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Holiday Gift Guide: 10 things on Spencer's list

Our Senior Editor, Spencer Powlison, likes to mix things up, so his gift list includes gravel, XC mountain bike, enduro MTB, and a little vintage flavor.

Written by: Spencer Powlison

Published on:

Posted in:Guides

10 gifts on Spencer's list
I can’t stand it when someone calls me a mountain biker. Or if I get pigeonholed as a gravel guy. Sure, I like Zwift, but don’t you dare call me a roadie! 

You see, my taste in bikes is as diverse as the cuisine in a season of “No Reservations.” It tends to change based on what latest bike or race or challenge has inspired me. And that’s how I like it. Riding only one type of bike is just, well, boring. So to suit my multiple personas, my holiday wishlist is geared toward three niches that I’m loving these days. 

Three gifts for gravel Spencer

3T Exploro team frame
3T Exploro Team Velocio edition - $2,349.99

Right now, gravel Spencer is going through a bit of malaise. I still dig big days in the saddle, but I need something to reboot my appetite for gravel riding. A lot of times, a new bike or frame can do the trick. I love Velocio apparel and rely on it almost exclusively for day-long rides or races. Naturally, the Velocio edition of the Exploro Team suits my admittedly subdued taste. Currently, I have a Lauf Grit gravel bike, and I think a 3T that’s a bit faster and more performance-oriented might be better for the occasional pavement riding in my area.

Radavist Yucca sox

Radavist Yucca Wool socks - $15

The Radavist was into gravel before gravel was Gravel<™>. Trust me! I first met the website’s creator, John Watson, at Rouge Roubaix in 2015. We just rode pain-old rim-brake road bikes on that 100-mile route with ample dirt around St. Francisville, Louisiana. But I digress. The style is on point, and unless it’s broiling hot, I always prefer wool socks.

POC Ventral Spin

POC Ventral Spin helmet - $174

POC’s Scandinavian style isn’t for everyone, but that’s why I like these helmets. Life’s too short to wear a generic helmet. The colors are cool. The fit works for me, and the Spin system protects my gourd from rotational forces in an unobtrusive manner. For my money, the Ventral is the best helmet on the market when it comes to balancing aerodynamics, ventilation, and weight. 

XC racer Spencer wants these four things

4iiii XTR power meter

4iiii Shimano XTR power meter - $249.99

It’s time to get serious. I just signed up for a week-long mountain bike stage race in Italy next September. For the first time ever, I think I really need a power meter for my mountain bike to get my training right. I’m a bit vain when it comes to power meters — I don’t like how they clutter up the look of a crankset. Not 4iiii. With the sensor neatly tucked behind the left crankam, I’ll get all the data and none of the aesthetic clutter.

Maxxis Aspen Tire

Maxxis Aspen tire - $74.99

Whoops, the Vittoria Mezcal I originally picked is sold out. Thanks a lot, supply chain! No problem. I’ve had good luck with the Maxxis Aspen too. Compared to the Mezcal, the Aspen is faster-rolling and lighter, but it wears out pretty quickly. Perhaps get me a pair of these, and I’ll save them for the big race.

100% S3 sunglasses

100% S3 Photochromic sunglasses - $194.99

I’ve been wearing a set of S3 sunglasses since they were released in 2018, and I love the fit, coverage, and lens quality. But, my old S3s are getting pretty ratty. Plus their mirrored lenses aren’t versatile enough for mountain biking. So a new set with photochromic lenses is the perfect optics upgrade.

Mavic Mistral vest

Mavic Mistral vest - $109.99

I’m generally opposed to jackets when mountain biking. Much like Dwight Schrute, I believe that long sleeves compromise my attack readiness. Instead, give me a nice vest that keeps my core warm on cool days. Plus, it’s easier to put on and take off while I’m on the roll.

Enduro Spencer will shred with these three bits of kit

TLD baggies

Troy Lee Designs Skyline Air shorts - $91.99

For too long, I cheaped out on baggies. But recently, I got a nice set of Troy Lee Designs shorts, and they’ve changed my life. I need more. The latest, like these Skyline Airs, have lightweight material, the ideal fit and length for mountain biking with knee pads, and they just look good. I’m getting old, so I need all the help I can to look the part with all the groms on the trails.

TLD Skyline LS jersey

Troy Lee Designs Skyline LS jersey - $51.99

Mix and match baggy and jersey brands? Never! And why would you, when TLD has such cool prints and patterns. 

POC enduro gloves

POC Resistance Enduro Adjustable gloves - $43.99

I really cannot bring myself to buy mountain bike gloves because I know they’ll get trashed. That’s what makes them the perfect gift. If someone else puts them in my stocking, I end up with the new gloves I need and none of the buyer’s remorse. 

Bonus! You know I love vintage stuff too

Balmamion - The Eagle of Canavese book - $35

Rapha makes great cycling kit, but I think their publications are even better. That’s right, Rapha publishes many books about cycling history, such as Kings of Pain, Queens of Pain, Bird on a Wire, and more. The Eagle of Canavese is the latest publication about Franco Balmamion, a lesser-known Italian star of the 1960s. I have no idea who Balmamion was beyond that, which is why I want this beautiful book.

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