The holiday season has arrived, and Baltimore Bicycle Works has put together our annual gift guide to help all you adventurous and intrepid shoppers with ideas for keeping the cyclists in your lives stocked up on two-wheeled goodies. We’re all cyclists ourselves (naturally), and we’re into gifts that are both cool AND practical. With that in mind, we unscientifically surveyed ourselves to find out what everyone’s favorite winter biking item is. We also threw in our own plans for our next bicycle-related purchases because the North American holiday season might take place in winter, but its gift-giving spirit isn’t only about winter. Here’s what we came up with:
Endura BaaBaa Merino Tech Multitube: This neck gaiter is Bernardo’s favorite piece of gear for keeping the chill out and the body heat in when a jacket’s buttons and zippers just aren’t enough. Made of 100% Merino wool (not scratchy), this versatile little tube can be used as a scarf, face mask, bandana, or skull cap. Looking for something similar, perhaps a little heavier or maybe even with a certain notorious bike brand’s logo on it? Let us know, and we’ll be happy to put in an order for Surly-branded Merino neck gaiters or the famously warm balaclavas from 45NRTH.
SRAM GX Eagle Groupset with an NX Eagle Cassette: When a titanium mountain bike more or less fell into his lap as a colossal piece of luck, Bernardo made plans, big plans for it. The next step in his plan involves revamping the drivetrain by swapping out the make-do parts on it now for a SRAM GX Eagle groupset with an NX Eagle cassette. Designed to provide optimum combinations of gear range and durability, SRAM’s Eagle components shift smoothly and shred trails happily. We think Bernardo needs to get out and practice his MTB skills a bit more to be ready for this shiny upgrade. He agrees.
Planet Bike Cascadia Fenders: For a man who bikes all the time, Brent sure likes to stay dry. He’s the only one of us who carries a full set of rain gear on a regular basis. For all-weather commuting, Brent’s top recommendation is a set of Planet Bike Cascadia fenders. Coming in aluminum or polycarbonate for a wide variety of wheel and frame sizes, these classically styled fenders are tough and ready to go against rain, sleet, or our winter favorites--snow and its big brother ice. They’re built to keep you riding a bike rather than driving a car, which is very good for the planet, and they’re manufactured by a company that donates 1% of its annual sales directly to organizations that work to develop sustainable transportation solutions, which is absolutely great for the planet. Staying dry feels even better than we first thought!
KOM Lite Rims: Being the master wheel builder he is, Brent is understandably choosy when it comes to the bits he lets his own bikes roll around on. His plans for a new wheelset of his own start with KOM Lite rims for wheels that are strong, lightweight, and extremely easy to set up for reliable and easy-to-mount tubeless systems. WTB, KOM’s parent company, recommends these rims for many different uses including commuting, gravel riding, cyclocross, and adventure touring. If you’re thinking about a new wheel build of your own and have questions, stop by the shop for a chat or have a gander at the custom wheels tool on our website at http://www.baltimorebicycleworks.com/wheels/.
Giro 100 Proof Gloves: Casey hails from Michigan, so he knows a thing or two about cold-weather gear. He recommends Giro’s 100 Proof split-finger gloves (meaning, you’ll look like you have two giant fingers and a thumb) for those really chilly mornings when wind and precipitation conspire to keep us all housebound. Designed to be part glove, part mitten, and all weatherproof, 100 Proof gloves feature a waterproof, breathable outer shell with a zippered pocket for hand warmers over an insulated core for maximum warmth. The index and pointer fingertips use Touchscreen Technology™ that allows you to use mobile devices without removing the glove, so you’ll be able to stay in touch with loved ones as you brave the elements. Trust us, they’ll appreciate not having to worry as much.
