Pinkbike's Holiday Wish List
We're lucky enough to test a lot of products throughout the year and there are always a few favorite items that we just can't seem to stop using. We've compiled a list of our top picks that we think would be worthy gift ideas, as well as a few that we haven't managed to get our hands on yet.
Mike Levy's Picks
Abbey Tools' Suspension Top Cap Sockets
One of my favorite things to do is to whittle away the hours in my little shop that I created in the spare bedroom of my tiny apartment. Add in an industrial-sized bag of Skittles and a great podcast playing in the background, and I'm liable to disappear for days at a time. Unless that is, I manage to make a mess of something because I wasn't using the best tool for the job, ie. a normal socket on a frustratingly low-profile fork top cap. Standard sockets work, but they round off the corners, or worse, if you're either clumsy (I am) or in a rush (I often am). That's why I'm hoping Mr. Kringle brings me a set of Suspension Top Cap Sockets from Abbey Tools, the same company that has a $180 USD titanium hammer in their catalog. It feels a bit gluttonous to ask for the hammer - my $20 department store smasher does the job - but I can certainly justify owning a set of those sockets.
The $150 USD sockets sport a square leading edge rather than the chamfer that you see on standard sockets, so they have more contact with the low faces of a fork's top cap, as well as small reliefs at the corners to further take the strain off of the top cap's edges. Five sizes are included in the kit - 24, 26, 28, 30 and 32mm - which is ideal for a guy like me who's always tinkering with different suspension forks.
Bamboobee's DIY Bamboo Frame Kit
I know full well that I'm luckier than a pig in shit to be able to beat on the latest and (sometimes) greatest bikes before sending them back to wherever they came from, often worn out and sometimes in need of much love. My job means that I don't really find myself pining for much when it comes to carbon this or that, but there is another type of bike that I've always want to own... and build: a bamboo bike.
Bamboobee will mail you a DIY bamboo frame kit that you can assemble on your own time. The kits come in small, medium and large sizes, and you can add things like a basket or fenders, obviously both made of wood. The kit sells for $179 USD on the company's website, which seems like a reasonable price for the experience, although you'll need to factor in the cost of international shipping depending on where you live, and some epoxy to bond the wood together as they can't ship you that stuff. Bamboobee's DIY frame kit probably isn't something that you'd want to take out to the jumps, but it looks like it'd do just fine as a 'get around' rig that's full of character. More importantly, the experience of building your own bamboo bike would be pretty damn cool, wouldn't it?
We were told to pick a third, non-bike related item for this wishlist, which is way more difficult that I thought it'd be. That probably means that I need to get myself a life outside of two wheels. But short of completely unrealistic desires like an old, rusty Porsche 914-6 to tinker with, or maybe for the damn rain to go away for a few days, I don't really find myself wanting anything. I've been told that I'm a real bastard to shop for, so when family members have asked what I want for Christmas, I've usually told them that they should donate the money that they'd spend on useless junk for me towards their local animal charity. Here in Canada, we have the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the SPCA for short, and most other places have something similar. That seems to make more sense to me than another sweater that I won't wear.
Lauren Jenkins' Picks
Flare's Stage Enduro Jersey
I received the Flare Stage Enduro jersey
earlier this year, and despite the fact it's made of polyester and feels like many of my other jerseys, I absolutely love it. The colourway reminds me of one of my favourite sights in the whole world - when you're standing in the mountains and the sun begins to set, those colours are a treat for the senses, nature's own firework display, and for that reason, this jersey appealed to me from the get-go. I love the design.
In terms of fit, it's pretty flattering, and I'd say it's a good shout in most conditions, though I'd definitely pop a base layer on at this time of year. The branding is pretty minimal too, in fact, I've even worn it as a top in the day to day, because it feels nice and doesn't really scream bike jersey. Definitely one of my favourite's from this season.
Kali's Shiva 2.0 Full Face
If Santa could bring me one of these I'd be pretty stoked. One because it looks pretty sweet, I'm a sucker for anything stealthy looking, and two because it boasts some serious safety additions in the protection department.
After a few knocks to the head, and one month of feeling like a drunk following a bruised inner ear when I hit my head at a race, safety is a huge priority for me when it comes to looking for a new helmet. So, Santa, a Kali Shiva 2.0
in medium and Solid Black, please.
It's safe to say I haven't been testing chickens, or that this is even bike related, but when I was growing up my Grampy (grandfather) had a smallholding of sorts. Before I was born he had cows, geese, and all sorts, but when I came along there were sheep (I got headbutted by one once) and eventually all that were left were the chickens. I loved watching them and bringing them scraps, it's one of my favourite memories of spending time with him as a child.
