Aaaaaand it's officially December. 2017's flying by (and dragging along... it's a weird year), but now's the time to start picking up those presents so you don't get stuck in the last-minute mall crush!
When it comes to bike stuff, it can be tricky to find the perfect gift because so much depends on specs, sizes, compatibility, and personal preference. To help take some of the guesswork out of your gift-giving, we've been breaking down bike-bits based on just how much info you need from the recipient. We've already covered "works for everyone" and "some input required" - today we'll dive into the truly tricky stuff! Let's get giftin'!
Lots of Input Needed
These are the toughies. The bike parts, accessories, and upgrades that rely so much on personal preference, compatibility, and ride-style that you don't want to give them "blind". These are the gifts that'll need a ton of input from the receiver, so you won't want to snag one on a whim but, if you know it's what your ride-pal wants, you can really make their day!
Saddles are notoriously individual. Finding the perfect saddle can feel like finding your soul mate - someone to support you through rough rides and easy ones, someone that's always there for you, rain or shine, eventually becoming such a sharer of experience that you can't imagine riding with anyone else. Most riders will eventually find their saddle fit and stick with the same make and model for their entire riding career. And what works flawlessly for one rider, might be uncomfortable for another thanks to things like sit-bone width, riding position, material compression, etc...
When it comes to saddles, reviews from other riders will only get you so far (because everyone's bodies, bikes, and builds are different) and even getting a brand name from your giftee won't really narrow it down enough to just pull the trigger. For instance, if you know they've talked about wanting a Brooks saddle for a while - you still won't know if they'll be happier on a narrow B15, a wider B17, a springy B67, or how they'll feel about leather vs the cambium options.
As a rider, the easiest way to find the perfect saddle is to test ride a bunch of them so, if you've got your heart sent on saddling up your friend's ride, make sure you know exactly which model they want (or snag them a gift card so they can pull the trigger once they know what'll suit them best)!
Helmets are another real point of contention among the riding community. Like saddles, there's no one-size-fits-all solution and people will grow tremendously loyal to their favorite helmet. You want your buds to protect their domes, and the best way to encourage a little lid love is to find a helmet that fits like a dream.
Again, the best way to do that is to try on a bunch and see what feels the best. Some riders love a light, super-vented, race-style helmet that feels like it's not even there. Others prefer a more urban dome-guard that can add some contemporary style to an, admittedly, pretty dorky piece of safety equipment.
So, unless you know their style and size needs - you won't want to take a random stab in the helmet department and hope it works. Talk to them about what they want, get a make, model, and size, or again, consider a gift card so they can swing by, try 'em all on, and find the helmet that they'll love, wear, and never leave home without.
Anything that Affects Fit
Last up, we've got a fairly broad category: things that affect "fit". Getting your bike fit "just right" takes a lot of trial and error, test miles, and ultimately, educated guess-work. So, when it comes to things that'll affect a rider's position on the bike it can be tough to snag a gift that you know'll be perfect.
With things like stems you'll want to know their ideal stem length and angle, and you'll also need to know what size clamp their bars take and whether they're bike takes a threaded or threadless set-up.
When it comes to handlebars, riders often have pretty serious thoughts about reach, drop, width - as well as needing to find the right clamp-diameter to fit their stem.
Seatposts? You'll need to know length, diameter, set-back, and whether they like a one or two-bolt set-up on the saddle rails.
So, when it comes to fit-affecting bits and bobs, don't go in blind. But, there's no rule that says all your gifts have to be a surprise either. Some of our most cherished presents growing up came right off our wishlist for Santa, so just make sure you've got an ear out for what the rider in your life is looking for fit-wise and you'll be able to brighten their holiday with the perfect present all the same! And, when in doubt, gift card it out!
So there you go - you're all set to handle the holiday season for the riders in your life; whether you opt for an easy upgrade, a thoughtful add-on, or go full-depth in finding out exactly what they want and need.
You'll know that they'll be riding happy all year long. And we'll see you all out there.