In a year where everything has been more different and chaotic than ever before, what are Pinkbike's test editors and some of our regular contributors asking for?
Matt WraggDeep Woods Supplies
One of the little things we have been trying to do at home for the past couple of winters is to reduce how much electricity we use for heating. These days, we get by with a log fire in the evening and maybe some fan heaters in the bathroom. The key to the system is blankets - my wife and I both keep duvets on the sofa for when we’re relaxing, which are great until you have to get up.
The worst is going for a pee, as I usually do that outdoors (it saves water, or at least that what I tell her). There’s that horrible rush of cold peeling myself out of my cocoon, shivering by the stream as I pee, then a few minutes of shivering while I wait for the heat to come back after. The Selkbag Nomad
looks like the answer to my prayers as I wait for warmth - what could be better than taking the cocoon with me all the time? I can see dozens of situations that would just be better wrapped in a blanket and the nomad version is made of recycled material, so I could stay warm guilt-free.
Dave Chapelle summed up lockdown best: it left people stuck with their choices. With nothing else to do, you’re locked into the life you built. It made me realize how lucky I am, our little house out in the olive groves is not a big or fancy life, but as the weeks passed I realized I could be happy passing my days in the garden. Preferably with power tools. Brushcutters are my favorites, especially when you’re doing heavy brush clearance and our house has three decades of old-growth around it.
There is something endlessly gratifying about watching your cutting blade smash through small trees. Or how a bush just disappears as you lower the head through it. Of course, when you get into this kind of dirty addiction you need more and more. My cheap knockoff strimmer can’t take that kind of abuse and when I went up to a 30cm steel blade it ripped the head clean off the shaft. So for the sake of my sanity, I need something reliable, lower vibration so I can work longer and, most importantly, will get all the attention at the trailhead when we head out to clear trail after lockdown is done. A Stihl brushcutter
would do the trick.
While brush cutters are a boatload of fun, they are also horrendously dangerous if you don’t use them with respect. A good friend of mine nearly lost his foot when his cutting disc shattered and sliced through his leg while he was clearing a new trail. So although I may joke about them, I always head out in full safety gear and these Stihl chaprons
are the gardening equivalent of a full set of moto-inspired factory racing pajamas.
James HuangA Week-long Trip, a Travel Trailer, and a Home 'Mini' Machine Shop
Colorado is often described as a sort of mountain biking mecca, and while I’ll certainly acknowledge after living here for almost fifteen years that the riding here is pretty fantastic, rarely does a week go by that I don’t long for a trip back to southeastern Michigan, the place where I fell head over heels in love with the sport.
I know, I know. "Southeastern Michigan, really?" Really. Sure, there aren’t any big mountains, nor a lot of options for truly epic rides, but what it lacks in amplitude, it makes up in frequency. There are actually trails everywhere, most of which are akin to singletrack rollercoasters where momentum is your friend and the dirt is almost always brown and tacky (or, at least, that’s how I remember it in my head). None of those rollercoasters are the same, but they’re all fun for different reasons.
My favorite trail there was the Poto, and I rode it enough back then that I literally memorized every corner, every root, every rock. And while I grew so familiar with it that I could accurately predict my finish time within one or two minutes just based on how I felt at the end, never once did I roll back to my car thinking that I’d grown tired of the place.
It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden it. I know the trail has changed a lot, I know I’ve changed a lot as a rider, and I sure as hell have no interest in riding it on a 26" steel hardtail with V-brakes again. But I really do still dream about one day having the opportunity to go back.
I have to say that I don’t get the whole #vanlife
thing. I mean, yes, the idea of being able to drive to some cool riding destination and temporarily live out of the same vehicle has some appeal (I’m so over tent camping), but I just can’t imagine myself ever sinking that kind of money into a depreciating asset. I remember talking about this with Greg Herbold years ago, and he cemented in my mind that what I really want is a lightweight trailer.
My wife and I rented a 13-foot Scamp
for a weekend trip a couple of months ago, and we’ve been pining for one of our own ever since. It was easy to tow and light enough that it doesn’t require a dedicated brake controller, there was more than enough room inside for the two of us and our seven-year-old daughter to hang out and sleep in, and having that weatherproof fiberglass shell was a godsend one day when it was stupidly windy and rainy outside. And have I mentioned yet how awesome the propane heater was at night???
