9 GREAT GIFT IDEAS FOR THE CYCLIST!
Posted on 15 December 2019
With the temperature dropping and the snowbanks rising, it's time to make our list of handy little items that make winter cycling a bit more fun. But we need to say that this isn't any ordinary list! Most bike stores will have all sorts of gear that make you look like a warrior ninja cyclist out to battle the elements. We want no such thing. Having travelled to Denmark in the coldest months we know that riding in the winter requires nothing more than the sensible winter clothes you already own and a couple of tweaks here and there. The bicycle lane in winter is your catwalk, so put on your wooly scarf and put some rose in your cheeks! And, if winter cycling isn't your thing, we have some great cycling gifts to put under the tree too!
1. WINTER CYCLING ESSENTIAL KIT
Our Winter Essentials kit gets your bike ready for the long winter ahead. It includes super warm and wind-resistant 45N Pogies that keep your hands warm in your regular mittens (while also keeping the cables free of freezing water), the absolutely amazing Continental Contact Winter tires that grab icy roads with glue-like grip, and the Muc Off -50 Lubricant that keeps things running smoothly even in the coldest of cold. Add our Winter Tune-up and we'll install them too!
2. BROMPTON BIKE
Enter the fold!
It’s no secret that we love Brompton bikes! Another example of handcrafted perfection, Bromptons are made to exacting standards in London, England. These bikes are nimble and responsive, and their tiny folded size complements any lifestyle: take it on a plane for far-off adventures, tuck it into the car for a cottage weekend, pop it on the train for a trip to Montreal, and then after all that, stow it safely away in your place instead of locking it outdoors!
3. DECENT BATTERY LIGHTING
Be bright in the night!
Ok, we understand that not everyone wants to shell out for a dynamo light system. Surely there must be some good battery systems out there?
Our favourite front and rear light is the Spanninga Arco. The Arco is from Spanninga in Holland and is remarkably hard to find in North America. Unlike most battery lights that try to cast a beam (which runs down the batteries like crazy), the Arco's assume you ride through enough light pollution to see where you're going and are engineered so that you are seen.
What makes the Arco special is that it uses an LED "chip-on-board" (COB) strip that distributes more beam than the narrow pin-point spotlights that seem to dominate the market - whose beams become nearly invisible with low batteries. And, while there are other manufacturers making strip LED lighting, we still haven't seen a beam as long or wide as the Arco. Kind of makes sense that a Dutch brand would have figured this out!
4. BICYCLE POSTER
Local made local!
Illustrated by our very own bike-mechanic-artist Chris Simonen, this cheeky poster combines our love for bikes with our love of Toronto. Featuring nine definitely-100%-accurate depictions of neighbourhood bikes all across Toronto, you’ll find our very own Annex, the Beaches, Yonge & Eglinton, Dufferin Grove, Liberty Village, and everyone’s favourite ‘hood, Parkdale.
5. WINTER TIRES
Right said tread
These tires are amazing. We like to say there are two winter cyclists, the audacious and the judicious. The audacious cyclist strangely enjoys riding on black ice while on days when the judicious chooses to take an Uber or Transit. The judicious cyclist is one who follows a pretty basic rule: as long as the streets are clear and are dry, you're probably getting places faster and staying warmer than waiting for transit. In Toronto, the judicious cyclist still rides most of the year but also still needs tires that are grippy without pounding 100+ metal studs into them.
Luckily, the bike industry - which usually favours the more audacious among us - finally got around to realizing that judicious cyclists are the silent majority. Last year, Continental Tire from Germany launched one of the most necessary products ever, a winter tire that sticks to the ground like glue, even in wet and icy conditions. The Continental Top Contact Winter II uses gazillions of micro-sipes, tiny little tread cut-outs that provide massive grip. They also use a softer rubber compound than your current tires, which keeps them more flexible and safer on slippy roads than typical tires that harden up in the cold. To say this tire is a game-changer is an understatement: they are a must-have for the cyclist who rides in winter, but maybe not all winter. Add our Winter Tune-Up and we'll install them too!
6. MUC-OFF -50 LUBRICANT
Because the froze tends to slows
A great stocking stuffer!
The problem with winter is that lubricant can freeze along with the cold parts, and that can really slow down your braking, shifting, and your chain, the latter of which slows down your effort (and your bike).
Muc-Off is a big brand out of England, where there is greater recognition that people don't just ride for pleasure, they ride for transportation, and some people even ride all year - and not in California either! Their -50 Lubricant is a godsend to your bicycle drivetrain and cables and is formulated to operate perfectly all the way down to -50 Celsius. It's a must-have!
7. HANDLEBAR POGIES
Warmth for your hands (and brakes)
Ever pull your bike out on a cold winter morning to discover your brakes and shifters don't work? Like, you pull your brake lever and it doesn't move, at all?
Both your shifters and brake levers use cables that run inside of cable housing, and unfortunately when water gets in, the cables freeze inside the housing preventing your bike from stopping. Not good. There are all sorts of well-meaning products to prevent this but none of them work. Except! The 45NRTH handlebar pogies - which also keep your hands warm! The pogies cover over the shifter and brake levers - where the water finds its way into the housing - and prevent the problem full stop. They are bolted onto the bike to prevent theft, and did we mention they keep your hands warm too?
Imagine: no more frozen shifters and brake levers and not having to wear super thick pairs of winter gloves because the pogies double as a windproof and insulated shell. This means that you can wear your regular wooly gloves which look much better off the bike and around town than most of those high-tech sporty gloves. Like the winter tires, we view this as a must-have!
8. ABUS LOCKS
Put a lock on winter!
Years ago we had the great thrill of visiting Abus in Wetter, Germany. It was a frigidly cold winter and there was thick snow cover in the Ruhr Valley. All across Northern Europe people continued to ride their bikes that day, all using Abus locks, because Abus builds locks for the city cyclist - the city cyclist who rides year round.
Anyone who has ever had a key freeze or lock jam because of rust knows just how frustrating it is. You're late for work, or it's cold and dark, and you just want to get home. Luckily, Abus makes their locks rust-resistant (unlike the competition) and tests their products in coastal environments where it practically rains saltwater. Whereas brands like Kryptonite sell you pricey locks that have good security, but are made in China and rust in months, Abus makes locks in Germany, with even better security, that won't rust.
9. SPURCYCLE BELL
Loud and works in the rain!
Want to give yourself or someone special the perfect gift? Spurcycle bells are not only examples of amazing product design, but they are also remarkably loud - and they're handcrafted by a bunch of nice people in California.
Most bells are designed with a fatal design flaw - a plastic 'bowl' on the bottom of the bell where water collects, effectively muting the bell. The Spurcycle bell's dome shape and minimalist construction keeps water at bay, and did we say it's loud? It's LOUD! In fact, it's the loudest bell we sell and that's despite its tiny size.
Winter is a noisy time for cyclists and for drivers. Wet roads make noise, car heaters are blasting, and your ears are covered by toques, so a loud bell is super important, especially one that works in all weather, no matter what!