Riding Gravel Gift Guide 2018:
This is the season for gift giving, and we at Riding Gravel have had some nice items come through here which we recommend as gifts you could give to your favorite gravel grinding friends, relatives, or significant others. Or…….you could just gift these to yourself. Whatever moves you, these are a few items we have culled from our experiences and reviews which we think would be great gifts for the 2018 Holiday Season. Some we have tried, own, and love. Others are things we’d put on our own wish lists. We’ve split up the list according to price points to help making selections for your gift giving easier. Links to each product are provided. These are ideas from the staff and contributors of Riding Gravel and are things we believe in and feel passionate about. None of these ideas are here because of advertising or behind the scenes influence. Heck, one of the items on this list is something we found! Check it out……
- Up To $100.00
Slica Premio Tire Levers: Grannygear
Yep, you are gonna’ blow through a 20 dollar bill on these, ($18.00 USD) but brother, they are well worth it, or at least they are to anyone running road tubeless (or gravel tubeless for that matter).
With that thin, yet strong tip, I can get right under the tire bead without tearing up the sealing tape and lever that baby right off there a bit at a time. The Silca Premio tire levers feel good to the hand and disappear into my seat bag without a hitch. I have one set in every road bike I own that is running tubeless.
In the stocking, these should be. Speaking of socks……..
MINT Socks: Guitar Ted
The cycling world can be credited for several things, but in my opinion, one of the most underrated things cycling has done is to “up the sock game“. You might be too young to remember when something other than white was considered poor taste in cycling socks. Man! Am I glad those days are gone! Anyway….. We’ve got a plethora of cool sock designs these days and my sock drawer overfloweth with several examples. So, anything new there better be good, Well, I have added a pair of MINT socks and not only do they look good, they do good.
Every pair of MINT socks is a limited edition run with patterns drawn from “mid-century design” which not only are different, classy, and eye-catching, but work off the bike as well as on the bike. They don’t necessarily look like a cycling sock, in my opinion, and that’s what is different about them. The good thing here is that not only do they look good, ride really well, but for every pair sold, a dollar goes to the NICA high school mountain bike league.
MINT socks are $20/pair and are designed in the USA. The socks are manufactured in Italy. Right now you can use a special code “bundlemint” to get a deal on these socks. They are available on-line at www.thefreshlyminted.com
seveniDP Transition Gloves: Grannygear
You want minimal? You want no padding and dexterity in spades? You want a fit that is snug like a turtle’s shell? Then you need to check these out. The seven iDP Transition glove. I found these laying on the ground at the local trailhead and the logo is so subtle, I did not even know who made them until I wrote this. I just knew that I had found the sweetest pair of lightweight gloves I had ever used.
seveniDP has an odd name and although they seem to offer a full line of items, I had never heard of them. Maybe I travel in different cycling circles as they. I have worn these for road, gravel and mountain bike, but mostly I use them with drop bars as they allow for a very high level of feel of the shifters and brakes. They fit like an expensive driving glove and are ‘barely there’, but have been long lasting and wash easily. A nose wipey section on the thumb makes them even better.
Mine are XLs. For suggested retail of 20-25 bucks, they seem like a steal in a world of 40 dollar gloves that fit like they were made for some non-human form.
OTTOLOCK Cinch Lock: Guitar Ted
Riding is one thing, you always know where your bike is, but stopping reveals that uneasy feeling if you leave your bike and it is out of sight. A good lock can alleviate that worry. We were able to test the OTTOLOCK Cinch Lock earlier this year and it proved to be imminently stow-able, easy to use, and does what you need it to do with regard to securing your bike while you go grab that yummy cookie and hot cuppa joe after your ride. I’ve continued to use it post-review and it continues to be my favorite security device for my bikes as long as I am not planning on being gone too long. While it is perfect for those quick stops at convenience stores or coffee shops, it isn’t a lock I’d trust to secure my bike in an overnight, or high risk situation. That’s not what this lock is intended for anyway. But it would make an excellent gift and that is why it is on this gift guide.
The OTTOLOCK Cinch Lock is like a “high tech zip tie” with a combination lock. The lock combination is user settable and can be changed as many times as you’d like. The OTTOLOCK comes in three colors and is coated in a rubbery material so it doesn’t mar your bike and doesn’t rattle when you are transporting it. It comes in three lengths and goes from $55.00-$75.00MSRP and can be found at most good bike shops. Check out the OTTOLOCK on their website here: www.ottodesignworks.com
Silca Borsa Americano : Grannygear
After liking, but not loving, the Silca Phone Wallet, I ended up trying a Borsa Americano and it has become a fave thing of mine. The rubber inner tube outer holds it in the jersey pocket, it is rugged enough in a funky way and it holds my phone, keys, and cash/cards with ease. It also is small enough to fit into most jersey center pockets with some room to spare, but if you want even less bulk (and storage), there now is a BORSA MINIMO AG AMERICANO, (Unfortunately it is sold out at the time of this publishing of our gift guide) which adds water resistance to the mix.
