"Every day is like Christmas." So goes the oldest joke among media test editors, and yeah, it's pretty much true. Boxes show up on our doorsteps in all shapes and sizes, especially during the spring and fall new-product seasons. The only things missing are wrappings and bows.
So, what would a rider who wants for nothing related to mountain bikes put on the top of his or her Christmas wish list? We put that question to PB's test editors and you may be surprised by some of our answers. And, what about you? If you could be gifted one thing, what would top your list?
Magic Black Cherry Clif Bloks
I try to keep a package of Clif Bloks with me at all times when I ride. Black Cherry is my favorite flavor. Of all the sustenance products I've tried, these are the ones that work best for me. The bite sized squares are small enough to digest when my body would reject nearly anything else, and there's a bunch of them in the pack, so Clif Bloks create less trash than gel packs.
It's rare that I use a whole pack on any one day, so I count on the remainder to bail me out on future rides. Of course, that means I'll end up with an empty plastic wrapper when I need one of those tasty morsels. That's why I need the magic version.
What I want for Christmas is a single pack of black cherry Clif Bloks that restores itself. Each time I remove a square, another would appear in its place. I'd never run out, and if a riding buddy fell short on calories, I could share without care. I know I'm asking for a bit of a miracle here, would I be pushing my luck if I were to wish for a random mix of strawberry and watermelon too?
Boumeester Tammar Wheels
Rare as hen's teeth, Mello Bouwmeester's wheels represent a milestone in carbon rim design that is just beginning to be realized by mainstream wheel makers. Conventional tubular-section carbon rims evolved from their aluminum counterparts - that's where the mountain bike industry went wrong.
Deep-section tubular extrusions are necessary to compensate for aluminum's relatively low strength and stiffness. Quite the opposite, carbon is phenomenally stiff and strong, but experience has demonstrated that aluminum's recipe for success has been carbon's recipe for failure. Boumeester had a better idea.
Turns out, the cycling world's steadfast belief that carbon has poor impact resistance and is prone to catastrophic failure has been a self-reinforced prophesy. Take auto racing, for instance, where
protective carbon fiber tubs are mandated to protect drivers from high-speed impacts that typically destroy every other part of the car.
Boumeester abandoned the tubular profile and developed a single-wall carbon lay-up rim. Taking advantage of carbon's low density, he could mold a much thicker cross-section with minimal weight penalty. The Australian designer's bold deviation from convention resulted in a more compliant rim with next-level impact resistance and durability. His left turn put mountain bike wheel technology back on track. I'll hang them on my wall as a reminder that one person actually can initiate meaningful change.
This $49 USD hand-held device syncs with most popular power meters and generates a high-energy digital signal that communicates with Shimano, Bosch and Brose e-motors to reduce their torque levels to match the rider's present power output.
According to the website: "One push of the e-Qualizer button and self-powered cyclists will be assured that any efforts to overtake them will be up
to the e-bike rider's own legs and lungs. Select from three pre-set overtaking distances: 10, 20, even 30 meters to assure satisfaction that your honest efforts are not overwhelmed by electronic dopers."
SarahGarmin inReach Mini & Wilderness First Aid Course
One of the main reasons I moved to British Columbia five years ago is because of the mountains. Mountain biking, skiing, hiking... Most of my free time recreating is spent in the Coast Mountains. One of the things that surprised me when I first moved is how frequently I end up being in an area without cell phone service. It's not uncommon, even on a ride that's a short distance from home, to be in an area where my telephone isn't good for anything but taking blurry Instagram videos.
A lot of the time I'm happy not to be within cell range. It's nice to be able to disconnect entirely. The only time it's really, really inconvenient not to have a cell signal is when someone gets hurt. Like say, Brian Park
What I would like for Christmas this year is a Garmin inReach Mini (with the monthly satellite subscription
plan fee covered!) That way I'll always be able to make an SOS call and communicate regardless of whether or not my I am in an area where my cell phone has coverage.
Also, while technology is awesome, I would also like a Wilderness First Aid Course along with my new-fangled gadget so that I'm in an ideal position to respond in an emergency. You can never be too prepared!Waterproof heated socks & a Lifetime Supply of HotShots Hand Warmers
"There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes." Or so I'm told. And yet, I've spent way too much time with frozen fingers and toes in my lifetime. I frequently ski and ride with HotShots Hand Warmers in my gloves and they work wonders, but even though the HotShots Toe Warmers are "designed to operate in a low oxygen environment such as boots and shoes" they never seem to work for me.
The worst is when you're finally somewhere warm and your numbed toes start to unthaw. I learned recently that climbers call this nausea-inducing unfreezing process where the nerves in your hands finally get oxygen again the "screaming barfies." Yep, that sounds about how pleasant it is...