I'm moving into a home of my own soon, and I'd love some chickens. They are hilarious and have such varied personalities. It would be nice to rescue some and give them a nice home until the end of their days, and if we get fresh eggs, well that's just a bonus. Not really sure many people would be happy to find a chicken stuffed in a stocking though, maybe it's just me.
Mike Kazimer's Picks
Fix It Sticks Replaceable Multi-Tool
Out of all the components that I've reviewed over the last couple of years, the Fix It Sticks Replaceable tool gets the nod as an ideal gift for any mountain biker. It doesn't take up much more room than a traditional multi-tool, but the T-handle design means that you have a shop quality implement with you out on the trail that can be used for everything from adjusting clipless pedals to tightening frame hardware.
The fact that it can accept any 1/4" bit makes it unlikely to become obsolete - even if a company decides to use some wacky bolt size on their bikes, a quick trip to the hardware store should be all it takes to find the correct bit. The $36 asking price isn't unreasonable either, especially for something that should last for years rather than days.
Saxx Kinetic Boxers
I know, I know, getting or giving underwear for Christmas sounds lame; when you're a kid it doesn't get much worse than tearing open that wrapping paper to find a six pack of tube socks and a package of tighty whities, especially when you look out the window to see little Billy driving around his yard in a new battery-powered monster truck.
Luckily, Saxx Kinetic boxers are infinitely better than those ill-fitting Kmart specials. They're super comfortable, and they don't bunch up or chafe, even on longer rides. At $37 a pair they're also not cheap, which is why I've changed my tune about receiving underwear as a gift. Crap, does that mean I'm officially an adult? Damnit, I sure hope not. Either way, these are worth a try.
Contintal Der Baron Tires
Here in the Pacific Northwest the holiday season means more than just crowded malls and horrible Christmas music on the radio. It means rain. Lots and lots of rain. And what happens when you mix rain with dirt? Bingo – mud. That's where a good mud tire comes in, one with a big blocky tread pattern to dig through the slop in search of traction.
Specialized has a new version of their Hillbilly on the way that I'm eager to try, but until then, I've been extremely impressed with the performance of Continental's Der Baron tires ($70). They're not the lightest, but I don't mind lugging a few extra grams around if it means I don't end up sliding off the trail and into the bushes. They even behave well on wet roots and rocks, which is where full-on spike tires falter. If you live in an area that's wet and muddy for a good portion of the year, I'd recommend adding the Der Barons to your holiday wishlist.
Vernon Felton's Picks
Maxxis Minion DHF Tires
If pressed to run a single tire, on every bike, I’d opt for the Minion DHF. Yes, there are faster-rolling tires. I don’t care. The grip is outstanding. It’s good in the summer and it’s outstanding in the winter when the roots have grown slimy and the dirt has morphed into goo. I’d feel differently about this tire, I’m sure, if I was all about uphill speed, but I’m not. So there.
I tend to run the 3C MaxxTerra version for general trail riding, but those whose trails include lots of jagged bits (or who don’t mind lugging around a couple hundred extra grams) might opt for Maxxis’ burlier DoubleDown carcass. I give Maxxis bonus points for making the tire in 26, 27.5 and 29-inch versions. At $78, Minions ain't cheap, but good tires never are these days. Finally, if you go the folding bead route, you might even be able to squeeze one of these into somebody's stocking.
Smartwool Mid 250 Zip T
Winter is here and that means two things: wet and cold. For the next seven months of the year most synthetic jerseys are going to be about as useful as a potted ficus tree when it comes to staving off hypothermia. A good wool jersey, on the other hand, keeps you warm when you’re drenched during those rides in the pissing rain. Smartwool’s $100 Mid 250 Zip T is, technically speaking, a base layer. There are no pockets, which, admittedly, is a drag, but, man, is it comfortable. On cold days, I run it by itself. On days when there’s snow on the ground and it feels like my toes might fall off, I might pair it with a light jacket.
I can’t tell you how many times this thing has saved my ass. Despite its "mid weight" classification, this garment doesn't possess a particularly bomber feel to it. It's relatively lightweight and it breathes damn well. Somehow, however, I've been able to flog the crap out of the same jersey for three seasons on the bike without it unraveling, tearing or crying uncle. Ditto for off-the-bike care: if ignoring washing care instructions were a crime, I’d be a serial killer. Part of me knows that there is probably some sort of distinction between “line dry” and “tumble dry”, but I always resort to simply tossing everything into the dryer and nuking the hell out of it. While the people at Smartwool will grimace at that last sentence, I have gotten away with subjecting my Smartwool base layer to fairly Neanderthal treatment for years. I'm a fan.
SOG PowerAssist S66
Things break. Around me, they break a lot. I try not to take that personally. There is probably some kind of life lesson tucked in there for me to learn; instead, I always pack a big tool to fix all the crap I inevitably break. The SOG PowerAssist S66 ($101.36) is that kind of big tool.
