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BUYER'S GUIDE

All I want for Christmas is... not this. Gifts not to buy for cyclists to avoid a festive faux pas

Not everything needs to have a bicycle on it. Presenting our annual guide to Christmas gifts you might want to consider not buying the cyclist in your life this year (or any year) with some old 'faves' and fresh cycling stinkers to avoid for 2023

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All across the land, sometime on December 25th, people will be regretting having a hobby, or once upon a time a long while ago saying they liked something in a casual offhand remark, just once. A staggering 67% of all Christmas presents are bought on these two reasons alone, and the rest are candles. Unfortunately, cyclists are far from being immune to this phenomenon. 

Whether your pastime/pass-time is golf, bird watching, fishing or frogs, you will receive something with that hobby on it. It doesn’t matter if it’s actually useful to you, it will have your Thing on it because that obviously defines the gamut of your needs and desires as a human being. And you’ll remember when you said you thought snow leopards were cool when you saw them on the David Attenboroughs that time, and haven’t said anything about it since but have graciously received a snow leopard-related gift every single year thereafter, and will until the end of your days. That fleece jumper with the snow leopard on was a belter, wasn’t it?

No one seems to have noticed that these gifts never make an appearance in your day-to-day life once all the Christmas things are cleared away and put in the loft for another year. As “A Cyclist” you can never escape this situation, and are forever cursed with the belief that you’ll like anything, absolutely anything, related to bicycles.

Despite road.cc being kind enough to offer a healthy selection of Christmas gift guides to suit any budget and cycling discipline for you to pick knowledgeably from, you might still be tempted to go off-piste and buy any of the following as a lovely gift for your cycling companion... but please please don’t. And if you want to know what we really really want, check out our guide to gifts for the discerning cyclist instead.

Park Tool Pizza Cutter

Park Pizza Cutter - Pizza.png

It’s a Christmas classic now, and has probably made Park Tool as much money as Noddy Holder this time of year, although both definitely have better works in their oeuvre.

There are no statistics on what percentage of the pizza cutter’s annual sales are in the last month of the year, but we’re guessing it’s all of them. Every cyclist has at least one of these, many have a third drawer down in the kitchen devoted to them, and they don’t need yet another one.

Park Tool disc brake spreader

The Park Disc Brake Pad Spreader (above) actually looks to be a more efficient pizza cutter and has at least one other use too, so buy us one of those if you must.

Please don’t buy yet another Park Tool Pizza Cutter here

A cheap shiny mini-pump

Cheap Mini Pump Blue.png

We can entirely see the reasoning behind this. It looks nice and shiny and you know cyclists are like magpies with shiny things, and it’s teeny and light and you know cyclists like things that are teeny and light.

Unfortunately a lot of them don’t work, unless you count work as extreme physical effort with little to show for it apart from an asthmatic wheezing noise (oh, that’s also most of us struggling up a hill). Anyway, don’t be surprised if after a couple of months it “fell out of a pocket somewhere”.

Refrain from purchasing one of these here

A handlebar-mounted BBQ

Knister Handlebar BBQ.jpeg

It’s easy to see why this might seem a great gift. Your cycling friend is always going out with that little handbag thing on their bars full of snacks and whatnot, so it’s an easy reach to think that they’d love to stop on top of a hill on one of their gravelling rides and rustle up a tasty cooked treat.

Knister Handlebar BBQ Fields.jpeg
Absolutely not

They’re forever going on about that sort of thing aren’t they... but there are many, many reasons to say no. Just no.

Don’t even think about clicking on this. Thanks.

Me, as a cycling Christmas bauble

Personalized Bike Riding Ornament.png

Fair play to technology, the ability to turn a photograph of a cyclist gurning at a camera during a sportive into a festive Christmas tree decoration in a couple of easy clicks is amazing. But as with a lot of technology, just because you can it doesn't mean you should. Now I understand why cats throw themselves at trees…

Don’t buy me for the Christmas tree here

A comedy cycling jersey

Cycling Jersey Tuxedo.jpeg

Ah, a mainstay of our annual Don't Buy Me This festive guide.

The Lycra cycling top is a wonderful moving canvas on which to display some amazing examples of art and design, and there are many examples that have become classics, while many many more have become victims to fashion and have slowly sedimented to the bottom of the drawer, been relegated to turbo-trainer use or moved on to the charity shop.

Despite all stylish and flattering designs available and the fickleness of fashion, it’s good to see the wacky cycling jersey simply refuses to disappear and the tuxedo one is still available. Such crazy japes!

Cycling Jersey Urges.png

While we were hurting our eyes seeing what was available we gulped at this one, would you turn up on a group ride with 'Urges' splashed across your chest? We’re not even going to provide an ironic 'don't buy me' link for this.