Sealing the deal was when I came back to the campsite from a solo ride one afternoon. My wife was still out sightseeing with the kiddo, and a rainstorm was just about to hit. Had we had a van, they would have still been off somewhere, and I would have come back to nothing but an empty field. But with the Scamp as a semi-permanent basecamp, I just hopped inside, changed into warm clothes, made myself a hot lunch, and chilled out on the couch for a bit until they got back.
Turns out these suckers aren’t cheap, though — even used — and there’s now a year-plus waitlist to buy one new.
In the meantime, we did end up buying (for dirt cheap!) a friend’s creepy old 1995 Ford Econoline van that I’m planning to do a very mild build-out on, but the long-term plan is still to get a Scamp of our own. Given the backlog, maybe it’ll be ready for Santa to bring it to us next year...
I spent nearly fourteen years non-stop working as a bike shop mechanic, and aside from my regular customers, what I miss most about those days were the jobs where I actually had to fix something — not just install some new parts, or do some minor tweak or adjustment, but actually fix something. Ever better was when I had the chance to fabricate something to make that happen.
There was one customer in particular that I remember well who had a faired Lightning recumbent, and I made the mistake of apparently being the only mechanic who was able to get the damned thing to work properly. It was clunky, it was huge, it was woefully under-engineered, but the guy loved it, he was willing to pay, and I considered it a challenge. The rear disc brake was particularly problematic — keep in mind that this was in the early 2000s — and what I ultimately ended up having to do was make a new caliper adapter out of a hunk of angle steel using nothing more than a cordless drill, a hacksaw, some files, and a bench grinder. But it was never an issue again, and it was supremely satisfying (along with making it shift reliably, and silencing the various creaks, and…).
Ever since that time, I’ve dreamt of having some sort of machine shop in my garage. My garage is unfortunately far too small to realistically have such a thing, of course, but I’ve seen crummy little tabletop mills that could at least suffice to bodge something up. Hell, at this point, I’d settle for a drill press, a bench grinder, and maybe a bandsaw. But I should probably first figure out how to keep my workbench sufficiently clear that I’d even have somewhere to mount any of that stuff. Priorities, priorities.
Taj Mihelich RV'ing Supplies
Wishlists are meant to be a bit aspirational right? Being all cooped up at home has given me the RV bug. I’ve spent countless hours crisscrossing the USA's highways in everything from a rusted out ’84 Cavalier (with the heat stuck on) to team trips in deluxe tour buses. The overwhelming memory of those past cross country drives is gritty diesel-reeking truckstops, greasy fast food and, powering through miles to get where I was going as fast as I could. My record is a solo 3000+ mile drive from Rhode Island to Olympia, WA, in 46 hours (I was sick for a week after). Eventually, after years of being on the road, I got a little burned out driving around the states. In more recent years trips planned by me probably involved jetting off to another country and pedaling through some Alps
. With all this extra time at home I think I’ve rationalized some decent justifications for a good ol' fashioned (covid responsible) USA RV road trip.
I’d load up my dog, drawing supplies, bikes and enjoy a slow-paced wandering drive. I’d follow nice weather or whatever road seemed interesting. On long drives, I’d stop whenever some goofy idea popped into my head and draw it. I’d reconnect with old friends who are scattered around the country and join them for bike rides. I’d bring my trusty Chromag Stylus, my new Santa Cruz 5010 and, my Fairdale with a basket for my dog. After a ride, I’d find some decent food in my RV’s fridge and take a shower with water heated by the solar generator. I would enjoy relaxed evenings parked somewhere peaceful by drawing, painting, and finishing my next kid’s book. I'd keep up with my Pinkbike assignments and find inspiration for some stories and some dorky comics. And hopefully, I'd fall back in love with the USA road trip.
I’ve had my eye on the Coachmen Cross Trek
. The 20XG model in particular seems ideal since it isn't a behemoth but has everything I'd need. It’s the same length as the extended Sprinter van I used to have and only a tiny bit wider (just enough that I can fit on the widthways bed). Not like you’d want to parallel park it in Brooklyn, but since it is pretty slim you could still easily get around in cities. The coolest feature is a large pass-through storage area in the back big enough for multiple bikes that would keep them protected and out of sight.
