When it comes to Christmas, The Discerning Cyclist is almost impossible to buy for. They’re not like the 'Cyclist Who Has Everything' as they do not desire something to add to the everything... they just covet the rare things that have that impossible combination of style, exclusivity, quality and presence.
They’re not the 'Money No Object Cyclist' either, as they know that price doesn’t necessarily equal said style, exclusivity, quality and presence. What they are is a pain to buy for — who knows what conforms to their pernickety notions of what’s acceptable and what’s insufferably naff inside their overly critical little heads? Here’s a list of things that might, and we can’t stress this enough, might, help you through that gift labyrinth. Don’t blame us if it’s wrong though. Keep the receipt...
CiclismoBadges popped up earlier this year making these little pin badges based on classic cycling jerseys. The badges are handmade, nearly 2mm thick, are nickel plated and come with a double black rubber clutch for extra grip to whatever jacket/softshell/blazer/Carradice it’s pinned to. Choose from a variety of old jersey designs from the classic Peugeot/Michelin to a more recent Pantani era Mercatone Uno/Bianchi top.
Get a group of perspicacious (fussy) cyclists together and casually toss in the subject of the saddlebag, and you’ll get a heated discussion about the validity of the European posterior man-satchel... it might come to blows, or some catty remarks at least. Whatever, the road.cc crew have enjoyed Silca seatpacks in the past so they get our seal of approval. The new Asymmetrico Seat Roll takes all the good bits from their previous bags and bundles them all together into something better, with lighter materials, reduced bulk, an extra pocket, and improved durability all held together and kept securely on the bike by a Boa dial - everyone knows Boas are cool, right? There’s enough room for a tube (even a trendy big-tyred 700x45mm one), levers, CO2 canisters and a multitool.
In this world where nothing is certain except death, taxes and punctures, we all need a little thing to put our repair gubbins in. Do away with that tatty old plastic box with this charmingly retro metal tin. For the old school rider this kit comes with glue and a collection of patches, ditch them and replace them with spare valve and puncture plug paraphernalia if your cycling pal never stops going on about how great their tubeless set up is. Customise it further by adding a small piece of cloth to wipe grubby fingers and dampen any rattling, no one likes a bike rattle.
For any cyclist that’s too cool for mudguards (shhhh, don’t tell them but mudguards are de rigueur again) but doesn’t want their bum to get splashed, there’s this Ass Saver-style guard that clips onto a saddle. The Under Saddle Mudguard from Velox comes in a variety of colours and national flag designs, but this Mondrian pattern apears to reference the classic and always classy La Vie Claire team jerseys of old... for numerous reasons, Velox probably can't explicitly say it does though.
Domestique Gin is a London Dry-style gin that leads with a fruity, citrus and juniper nose and a subtle palate, blending sweet and savoury by using botanicals sourced from the host nations of some of the world’s greatest cycling events: think Spanish orange peel, French hops, Belgian angelica, Italian rosemary, Californian raisins and a nod to the Tour of Britain with rosehip. Domestique Gin was created in 2017 in collaboration with local cycling apparel brand Ashmei, and what was originally a limited edition batch gin now forms part of the regular Puddingstone Distillery range due to popular demand. Each bottle is also sealed with a piece of bike inner tube. For complete authenticity, make sure that a glass is brought to you when called for.
A set of custom-painted cycling shoes doesn’t have to just be the lustful preserve of the pro rider - anybody can have a pair of fancy unique spangly riding slippers. Turning up on the group ride with a pair of custom booties will absolutely wrinkle any sock game and kick any spendy new wheels into the weeds, although they do bring with them the tricky issue of needing the right legs to carry them off. Price will depend on the intricacy of the design, but if it’s a little too salty for you then you could always go at your your discerning cycling friend’s current shoes with a Sharpie, then buy them some oversocks as a present just in case it goes horribly wrong.
Your mum may have told you that you can judge a man by his shoes, but you can tell a cyclist by his cap... and they’re cheaper than shoes. A cycling cap can showcase your brand loyalty, your cycling discipline, team affinity, your individuality or just keep the sun, sweat and rain out of your eyes. Vera Cycling is Céline Oberlé from Roubaix, who produces a vast range of casquettes (or gapettes if you want to be more precise), and a few other cycling related bits and bobs that are 100% made in France. We’d quite happily don and doff the 'GéGé the beautiful calves' one, or maybe 'Jojo the beautiful thighs' or 'Suzette the beautiful gambettes' are more your style. Just make sure the cap matches your socks/bar tape/jersey/frame.
We all know the fake smile that’s cracked open upon the unwrapping of one of those books that appear by the till every Christmas, that people only buy for people they don’t know what to buy for... avoid that awkwardness by selecting a volume that might actually interest and inspire. “Where There’s A Will” isn’t just a straightforward account of a ride or a training manual, but a thoughtful journey through hardship, love, friendship and loss via the medium of pedalling a long way. This should see any cyclist safely and quietly in the corner through the entire EastEnders, Michael McIntyre, Strictly… and Mrs Brown’s Boys marathon.
Cycling eyewear does seem to be going the way of looking like slipping your grandmother’s conservatory on your face these days, and these Oakleys are no different - they do get round it slightly by giving a sizeable wink to their seminal Factory Pilot and Blade glasses, though. The new pared-down version of the retro-styled Sutro has the bottom half of the frame removed, and a more rounded profile. They have Oakley’s usual legendary lenses, O-Matter frames, an Unobtainium rubber nose piece and ear-socks that get stickier as you get sweatier, preventing dreaded sunnie creep. The turquoise and white pair are the ones to look for if you want that full late 80’s retro vibe.
Runwell make a range of exquisite tools based around the concept that perfect tools should have the right feel of texture and quality. Coming from the metalworking area of Tsubame-Sanjo in Japan they’re steeped in a history of tool making and we have one of their 15mm spanners despite not having anything on a bike that it fits, but because it’s just lovely. This oversized allen key shaped bottle opener is made from chrome plated steel, you may or may not be able to use it to tighten something on your bike but that doesn’t matter.
At Christmas, nothing can be said to be certain except for arguments, someone snaffling all the green triangles, and socks. The discerning cyclist doesn’t want a comedy sock, one with reindeer or bells on... if they’re going to get socks, they need to be either beautiful or useful, or both, and not in a value three-pack. Among some quality attire Velocio also offer a fine collection of foot garb, and right now these Winter Wool socks will do quite nicely. They're made from ultra fine merino wool that’s soft, wicking and warm, the footbed and toe are padded for extra warmth and comfort, and the instep and cuff are ribbed to improve fit inside a shoe and prevent cuff slip faux-pas. The signature Velocio tricolore motif on the top of the sock is a nice little detail that you won’t be able too see underneath bib tights and overshoes, but you’ll know it’s there.
Ben Scrutton High Profile Climb Print - From £7.21
The cycling world is full of 'slap-a-bike-on-it-and-call-it-art' prints and pictures... and a lot of them are a bit unimaginative, and just not very good. Ben Scruton, however, does a very enchanting line of cycling illustrations among his other many and varied works, and we’ve liked his team car images for a while. He’s just released these High Profile Climb designs - and while representations of iconic climbs are nothing new, the simplicity and lack of overt cycling-ness of these means they won’t be banished to hanging in the Pain Cave, and could just as easily find a home on the front room wall. You can choose from the profiles of many of cycling’s famous climbs, as well as some near to Ben’s South London home that are probably close to his heart, and the minimalist masterpiece that is Herne Hill Velodrome.
If the cyclist you're buying for has more conventional tastes, be sure to check out our other 2020 Christmas gift guides.
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.