It's muddy hell out there, and the Mtb rider in your life needs some gift relief! Actually, they probably want a hose - a super-massive hose, NOW WITH EXTRA SUPER CRAZY JET WASH++ POWER MODE. Failing that, maybe some socks. We can help with the socks...
To assist you in your gift-choosing mission, we've had a think about what we ourselves would pick out as presents for trail-mad friends and relations. Focusing on the two Always Riding core categories of 'For the Rider' and 'For the Bike', we first take a look at some of the best seasonal apparel for mountain bikers, and then look at some of the best accessories for mountain bikes, including multitools, pumps, bottle cages, lights, bags and other finishing kit.
Sadly, you won't find a pressure washer below. Must do better.
Seasonal winter warmers
Winter warmers (including socks, gloves, hats, ear and neck warmers, base layers and shoe covers) aren’t necessarily the most exciting pieces of cycle-specific clothing, but they will be a very welcome addition to the trail rider’s wardrobe, especially at this time of year. Even if the cyclist in your life already has the full head to toe outfit of cold weather clobber, there are occasions when spares are going to come in handy - if a particularly epic ride leaves kit so wet that it's still a bit soggy next time it is needed for a bit of riding, or when a favourite item is found lurking at the bottom of the laundry basket (along with enough hardened Kendal Mint Cake crumbs to pebble-dash the garage) and an alternative is desperately needed for that imminent ride.
In terms of gloves for winter MTB riding, we can highly recommend the Hestra Ergos (shown left) or, for really cold weather, the Giro 100 Proof Winter Gloves (shown right). The Ergos are pre-curved for a natural feeling fit on the bars and are windproof, water resistant and breathable, with reinforced palms and gel padding for addition on-the-bike comfort - what more could you want!? The Giro 100 Proof Winter Gloves are the ultimate for really chilly conditions - with a 'lobster' split finger style for an optimum balance between warmth and dexterity, the gloves are waterproof, windproof and thermally insulated, with a zippered pocket for hand warmers. However, their real benefit is in opening the door to an endless world of unique and amusing lobster impressions, which of course is always something to weigh up when making any apparel purchase decision.
There are tons of cool cycling socks out there which would make great Christmas prezzies for mountain bikers. We've recommended the Showers Pass Crosspoint socks (shown left) because they're awesome for wet, sploshy conditions (something you can come across even before riding the bike). Fully waterproof and breathable, these beauties will mean that wet feet (as well as cold feet, which often go hand in hand with wet feet - both literally and figuratively) will be a thing of the past. For uber-cold conditions (that's like really cold, but also stylish - you'll now it when your hands stop moving), we would recommend pairing a Crosspoint sock with a more thermal sock underneath it for extra warmth. The Giro Seasonal Merino Wool socks (shown right) are just an all-round winner for cooler weather riding: warm, breathable, moisture wicking and odour resistant, and, because Merino wool has really good thermoregulating properties, these socks will actually be good to go for most of the rest of the year in all but the warmest weather. To top it off, their classic camo look is sure to go down well on the trails, even if it does meaning losing your own feet in the undergrowth.
An alternative gift option to ensure the mountain biker in your life has warm, dry feet whilst out riding is the Giro Proof MTB Cover. Shoe covers go over cycling shoes and provide additional insulation (and often weather protection too) to keep feet more comfortable when riding in cold weather. However, a lot of cycling shoe covers are too tight to fit over mountain bike shoes because they have been designed to go over road cycling shoes (which tend to be less bulky). The Giro Proof MTB Covers are designed specifically for mountain biking and are made from stretchy neoprene (the same material used in making wetsuits), with a handy side zip which makes them easy to get on and off. As well as being really warm they are also water and wind resistant and are really built to last, with reinforced toes and durable walking pads on the soles.
A thermal hat or cap which fits under the helmet is a welcome addition when the temperature drops. The Showers Pass Skyline Cap (top image above) is made from a warm soft-shell fabric with waterproof panels on the front and brim. It will fit under most helmets and will fully cover the ears and all but stop brain freeze on fast descents. The Craft Shelter Hat is fleece lined and has a windproof front panel to lessen the wind chill factor. Its slim profile means it will easily fit underneath a helmet. The Ibex Bicicleta Cycling Cap combines luxury Merino wool with nylon and lycra - a soft, snug option which will keep the chill out in the ultimate of comfort.