Brian Park Baby Supplies and Headphones
It's probably a bit early, but our little guy loves cruising around in the bike seat, so I'd like to get a Mac Ride or Kids Ride Shotgun setup soon so he can ride up front and see everything.
I'd also like a pair of really nice headphones. I don't get much time to relax and focus on music, so when I do I want it to be amazing. We review stupid expensive bikes, so why not shoot for the moon and look at the Focal Utopia? Oh, is that too much to ask? Obscene? Well fine. How about a slightly less offensively priced Hifiman Sundara?
In reality, I already got the best Christmas gift because Taj sent me a shirt that says "Hardtail or Die or Full Suspension" which is the greatest thing ever.
Sarah MooreA Whoop Strap + A Theragun + Oil Slick Bling
This virtual-but-not-canceled Christmas, I'd like a Whoop strap
to track my sleep and strain levels and a Theragun percussive therapy massage device
. Why a Whoop strap? I love my sleep and this little device will (hopefully!) justify my desire to go to sleep early and wake up late. I also like the strain calculation, which gives you exertion level recommendations based on how recovered your body is. I have a tendency to overdo it, so this could actually help me be smarter and actually train instead of just riding my bike a lot.
As for a Theragun percussive therapy massage device, there were some at the lululemon tent at the BC Bike Race last year and I loved how easy it was to treat yourself. They used to be really loud which I felt defeated the purpose, but the newer ones aren't too bad. It's nowhere as nice as going to a massage therapist, but it's a lot more relaxing than foam rolling or stretching.
Also, I know over 4000 of you said it was a trend you disliked
, but I'd take some oil slick bolts
on my bike...
Mike Kazimer A Massage Gun and DHR II Tires
Honestly, I don't really need anything for Christmas. I'm lucky enough to have plenty of fancy bikes at my disposal, and at the moment my skis are free of any core shots or blown edges, which means my two favorite outdoor activities are taken care of.
I guess a slightly more reliable vehicle would be nice, but I only have myself to blame for continually buying beaters that are over 20 years old. Maybe someday I'll realize that with all the money I spend on repairs I could have purchased something much newer and nicer...
If I had to pick one gift for myself, I'd go with the power tool-like massage guns that seem to be all the rage. I haven't had a proper massage in a while, and being able to smash my tight neck and shoulder muscles into submission seems like a good winter activity. I haven't done much research, but this one from Vybe looks like it would do the trick.
Okay, I thought of one more holiday wish – I wouldn't mind a small pile of rear tires. My perennial favorite is the Maxxis DHR II, ideally in a DoubleDown casing / MaxxGrip compound, but I never seem to have enough of them kicking around when it's time to build up a new bike. I've acquired a good collection of front tires, it's just that my rear tire stockpile seems to dwindle faster than Levy's supply of Monster energy drinks. This wish is probably as exciting as asking for socks, but I'd way rather have holes in my socks than holes in my tires. Here's hoping for a nice stack of fresh sticky rubber to start 2021 off right.
Aidan Oliver A Garage, a Garmin, and Snowboard Boots That Don't Hurt.
I primarily moved to BC for the great outdoors. As a result, I regularly find myself out in the backcountry with no cell service thinking to myself, "Wow if totaled myself right now how would I phone for help"? This thought is a constant niggle in my mind when out camping or exploring FSRs. Although I can drive a car, I have no idea how to fix one, and BC's network of forest roads means walking hundreds of kilometers to find help... Bikepacking and exploring more remote areas of BC are definitely on my bucket list and having a way to contact the emergency services if the worst were to happen are pretty essential.
So for Christmas this year, I would like a Garmin inReach Mini to throw in my backpack or pocket when out exploring so if the unthinkable happens I can make an SOS call.
Like many, I've been filling my time during lockdown tinkering on my bike. It passes the time and hell I even quite enjoy it. But there's only so long you can work on a bike in a one-bedroom apartment before you get chain oil on the rug, lose tools, scratch the wall or in my case have a tire full of sealant explode in your kitchen. Yep, that really did happen.
