Rather than pump out some generic Top 10 list, we decided to put a personal touch on it and each curate our own wish lists of things we’d love to get this holiday season. Each of us has our own riding style, and our lists are made up of things we’ve seen or ridden so far this year that have really impressed us. We think you’ll like them, too.
Here’s my list. I’m Tyler, the founder of Bikerumor.com. I’m an all-around cyclist and my riding style is mostly XC on the dirt and long exploratory road rides. I ride my ‘cross bike year round and pull the kids to school when the weather’s nice. My philosophy is spend a little more up front and you’ll end up with better stuff that lasts longer and makes you happy. Here’s what I’m liking for road, mountain, and all the other gear that makes cycling so wonderful…
After visiting Guru’s factory near Montreal and riding their ultralight Photon HL, it immediately shot to the top of my list. Not only does it satisfy every weight weenie craving in my bones, the thing just flat out rides like a dream and it looks incredible. The Photon HL was introduced at NAHBS this year as their premium offering. Thanks to a unique method of carbon cutting and layup, frame weights are around 670 grams for a medium. Yet, it gives up nothing in functional stiffness or ride quality. Look for our factory tour to post soon – their craftsmen layup each frame specific to the customer – and you’ll understand why this one tops my list.
Acceptable alternatives: At $8,500 for just the Photon HL frame, it’s probably good give to Sweetie a couple options. Parlee’s aren’t much cheaper, but I’ve really enjoyed riding those, too, and the Z-Zero is pretty darn sharp. If I had to be reasonable, the Trek Domane rode smooth and wouldn’t completely wipe out my next ten years of bike budget. Oh God, and then there’s the new Moots Vamoots Disc…
For mountain bikes, I usually ride a 29er and have plenty of them. Niners, to be specific, and I love them. So, I figured I’d be reasonable and go for a mid-level 650B trail bike since I’d mostly be using to it bomb lift-served parks. I had the chance to do just that in Park City on the $4,900 Jamis Dakar AMT Pro. It’s a 150mm trail bike with the current hotness wheel size (650B!), has an alloy frame and a solid X01 component group. What impressed me about the bike was, well, everything. I could throw it into a corner hard, jump and drop willy nilly and even stand and hammer – all without any problems. And always in control. The standing/stomping part was particularly impressive, allowing me to push through the flat sections or small risers to maintain speed without any bobbing or schlumpy, mushy feelings. Jamis might not be getting the credit they deserve in the 650B market now that everyone’s got ’em, but they should, and this bike is proof. I know, I know, when did $4,900 become mid-level? They also have a $3,000 Comp model with very decent Fox/Shimano spec, too.
Acceptable alternatives: The other bike in this category I rode hard was the Rocky Mountain Altitude 770 MSL Rally Edition. For $5,600, you get a 150mm rear end with an upgraded 160mm fork and a carbon fiber frame. It also gets a piggy backed shock and is made for all the enduro action you can throw at it. It, too, has a price-sensitive option – the 750 is an alloy-framed version for $3,300 with lesser-but-still-good components.
COMMUTER, CX OR OTHER BIKE
I’ve ogled Metrofiets‘ bikes at the past few NAHBS shows (here and here) and really want one. I already have a Yuba, and it’s cool and far less expensive (and I’d highly recommend one), but there’s really something to having your kids in front of you or being able to just drop grocery bags and such in a tub without strapping a bunch of bags and boxes to a bike. Plus, it just looks sweet. And, at least in my warped sense of what’s reasonable, at $3,995 for the X10 model shown here, it’s not all that expensive considering the spec and the housemade wood box.
Acceptable alternatives: Moots’ updated Psychlo-X frames from NAHBS make it a bit more universal for someone like me who rides that bike year ’round, what with larger tire clearance and post mount disc brakes and all. But what we really enjoyed having around the office and was ridden a ton was the Fyxation Quiver 1×10. It’s a basic steel drop bar road bike with their own bits, pieces and thick urban tires, and it was one of the more fun bikes we’ve ridden all year. Why? Hard to put a finger on it other than you could just hop on and go, and it’d tackle about anything the streets could throw at it. Oh, and it fit a wide range of riders around here, making for a very versatile and capable commuter. And it’s cheap ($1,199).
Industry Nine’s new Torch road wheels are gorgeous. And their new disc brake versions are insane. Not only were they some of the lightest we saw at the trade shows, they’re hands down the best looking. Thanks to a daring use of straight pull spokes, they’re able to keep the weight down around non-disc sets, and by partnering with Reynolds for the upcoming carbon fiber rimmed models, they’ve arguably got some of the best options for building a lightweight disc brake road bike. And I happen to be working on just such a thing, with wheels being the final missing piece. Yes, that build will be documented in full this winter…and we’ve already requested a set of these to go on it. (The standard version is shown here, check our EB coverage for the full disc brake hub details).