Compass Rat Trap Pass Tires: Cushy AND grippy, Rat Trap Pass tires from Compass (in cooperation with Panaracer of Japan) are Casey’s next addition to his comfy, floaty pavement crusher. The Rat Trap Pass is a 26x2.3” all-road tire built to be tough yet plush and light enough roll fast on everything from pavement to rough gravel, especially when set up tubeless, which is Casey’s plan. If that sounds great but you’re rocking 650b or 700c wheels, fear not! Compass offers a good selection of tires in those sizes as well. We love to talk rubber, so stop in for a chat if you have questions about which option might be right for you.
Defeet Duraglove ET Wool Gloves: Fall and winter in Maryland aren’t always as cold as they are in the wilds of Michigan, so Chris D.’s favorite wintery item is a glove for our comparatively milder climate. Defeet’s Duraglove ET Wool gloves are a blended Merino wool and nylon glove that keep the chill out down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, offer non-slip grips on the palms and fingers, and add just a bit of silver thread in the fingertips to keep smartphone touchscreens happy.
Surly Midnight Special: Ah, Surly--purveyor of steel escape machines and general bicycle-related adventure ideas. Versatile, practical, yet still open to a bit of good, old-fashioned silliness, Surly popularized the production fat bike back in 2003, and then they introduced the world to the notion of 29+ tires on trail bikes just over five years ago. New for 2018-19, Surly has tackled the growing trend of road bikes with wide tires on 650b wheels. On paper, the Midnight Special doesn’t look particularly groundbreaking, but on the street, it’s a surprisingly quick, nimble, and comfortable ride on pavement, gravel, and light trails. Chris has his sights set on the 60 cm frame because he likes bikes for tall people.
PTAP Designs Backpack: Who doesn’t like a big, sturdy, water resistant, comfortable, and locally made backpack? Probably some people, but Chris L. is a huge fan of hauling her gear around in such containers. She used to attempt to stuff everything in an old canvas bag that couldn’t fit it all and very definitely wasn’t water resistant. Since getting her large rolltop backpack from local music teacher and stitch master Dan Doggett of PTAP Designs, Chris can get (almost) everything in one bag on one trip without worrying about how to dry it out if it rains--which it did all this past summer--or snows and then melts all over everything. Bike tools? Check. Work clothes? Check. Groceries? Check. Cat food, litter, and toys? Check. Books and assorted oddments? Check. She says it feels comfortable and stable both on foot and on her bike because it molds itself around her back without being either too stiff or too soft. It also stands up well to hard use and doesn’t have all the holes and hanging threads her other bags always sported. Now we just need to figure out how to tell her that the kitchen sink is not a necessary item at all times.
Surly Pugsley 2.0 (Small) OR Soma Double Cross Disc (50 cm) Frameset: Well, those are two very different bikes. On the one hand, the Pugsley is Surly’s most classic fat bike for soft terrain and off-road exploration. It can also be set up with a 29+ wheelset for a faster ride and a bit of trail shredding. On the other hand, Soma’s Double Cross is an excellent vehicle for cyclocross, gravel, commuting, (relatively) fast endurance road rides, and even medium-duty touring. Chris wants to do custom builds for both framesets and will eventually get there, but she has to start with one or the other. Stay tuned to BBW’s website for updates!
CATEYE Volt400 Headlight: David likes to be able to see and be seen when he’s riding in the dark, and since it gets dark early at this time of year, he recommends Cateye’s venerable Volt400 headlight. It’s lightweight, can be recharged via Micro USB, offers five running modes, and produces a beam of light that shines between 50 and 400 lumens depending on your lighting needs. For extra visibility, David advises Volt400 owners to find a way to mount the headlight to their heads, that is, to their helmets, but the traditional handlebar mount also works just fine.
Jamis Dragonslayer S1: Mountain biking is fun no matter the season, so David thought it made sense to pick up one of the cycling industry’s hidden gems and get out on the trails ASAP. Jamis set up its Dragonslayer S1 with 27.5+ wheels to combine the rolling diameter of a 29” wheel with the width and cushion of a 3” tire. The frameset is double-butted Reynolds 520 steel married to a Fox Rhythm 34 fork, and it comes complete with a 1x12 drivetrain, Shimano SLX brakes, a dropper post, and a host of other cool features. David has already put our shop demo Dragonslayer through its paces, so now it’s time for the real thing.