At $45.00, the Borsa Americano is not cheap, but functional and useful. It’s a keeper.
Kali Alchemy Helmet: Grannygear
At 100 bucks retail, the Kali Alchemy proves that a solid helmet package does not have to break the piggy bank. A 300g, and in two sizes that will accommodate most riders, Kali also adds a mini visor (I like that for gravel bike rides) and builds into it their version of a MIPS type system, LDL. Looking like little, green, squishy Lego blocks, the Low Density Layer “Consists of specially designed viscoelastic padding placed throughout the helmet. Reduces rotational impact forces by up to 25% and low-G linear impact forces by up to 30%”
It has a solid feel to the helmet, is not cheap looking, and the fit is on the semi-oval side, which works well for me. I have a measured cranium size of 57, so the larger of the two sizes seemed to sit more over me then on top of my head, although I could have worn either. Look for a review of this soon. Meanwhile, it makes the gift guide for this year based upon my initial take on it.
Tattico Bluetooth Mini-Pump: Guitar Ted and MG
First of all, the idea that a mini-pump has electronics may seem at odds with your sensibilities. We get that. We felt the same way. However; once you get a Tattico Bluetooth Mini-Pump in your hands and use it in the field, you might just become as big a fan of its practicality and ease of use as MG and Guitar Ted have. The phone app works in concert with the pump to give you a highly accurate reading on air pressure so you don’t have to wonder if you got enough air in. You will know. It is a mind assuring benefit that the Tattico Bluetooth pump brings to your tool kit, but that is only half the story. This pump is built to survive whatever you can throw at it. Plus, it is fully serviceable. At a retail price of $120.00, it might seem a bit extravagant, but MG and Guitar Ted wouldn’t ride without theirs now. In fact, MG now leaves his floor pump at home while travelling to events. The Tattico Bluetooth can handle all his inflation needs in a smaller package. However; if you feel you do not need the Bluetooth feature, the regular Tattico is also available. Same heavy-duty design, just no electronics. At $55.00 it is less money too.
Maratona Gear Bag: Guitar Ted
Okay- I admit I don’t have this one, nor have I ever seen it in the flesh, but the mere idea of this accessory for organizing gear has me excited. That’s why it is on this gift guide. The folks at Silca are really knocking it out of the park lately, and their newest item, the Maratona Gear Bag, is an item which I feel will be very useful to the racer or weekend tripsters out there. The Maratona is technically a backpack, but in reality, it is a travel bag with mondo organizational features geared toward the traveling adventure cyclist. Silca says in on their webpage for the Maratone the following:
Some key features include an internal vented shoe bag with both internal and external access, a vented damp garment bag, and internal water bottle holsters. Additionally, the bag is designed so that it unzips enough to lay flat on the ground to form a small work area.
The Maratona features outer dimensions which make it fit into airplane overhead storage bins, three external handles for ease of portaging, and stowable straps to make it a backpack, as mentioned. The bag is constructed of durable 600D Nylon and waxed canvass, a material combination Silca has found to be reliable and long-lasting.
I’m putting this on the gift guide because, hey…..I have some things on my list too! You can pick one up for $180.00 USD for your favorite cyclist or…..yourself!
Redshift Sports ShockStop Stem: Guitar Ted, MG, Grannygear, John Ingham, and Ben
No other product we tested and reviewed got so much praise, use, and recommendations within the RidingGravel group than the Redshift Sports ShockStop stem did in 2018. The simple take on a suspension stem is so good for gravel travel, and even light single track, that none of us can imagine riding without one at this point. We know that many of you might be highly skeptical of a suspension stem, and for good reasons. We know, both Guitar Ted and MG are very familiar with the older takes on this idea which mostly were not very good. However; Redshift Sports has a new take on this old idea and it doesn’t exhibit any of the shortcomings of the previous versions of this component.
The ShockStop works with a pivot and internally mounted elastomers which can be swapped out and mixed and matched with different spring rate elastomers to custom tune the ride feel for any weight rider. It also comes in several lengths and even in a high rise version. Not every permutation of stem length and dimension is supported, but most riders should find something here that works. Keep in mind that vibrations caused by riding on gravel can be detrimental not only to your bike’s handling, but to your body as well. Any device that can absorb this energy is a good thing as long as it doesn’t get in the way of riding your bike. The Redshift Sports ShockStop stem is definitely such a component.