Acceptable alternatives: We get to test so many components that most of my dream bits are floating around the office or on one of our testers’ bikes already. So something out of the ordinary like a Brooks or Rivet leather saddle would be nice…it’d go great on the Yuba (or the Metrofiets!). Some matching leather grips would be sweet, too. Or the Ergon cork ones. And since I’m going to have to send them back eventually, might as well put a pair of the Nox Composites mountain bike wheels back on the list. Those things have proven pretty stellar so far, and they’re amazingly light.
CLOTHING OR GEAR
As much as I’d love to try Assos’ new $500 S7 “Game Changer” bibshorts, that amount of money can easily eat up a family’s entire budget. For everyone. So, you should at least be able to get two pieces of clothing for that, right? Enter the Kitsbow Sustans jersey and Soft Shell shorts. As far as premium mountain bike clothing goes, these are my favorites from this year. Actually, I’ve been rocking them since just before the holidays last year, and they’ve held up really well. They look as good on the bike and off, easily double as commuter clothes and are really, really comfortable. At $327 and $269 respectively, they’re not cheap, but they’re very well made and should last quite a while. I owe these two items a full review, so look for that soon, and check out their new summer weight goods, base layers and womens’ collection, too.
Acceptable alternatives: Not specifically a cycling jacket, Mission Workshop’s Orion jacket is amazing. It’s handled a ton of travel, rain, riding and other adventures for more than a year now and looks brand new. Love. That. Jacket. Giro’s New Road collection also looks really good. I’ve only had a chance to ride a couple pieces, but those were very comfortable and functional without making me look too much like a cyclist. The last thing on my list would be Kali’s incredibly light, DOT-certified carbon fiber Shiva full face helmet. Any helmet from Kali would be a welcome treat under the tree, and their Chakra youth line fits well and costs little.
TOOL OR MISC.
The Topeak Prep Box. Hands down. While Birzman and Lezyne have some seriously tough and lustworthy tools, Topeak’s packaged kits are just so well put together. Since I already stress about packing the right things before each race or weekend trip, being able to just grab ‘n’ go is priceless. So, Birzman, Lezyne and Park hanging on the pegboard, Topeak in the travel bag.
Acceptable alternatives: The updated PrestaRatchet and modular Fixit Sticks are both impressive little tools for taking on a ride, and Lezyne’s. The stainless or galvanized steel pegboards from Sears are pretty awesome, too. They make a great upgrade from the chipboard ones and let you use magnetic spice rack cups to hold small parts securely and easily accessible. Also, a table vise would be nice.
EXPERIENCE OR TRIP
Rapha Travel. Go ahead, think your snarky comments. But if I’m gonna travel overseas to ride, it might as well be in style. I’ve jumped on a Rapha Gentleman’s ride before and it was top notch. Their folks were exceedingly friendly and worked hard to ensure my borrowed bike was ready to go and fit properly. The vibe was jovial, and mid-/post-ride snacks were incredible. These folks enjoy life, and I say why not enjoy it with them and let them do all the heavy lifting. Plus, the focus is on ride quality and getting to know the surroundings…not one upping the Strava-addicted 140 pounder next (or, as is often the case with me, way, way in front) of you. There’s as much attention paid to the food and atmosphere as the ride, which appears to be considerable, and that’s exactly my style. Trips are available throughout Europe and the USA. C’mon Rapha, you know you wanna host a press camp…
Acceptable alternatives: Any of the tours from Western Spirit or Rim Tours. I’ve ridden with both of them and they’re fantastic. Super nice folks, great riding and good food. The other one I’d like to hit is Punta San Carlos – sunshine, surfing, beach livin’ and supposedly very good mountain biking. What’s not to like?
FIVE MORE LITTLE THINGS
- Big supply of Osmo. And since you gotta eat with it, Larabar, Enduro Bites, Thunderbird Energetica and Skout. They’re all delicious and gluten free. Great stocking stuffers. Or you could just get Power Hungry for recipes to make your own.
- Sigma ROX 10.0, because being able to quickly create and upload routes to a cycling computer is cool, and then it’ll keep you on course via GPS.
- The new Camelbak Podium bottles, because I’m tired of pulling my original lids apart to clean them. What? You’re not cleaning yours? Be afraid. Be very afraid. Oh, and their upcoming insulated coffee mugs are bad ass (shown in the same link).
- It’s a toss up between Lizard Skin’s DSP and Zipp’s Service Course road handlebar tape. Both are thick and grippy and super comfy, and they both clean easy, making them perfect for cyclocross. The Lizard Skins comes in more colors, but the Zipp’s cheaper. And I really want the new Ergon Enduro grips for my MTB.
- IMBA membership. Because I like to ride trails. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.
Next up, Zach’s wish list on Thursday…