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.
My name is Saris and you can always count on me for a beer at the top of the hill. When I’m not on the prowl for epic single track, I enjoy long bike rides along the beach, and pretending my dirt jumper is a suitable replacement for a road bike. I go up to go down and motorcycles are my other drug.
If you ride foot out flat out and make brap noises out of every turn, then direct Santa past the break…
Wheelsize shmeelsize. This is a debate that never gets old. Everyone has their favorite and likes to be a dick about it. But within the past year or so, two new 29ers have been introduced that have shaken my assumptions about what wagon wheels are capable of. This dynamic duo would be the Specialized Enduro 29er and the Niner WFO 9.
I have had the pleasure of riding many of the best bikes introduced this year, but these two in particular are game changers. So if I were a hardcore Enduro racer (or taller), the Niner WFO 9 would be at the very top of my list. It handles like a much smaller bike, plows through rocks, and is a terrific climber. Head over here for the full review.
For those that refuse to hop on the 29er wagon, I’d like to introduce the GT Sensor. This little 130mm travel bike is currently in for review, and is one of the few bikes I’ve ridden this year that I would love to call my own. Without giving away the details of the review, this bike carves corners and descends with the stability you’d expect from a longer travel bike. With a few modifications (aka ditching the triple) it uhhh, kicks ass.
No one needs road bike advice from a mountain biker but Editor man asketh and you shall recieveth. Since both Tyler and Zach have emphatically stated that my classic ten year old Ultegra equipped Cannondale should be classified as a “commuter” rather than a “road bike”, I’m turning my back on the category all together. That isn’t to say I would be upset if a Hunter, Rock Lobster, Caletti, Black Cat….or anything else in the Easton Dream Bike Raffle showed up under the tree…
Instead, what I’d really like is a versatile frame capable of going on the occasional road rides, touring, and strong enough for CX. And while I own a couple of bikes with dialed canti’s and caliper brakes, I’d want somethings with discs, because road wheels don’t always last under me. While there are several bikes in this category that would be a great match, like Tyler’s glorious Moots Monstercross project, I’m not trying to break Santa’s bank. So I’ll just cross my fingers and hope he can squeeze a Brodie Monster down the chimney.
The versatile frame accepts up to 45cc tires, has mounts for fenders and racks, and sliding dropouts. You can take delivery of yours as a touring rig or set it up with 650B wheels and a suspension fork. The complete bike pictured above retails for a reasonable $1,699.
If Santa was feeling extra generous this year, then I’d be all over the titanium Volagi Viaje. Nothing beats the feel of titanium on the road, and I’ve always had a soft spot for Volagi’s curves and design ethos.
COMMUTER, CX, OR OTHER BIKE PLAY BIKE
A 4″ travel slopestyle bike is just about the most fun you can have on two wheels and the market finally seems to be catching on. Just this year, a slew of new toys were debuted. While I would do bad things for either the new Specialized Enduro SX or R-Dog theme’d Trek Ticket SS, what I really want is an American Made Pocket Rocket by San Francisco based builders Bicycle Fabrications.
At $2,100 USD (with shock) the steel steads don’t run cheap, but they’re built lovingly in small batches by guys who love to go big.
Since this is a wish list and I’ve been extra good this year, nothing short of carbon wheels would make my bike lighter than a set of Raceface Next cranks. With two sets of BBs, these silly light cranks can pull double duty, easily shouldering the race day abuse at your local Enduro series or winters harshest adventures on your fat bike. Plus, they have some of the best customer service in the industry.
MSRP is slightly more than a $1 per gram, which is a steal considering the entire crankset (including DM ring and BB) tipped our scales at 495 grams.
Acceptable alternatives: Since Zach already wished for the brand new RockShox Pike, and we hate matching, there’s at least one bike in my garage that would love a 2014 Fox Talas.
After an entire summer of abuse, our long term review fork is still working flawlessly. Something we couldn’t say about past models. In addition to that, the new model boasts an improved compression dampening tune that will make aggressive riders happy.
If you don’t have a grand to spare, Fox sells the updated cartridge separately. It is backwards compatible with most Talas models and will breath new life into your suspension at a fraction of the cost. Contact your LBS for more details.
CLOTHING OR GEAR
Naming a new product “Super” takes cojones, but Bell’s new helmet more than lives up to that name. It’s not often you can describe a helmet as being innovative, but the Super brings a lot of great new features to the game. Rather than gushing about the helmet at length, I’ll just direct you to my review.
Acceptable alternatives: If you don’t dig the Super’s aesthetics, then the TLD A1 might be more your style. We have a review forthcoming, but all you need to know is that it’s the most comfortable helmet we’ve ever worn, although it runs hot. Really hot. If you live in cooler climates, this would make an excellent winter helmet. The recently released stealthy color (pictured above) will set you back $139 USD, but for an extra Andrew Jackson you can pick up something a little brighter.
Without giving away any Christmas morning surprises, I have often considered purchasing a neck brace for that special someone in my life who sometimes goes too big for my personal comfort. The top players have all launched new models this year, so you can either bargain shop for a slightly older model, or start doing your homework on the new Leatt Five.Five, Alpine Star Bionic 2, or Atlas Brace.
TOOL, OR MISC.
Everyone should use a torque wrench but how many of us actually do? So this year, give the gift that keeps on giving. This Digital Torque Wrench Adapter from Birzman will ensure your parts are correctly torqued (which isn’t necessarily synonymous with installed correctly!)
Acceptable alternatives: For the professional mechanic, these Bontrager preset torque wrenches are incredibly convenient. Preset to click at 5Nm, using this little guy is fast and easy. Unfortunately the bits are non-removable but at least they’re cheap. Pick up either a 4mm hex or T25 Torx for $20.99.
EXPERIENCE OR TRIP
There are lots of cycling destinations I would love to visit, but the only one I always make time for is Downieville. Nothing’s better than downing beers, riding bikes, and blasting down the 3rd Divide.
FIVE MORE LITTLE THINGS
- Lights. Once you have a set of bright ones, you can’t go back to anything that doesn’t have lumens listed in the product description. The brighter they are, the more you feel like Moses parting the sea of traffic. My two picks this year are from Sparse and Fortified Alliance. Both are targeted towards commuters and are impervious to all but the most nefarious thieves.
- The saying goes “You are what you eat” but cyclists are often more interested in what they drink. Fly your true colors with Niner Bikes awesome YAWYD headset cap.
- When you’re not busy showing off your excellent taste in beer via your headset cap, you should be sipping a cold adult beverage. Preferably in a koozie. My personal favorite is the US Made ODI Beer Koozie.
- After a few short years of brilliance, Teva will no longer be manufacturing MTB shoes. With their comfortable insoles and fresh approach, you’d be foolish not to pick up a set of Links before they’re all gone.
- From our comments section, which has always been a bastion of intelligent discussion, I was introduced to the wonders of ESI grips. These silicone delights are available in a wide array of colors, several different widths, and as road handlebar tape. These stockings stuffers are made in America and cost about $20 a pop.