The holidays are upon us once again! Whether you’re a Christmas lover or a holiday hater, I think one thing we can all agree upon is that receiving a new bike, components, tools or riding gear as a gift is always appreciated. It seems like cool new cycling products appear almost daily, so it wasn’t hard for me to come up with my list (and yes, I’ve checked it twice!). Drawing on a combination of my actual needs and fantastical wants, I’ve narrowed things down to a selection of tools, clothing, components, riding experiences and one lustrous complete bike, all or any of which would make me a happy man come Christmas morning. I won’t suggest exactly how naughty or nice I’ve been this year, but here’s to hoping some of these things come my way for the 2016 riding season!
First on the list is float plane accessed riding! Despite living nearby, I have not yet enjoyed a float plane drop in the South Chilcotin zone of British Columbia. A network of lengthy loops (most around four to eight hours) winds around the area’s scenic landscape, crossing remote mountain passes and providing plenty of options for anything from ‘drop and descend’ rides to multi-day all-mountain excursions. Riding the Chilcotins is considered a must-do among B.C. riders, and I’m wishing for a chance to take the easy way in and the fun way out…
Next up for riding experiences would be a trip to the Downieville Classic. This ‘bucket list’ event features a high-level two-stage race with a 29 mile XC loop followed by a massive downhill run covering 5000ft of elevation, both of which must be ridden on the same bike. The race itself is surrounded by a full festival of fun stuff, including the river jump and Cosmo’s Wild Island river crossing comp plus demo bikes, trail shuttles and live music.
Just look at this bike. It’s somehow both burly and extremely sexy, and I’d call it one of the nicest looking carbon frames on the market. Its steady handling and 150mm of travel are ideal qualities for my home trails, and with different components you could fine-tune this chassis into something light and svelte, or strong and stable.
Since I have not had the pleasure of riding a Mojo yet, I’m basing this decision on the rave reviews of my extremely bike-saavy riding buddy who is on his fifth year of relentlessly shredding an older Mojo HD. I’ve been repeatedly told about how the DW link suspension achieves a great balance of climbing and descending prowess, and the Mojo’s super stiff frame plows through the roughest downhills with confidence. I believe these claims, as I mostly see my buddy’s Mojo from behind.
Consider this just another thumbs-up to a great MTB product. Although I’ve never owned a set, I have had the pleasure of riding bikes equipped with Shimano’s XT brakes and I have no negative feedback for you at all. They grab like a vise with minimal squeezing, and despite that power I’ve had no troubles with lack of modulation. Of the many sets out there, I’ve only heard of one or two people having some bleeding issues. On top of their general reliability, they’re also pretty compact, reasonably lightweight and good lookin’.
As enduro riders began to eschew the hydration pack, Specialized stepped up to the plate with their clever line of SWAT accessories. Since I still ride with a pack I’ll pass on the bottle cage multi-tool, but any rider should be stoked to have the Top Cap Chain Tool, which hides a chainbreaker and spare quick link inside your steerer tube. The tool works for 9, 10 or 11 speed chains, only weighs about 25g more than a traditional stem cap, and it will always be there when you need it.
I’m stoked about how awesome MTB lights have recently become. My bike currently carries 2000 lumens (bar + helmet) and that amount of light allows you to say ‘screw the clock’ and ride anything, anytime with no hesitation. My helmet light uses a separate head unit and battery pack, so I’d like to snag a smaller, self-contained light that pumps out plenty of lumens.
Niterider’s Lumina OLED 800 looks like the pick of the litter. On high it will run for 1.5 hours, but on medium that jumps to three hours so alternating between the two should take you pretty far. The Lumina OLED 800 is competitively light at 172g, and charges in 3-6 hours. The coolest feature is the display, which shows how many hours and minutes of battery life you have left. Simple and smart!
Yes, I’m one of those goofs who runs tubeless tires but doesn’t own an air compressor. I’d rather not deal with the size and noise of a compressor, so I was intrigued when I caught wind of Bontrager’s TLR Flash Charger. The pump features a secondary air chamber which can be charged to a high pressure. With the flip of a lever the air is rapidly released with enough gusto to seat tubeless beads.
Bikerumor got a chance to test the TLR Flash Charger out, and determined that the product works pretty darn well. It’s portable, requires no electricity, puts out enough pressure to inflate road bike tires, and it functions just like a normal pump when you don’t need that sudden burst for a tubeless setup.
I don’t care how smooth you are, once in a while your wheels need some love if you want them to last. Park Tools has been considered top dog in the bicycle tool industry for as long as I remember, and while I’ve used their truing stands I don’t have one to call my own.
Park’s TS 2.2 Truing Stand would easily accommodate any of my wheels as it accepts diameters up to 29” (with tires mounted), hubs up to 175mm wide, and rims up to 4” wide. The spring-loaded dials make for easy adaptation to different wheels and simple, smooth operation. I would definitely throw in the relevant thru-axle adapters for my bikes, and the Truing Stand Base to the package, which provides convenient storage for your spoke keys, adapters, spare nipples, etc.
We all know the best champagne comes from France, and fine Tequila is distilled exclusively in Mexico. Just as the French and the Mexicans have mastered these products of their environment, I’d put my trust in Shower’s Pass when it comes to rain gear. If their garments hold up in their notoriously rainy headquarters of Portland, Oregon, they should work for anyone, anywhere.
The brand’s Club Convertible II pants tick all the boxes for me. I’m an off-road guy, so the relaxed fit suits my style. The three-layer seam-taped construction repels rain but lets your body breathe, and if it gets too hot they zip off into shorts. An elasticized waistband should eliminate the need for an annoying belt, and the articulated knees, lower leg cinches, zippered pockets and reflective details are icing on the cake.
I’ve always thought it would be cool to have a custom painted helmet, frame or complete bike, and the man I’d enlist for the job would be PaintHouse Customs’ Stacy Glaser. I was introduced to Glaser’s work several years ago when he painted up a Smokey and the Bandit themed DH lid for Decline magazine, and he’s still producing masterpieces for pro riders, MTB companies and others with an eye for art.
Among many other top riders, MTB legend Brett Tippie is regularly rocking pieces of Glaser’s creation. His last few Rocky Mountain Flatlines became PaintHouse projects, including the glow in the dark frame Tippie rode in a night ride edit from Halloween 2012. To see more of PaintHouse’s work, check out their Instagram page, and start dreaming up designs!
*Photos courtesy of their respective brands and Brad Holmes Photography.