You can always check out our reviews on this stem for more, but it is on this gift guide for a very good reason- it works and works really well. Check one out by going to Redshift Sports website ( https://redshiftsports.com/shockstop-suspension-stem ) and pick one up for yourself for about $139.99MSRP.
Wahoo Elemnt Bolt GPS Cycling Computer: MG
The GPS cycling computer is almost a required device anymore, what with many events having their course navigation on gpx files and all. You should still try to hone your map and cue sheet reading skills, but seriously, the GPS computer does navigation and so much more that it seems almost silly not to move up to this sort of technology. “Almost silly not to“, is the key, as there are a few things that can be, and should be, improved upon regarding these devices. But if you are ready, or if a cyclist you know is looking for a GPS computer, check out what MG had to say about the Wahoo Elemnt in his Final Review of it here on Riding Gravel:
Wahoo Fitness has done an excellent job with the Bolt. It’s easy to use and packs a ton of features into a compact, stylish package. I had high hopes for the Bolt when I began this review more than seven months ago, and on almost every level it’s exceeded my expectations. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s hands down the best, easiest to use and most reliable GPS cycling computer I’ve used, and I’ve heard from dozens of other Bolt users who have shared a similar positive experience. While it’s true there are more options than ever for $250 GPS cycling computers, our experience with the Bolt has earned it our full recommendation.-MG
MG has used a lot of GPS computers from other brands, so that recommendation doesn’t come without a lot of hard earned perspective. Check out this fine device which you can pick up for about $249.99MSRP.
- $500.00 And Above
Irwin Cycling Aon GX 35 650B Wheels: Guitar Ted
Wheels are one of the best upgrades to your bike that you can make. Carbon fiber rims are fantastically light and strong these days. However; the prices some of these wheels come in at are pretty heady. Irwin Cycling may not be a name you associate with wheels, but they are the company behind a lot of other brand’s wheels and they have been in the wheel making business for many years. These Aon GX 35’s in the 650B size have Irwin’s own hubs and the rims are a perfect internal width for today’s 650B “Road Plus” and other 650B offerings.
As detailed in Guitar Ted’s review of these wheels, the Aon GX 35’s are “future proofed” right out of the box with all end caps supplied to cover your needs in fitting the Aon GX 35’s to any gravel bike. The rims are tubeless ready, and the wheels come with valves and pre-installed tape. Guitar Ted found that his 650B tires all fit well and inflation was a snap. Durability seems at least on par with the best out there and hub engagement is excellent. At an MSRP of $1550.00 they represent an excellent value.
In fact, these wheels not only made the 2018 gift guide, but Guitar Ted was so impressed he bought a 700c version of this wheel as his choice for a brand new bicycle build he did this past summer.
Lauf True Grit: MG
If you have a super-generous heart and want to really impress a person you are gifting, the Lauf True Grit bicycle probably wouldn’t be a bad choice here. Or maybe you want one yourself all wrapped up as a gift. Whatever the case may be, MG reviewed the Lauf True Grit over this past season and highly recommended it as a really great gravel bike. Here is a bit of what he had to say in his Final Review of the bike:
It’s been a lot of fun testing Lauf’s True Grit, and bottom line, it’s one of the best gravel bikes I’ve ridden to date. The True Grit proves that there isn’t yet a “formula” to building a great gravel road bicycle. It might not look conventional, but the resulting ride is compelling. It’s fast yet forgiving… A great race bike that virtually anyone can ride with confidence.
I have to admit: I almost cried when I boxed the bike up and shipped it back to Lauf. It really is that good.
With its distinctive front suspended fork, no one will mistake this bike for a typical brand’s gravel bike. This is not only a great bike, but one which is different, which- let’s be honest- is something a lot of us find appealing. Riding something not just anybody will have that actually works well for its intended purposes? That’s a win-win in most anyone’s book. That’s why we put this on the gift guide as the ultimate gift for gravel goers in 2018.
Thanks for checking out our Gift Guide for 2018. We hope that you found it fun and entertaining, not just informative. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments. Again, thanks for reading RidingGravel.com and we all here- Ben, Guitar Ted, MG, Grannygear, John Ingham, and anyone else we have had a hand from in 2018, hope that you have a great Holiday Season.
Note: The Riding Gravel Gift Guide was assembled at the discretion of the Riding Gravel editorial team. We were not bribed nor paid for any of these items on the list. We strive to always give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout. Any questions concerning the gift guide should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org .