Skip to content

10 Bike Products I'm Thankful For

Dear cycling, uh ... spirit ... thank you for blessing us with all of these sick bike parts.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Features

Photo: Kids Ride Shotgun

I have one silly fear this holiday season. My father-in-law likes to ask guests to say grace, and I dread being the one chosen. I didn’t grow up saying grace, so I usually have no clue what to say. Plus, I’m such a bike nerd, that I’ll probably end up saying grace like Jesse does in this goofy scene from The Fast and the Furious

Jesse ends up awkwardly thanking the “heavenly spirit” for the engine parts that have been instrumental in his high-horsepower car builds.

This got me thinking — if I have to say grace, what bike gear would I call out? I thought a bit about the parts and accessories that have made a positive impact on my cycling life. Here are the 10 bike products that I’m most thankful for this holiday season. 

[button]Shop Bike Accessories[/button]

I’m Thankful for Good Helmets

Good MIPS bike helmets

I love wearing the airy Fox Proframe MIPS whenever I hit rough trails. Having a full-face that felt comfy to wear on regular trail rides was unimaginable only 5 years ago. 

Helmets are the one thing I refuse to skimp on, especially since I got into a bad crash 10 years ago. My helmet likely saved my life, but the concussion left me debilitated for months. I eventually recovered, but I’m now extra cautious about my head. I love trail riding with the new generation of lightweight full-face helmets, and no matter the terrain, I will only ride in helmets with some form of rotational impact protection. The one you’re probably most familiar with is MIPS. 

[product-block handle="nc_fox-racing-proframe-helmet-matte-black-medium"/]

How much extra protection rotational impact systems add will depend on the tester, but they give me something nearly as important as protection — confidence. I’m thankful that I can continue enjoying the sport I love, and MIPS helmets give me the extra confidence I need to continue pushing my limits while I still can. I love helmets

[button]Shop Helmets[/button]

I’m Thankful for Drip Wax Lubricants

Silca Super Secret

I love riding waxed chains. They’re faster, cleaner, and cause less drivetrain wear. But the one thing I don’t love is maintaining a waxed chain. Taking the chain off every week and dunking it in a slow cooker seriously harshed my buzz. But now that extremely effective wax drip lubes are available that come close to the performance of hot melt waxes, life is easier. Now, I only immersion wax in the slow cooker for an initial wax after prepping a new chain (you can even skip this and go straight to drip wax). When it's time to re-wax, I just apply wax drip lube and my bike's ready to ride in a couple of hours. 

[product-block handle="7147224563904-silca-super-secret-chain-coating"/]

I also used to only wax my road bike chain. But now with the convenience of drip wax, every bike in my quiver, including my wife’s bikes, gets the low friction and reduced wear of a waxed chain. Add in the convenience of single-step chain strippers that don’t use harsh chemicals and getting the performance of a waxed chain on your bike has never been easier. It truly feels like we’ve entered the halcyon days of chain wax.    

I’m Thankful for Short-Stack & Adjustable Dropper Seatposts

OneUp V2 dropper

The OneUp V2 allowed me to fit a 150mm dropper on my XC bike. More drop = more fun. 

I suffer from a somewhat annoying affliction: short legs. For a long time, this meant I couldn’t enjoy the benefits of long travel dropper seatpost like many of my more gazelle-like riding friends. I didn't buy certain mountain bikes (even though I really wanted to) because there wasn’t enough insertion depth to fit my desired dropper post. 

[product-block handle="7389865607360-oneup-dropper-v2-dropper-post-31-6mm"/]

The OneUp dropper was a godsend for me. Not only does it have one of the best stack height-to-travel ratios on the market, but the travel is super easy to adjust so you can max out dropper travel on any frame.

I was able to fit a 150mm dropper on my Epic Evo, which transformed it into an super sendy bike. I can even fit a 200mm dropper on my enduro bike, something I never would have thought possible 5 years ago! A few other brands are making similar droppers now, but I’m still pretty loyal to OneUp at the moment. 

I’m Thankful for Carbohydrate Drink Mix

We’re living in the carbohydrate revolution and pros are going faster than ever thanks to the insane amount of carbohydrates they can now ingest during races and training.

To take in enough carbs without upsetting your stomach, carbohydrate drink mixes are key. I started using carb mix a few years ago, and as someone who hates gels and often struggles to eat enough on the bike, it’s been game-changing for me. I don’t race without it because it’s the main way I fuel the first 1-3 hours of big endurance events when things are super chaotic and stressful, and I've had my best results when I use several bottles of carb mix to stay topped up. 

[product-block handle="6696600633536-skratch-labs-sport-superfuel-drink-mix-raspberry-8-serving-resealable-pouch"/]

[product-block handle="7446339289280-tailwind-nutrition-endurance-fuel-hydration-mix"/]

I buy the prepackaged stuff — Skratch Super High-Carb, Tailwind, and GU Roctane — but you can save a lot of money by making your own. There are a few good recipes online, but whatever you choose to go with, it’ll take some experimentation to find what works best for you and your body.  