Endura Deluge II Glove: Griffin is a bit like Casey in that they prioritize keeping their hands warm. Unlike Casey, Griffin doesn’t think in terms of Michigan winters, so the waterproof winter glove they recommend is Endura’s Deluge II. This glove is five-fingered, insulated, and padded to keep your hands dry, warm, and ergonomically cushioned for riding any kind of surface in any kind of weather the chilly season throws at you.
Velo Orange Klunker Bar: Griffin has plans to reinvent their bicycle starting with the cockpit. When you want your handlebars flat and 680mm wide for leverage but also with 7.6cm (3 inches) of rise and 45 degrees of backward sweep for comfort, you’d be hard pressed to do better than the Klunker Bar from our friends and neighbors at Velo Orange down in Annapolis. The Klunker is a BMX-inspired handlebar that Velo Orange created “for bombing dirt roads, a trek across town to visit the new coffee shop, and loaded touring.” It’s built for a 25.4mm stem, and it’s even compatible with bar-end shifters if those are your kind of thing. Griffin hasn’t told us the rest of their plans, so we’re not sure whether bar-ends are their kind of thing.
Chrome Industries Messenger Bag: Katie likes things that work. As far as they’re concerned, bags should hold things and keep them dry. Katie’s top recommendation for the winter cyclist is a weatherproof messenger bag from Chrome Industries. These bags are built for heavy duty use and abuse, and they come equipped with Chrome’s signature seat belt buckle for quick and easy egress when you reach your destination. Chrome offers quite a few models, so if we don’t have the one you’re looking for, let us know, and we’ll be happy to special order it for you.
Panaracer Pasela Protite Tire 27x1 ¼”: For their next personal bike-related purchase, Katie has their eye on the 27 x 1 ¼” Panaracer Pasela Protite tires. These are a popular investment for Baltimore commuters because they offer grippy black tread to grab and hold the pavement even when it’s wet as well as slightly squishy sidewalls for a bit of plushness while rolling around on our lumpy bumpy city streets. Did we mention that those sweet, soft sidewalls are tan? Well, they are: classic and classy.
Giro D’Wool Mountain Biking Gloves: Yes, there is a running theme in our winter/holiday gift guide: gloves let your hands share in the joys of the holiday season. Don’t believe us? Well, we could be uncreatively snarky here, but instead (and very seriously), we absolutely DO NOT recommend that you try riding in the cold without them. That’s how you get frostbite, and nobody wants that--especially you! Keith likes Giro’s D’Wool Mountain Biking gloves because they are essentially a Merino wool and synthetic suede version of their warm-weather, full-finger DND gloves. They fit the hand snugly but flex well so you don’t get tired from bending your fingers around the glove material. These are relatively thin gloves compared to some of the others on our list, so use them as a base layer or for the fall and spring weather transition seasons.
Brooks Cambium C15 Carved Saddle: Keith wants his next British bicycle saddle to be made in Italy. That’s all right. Keith’s a roadie at heart, and Italy is still closer to the heart of the roadie world than the United Kingdom (Sorry, GCN and BikeRadar! We still love your videos). The “Anglo-Italian” Cambium C15 carved saddle is narrower than the C17 and C19, and riders should plan to use this saddle for cycling in a position that has them leaning forward into the drop bars a bit (Woohoo! Get aero!) rather than sitting up and back with something like a swept riser bar. Brooks saddles are a little heavier than the average racing saddle, but many people also find that they’re a tad comfier as well, which is handy on long but fast endurance rides. In other words, the C15 is a go-kinda-fast-and-really-quite-far saddle.