Something both cycling AND Christmassy

Dirty Santa.jpeg

Please don't scare the children by buying these here

A 'tool for cyclists'

Retro Bike Tool.jpeg

While to the cyclist giver’s eyes it looks small, compact, full of useful features, easy to store in a back pocket or tool pouch and the perfect gift, I'm afraid to say it’s really just a cheap sheet of stamped metal where very few of the tools will work on a modern bike. Those that might are specifically designed to round off, bend or scratch anything they touch on a bicycle, and then take a gouge out of one of your knuckles on the way out.

While you’re not looking at the Park Pizza Cutter, buy any of the other Park tools as a gift instead. Any of them, or any tool from another reputable cycling tool brand, will be better than this. Although ironically, this does also look like it might make a functional pizza cutter.

Don't be tempted by a multi-tool that can’t do anything well apart from draw blood here

Something with a bike on

Bicycle Bow Tie.jpeg

As we've already mentioned, just because the person you like enough to give something to at Christmas likes bicycles, it doesn’t mean that everything they own needs to have a bicycle on.

It might seem to you the way they witter on about bikes All The Time that that’s all there is to life, but that's not true*. There’s an entire world of non-cycling-related gifts they might appreciate, so maybe pass on that tie/mug/t-shirt/candle with a bicycle slapped on and choose something completely different instead.

Raleigh Gift Tin.jpeg

(*There’s also cake. Buy them some cake, they’ll love it.)

Please don’t buy something a cyclist would never wear here

A 'Useful Cycling Thing'

Winglight Flat Bar Indicator.png

The market is awash with things that have been designed for putting on a bicycle by people who have never ever ridden a bike, but think people that do would benefit from. It’s usually some sort of ‘safety’ feature.

> Where cycling products go to die

Indicator gloves are a classic of the genre, as are indicator helmets and indicators on seat posts, or indicators that fit on forks, and rucksacks with indicators, and handlebar mounted indicators... you get the idea. Someone trying to be useful comes up with a new indicator design and placement idea every six months, seemingly never having done the basic research that a similar bicycle indicator system launched six months ago has disappeared without a trace. You can put “safe bicycle infrastructure” on your Christmas wish list as many times as you like, but your auntie will still get you indicators instead.

Don't think you’re giving a helpful gift here

Anything made from an old bike part

Bike Chain Keyring.png

These are the days of reuse, recycle and repurpose, and it’s a very worthy approach to adopt across all aspects of our lives. There’s definitely no argument here. Apart from bike bits, that is. There’s a reason why they’ve been thrown away, and it’s because they’re worthless bits of rusty bent metal.

Recycled Chain Heart.png

This doesn’t stop any number of gifts being made available by thrifty, crafty types who have been let loose in your spares bin. The reuse, recycle and repurpose practice is a smug delusion, as making something out of an old bike bit merely briefly delays its inevitable journey into landfill via a lengthy period in the corner getting more rusty.

christmas gift guide
Rocking around the absurdly heavy pile of old bicycle cassette sprockets turned into a Christmas tree

Don't spend £5 on a bit of spare chain made into a keyring here

...and this

Bike Chain Pooing Dog.jpeg

This thoughtful art piece made out of old bike chains is another unwelcome road.cc tradition now. 

A build-your-own bike model kit

DIY Bike Model Kit.jpeg

This is prime Secret Santa material, so expect this if you’re The Cyclist in the office. If you're a cyclist who regularly uses the internet, it's probably been appearing on your algorithm since August.

It’s a fun bike thing, it’s about a tenner, you get to put it together and you love tinkering with bikes, don’t you? Things move, look! And it even comes with a track pump.

Surely you’re going to cherish it. Spend seven minutes putting it together whilst on hold to HR where it can then sit in your desk for a couple of years, becoming a place to hang rubber bands before you eventually throw it in a bin when you move floors. Then, many decades after your death, the mini track pump will have made its way along the refuse chain to float in the Indian Ocean where it chokes a baby turtle. Some gifts do just keep giving.

Model Bicycle.png

Think about the baby turtles before purchasing here

Cycling socks

Lucky Cycling Socks.jpeg

There are socks for cycling in, and socks with cycling on. It’s important to know the difference when choosing this most traditional of Christmas gifts.

When perusing the choices, there are pages upon pages upon pages of the former to suit all ride occasions and disciplines. So why you would bypass all of these, which can just as easily be worn off the bike, for something that just lets anyone who glances at your ankle know that you ride a bike in your spare time is something we’d have to have a quiet chat about while I do the washing up and you do the drying. Especially don’t buy this pair as it just spells crash, but oh how you’ll laugh at the irony.