The other day my boss Brian told me he was just off to 'tinker in the garage' and I was immediately filled with jealousy. I would much rather pass the winter hours dialing up my bike, doing some exercise, and waxing my snowboard in a garage rather than re-watching the Office for 5th time.
I'd also be keen to have some pain free snowboard boots, if that's such a thing. I've been snowboarding since I was about 15 and floating through life wondering what other boarders were talking about when they complained about boot pain. When I stopped skiing I thought I left the days of painful boots behind me. Until I realised I was very lucky finding boots that hugged my feet like a cloud for the last 10 years, ignorance truly is bliss.
The last 3 pairs of boots I've owned have given me an excruciating amount of pain, despite having them heated, molded and punched out in every way possible. I have fond memories of a day in Whistler last year, stopping every 100 meters to soothe my feet and finding blood in my socks at the end of the day... So yeah, I would also like a pair of snowboard boots that don't double up as a torture device.
Dan Roberts Standards That Don't Change, a Data Acquisition System, 3D Scanner, and a Workshop
I’m not sure if most brands know the real meaning of integration. I think the translation got lost somewhere and they think it just means hiding things. I like a good-looking bike, let’s just put that out there first. But not at the expense of function. A bike is a mechanical device, and its number one job should be to, well, function. It’s a ridiculous balancing act to develop a bike and I speak from experience, which is why it’s impressive when a team of people can balance function, form, durability and all the other factors. When one tends to take too much precedence the others usually take a back seat.
I’m preaching on deaf ears, as I know full well where the industry is heading. But please, can we remember what we do on a bike before we go hiding the cables in the handlebars or covering over all the damn pivot bolts?
As for things Santa could actually bring, I’d love to just go off into the woods with a data acquisition setup and start quantifying ride feelings and characteristics, and the one from Motion Instruments looks to be a substantial amount of geekiness while still not needing four degrees to operate. Lot’s of what we talk about as reviewers is subjective, but so much can be measured and then be made a little bit more objective. Having that blend of the two is also just an exciting prospect to me. Speaking of numbers, for our 'Behind the Numbers' series, we teamed up with Creaform for their 3D scanning solutions. Now while I don’t mind driving over to France to take a bunch of bikes to be scanned, I’d bloody love one at home. Imagine if we scanned every bike that came through the door and verified the geometry and suspension? Maybe that's an overload for non-engineers. But along with data acquisition, we could have the motherload of objective data on hand.
I'd also love a full new workshop set up. God, I love tools. Not the aforementioned melons who think hidden hardware is a good idea, but the utensils to actually mess around with hardware. And I’ve been smitten with my recent Wera torque wrench. I can remember back to being a kid and helping my Dad out fixing cars. He always had the tool for the job. He had them hung up with a black outline so you knew where it went. He even made a proper pit in the garage for working underneath the cars. While I’m not about to fit a car into the workshop due to its petite size, having a new setup to fit neatly into space, hold all the tools and spares and provide an area to whack things with a really big hammer is something I would love but also need, a little. While I’ve accumulated a tonne of bike specific tools over the years, there’s still a bunch that I need for the likes of wheel building, suspension and bearing servicing, and frame modification.
Ben Cathro An Electric DH Bike, Clothing for Tall Riders, an Electric KTM, and a Shed to Store it All.
Now, hear me out...an electric DH bike. Take a current DH bike, integrate a nice sleek motor and big battery, steeper seat angle, custom dropper, electric lockout, and let me loose on it. There are so many DH tracks around me with no uplift available and this would open them up for multi laps on a proper bike while also giving your legs a good spin. Someone needs to make this happen and then watch as E: DH parks start popping up around the world.
Speaking of E, I have been lusting after an Electric KTM Freeride E-XC for so long! From what I can tell it's the perfect motorbike for a curious mountain biker. Quiet enough that it shouldn't bother other outdoor enthusiasts, powerful enough that you can still have an absolute riot on it. Ideal for proper enduro riding, razzing around an MX track or cutting in new MTB trails. I might not have the space to store it though...so, a bigger shed would be great as well.