I've thought about buying heated socks like the one pictured on the right from Lenz
, but the $389.95 CDN price tag has kept me away. They also aren't waterproof which is kind of an important factor when you're riding in the cold rain. So basically, if someone could find a waterproof version or invent them so that I could wear them biking and skiing, then get me a pair in time for Christmas, that would be sweet.
Mike Kazimer Cane Creek Tie-Dye eeWings Cranks
Entry Into a Multi-Day Enduro Race
I know, I should be asking for something more heartwarming and touchy-feely for Christmas (world peace, anyone?), but I'm going to put Cane Creek's anodized eeWings cranks at the top of my list. The $1,100 asking price puts them squarely in the 'wish' category – even my grandma doesn't love me that much.
What's the appeal? Well, I've been a sucker for anodized anything ever since the mid-90s, back when my daydreams were filled with Cook Brothers cranks, Ringle hubs, and maybe a Precision Billet derailleur for good measure. Plus there's the fact that the eeWings are made out of titanium, which should help them last until the robots decide to take over the world.
Other than a couple extremely low-key local races, I didn't roll up to any starting lines this year, something I'd like to change for 2020. I don't mind single day races, but it's the multi-day ones that are even more appealing. Wake up, eat, race, eat, sleep – the rhythmic routine that develops over the course of a long race is tough to beat. The fatigue that develops helps strip all the mundane, distracting thoughts away, and soon the focus is solely on the ride.
There are a bunch of high caliber options out there, but at the moment it's the TransBC Enduro and Trans-Cascadia that are at the top of my list. Blind racing in the woods on world class trails with a bunch of good people? That's my kind of vacation. Here's hoping I've been good enough to get an entry instead of the usual pile of coal.
James Smurthwaite One-way ticket to Vancouver
One of the perks of working for a company based in Squamish is that once-a-year they will fly you from grey, wet London to paradise on Earth, the Whistler Bike Park.
I made my first trip to British Columbia this year as the guest of Pinkbike for the two weeks of madness that is Crankworx. It easily lived up to all those long nights watching helmet cam laps of Dirt Merchant and safe to say riding hasn’t quite been the same since returning back home. The Whistler blues have kicked in hard and pedalling up Pitch Hill for another lap of Thick and Creamy just doesn’t do it for me like it used to.
So if Santa could slip me another trip over to the west coast of Canada for round 2 I’d be happy as Larry, he wouldn’t even have to pay for a return. What do you say, @brianpark
Maybe I’ve been slurping too eagerly at the Kool-Aid teat of the bike industry but I’m actually coming around the idea of an epic bikepacking adventure.
Crossing a country under your own steam, relying on nothing but your own wits to survive and all while pedalling through beautiful terrain. It seems to me that there are worse ways to spend a week.
It’s more likely I would end up fixing punctures in the rain on the South Downs with numb fingers and wet socks but a man can dream, right?
Ed Spratt A Mechanics Course
Unlike a lot of the crew, I didn't start out working in bike shops. But I have been wrenching on my own bikes for years (or at least trying to), with occasional success. Although a recent incident where I rounded out three T25 chainring bolts and had to resort to hammering a T30 tool head in to remove them would say otherwise. Over time you definitely learn what you should and shouldn't do when repairing your bike but it would be great to know exactly how it should be done rather than using a mix of YouTube and guesswork to get the job done.
For this reason, it would be great to get properly trained so I won't have to quickly put my bike back together again when I realise I am only going to make it worse if I continue trying to 'fix it'.
A Hooligan Road Bike
I've been blessed with a workshop full of some of the newest mountain bikes and components, so I inevitably end up wishing for some less expected items this time of the year. In 2019, I find myself looking at gravel bikes to explore the endless maze of old roads and long-forgotten trails that surround Squamish. I'll always be mountain biking, of course, but it feels great to be covering new ground and seeing new sights while doing something different. And you'd be surprised at the trouble you can get yourself into when you're on a so-called gravel ride; they're really just hooligan road bikes.
I've been eyeballing Niner's new MCR 9 RDO that has 50mm of rear-wheel-travel and 40mm-stroke Fox fork. This 700c troublemaker is what would happen if an old Paris–Roubaix prototype was cross-bred with a modern cross-country rig and then made to look like no fun at all by Velcro'ing bags all over it. We're all dorks, so disregard the bento box and try skidding around on some skinny(ish) tires for a different kind of good time. A Pumptrack Bike
I've always said that pumptrack bikes are the jet skis of our world; they're a load of fun, sure, but they're also useless when not used in their berm and roller-filled lake. But then I made a trip south to film an upcoming Humbled episode with 47-time Crankworx Queen Jill Kintner and, well, now I kinda need one of my own. I only flipped over the handlebar once, which is honestly less than I expected to, and it reminded me of how much of a workout you can get in a few hours - I was sore for days! Even more importantly, time at the pumptrack is time in the skillz bank, too.
