Christmas is on the way, Bonfire Night has come and gone, and that means it’s time for road.cc to offer you a whole bunch of Christmas gift guides focused on various different kinds of cyclists. This one offers suggestions for riders who like to ride fast.
These aren't all gifts designed to help you ride faster, but they're things that'll go down well with people who ride with speed and fitness in mind as opposed to, say, those who are out primarily to take in the views or get from A to B across town. Know what I mean?
Maybe you’re a racer or a sportive rider and you want to drop some hints to your significant other. Or maybe there’s a sporty someone in your life who rides a bike with fitness at the forefront of their mind.
If so, we’ve got suggestions starting at under a tenner – and some of them much, much more (well, we don't know how much money you have tucked away under the mattress, do we?).
Have a look through and see if there’s anything that takes your fancy. Even if there’s nothing here that’s quite right, maybe our suggestions will spark an idea – in which case you can head over to our reviews archive to look for the perfect present.
Alpe d'Huez is one of those climbs that every performance-type rider has to conquer at some time in their life. If you have but you're struggling to find enough opportunities to drop it into the conversation: problem solved.
52, by the way, refers to 1952: the first year the Tour de France headed up there.
There are plenty more bike-related T-shirts in the range to advertise the rides you've taken on and beaten: Stelvio Pass, Pairs-Roubaix, Flanders, and so on.
Okay, it’s not a cheap present, but the Garmin Edge 1000 GPS bike computer packs a lot of tech onto your handlebars. Performance-minded cyclists love numbers, and this computer provides gives you all the variables you could want on customisable screens, along with mapping that’ll come in handy on longer rides, smartphone connectivity that provides live tracking along with weather information, wireless uploads to the Garmin Connect website, and a whole lot of other clever features.
If you don’t want to go down the GPS route, CatEye’s Strada Slim wireless computer provides your important figures on an easy-to-read display while the sensor is so slim that it fits on the inside face of your fork. All in all, it’s a very neat little computer.
Lezyne’s Port-a-Shop is a toolkit that’s designed for taking with you to races, training camps or whatever, but it’s easily good enough to be your main home toolkit too. You get hex keys, Torx drivers, screwdrivers, open-ended spanners, spoke keys, a chain tool, tyre levers… all the essentials and more in a padded Cordura case.
Pretty much everyone likes a drink at Christmas. Not necessarily sports drinks, I’ll grant you, but SIS will reduce the cost of their Endurance pack for the period between 30 November and 30 December from £13.99 to £6.99. Buy it for someone for Christmas and they’ll be ready to kick into their training in the New Year.
The pack contains two SiS GO isotonic gels, GO energy sachets, GO electrolyte sachets, REGO Rapid Recovery sachets, GO Energy 40g bars, plus an 800ml SiS bottle.
Okay, so you get yer chamois cream, yer sunscreen, start oil, lip balm, post-race wash spray, wipes, safety pins for your numbers… all sorts of stuff that you might need on race day. You know, the stuff that it’s easy to forget.
If you don’t fancy shelling out for the entire kit in a zipped bag, each of the components can be bought separately.
Aero helmets are a growing trend and this one from Casco comes with a high-quality visor that’s easy to remove for cleaning, and you can push it up onto the top when climbing at low speeds, for example (you can buy the helmet without the visor for £100). It’s also well-ventilated, reasonably light, and cheaper than most of the opposition.
If you want to ride faster, you need to train right, and if you want to train right, a good coach will help. Check out British Cycling’s Coach Directory to find someone to guide you to a whole season of personal bests.
We're talking big money here but if you want a performance-enhancing upgrade for your bike, Miche’s SWR Full Carbon RC clinchers are a worthy option. They’re 38mm deep for an aero gain, while the SKF sealed bearings spin smoothly, and the ride quality is sublime.
If you ride fast, you’re going to get sweaty – it's all part of the deal – and that’s bad news for the smartphone in your pocket. What the Weather Warrior lacks in glamour it makes up for in practicality, protecting your phone and other valuables – like cash and a bank card – from rain, and scratches as well as all that hard-earned sweat. A touchscreen window allows you to use training apps and snap photos without taking it out.
Why would you want to swap the jockey wheels of your rear mech to these ones from Aerozine? Well, you might save a few grams and the cartridge bearings might work better than the bushings you find in most standard jockey wheels. But, let’s be honest, it’s mostly about the bling. You can even get them in gold.
The ride feel of the Rock and Roll 2 is as good as that of any indoor trainer – you can even swing the bike around as you would when you’re out on the road – and the sealed resistance unit is quiet. Now Kurt have added the ability to hook it up to an iPhone or iPad using the Kinetic inRide system to provide a meaningful power measurement. It’s expensive but you do get an unconditional lifetime warranty.
We reckon these are a superb option for wet weather training rides or racing where comfort is key. They’re well made and the bonus is that they’re highly reflective, the main fabric shining out brightly in car headlights.
You’re probably familiar with the concept of Strava, the website/mobile app that allows you to track your cycling (and other activities) via GPS. The basic service is free but for $59 a year (about £37) you get a whole bunch of other features including indoor training videos, instant segment times sent to your phone, advanced power training analysis, and so on.
Schwalbe reckon that their One tyres are the fastest they’ve ever made and we reckon they’re right. These are extremely rapid with good traction in a range of conditions, impressive puncture protection and plenty of durability.
If you really want to shoot high, how about a complete new bike? Yes, it might be pushing it just a touch, but you never know! The Canyon Ultimate CF SLX 9.0 rated highly in our 2013-14 Bike of the Year for its fast acceleration, sharp handling and light weight. Over three grand is clearly a lot to spend on a bike, but this is a high-end machine and you get loads of value here.
If you're serious about increasing your speed, road.cc clothing will allow you to ride faster than a speeding bullet. Possibly. And leap tall building too. Perhaps. We have bibshorts, jerseys, gilets, caps and socks, and they all look supercool. You're tempted, aren't you?
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.