A note about sizing
We’ve tried to suggest items which are less size specific than, say, a jersey, and so are easier options for gift buying. Each product page has a size chart (which opens in a new window when you click on the link) to help with choosing the right size but if you are still unsure after this, please feel free to contact us for further sizing advice. If you get a chance to look at any existing similar kit your loved one already has, that’s also a great starting point for working out what size they'll need. And don’t forget that if, come Christmas morning, the fit of an item isn’t quite right for them, we do offer to exchange items bought as Christmas presents (subject to stock availability).
A nice shiny new multitool is a great gift option for the mountain biker in your life, whether for at-home tweaking or mid-ride adjustments and repairs. Lots of multitools are tailored to the mountain bike rider, incorporating disc brake spreaders (used when replacing brake pads or bleeding a hydraulic brake system) and torx wrenches (used on some disc brake rotors and increasingly on certain other components), as well as having other useful tools such as a chain tool so you can fix a snapped chain on the go. Two very comprehensive options for mountain bikers are the Lezyne Stainless 20 multitool and the Blackburn Wayside 19 function multitool - as well as the tools mentioned above, both are so well-equipped that they even incorporate a serrated knife blade - this might seem a bit overboard but I have actually seen one of these being used mid ride to clear a branch which had grown across the trail so it seems there is a valid role for this tool!
A great alternative to the traditional fold out multitool is the Breaker made by Full Windsor (shown above left). Despite being really sturdy, this tool is lighter than lots of other multitools because it uses a tool bit system. It comes in a neat leather pouch which keeps all the bits well organised and looks great. It doesn't have all the tools you get on a really comprehensive multitool (like the two shown above) but, if you think your loved one might prefer a lighter tool with just the core essentials, the Breaker could be a great option - not only does it look awesome, it also incorporates a workshop quality chain tool, can be used as a sturdy tyre lever (most multitools do not include tyre levers and so separate ones are needed) and, for post-ride celebrations, includes a not-to-be-overlooked bottle opener. At the other end of the spectrum, any budding home mechanics would probably be thrilled to receive the Lezyne Port-a-Shop Tool Kit - this compact kit brings together all the tools you would need for everyday repairs, maintenance and adjustments and would be an ideal addition to the home workshop.
A good quality hand pump designed specifically for inflating mountain bike tyres can make life a lot easier in the event of any puncture-related stops (as can wielding it like Gandalf if your friends don't help, but that's a personal decision). Bike pump design has come on a lot in the last few years and there are lots of different designs which make pumping up tyres on the go much easier than in the past: you now get hand pumps which have fold out handles or mini foot pegs so that they work more like mini track pumps (e.g. the Lezyne Micro Floor Drive High Volume Pump with Gauge, the SKS Injex Control Mini Pump and the Blackburn Wayside Hybrid Pump - see above), pumps which push air into the tyre on both the in and the out stroke (e.g. the SKS Spaero Double Action Mini Pump and the Blackburn Airstik Anyvalve - as shown above), and pumps with a dual chamber to enhance pumping efficiency (e.g. the SKS Airboy XL mini pump - see above). Anything which makes the task of trailside puncture repairs easier is going to be a very welcome gift.
If your loved one doesn't already have a track or floor pump at home, this would make a really great Christmas present - the difference in pumping effort between a hand pump and a track pump is unbelievable, and an at-home track pump is guaranteed to be much appreciated, making pre-ride prep and general maintenance so much easier. Prices start from around £50 and then go up to close to the £400 mark for the super fancy Silca SuperPista Ultimate Floor Pump (shown above left). The SKS Rennkompressor (shown above right, favoured by bike shops up and down the land) is a good solid option to go for, but any of the pumps in our track pump range will really make a very good option so take your pick!
Bottles and Bottle Cages
A new bottle cage and/or water bottle is a great gift idea. If your loved one is the type of rider who buys a bike and then is constantly upgrading bits and pieces on it, have you thought about a carbon bottle cage for it, especially if their bike is quite flashy? A side-loading one like the Lezyne Road Drive Carbon Side Loading Bottle Cage (shown above left) is great for mountain biking as you need less space for getting the bottle in and out when riding - this is particularly relevant for mountain bikers as mountain bikes have much less space inside the bike’s frame for getting a water bottle in and out than other styles of bike (such as road bikes). If you don’t want to stretch to the carbon price tag, the Blackburn Wayside Side Entry Bottle Cage is a good alternative, and is available in a nice selection of colours. Side entry bottle cages comes as left or right configurations - generally riders will prefer keeping their dominant hand on the bars and using their other hand to get the bottle out, so if your loved one is right handed it’s probably best to opt for a left entry cage, and vice versa for lefties.