I'd also love some clothing made more for tall/short/wide/narrow riders. I've never had riding gear that fits me properly, at 6'7" I'm well outside the median body shape like many others at various ends of the spectrums. A company needs to take a chance and make limited runs of really well made, long-lasting, conservatively designed items for funny shaped people. Sure it would be expensive but it would also be so worth it!
Daniel Sapp Home Office Upgrades and a Family Station Wagon
I always have a few things I'm interested in procuring, but usually gift cards to Lowe's or the local hardware store would do the trick. I currently have a pretty good home office setup but, in a couple of months, it's going to be converted into a nursery for our incoming family member, so my workspace is going to move downstairs to the basement. While our basement is amazing in terms of having a (mostly, except when it rains really hard) dry place to store bikes and gear, it's pretty musty, depressing, and not overly inviting as a home office. Hardly the environment I'd prefer to spend hours a day in.
I've planned out how I will convert a section of it into that office. It'll take a lot of trips to Lowes and a budget that I really don't have but, in the end, I'll have a space that I can close off, ideally with a finished ceiling and walls, along with some nice happy lighting and some form of climate management, along with a space set aside to workout and ride the trainer when the weather is bad. Maybe Lowes Santa is listening and wants to drop off a supply of gift cards and good design ideas?
Speaking of incoming family members, I'd be happy to find an additional larger vehicle that is comfy for road trips and good on gas. My 2006 Honda Ridgeline is one hell of a vehicle for getting around town, going riding, gathering supplies, and pulling my friends who get their Tacomas stuck in the mud back to solid ground but it's getting pretty old and seating for two adults, a 100lb puppy, and a child, plus any overnight supplies, is going to be tight. A nice lightly used SUV or station wagon that's decent on room and not too bad with fuel consumption may help make family road trips a bit more pleasant.
What a wild one 2020 has been! I’m sure lots of folks are just wishing for a “normal” life and holiday season this Christmas. As for me, not to get too sappy on y’all, my top wish this year is to be with my family at Christmas time. It’s not going to happen, and I’ve accepted that, but nothing beats Christmas time with a huge family and lots of kiddos, treats and decorations! Since they’re back home in the US, I’ll be celebrating Christmas this year with the Canadian family instead. Hopefully it so insanely snowy that day I won't have time to feel sorry for myself.
Second to that perfect gift could only be described as the best present ever for snow loving enthusiasts! A trip to Japan to experience the infamous JAPOW! Snowboarding was my first true love, before biking, so I owe it to my original adrenaline junkie to visit the meca of pow skiing one day, hopefully sooner than later!
Mike LevyA Racing Simulator
There are usually just four or five things rattling around in my head: bikes, cars, aliens, dogs, and cars. And since I can get my hands on most of the cycling kit I'd want plus plenty I don't, as well as already having three handicapped dogs that govern my life, I probably don't need any more of either. But car stuff? Oh hell yes, Santa. And while I'm still saving for a scrappy Mercedes R107 to pick up as a daily cruiser, I think I'd ask Mr. Kringle for some help in the virtual world...
At the very top of my Christmas wishlist would be a serious SIM racing rig of some kind that'd let me jump headfirst into iRacing, one of the most popular online communities. I've done a bit of homework on this stuff and, well, I'm more confused than before I started Googling, but that's not a surprise given that any computer I touch seems to go all HAL 9000 on me. So, in light of my questionable track record with circuit boards, I should probably go with a ready-to-race bundle of some kind from Fanatec. And because I've followed F1 closer than mountain biking for the last twenty-odd years, I might want to put it all on a low seat/high pedal formula-style rig
with a wide, curved monitor for all my fake zoomies?
To be honest, this SIM gear makes axle and bottom bracket standards seem straightforward, and I feel like an oblivious non-cyclist scoffing at the price of a mid-priced bike.
These toys are not inexpensive - the Fanatec stuff adds up to thousands of dollars before you included a gaming PC of some kind (I am scared) and a rig to hang it all on - far too much for me to spend on something that's not a shelter or considered mandatory to survive. Then again, between Corona and spending too much of the last two years on the bench due to injuries, I could be convinced that a baller SIM racing system is essential. So, who's got some advice?
So, what's on your Christmas wish list? Let us know in the comments below!