Endura BaaBaa Merino Skullcap: Mer was short and to-the-point with her wintery recommendation: Endura’s BaaBaa Merino Skullcap will easily fit under your helmet, which you should be wearing whenever you’re riding, and it will help prevent the tips of your ears from freezing off.
PTAP Stem Bag: Mer is giving local bag maker PTAP Designs a second shout out in this guide because PTAP also makes stem bags, and Mer needs one. We have a few in stock, but if you have a special request for canvas colors--such as fall camo, we’re looking at you, Patrick--let us know, and we’ll ask PTAP what they can do. The stem bag does what stem bags do, but PTAP’s are locally made from high-quality, highly water resistant fabric. Need somewhere to stash your energy bars, dates, and bananas for your next century? This bag will do it. Want to stash your phone and ID somewhere a little drier than your jersey’s back pockets on a rainy day? This bag can handle that. What’s Mer doing with hers? She’s using it to tote around her coffee because it’s cold, and hot coffee is nice in the cold.
Aardvark Reflective Triangle Yield Symbol with Velcro Strap: That whole giant name just means it’s a safety triangle for strapping to the back of your saddle. It’s a light, soft, flexy fabric triangle made of high-visibility and reflective materials that’s not too expensive and will handily complement a good rear light. In a busy urban environment like the Baltimore-Washington corridor, it is absolutely critical to be proactive about your own safety in traffic, so really, please make yourself as ostentatiously visible as possible. Patrick does his part by trying to sell one of these with every new bike he helps out the door and many of the already-in-use bikes as well. Thanks for trying to keep us all safe, Patrick!
Jamis Sequel: We all love new bike day, and that includes Patrick. His next bicycle-related purchase, aspirationally at least, will be a Jamis Sequel. The Sequel is new for the 2019 season, and it’s a flat-bar version of Jamis’s venerable drop bar adventure bike, the Renegade. What does Patrick like about it? It’s tough and comfy steel with hydraulic disc brakes, 650b tubeless-ready wheels, and a wide-range 10-speed cassette. Patrick says it also just invites him to tinker, change parts, and customize. What bike nerd doesn’t love that?
Pedro’s Syn Lube: Ryann says Pedro’s Syn Lube is what you want on your bike chain for wet and dirty riding whether it’s muddy mountain biking or salty, slushy commuting. Syn lube is an all-synthetic lube that is very tacky, so it sticks to your chain extremely well, and formulated to resist corrosion, repel dirt, and reduce wear and tear. A thick lube like this means you may need to clean your chain more frequently, but that’s to be expected at this time of year. This lube will help keep your chain running long enough to need cleaning in the first place.
Jones SG 2.5 Aluminum Loop H-Bar: Ryann has a touring bike and wants a touring bar for it that doesn’t involve drops. The Jones Loop Bar is a great option for the upright-minded (That isn’t just a moral assessment, right?) among cyclists, and the 2.5 is for the bolt-upright-minded. Well, not really, but the additional two inches of rise over the standard Loop works in tandem with the 45-degree sweep to put riders in a stable, easygoing, mostly upright position for the long haul. Yes, you fight the wind more, but your shoulders won’t ache as much. If you like swept flat bars and you’re not in a huge hurry, this is an option to consider.
Hold Fast Straps: We’d be remiss not to mention that our friends at Hold Fast right here in good ol’ Baltimore make some of the best straps for foot-to-pedal retention you can find anywhere. Light, tough, and available in a wide range of colors from classic black to bright and whimsical, Hold Fast gear is a great addition to any cyclist’s stash of cool bike stuff. They make more than just pedal straps, so feel free to browse their offerings directly at https://holdfastordie.com/. If you see something you’d like, just let us (or them) know.
Tubes, tire levers, patch kits, and a pump: Yep, that’s a fix-a-flat kit right there. Flats are common on our streets no matter the season, so it’s always handy to have the tools you need to get rolling again quickly. It might be a little like getting socks as a gift, but as with socks, the receiving party is almost certainly in dire need of them anyway.