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Best gifts for bikers 2012

Holiday gift guide for cyclists

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The great thing about being a passionate biker or having one as family or in your group of friends is that everybody knows that the best holiday gift is going to be something bike-related. The downside is that it can be tough to know just exactly what they need or what that item is. You're usually not going to go out and buy a person an entire bike but the good news is that there are any number of other smaller items that will be valuable and appealing to just about any cyclist and put a smile on their face without breaking the bank.

1. Rokform iPhone Bike Mount

Rokform bike mount iphone

The people at Rokform have absolutely nailed the perfect design for an iPhone bike mount. With a sleek, almost minimal design, the Rokform v3 case mounts directly into your steerer tube, making it both low-profile and absolutely proven to keep your phone in place.

It fits any bike that has a 1-1/8 inch threadless steerer tube. Additionally, the bike mount features a dual retention lock system that held my phone in place even through the most teeth-rattling mountain biking. Listen to music, use Strava or GPS navigation easily with this great accessory. Retails for around $83.00.

Related article: Is a bike tour right for you?

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2. Tyler Hamilton's Book, The Secret Race

Tyler Hamilton book - The Secret Race
Tyler Hamilton won an Olympic gold medal in the 2004 time trial and was a teammate of Lance Armstrong on the U.S. Postal Service team including riding with him the first three years (1999-2001) that Armstrong won the Tour de France. But then a failed drug test caused him to lose it all. First a two-year suspension, then becoming (along with Floyd Landis) one of cycling's outcasts for his willingness to tell what he knew about cycling's doping culture. His book, The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs, is the long-awaited story of life as a pro cyclist and promised to tell what it was like racing with Lance Armstrong and (presumably) revealing Armstrong's own doping activity that many had long suspected. Retails for around $15.00.

Related article: Drugs and Doping in Professional Cycling.

3. Solar Charger/Battery Combo

Revive Restore Solar Charger Battery XL for smartphones

One of the challenges of any long-distance bike ride (beyond the actual pedaling, of course) is in keeping your phone charged. Most cyclists enjoy using GPS apps to track their route and ride stats; however, that drains the battery pretty quick. In fact, while battery life on my iPhone is twelve hours for a normal day, it's three hours or less when on a ride using GPS or with a mapping app turned on. That's a bummer given that you probably have both the desire to track a long ride like a century route (100 miles), but still be certain that you have enough battery to be able to make a call home in case of emergency or just to update the family on what time you'll be back.

That's why the Revive Solar ReStore XL solar charger will be such a great gift to find under the tree: a solar-powered battery charger with the capacity to solve this problem while you're actually riding the bike. Retails for $65.00

Related article: Is a bike tour right for you?

4. Etnies Casual Bike Wear

Etnies Brake Shoe by Nathan Williams
I'm all about whatever makes it as easy as possible to incorporate biking into everyday life. I mean, it's great to get out in the spandex and colorful jersey and bike cleats and ride like Lance but most people feel a little self-conscious wearing that to the grocery story or library. That's why Etnies casual bike wear collection is so great. These are clothes that you can wear both on and off the bike, and include both the latest pants from Etnies, their terrific Pay Day model (100% cotton twill, classic chino-style pants, price around $30) along with Etnies' bike specific shoes, the Brake ($65), designed by Etnies rider Nathan Williams.

5. Hincapie Gran Premio Bib Shorts and Jersey

hincapie gran premio cycling jersey
So you've been watching the Tour de France and dreaming of riding like Big George Hincapie? That may not be possible, but you can sure look and feel like him and his BMC teammates with a new kit out from Hincapie Sportswear, the Gran Premio line of jersey and shorts/bibs. It's the exact same cycling wear that you see them dressed in as they go racing on the hills and flats of France, just without the BMC specific graphics. Retail price, $60 for the jersey; $66 for the bib shorts.

Related article: Bib shorts or regular bike shorts - which are better?

6. Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag

Kona Brenthaven bike messenger bag

When the bike people at Kona got together with the bag experts at Brenthaven, the result was a pretty killer friend to you for hauling stuff on your bike. Configured in either backpack or messenger bag style, these durable bags feature a water resistant external cordura fabric and a 100% waterproof internal dry bag with space for laptops up to 16".

In either black or blue color options (kinda how I look after mountain biking, ha ha) The Project 2 bags feature custom storage compartments for your biking essentials, a battery operated flashing safety light, ergonomic shoulder straps, and large capacity, internal storage to accommodate heavy loads. Retails for around $150

Specs (for the messenger bag):

  • Patent pending magnetic Hydro FlapsTM keep your gear dry
  • Fits laptops up to 16"
  • Built in safety light with replaceable battery compartment
  • Rugged, water-shedding 1000D Cordura fabric
  • Waterproof internal compartment for laptop, electronics
  • Comfortable shoulder strap with quick release phone pocket
  • Large capacity; expands to 1300 cubic inches
  • 100% lifetime guarantee
  • Dimensions: 21.5" W x 16" H x 8" D
  • Weight: 3 lbs 4 oz

Related article: Review - Kona Major Jake

7. Levi's Skinny Jeans (with Custom Features for Cyclists)

Levis 511 skinny commuter jeans

Skinny jeans are all the rage these days. Those low-riding, tight-fitting jeans are what you need if you're going to be in fashion, and Levi's 511 version is right at the leading edge.

Recognizing the natural link to young, bike-riding urbanites, Levi's has rolled out a special version of the 511 skinny jean with features specific to cyclists, including a higher waistband in back (to keep the infamous plumber's crack covered), a hidden cell phone pocket and a reflective stripe sewn into the underside of the material, which appears like magic only when the pant legs are rolled up.

Other nifty features in the cyclists' version of the Levi's 511 include stretchy fabric which is specially treated to be both water-resistant and anti-odor, and a special belt-loop waistband smartly designed for carrying a U-lock. Priced around $78

8. Oakley RadarLock Sunglasses

Oakley Radarlock sun glasses

If you ride frequently or for any distance, you know the importance of having decent eyewear. Sunglasses help make you more comfortable by reducing brightness and glare on sunny days. But even when it's not bright daylight, you still want glasses to protect from junk flying up and to keep your eyeballs from drying out. And good glasses will help you even in low-light conditions.

In our testing, of the Oakley Radarlock to take care of all of these, and be durable, lightweight and comfortable at the same time. I'm sure you've experienced glasses that slip down your nose or feel loose around the temples or -- most problematic for a cyclist -- get slippery with perspiration. The Radarlock glasses fit nice and snug without pinching or feeling uncomfortable and stayed in just the right position.

Additionally, the optical quality was the best I've experienced. Vision through the Radarlock was always clear and sharp and distortion free, and particularly on the brightest days the glasses remained free of the secondary glare that seems to plague other sunglasses. Retails for around $220.

Related article: Review - Oakley Jawbone sunglasses

9. Element iPhone Case

Element ion4 case for iphone

If you're like me, you never ride your bike without having your phone with you. You're either on your way somewhere where you'll need it (like work or school) or else you carry it in case of a mechanical problem, thunderstorm or some other challenge. Or else you just carry it with you all the time, no matter what, even in places like the shower because we're all 21st century nerds and can't do anything without our electronic tether.

And if you're like me, you're also liable to drop your phone at the most inconvenient places and times. Like going through a busy intersection on a four-lane road about 25 mph on your bike. Nothing like the feeling of looking back and watching your phone bouncing across the pavement amid the auto traffic.

Fortunately, there are protective cases like the ones made by Element or Otterbox (review here) are a nice option. We had the opportunity to try out Element's Ion3, which had me from the moment I picked up on its a marketing bent aimed squarely at cyclists. Designed for the iPhone 3, the Element case is constructed of soft silicone rubber "that grips like a new set of track tires." No joke. When's the last time you've read something like that in an ad? Definitely worth a look. Element case retails around $25. Otterbox Commuter priced around $20.

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