A nice new water bottle is also a great gift option for mountain biker - water bottles get a fair amount of abuse whatever type of riding you do, but for mountain bikers, the amount of mud and crud that will have coated their water bottle over time is likely to be considerably more because of the terrain they will be riding over. There are loads of cool designs out there; we particularly like the latest options from Pas Normal Studios and Ornot (shown above).
High quality bike lights
High quality bike lights are a great option if your loved one goes night riding, or has hinted that they want to - night riding can open up a whole other side to mountain biking, as well as a whole new time window for going out on the bike, especially in winter when daylight is in short supply. This is especially true if your mountain bike loving giftee lives near some good local riding spots - what self-respecting rider is going to turn down the opportunity for a bit a extra mid-week riding after work?! Here at Always Riding we've started stocking Exposure Lights - high quality British made cable free lightweight high power cycling lights including both helmet and handlebar mounted options. The build quality on the lights is amazing and they are packed with features to make them easy to use, such as providing real time information on battery life and burn time and making it really straightforward to switch between modes mid ride. And if your loved on already has one good mountain bike light, they may welcome another - lots of riders find that their ideal setup includes both a helmet and a handlebar mounted light to get the best of both worlds so if they already have one type they might welcome another light of the other type - the dual light setup also has the added bonus that if one light dies you still have some illumination to safely finish the ride.
Bike packing (off-road cycle touring, or multi-day mountain bike riding) has really taken off in the last couple of years, and bikepacking bags are becoming popular alternatives to the humble backpack for mountain bike riding. Typical bikepacking gear comprises of frame bags (which attached inside the bike frame), saddle bags (which attached behind the saddle) and handlebar bags (which attach in front of the handlebars). They can be mounted without the bike having special mounting points and move any weight you are carrying with you from your back onto the bike, for a less restricted ride. If you are just thinking of getting one bikepacking bag which your loved one could use for going out riding, the frame pack is probably the most obvious choice; for multi-day rides which require carrying considerably more kit, a full bikepacking setup would provide the capacity needed. We carry a range of bikepacking brands including Yorkshire-based Restrap and Porcelain Rocket who are from Calgary, Alberta.
Other Bits For The Bike
Nice little upgrades to existing on the bike kit can make great presents for mountain bikers. First up: the Spurcycle Bell. Some riders consider bicycle bells as uncool necessities, but these riders probably haven't seen the Spurcycle, which we think totally rocks it in the looks department - we honestly don't think there is a nicer looking bike bell out there. Nice enough to put on even the flashiest carbon steed, the Spurcycle will fit any handlebar and its ring can be heard from 100 feet away, making it an ideal accessory for rides on routes which are shared with other users (e.g. walkers, horse riders) where it is so much better for everyone if you can announce your presence well in advance.
Lizard Skins DSP grips (shown above left) are a great grip option for mountain bikes. As they are fixed onto the handlebars using an incredibly strong adhesive strip rather than being bolted on, there is more space on the grip for extra cushioning, meaning that the DSP grips feel better and provide more shock absorption than bolt on grips - a very welcome feature when riding over rocky or bumpy terrain. Made from an innovative DuraSoft Polymer, the grips are also unmatched in the control and responsiveness they offer in use. Used by elite and regular riders alike, another thing we love about these grips is the great choice of colours they come in - yummy!
The Paul Components Wheel Skewer (shown above right and available as a front and a rear skewer) is in a league of its own. If your loved one's bike has already been upgraded to the max, do you think they would like to add a pair of high end wheel skewers to it as a final bit of bling? Paul Components are renowned for producing components which look and work amazingly and the brand has a dedicated following of riders who value high quality, durable, awesome looking kit. Their parts aren't the lightest out there but they certainly look and work exceptionally well. A top drawer option for the rider who has everything.
A final note about stock availability
If you like the look of one of the products featured but when you go to the product page it is showing as being out of stock, please do get in touch - chances are we may already have some more on its way to us and if not, we should be able to let you know when we can get hold of some.
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