It’s hard for me to ask for bike gifts because I’m a gear geek. Everything I want is shockingly expensive to non-cyclists. Plus, my current gear setup is pretty dialed. But as my dad liked to say whenever I got an A-minus, “You can always do better.”
In that spirit, I put together a wish list with eight pieces of gear that will help me chase marginal gains. Some would call these high-end products a waste of money, especially when I already own or use something that performs nearly as well. But I’m not into bikes because I’m frugal or sensible. Maybe, with all of these high-performance gifts under the tree, I can become an A-plus rider. Or at least look like one!
Fox Racing Dropframe Pro MIPS helmet - $199.95
I’ve used the Fox Racing Speedframe Pro MIPS helmet for a couple of seasons, and I’ve been impressed by its light weight, comfort, and ventilation. There really isn’t anything to improve upon, but on the rare day when I decide to push my limits down a gnarly downhill track, it’d be nice to have the option to switch to a Dropframe Pro. It covers the back of the head and ears, so I can feel a bit more protected and confident. Plus, all the kids at my local dirt jumps are wearing ¾-shell helmets now, and I just want to stay hip.
Fox Factory 34 Step-Cast fork - $1,088.99
This season, I did several mountain bike races on a bike equipped with the Fox 34 Performance Elite fork. It’s good enough for most riders (including me), but I want to switch to the same 34 Step-Cast fork that Mathieu van der Poel is riding. The Step-Cast version shaves around 150 grams off the standard 34. The Factory trim adds blingy Kashima-coated stanchions meant to reduce friction. Then it’s finished with bright orange lowers that let everyone on the start line know that you mean business.
Evil Chamois Hagar - $4,618.99
I’ve owned plenty of high-end gravel bikes, all of which had more expensive builds than this Evil Chamois Hagar. But none of that matters because the Chamois Hagar has no equal when it comes to geometry: slack 66.67-degree head angle, long reach, room for 700x50mm tires, plus a dropper post, it will shred harder than any gravel bike ever made. I’m riding a titanium Lynskey GR300, but I’m ready to dump it to try the Evil. To truly be considered A-plus material though, I’ll need to add some carbon wheels (more on that below).
ENVE AG25 Disc wheelset - $1,599.99
My Lynskey gravel bike is rolling on Reynolds ATR Disc carbon wheels which have never steered me wrong, but I want something different on the Chamois Hagar. I picked the ENVE AG25 because the shallow rim is lightweight and the wide, hookless bead protects the tire from pinch flats. I want this extra puncture protection to push the Chamois Hagar harder on rough and rocky trails. The AG25 is the “budget” version of ENVE’s G23 wheel, but it has a wider 25mm inner width which suits the 50mm tires I want to run. That makes it an A-plus choice for me.
Did you know The Pro’s Closet includes a free 5Nm torque key with every bike? I’ve been using this very torque key for years, and it works great for stems and seatposts. Now that I’m getting more serious about wrenching and optimizing my bikes, it’s time to replace it with something that’s more versatile (and fancier). The Feedback Sports Range Torque Ratchet Combo combines a bar-style torque wrench with a convenient two-way ratchet. It includes a carrying case, a huge selection of bits, and a 2-10Nm range so I can properly torque any bolt that comes my way.
Can you really improve on a simple hex wrench? Yes, yes you can. The Pro’s Closet’s master mechanics have started using Park Tool’s new THH-1 wrenches, and I was blown away by how nice they are. The T-handle can extend and retract to fit into awkward spaces. The blue handle allows you to effortlessly spin the wrench when tightening and loosening bolts. And the twisted black tip provides extra bite to break free frozen bolts. My current Bondhus wrenches are very nice (and gold-plated), but these feature-packed Park Tool wrenches are truly next level.
Supacaz SupaSox - $6.99
Some cyclists can ride in any old sock, but I hate wearing socks that are too thick, too loose, or too scratchy. In my obsessive hunt for the perfect sock, I discovered the brilliant Supacaz SupaSox. They are made of woven nylon that fits snug but still feels smooth and easy to put on. Not only that, I love the playful designs Supacaz created, like the “Rad Black Bear.” My goal for 2022 is to replace every Castelli, DeFeet, SockGuy, and Swiftwick sock in my dresser with a pair of silky SupaSox. Fortunately, this is the most affordable item on my list.
Skratch Labs Sport Crispy Rice Cake - $17.95
Rice Krispies are cheap, tasty, and hands-down my favorite riding snack. I’m rarely prepared to pay the premium for cycling-specific nutrition, but it might be necessary to to maximize my cycling potential. To replace the humble Rice Krispy, the pro-level option is Skratch Labs’ Sport Crispy Rice Cakes. They taste really good, and I can always trust Skratch to have their macros dialed. At 18 dollars for an 8-pack, it’s definitely on a different tier than regular Rice Krispies, but a reasonable ask for a gift.