I’m Thankful for Bone Conduction Headphones

Shokz bone conduction headphones cyclingPhoto: Skokz

I like motivating myself with music when I ride and run. With my busy life, my weekly long rides are also the best time for me to catch up on podcasts and books on tape. But I don’t like plugging my ears up with AirPods, especially when there are cars or other riders around. 

Then. I discovered bone conduction headphones like Shokz Open Runs. These leave your ears open so you can hear your surroundings, and the sound quality is surprisingly good (though I’m no audiophile). They’ve made my long endurance rides and runs so much better because I can have my music/podcasts but stay aware and safe. 

[product-block handle="shokz-open-run-open-ear-headphones"/]

The one thing to keep in mind with the Shokz headphones that I use is that the band can interfere with some sunglasses and/or helmets. I have no issues with my Giro and Oakleys, but everyone’s head is different. 

I’m Thankful for the Garmin Varia

Garmin Varia

Speaking of staying aware of your surroundings, I’ve recommended the Varia radar more than any other cycling accessory. It’s similar to riding with a mirror, but way more effective (and cooler looking).

The radar can detect cars (and riders) up to 140 meters behind you, and it will alert you with audio and visual cues that they’re approaching and show you how many cars there are and how fast they’re moving. This way, cars never surprise you. You know they’re coming, and you can take appropriate action to ensure the safest pass happens. 

[product-block handle="garmin-varia-rtl515-bike-radar-and-tail-light"/]

If you get the taillight version, you get the added benefit of a super bright rear light that increases your visibility on the road. When a car does approach, it’ll blink to make you even more noticeable. The Varia isn’t some magic forcefield that’ll prevent collisions, but I won’t ride without it because it makes me feel more aware, more visible, and safer out on the road. 

I’m Thankful for Lake Cycling Shoes

Lake best cycling shoes for wide feet

My Lake shoe collection.

If you have wide feet like me, you’ve likely been frustrated with cycling shoes that don’t fit. For years, I just accepted the pain and numbness on long rides, but in 2018, I decided I would suffer no more. I switched to Lake, which is one of the few cycling shoe brands that makes wide and extra-wide models. For me, they’re the best-fitting cycling shoes I’ve ever worn and the detailed size charts helped me buy my first pair with complete confidence. 

Lake shoes also look good, and there are lots of high-performance carbon-soled models available in wide sizes. The models I’ve used (the 200-series CX and MX shoes) have lasted through years of abuse and likely have many more years left in them. I recommend Lake to pretty much everyone who walks into TPC looking for wide shoes, which says a lot because we don’t even carry them! 

I’m Thankful for Tubeless Tire Plugs

Tubeless tire plugs

I’m not going to tell people that they have to ride tubeless tires. While I love tubeless and won’t go back to tubes, it isn’t for everyone. But if you do ride tubeless and you don’t carry a set of tire plugs — what are you doing!? Being able to plug punctures is hands down the best advantage of running a tubeless set-up. 

[product-block handle="genuine-innovations-tubeless-tackle-tire-repair-kit-with-bacon-1"/]

I have one of these Genuine Innovations Tubeless Tackle Kits stashed on every single bike in my garage. The aluminum case keeps the bacon strip tire plugs moist, and I can leave one pre-loaded for quick plugging. Really, any decent plug kit will do. Plugs are super easy to use, and for me, plugs generally last the life of the tire. I haven’t had to use a spare tube in over 5 years. It’s liberating. 

I’m Thankful for Rear Wheel Bike Stands

Feedback Rakk

I originally bought a Feedback Sports Rakk stand because I was tired of trying to prop bikes up with a stick to take photos. It made taking photos much easier, but my boss at the time didn’t like how it looked, so I ended up taking it home.

[product-block handle="6974930878656-feedback-sports-rakk-rear-wheel-bike-stand"/]

Then, my wife and I started to fight over who got to stick their bike in the stand when we’d get back from rides. Now, we have 4 of these stands in the garage. They’re convenient. They hold bikes securely, don’t take up much space, and you don’t have to lean your bike on anything or lift it up onto a hook, so our bikes never fall over and our walls are free of scuffs.

I pump up my tires, lube my chains, adjust my cockpits, rewrap handlebars, and hose down my bikes in these stands. I use them way more than my actual workstand. I always take a couple with me to every race too because they’re so handy. They’re something I never thought I’d use or appreciate as much as I do now. 

I’m Thankful for the Shotgun Seat 

Shotgun MTB seatPhoto: Kids Ride Shotgun

This is probably the bike product that I’m the MOST thankful for. It attaches to almost any mountain bike frame and allows you to ride with your toddler. My son absolutely loves it. He’s getting a bit too tall for it now (his helmet constantly smacks me in the face!) and I will be incredibly sad when the day finally comes to retire it. 

If you have a mountain bike and a young child, I highly recommend trying a Shotgun seat or one of its competitors. My son and I worked up to doing 2 hour rides on it. He got to explore so many amazing trails while he was still so young. The memories we made together will surely last a lifetime. 

[button]Shop Bike Accessories[/button]