Every year, these holiday wish lists get harder and harder. It’s not that there isn’t a wealth of worthy candidates – for me it’s the opposite. I’ve always been drawn to just about anything with two wheels and as I’ve gotten older it seems to have gotten worse. Deep down, I’m probably still a mountain biker with roots in dirt jumping or downhill, but I’m just as likely to be found on a road or cyclocross bike as I am a mountain bike on any given weekend. And then there’s fat bikes.
Fortunately, when it comes to bikes now more than ever, there are more options than you can shake a tire lever at. Narrowing it down to your favorite pieces is the hard part. In the end it’s all about having the most fun on a bike and I think the following selection is a perfect representation.
No matter what I’m riding, I always seem to have the most fun on a downhill bike at a bike park. For that reason, I’d have to say my first choice would be a week at Whistler. Somehow over the years I still have not managed to make my way up there, and after a recent trip to Mountain Creek Bike park (also very good), I’m itching to get back on the DH bike. Seeing as how Whistler is known as the downhill mecca, it seems like a good place to have on a wish list like this.
Runners up would include any mountain bike adventure that involves a new-to-me part of the world. One of my absolute favorite parts of this job is the ability to travel to new locations and take in the local culture, food, and surroundings.
There are so many bikes in this category, it’s really hard to narrow it down but since we first saw the No. 22 Bikes Great Divide frame, it has had my attention. My personal preference would be Great Divide with disc brakes and clearance for 28mm tires but since the bikes are available with full custom builds that probably wouldn’t be an issue. Made in the U.S. from titanium but still reasonably priced? What’s not to like?
This one was pretty easy. I wanted a Borealis Echo so bad after my review I bought one for myself. Truly a category blurring bike, I have a feeling I will be riding this for more than just “fat bike season” in the coming year. Thanks to a number of select components from RockShox, Whisky, 45NRTH, Box Components, Bontrager, RaceFace and Ergon it comes in at 25 lbs with pedals making it just as capable as any of my other hardtails.
More traditional choices would include things like the Rocky Mountain Thunderbolt Carbon BC Edition, or possibly the new Diamondback forthcoming DB8. My first ever DH bike was Diamondback Strike DH, and what it lacked in cutting edge technology it made up in value. The new Diamondback looks radically better and at just $3,800 will leave some cash for room and board at the local bike park.
SRAM’s 1×11 groups are certainly at the top of the list. My experience with X1 has been great, and the XX1 group promises the same performance with less weight. The only thing holding it back is the price. Even at X1 levels the group is still pricey especially for wear items like cassettes and chainrings. On a number of my bikes I’ve been very happy with the OneUp RADr cage, cassette adapters, and Wolf Tooth chainrings, but even the best 10 speed add-ons can’t quite match the performance of the full SRAM group.
I think I probably speak for a lot of cyclists when I say really good rain gear was one of the last pieces I considered when buying gear. It’s expensive, and there are a lot of other bits and pieces to attract your attention first. After a few rides in the Showers Pass Refuge jacket though, this should have been on my list long ago. At $279 it’s expensive, but not as pricey as a number of other rain jackets and with the company’s Portland roots, they know rain. Look for a full review of this guy coming soon.
I guess kit means road bike gear, in which case I would gravitate towards anything by Pactimo. There is nothing like the feel of really great fitting road kit, but there is also nothing quite like the feel of road rash that trashes your pricey kit as well as your thigh. Pactimo’s clothing has consistently proved to be super comfortable, great fitting, and high quality without breaking the bank.
Along similar lines as the rain jacket, winter boots are one of those pieces of gear that you don’t really know just how good they are until you try them. Unlike most other biking shoes, the right or wrong pair of shoes in the winter can literally make or break your ride. I’ve been eying new winter boots for awhile and the Lake 303 are at the top of the list. Honestly the 45NRTH Wölvhammers aren’t far behind, but the Boa dial on the 303s has my attention.
…and three small things
It’s no secret that I love tools. Having the right tool for the job makes things so much easier and usually equates to less time spent wrenching, and more time spent riding. Abbey Bike Tools is just finishing up the design of their BBQ pedal Wrench, and once it’s available with be the pedal wrench to own. No more searching for 6 or 8mm allen wrenches when you’re swapping pedals between bikes, plus the tool provides the same leverage as when using the 15mm wrench. Price and availability – soon.
For things you can actually buy now, Jagwire Hydraulic Hose Cutters and the Hydraulic Needle Driver are life changers if you find yourself shortening brake housings on a regular basis.
As a non tool related gift idea, you really can’t go wrong with Ergon’s new GE1 grips if your loved one ever uses the term Enduro, or wears bright colored, matching clothing. Seriously though, the new round grips are a great design which would make a great stocking stuffer for any 130mm+ travel bike or any rider who prefers the feel of round grips over Ergon’s more ergonomic offerings.