Buy absolutely any other pair of socks other than these here

A cycling scented candle

Bike Candle.png

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a candle is the gift you give to someone when you have no idea what to buy them. A staggering 97% (possibly 98%, or 98.5%) of these candles are never lit and just sit there looking, um, like candles.

You could almost justify a cycling candle purchase by pointing out that Wout Van Aert has invested in Belgian handmade candle company Mon Dada, so at least there's a connection there and probably a chain wax joke to be made, but we’re too bewildered to think of one right now.

While we’re a little puzzled, what would the perfect cycling candle scent be? The fresh crisp scent of meadow grass, the earthy tones of autumn leaves or the heady musk of 100 mile old cycling shorts? Hmmm, musky.

Be stuck for something to buy here

A bicycle-shaped candle holder

Bicycle Candle Holder.png

Then you can put your candle in this bicycle shaped candle holder, whilst crying a little inside as you dust around it for the rest of your life.

You, but as a cushion

Snugzy Mockup New Image.jpg

Another 'classic'... you, in cycling kit, but as a small cuddly cushion. This is ready to become sentient in the middle of the night and leave the house to wreak bloody vengeance upon anybody who has stolen your Strava KOMs, maybe using the Cyclist's Tool as a weapon. Sleep tight everyone, and we hope you wake on Christmas morn to none of this...

Please don’t baffle the local police by buying a Snugzy Mini Me here

About road.cc Buyer's Guides

The aim of road.cc buyer's guides is to give you the most, authoritative, objective and up-to-date buying advice. We continuously update and republish our guides, checking prices, availability and looking for the best deals.

Our guides include links to websites where you can buy the featured products. Like most sites we make a small amount of money if you buy something after clicking on one of those links. We want you to be happy with what you buy, so we only include a product if we think it's one of the best of its kind.

As far as possible that means recommending equipment that we have actually reviewed, but we also include products that are popular, highly-regarded benchmarks in their categories.

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You can also find further guides on our sister sites off.road.cc and ebiketips.

road.cc buyer's guides are maintained by the road.cc tech team. Email us with comments, corrections or queries.

Jo Burt has spent the majority of his life riding bikes, drawing bikes and writing about bikes. When he's not scribbling pictures for the whole gamut of cycling media he writes words about them for road.cc and when he's not doing either of those he's pedaling. Then in whatever spare minutes there are in between he's agonizing over getting his socks, cycling cap and bar-tape to coordinate just so. And is quietly disappointed that yours don't He rides and races road bikes a bit, cyclo-cross bikes a lot and mountainbikes a fair bit too. Would rather be up a mountain.

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25 comments

Avatar
Kapelmuur | 7 months ago
1 like

I was gifted a pack of bike shaped paper clips, I quite like them but not enough to get them out of their packaging.

I also have a couple of bike chain key rings, appropriately used for keys for various bike related items.

Avatar
NotNigel | 7 months ago
0 likes

Anyone who poses for a photographer at a sportive deserves to have it immortalised as a Christmas bauble.

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ktache | 7 months ago
10 likes

I liked the pooping chain dog last year and I still like the pooping chain dog.

Avatar
momove | 7 months ago
1 like

There is a lot of junk on that list! While I do have a pair of socks with little bicycles on them, they're actually decent, comfortable socks to wear to work. That's about the extent of my bike tat and I hope to keep it that way.

The article makes the point well, several times. By buying or receiving almost all this stuff, we only merely delay the journey by a bit between production and landfill/great Pacific garbage patch.

Avatar
Steve K | 7 months ago
6 likes

Personally, I quite like a lot of "somethings with a bike on" - t-shirts, socks etc.  And somethings made from old bikes parts can be fine.

What I'd say (and many of them are covered by your list) is avoid is anything from a gift section that is supposed to be useful.  There will be a proper version of it (that you probably already own) that actually does the job, rather than that tat.

Avatar
Patrick9-32 replied to Steve K | 7 months ago
2 likes

I think that's a good point, unless specifically asked for it, the cheap version of any bike thing is probably the cheap version for a reason. 

Avatar
paulrattew | 7 months ago
3 likes

The Park Tools pizza cutter is a quality bit of kit! Not just the best cycling themed pizza cutter out there, but easily the best of that sort of pizza cutter that I have used. Ok, you do only ever need one, so seeing it repeatedly as a gift would be rubbish, but if you don't have one already then it is a quality gift

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stomec replied to paulrattew | 7 months ago
3 likes

I think the best pizza cutters though are the big mezzaluna style blade ones though.

