough plastic edges off of your throat and Adam’s apple when fully deployed. Other slick details include laser-perforated ventilation holes under the pits, reflective details on back and side, and non-slip hems.
Pearl Izumi Elevate AmFib Jacket
For a cyclist looking for a bit more of an insulated jacket—but one still with high-performance features—to wear when riding in cold weather, the AmFib should make the list. It’s stuffed with 100 grams of Primaloft Gold with Crosscore tech for less bulk and more warmth in the chest and arms, and clad in a 100 percent-recycled polyester Barrier DWR fabric for extra protection from the elements. The rest of the jacket is made up of a breathable, lightweight, wind- and water-resistant softshell that’s super comfy.
Endura Xtreact Gel Knicker II:
When putting on serious miles in winter weather, a close-fitting tight with integrated chamois is a must. This pair from Endura is made from a super-wicking Xtract fabric that’s mated to multi-density gel pads that are strategically placed for maximum comfort. A soft, double-layered waistband, flat-locked seams (none inside the leg), and silicone hems finish out the cycling tights essentials.
For riding the trails in inclement weather, loose-fitting but tough pants like the MomosM are a requirement. They are made from a three-layer windproof fabric that’s stretchy and breathable and pre-articulated knees eliminate bunching while pedaling. An adjustable waistband with Velcro tabs helps dial-in fit and zippered vents allow for extra on-trail air flow when the sweat starts building.
Jersey and Bibs
Panache Pro Jersey and Bibs
Though you don’t need to don a full cycling kit with bibs and jersey to ride like the best, they can help you get the most out of long sessions in the saddle. The tight-fitting form factor improves aerodynamics and the low waist on the front of the bibs helps your diaphragm expand and contract, letting you get fuller breaths. So if you feel ready to step up and take your cycling to the next level this holiday, check out the options from Panache, like this wicking jersey with pre-rotated sleeves, silicone hems, two-position zipper, and three back pockets. Add in bibs with stretchy chamois, airy mesh, flat-stitched seams, and snug compression fit to complete your kit.
[$129, jersey, $199, bibs; panachecyclewear.com]
Socks make great stocking stuffers, and these merino blend babies from Swiftwick give you great in-saddle performance for the price. Offered in six different heights, from hidden to over-the-calf, the socks have moderate compression and come with two cushioning options, ultralight or medium. The natural merino wool helps regulate temperature all year round while also helping to ward off blisters, and synthetics like spandex and nylon boost robustness and provide a close fit.
[From $17; swiftwick.com]
Old Man Mountain Sherpa Rack
Having an on-bike storage option is essential for serious cyclists. Backpacks can be bulky and affect movement while also heating up your back, so try putting on a front or rear rack and panniers so you never have to deal with a limiting pack again. The Sherpa line is made of strong and light 6063 aluminum tubing that mounts to a variety of bikes with a thru axle (and will fit those with common-size quick release axles). By going through the hub instead of bolted into eyelets, this stable rack gives you lots of extra strength and support—enough to be able to load up to 70 pounds.
[From $160; oldmanmountain.com]
North St Morrison Backpack Pannier
Panniers are great to have on your bike but most are only useful on the bike, which can be limiting. The Morrison is a combo backpack and pannier so you can bring it in shopping with you to load up and then quickly and easily place back on a rack with the included bungee hook mount. Handmade in Portland, OR, these stylish bags are clad in a durable 1000-denier Cordura shell and lined with a 100 percent waterproof and recycled woven polyester. Convenient side sleeves work for storing water bottles or a U-lock.
Wolf Tooth Encase System Bar Kit One
If you have a bike with flat bars, or traditional drop bars, you need to buy this revolutionary tool kit. Ingeniously designed to fit into the empty (and unused) cavity at either end your handlebars, the Encase System offers you a hex-bit wrench multi-tool with 14 functions, chain and tire plug multitool that’s compatible with all bicycle chains, and two rubber storage sleeves that make sure your tools fit snugly in whatever diameter bars you have.
Uncharted Supply Co Triage Kit
Putting your own first-aid kit together can be chore and you’ll inevitably forget a few key pieces, so why not let the experts at Uncharted do it for you? They offer tons of kit options, but the Triage is the perfect potentially life-saving package to toss in your cycling pack. It features an emergency blanket, aspirin, bandages, blister gels, band-aids, wound strips, duct tape, petroleum jelly, safety pins, wire, zip-ties, and storm matches, all stored in a resealable, double-ripstop nylon military parachute pouch.
Lots of bike shops are still strapped for parts, have limited access to browse around inside, and are backed up on repairs due to the coronavirus. If you need maintenance or parts or just some one-on-one help, but don’t want to leave the house, check out new cycling service Velofix. They’ll come to you in a fully-outfitted bike shop on wheels, eliminating the need to take your bike anywhere. Velofix brings you at-home bike service by local, certified bike mechanics offering a range of options from a simple tune-up and full bike builds to fittings and rentals.
[From $69; velofix.com]