Now I don’t want anyone to think I’m dropping hints or anything like that, although it must be confusing figuring out gift ideas for the cyclist in your life. The fact that it will be Valentine’s Day coming up followed by better cycling weather is pure coincidence.
In all seriousness my advice to those looking to buy a pressie for your other ‘alf who happens to be a cyclist, is to think of clothing, rather than accessories for bicycles. Why? Well, choosing clothing is much easier as you’ll have a good idea of his or her size, what colours they like etc. This is a much safer bet compared to buying components which generally need some technical input for it to be “just right”.
If I were, completely hypothetically, dropping a hint or two, something a long these lines could be ticking all the right boxes:
There is a wide range of cycling jerseys to choose from these days, some being suited to different seasons. You can get cycling jerseys ideal for the summer (short sleeves and light weight) through to jerseys designed for colder temperatures. These are ideal for wearing as part of a layering approach which is an effective way of controlling body temperature and dealing with perspiration. Here’s a few pointers:
As for materials, generally the synthetic fabrics are the best in terms of durability, wicking ability, stretchy and quick drying. Emerging onto the market over the last few years – and definatly worth considering – is merino wool as a performance fabric. These are a slightly more expensive but have the advantages of being natural which is important for some; they also wash better and after months of use come out ‘fresher’.
The secret of success with the layering system, is to have a close fitting size. Ideally the base layer will be close fitting and a snug size, almost skin tight. Other layers should also be fairly close as well. This allows for the materials to work and do their job i.e. transferring moisture from one layer to another to expel any perspiration and trapping thin layers of air to maintain the right temperature. More sophisticated jerseys will have different fabrics for different parts of the garment: for example, additional ventilation under the arms, better pockets, warmer or cooler panels. Layers can also be taken on and off, according to the prevailing temperature but in my experience you won’t need many layers unless the temperature drops below freezing.
Following on from the need for a close fit, the advantage of cycle specific clothing is getting a better fit while you’re cycling. This means you get slightly longer arms and a slightly longer back. Both of these features take account of sitting on a bicycle and leaning forward. You therefore keep your arms covered and more importantly the ‘small’ of your back.
So there you are. Cycling jerseys. Take my word for it, a cyclist can never have too many jerseys and the chances are they’ll get worn on and off the bike.
If you’re a cyclist and you have a helmet you need a good quality helmet light to help stay safe in the dark. Last autumn I noticed some cyclists were starting to get these and I knew I wanted one. The reasoning was because it was the first light I noticed on the cyclist, even before other super-bright lights attached to the bike itself. I now use mine even in the daytime when it’s cloudy or dull, knowing I’m even more visible to other road users.
Most helmet lights will fit onto most contemporary helmets and to be honest, you won’t know it’s there. I say that as I was slightly wary I would be conscious of an extra weight on my head. Not so. Small lightweight LED helmet lights are virtually unnoticeable. In an ideal world, go for one that has a flashing mode, as well as a constant ‘on’ setting.
Again another clothing item ideal for a present is a pair of cycling gloves. Naturally these are available in a wide range to suit every possible season or weather conditions. As someone who tends to suffer from cold hands, I really appreciate having a few pairs around and I can tell you, I never complain of my hands being too warm!
Good cycle specify gloves have a few features worth looking out for:
- good handlebar grip
- many have some gel or other cushioning material on the palm; this is great for soaking up road vibration which can otherwise add to fatigue or general discomfort
- be well made, tough and durable
- winter gloves should have some wind resistance and water proof backs
- flexible and not too stiff – you will still need to change gear, brake and hang on to the handlebars!
The worst case scenario for any cyclist is having a tumble. The instinct is often to put your hand out and having an extra layer of protection over the palm of your hand will prevent road rash and other injuries.
Often you will see cyclists (like me!) who take part in sportives and other all-day events using mitts. These often look great but are also very functional for use when it’s warm enough to leave your gloves behind. While I have not need to test them in a tumble, there is no doubt they bring a degree of extra comfort on those long day rides.
Well there’s a few suggestions for affordable gifts for the cyclist in your life. Any of these will be appreciated at different times of the year and as for jerseys, gloves etc., believe me, a cyclist can never have too many!