Or an axe

In fact, definitely the axe

 

 

Avatar
quiff replied to stomec | 7 months ago
0 likes
stomec wrote:

I think the best pizza cutters though are the big mezzaluna style blade ones though.

Or an axe

In fact, definitely the axe

Scissors [runs away]

Avatar
Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
4 likes

I must admit I rather like the bicycle bow tie and I'd be happy to wear it on the rare occasions I wear a dinner suit these days. Unfortunately there are two things against it, one is that it is ready-made with elastic, which as everyone knows is about as infra dig as infra dig can get, and the other is that in combination with a pair of socks of the same design it's apparently £42.28, and that's with 40% off! I know everything is getting increasingly expensive, but £70.47rrp for a cotton bow tie and socks?

Avatar
Brauchsel replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
3 likes

£70.47 isn't that much for a complete party outfit. 

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to Brauchsel | 7 months ago
5 likes
Brauchsel wrote:

£70.47 isn't that much for a complete party outfit. 

Cripes, what sort of parties do you go to?! Fraaank!!!

Image: 
Avatar
brooksby replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
3 likes
Rendel Harris wrote:

I must admit I rather like the bicycle bow tie and I'd be happy to wear it on the rare occasions I wear a dinner suit these days.

I hope that you never ride your bike to dinner parties...  I'm sure I read somewhere that that is frowned upon, on account of sweating  3

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to brooksby | 7 months ago
4 likes
brooksby wrote:

I hope that you never ride your bike to dinner parties...  I'm sure I read somewhere that that is frowned upon, on account of sweating  3

Absolutely not, that would be as mad as taking a train to visit the best cello teacher in Kent!

Avatar
quiff replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
1 like

* Second best

Avatar
Matthew Acton-Varian | 7 months ago
3 likes

Personally I wouldn't mind "old bike bits" trinkets.

When I was active on the local music scene I had a bracelet made from recycled old bass guitar strings. The strings certainly felt like they had come to the end of their useable life (like old gear cables, they lose a bit of springiness and become floppy - which sound wise means they go flat and dull). They were, however, rust free and I liked how it looked on my gangly tattooed forearm.

As long as the items are clean and the finish is in good enough condition, if done tactfully, repurposing old junk has a certain charm to it.

Then again, I do like the steampunk/victoriana/industrial aesthetic in general which that kind of artistry leans itself into nicely.

Perhaps I will make a couple of chain baubles with the one I am about to replace...

Avatar
Creakingcrank replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 7 months ago
7 likes

Happy Christmas!

In my experience, chain baubles are a bit heavy for a real Christmas tree, so you have to go full steam punk.

Image: 
Avatar
Matthew Acton-Varian replied to Creakingcrank | 7 months ago
4 likes

As someone who works in HVAC and is familiar with copper pipe work (not an engineer, just a salesman) I find this candle tree rather impressive. Nicely done.

And a Merry Christmas to you too.

Avatar
thax1 replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 7 months ago
4 likes

Lovely bit of copper-work there. Bit of a shame about the speedfit/poly-pipe in the middle though. 8/10.

Extra point available if you can get it running on gas 😉

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Creakingcrank replied to thax1 | 7 months ago
2 likes

The candles were dangerous enough!

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Matthew Acton-Varian replied to Creakingcrank | 7 months ago
6 likes

(Nerd alert) Not to mention that under UK regs, plastic push fit fittings are not allowed on gas pipe installations. I know of at least one house explosion that was caused by a slow gas leak from a plastic fitting under the floorboards. The underfloor space had filled with enough gas to flood the space, but not enough to be detectable by smell in the room above it.

Also the scent additives used are slightly denser than NG and the air around you, so if the leak is really small, the scent will sink to the floor before you can smell it. In LPG tanks they call it "heavy ends" because it sinks to the bottom and you think there is still gas in the bottle, but it's the scent additives that only remains.

Avatar
Creakingcrank replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 7 months ago
0 likes

Good advice! Although the plastic push fittings are just there so the nog-matic drinks dispenser element can be removed easily for cleaning. When I do the gas conversion, I imagine I'll just take that whole assembly off and connect the propane cylinder to the exposed fitting.

 

[For the avoidance of doubt: I will not actually do this.]

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pockstone replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 7 months ago
3 likes

I especially like that it appears to come with its own built-in fire extinguisher.

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chrisonabike replied to Creakingcrank | 7 months ago
6 likes

"Do you do emergency call-outs?  We think we've got an air-lock in our menorah."

Avatar
momove replied to Creakingcrank | 7 months ago
2 likes

Am I the only one that's concerned how close those candles appear to the ceiling?!

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