In fact, with its 16 tools (which include not one, but two, knife blades, a 3-sided file, a blasting cap crimper, a bottle opener, a can opener, a hard wire cutter, needle nose pliers and both Philips and flat-head screwdrivers) this is a very, very big tool. And heavy! Did I mention heavy? Well, the PowerAssist is a whopping 9.6 ounces of stainless steel that’s been assembled in `Merica. In short, no, this is not a lightweight, cycling-specific multi-tool. This is a zombie-fighting, apocalypse-thwarting, rusty-old-Ford-fixing, salmon-gutting tool…which is why I want one.
Do I really need a blasting cap crimper? Hell, no. And if I do, you better run because things are about to get really messy—like the giant-smoking-crater kind of messy that you want to avoid at all costs. But I do appreciate the fact that SOG went the extra mile here. I also dig the fact that their stuff tends to be built with a certain brick-shithouse kind of ethic and durability. In short, this is my kind of tool. I might have to get myself one for the holidays. There’s probably a Christmas tree in my immediate future in need of a good decapitating and, yes, I can get that done with the SOG here.
Tyler Maine's Pick
Gore Bike Wear's Universal Gore-Tex Socks
As my fellow co-workers have stated, it's wet and muddy here in the Pacific Northwest for some of the fall, all of the winter and a little bit of the springtime too. This means that you have to adapt in order be comfortable riding all year long. First, you'll go through a few subpar raincoats until you get a proper one that breathes and allows you to ride comfortably in. Then you'll get gloves with Windstopper or other insulating features. At this point, you're pretty happy on your rides, but you note that your feet could always be a little happier aka drier. This is where the Gore-Tex socks from Gore Bike Wear come in.
I received my first pair as a gift and have been pumped on them since that first ride. We lose so much heat from our toes and by simply popping these on, a lot of that gets significantly better. I prefer to wear mine with a thin wool sock due to its additional thermal properties, but it'll come down to your comfort levels. Get them for yourself or your loved ones, but either way, if you ride when it's wet, often, then pick up a set of these socks and make your feet happier.
Kitsbow Radiator Tee
I have two piles of gear: one ready to wear and the other ready to wash. While it begins life neatly stacked, the ready pile quickly matches the disorderly heap of man-smell near the laundry basket, because when it comes time to ride, I pass up the accessible fashion choices near the top of the stack and go mining for my favorite jersey, shorts and gloves. If the temperatures are mild, the jersey I'll be digging for is most likely to be my Kitsbow Radiator Tee. It looks good, feels ultra comfortable against my skin and it doesn't shout which brand I'm wearing and my preferred riding genre.
Kitsbow's 69-dollar Radiator Tee is made in the USA from Polartec fabric, a knitted blend of polyester and Lycra that is renowned for its wicking action and comfort. The cut is roomy, but still sharp looking, with just the right length for cycling. There are vented panels under the arms and sides. The stretch action allows for freedom of movement and, unlike a standard Tee, the Radiator never accumulates moisture. Colors (orange, blue and green) are bright, but stop tastefully short of Day-Glo. One in every color, please.
Brodie - the Man Behind Brodie Bikes
Paul Brodie's autobiography is a must read for anyone who dreams of being a frame builder. Paul's 260-page book is a raw and honest odyssey through the brightest and darkest moments that early mountain bike makers faced as they plunged their lives and meager fortunes into the steep learning curve which eventuated in the beautiful machinery that most of us take for granted today.
Like many mountain bike pioneers, Brodie blended a newfound love of cycling with motorcycle knowledge and an insatiable curiosity for anything fast and mechanized. Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of this read is that we experience a piece of mountain bike history as it emerges far away from Marin County - a branch of the tree that grew into the Pacific Northwest freeride culture, as told by a man who rubbed shoulders with the founders of influential BC bike brands and later, dedicated much of his time teaching his craft to the next generation of builders. $29.95
Action Sports Industry Lottery
We all know that someone - old, young, male or female - a person who is talented beyond ourselves, or perhaps not so talented, but so stoked on life and their sport that he or she inspires others to greater things. Circumstances, though, has relegated these brighter lights to substandard equipment. Action sports are technical and expensive, and the path to greatness often begins with privilege and social status - people gifted with free time, the ability to travel, and the wherewithal to acquire thousands of dollars of essential gear.
Wouldn't it be great if there were a lottery, established by the action sports industry, where top-level equipment like bicycles, climbing gear, kayaks,
surfboards, paragliders, skis, or possibly, camera gear, were donated to a pool - and people like you or I could nominate less-fortunate enthusiasts to win a chance to flourish at their highest level? Everyone wants to grow their sports. The seeds have already sprouted. Pour a little water and fertilizer in the right place and our next generation of heroes could come from neighborhoods where they are needed most.