Brian Park A Mount Barbour Heli Drop
An Uppy-Downy Dropper Post with Futuristic Shock Integration
As Sarah mentioned above, I had a little incident back in August. One dumb moment of inattention in the worst possible spot, and I'm off the mountain bike for a while. The good news is that I'll be back at it by next summer. Just in time to get up there and give it another shot.
There's something special about being Out There™, and we're lucky enough here to have so much incredible terrain to access nearby. Seems like the top of my holiday wish-list should really be the opportunity to make some more experiences happen. Oh, and if Santa can arrange a fresh shoulder and humerus, that would be great.
Not like, the laundry detergent. It's been six years since RC predicted that two-way dropper posts were coming
and they're still not here yet. Current dropper posts are excellent and using them has become pretty intuitive for most mountain bikers. But it is fundamentally weird to be riding along, and sit down when things get rough. When trail turns downhill it'd be nice if your first instinct didn't have to be to sit and push your saddle down.
So I want a fancy electronic dropper post connected to a fancy electronic shock. Two electronic buttons on my left grip. The top button acts like a normal dropper—you can make incremental infinite adjustments up and down using your weight to set saddle height. But push the lower button, and my post drops to the bottom. Now for some trickery. When the post is fully bottomed out, my suspension opens up all the way; when my post is between 20% and 99% my suspension has increasing levels of platform; and, when my post is fully topped out, my rear shock is entirely locked out.
To me this is the potential of all the electronic integration we're starting to see. So my unrealistic Christmas wish this year is that we skip the next few years of awkwardly integrating electronics into our bikes, and skip straight to the part where they work flawlessly and unintrusively.
Daniel Sapp Husqvarna Pro Yard Equipment
Husqvarna power equipment - the Pro stuff.. North Carolina is green for a reason. We get so much rain and sunshine that anything left outside untended from April to October will turn into a Chia Pet
. My dad-rated hardware store power tools are no match for the the green monster encircling my home.
The hour and half it takes just to mow our backyard in the heat and humidity of the summer doesn't just eat in to my riding time - it eats into my very soul. New shoots are already rising up before my pathetic 240cc mower putters to silence. Did I mention the 50-foot live oak I found laying across my front yard last july? The one that sent my 12" Home Depot chainsaw to power tool heaven?
What I'd like this Christmas is a Husqvarna Z56X zero turn mower. I know I'd win the backyard battle armed with that 900cc V-twin engine powering three blades that could slice a 60" path across any grass that dare stand in my way. If Santa would be kind enough to add a pro string trimmer, I could knock out my yard tasks in a third of the time with a fifth of the effort - which would greatly add to my productivity at PB. Oh, I would also be stoked to find a 572XP chainsaw and a leaf blower under our tree.
If someone listed the properties of merino as belonging to a new, synthetic wunder-material, you'd call bullshit. It's that good. Having tried a small boatload of synthetic baselayers and midlayers over the years, nothing comes close to good quality merino. And, unlike any synthetic baselayer I have ever tried, it doesn't permanently infuse with your riding sweat to leave you (and your clothing drawer) smelling like something died. There is, of course, a downside - merino is not cheap. A good, high percentage merino baselayer can be anything up to €50, a hoodie upwards of €100, but if you look after it, it will look after you. My current Icebreaker baselayers are all about 4 years old now and, aside from a few holes where I have been careless with sharp objects, they are good for a few more years. Somewhere at the back of the drawer I still have a decade old Howies midlayer. Sure, you can get a polyester baselayer for €10, but it'll be doing well to last one season, let alone multiple years.
The price is why merino is on my Christmas list - it's too expensive to buy regularly, but once a year I treat myself to a few items to see me through the coming year (I got merino longjohns a couple of years ago and they are nothing short of amazing on cold days). My current favourite is a British brand called Isobaa, who make 100% merino kit that is preternaturally soft...A Really Fancy Road/Gravel Bike
Think mountain bikes are expensive? Look away now then... Sure, they're not cheap, but you have to work hard to break the €4,000 mark for a frame. On the road, not so much. The one that caught my eye a few years ago is a Heroin, which is one of the few things more expensive than the namesake drug habit. They are handmade in France, they are all black and they have a golf-ball texture on the frame, which sounds horrendous but looks incredibly sexy in the flesh and is alleged to have magic aerodynamic qualities. What's more you can get the frame made to measure, so I could have a more gravel-like riding position (longer reach, longer chainstays, slacker headangle), without the ride-deadening overbuilding that tends to accompany real gravel frames. The price for all this? A mere €5,500 for a frameset... As for the why? Feel. What separates this bike from my current workhorse is how it feels on the road, more than weight or aero nonsense, a really well made frame just feels alive in a way that is really hard to explain to anyone who hasn't spent 8+ hours hammering the asphalt in a day.