Paul Aston's Picks
An Equally Efficient Gearbox
I may be asking the impossible here, but isn't that whole point of calling out to Santa? Everyone knows that gearboxes have certain pros and cons compared to a standard derailleur system. The real disadvantages being lower efficiency and higher weight. The third negative of price would be solved in due course through production volume. Aside from these glaring issues, I can only find a long list of positives: less maintenance, better sprung to unsprung weight, blah blah, you've heard it all before.
I understand the mechanical and physical reasons why these downsides may never be solved, but just like asking St Nic for a Mclaren Sportshome for weekends away, it's worth a shot – simply for the
reason that I will no longer need to debate gearbox bikes ever again.
Actually, I might ask for an unbreakable, maintenance free derailleur system as a backup. It would create less quarrel at least.
Get Rad and Hurly Burly
I remember clearly to this day a fateful event that introduced me the global mountain bike world. Pedaling home after jumping off some random dirt piles with friends, my riding buddy said something about his fork looking strange. The next thing I saw was his face looking strange as it ground along the gravel path, his forks separated at the steerer and rolling into the bushes along with the front wheel. Being ten years old, much more importantly than his new face, was the magazine his dad brought him later in the day to cheer him up – the first ever issue of Dirt Magazine.
Over time I was an avid reader and acquainted with the employees, especially James Mcknight. We spent many hours together traveling all over Europe, living in vans, racing bikes and, well, drinking quite a lot.
So Santa, I would like 'Get Rad,' Dirt Magazine's historic reminiscence of the last twenty years. Not only is it mountain biking, but a reflection of the last twenty years of my own passion.
Secondly, ex-Dirt writer, James Mcknight, has pulled the trigger and independently published his own print history – 'Hurly Burly' is a look back at the 2016 UCI World Cup season. Contributed by Sven Martin, Seb Shieck, and Duncan Philpott, words are composed through many industry insiders. And before you say it, I know print is at odds with our online platform, but there is still a deep appeal to a timeless, crafted bound of paper on the coffee table.
A Flight to New Zealand
I have been trying to cut down on my air miles, last year got a bit out of hand with me hopping on 42 flights. Even with the gesture of carbon offsetting, I'm not really sure it's making a positive impact on the nature and world in which I like to ride my bike. But, the rain and cold of Europe is already dampening spirits and there is nothing I can think of better right now than sitting inside a germ-tube for 30 hours, to step outside into summer again.
Last year's trip down under didn't go to plan when I tried to remove my right arm and shoulder using a hard packed berm. That wouldn't stop me going back to embrace the summertime, the world-beating mountain bike community and trail infrastructure the Kiwi's enjoy while the northern hemisphere is gripped by the winter.
Rachelle Frazer's Picks
TLD Method XC Knee Sleeve
Not wearing knee pads feels so nice and freeing, but there are some occasions when a little added protection can go a long way. These TLD Knee Sleeves have become a staple for me and I'm happy to chuck them on when heading out to discover a new trail network. They are light and easy to pedal in and I don't ever really have to think about them. Certainly, there are occasions when terrain calls for burlier protection but these little Kevlar pads have saved me from a couple of scrapes and given me an extra notch of confidence when dropping into the unknown. They'd make a nice little stocking stuffer for anyone.
Hand and Toe Warmers
Riding with frozen hands and feet is the worst, and as we move into the winter months rolling out the door for a ride turns into a circus of careful clothing considerations. How many layers should I wear? Which pieces are best suited to the conditions outside? What gloves am I going to take? Buff or no buff? It can be a laborious and mentally draining task. But I know myself well enough now to err on the side of caution - and my husband knows me too.
Last year he ordered me a box of hand and toe warmers and they have not gone to waste. They're in the glove box of our truck, they're in my gear bag, in my ride pack and they get shoved into my SWAT vest when the temps drop.They are light and don't take up much space and they've saved my rides on several occasions. If you know someone who doesn't fare too well in the winter, consider a couple of packets of these little miracle workers for their stocking.
45NRTH Wolvhammer Boots
There are a few months of winter here on the East Coast of the USA where good socks, toe warmers, and shoe covers just aren't going to cut the mustard anymore. I've been eyeing up these 45Nrth Wolvhammer boots for two years now but they are that popular they are hard to get a hold of. They are designed to keep your toes toasty between temperatures of 0º TO 25ºF / -18º TO -3ºC. And if you want to ride in the winter here it's going to get that cold - colder even. 45NRTH actually have riding boots that will keep your toes warm down to -25F / -31ºC. I'm inclined to leave those types of temperatures to the true winter devotees and sit by the wood stove with my pooch and a warm cuppa instead. Still, my fat bike and I do have some winter riding to do, so maybe Santa will help find me a pair this Christmas?