Call it “The 12 days of Crossmas,” “The Festival of Cyclokkah” … or something similarly themed surrounding Kwanza, Saturnalia, Festivus (or your favorite winter holiday of choice) that we’re not witty enough to make sound cyclocross-related, but the gear-heads at Cyclocross Magazine have been busy digging through piles of bike stuff to bring you some great gift ideas. Most recommendations are at the stocking-stuffer-end of the spectrum, so we won’t take away from your entry-fee piggy bank. The one gift that keeps on giving, of course, is a subscription to Cyclocross Magazine! Stay tuned for plenty of gift ideas and product reviews between now and the end of the year. Some of these last-minute gift ideas also appear in Issue 15.
The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate the gift of cyclocross, and what better way to whoop it up than to share some ’cross love with others? Give a teammate a must-have tool (that you can borrow), introduce a loved one to the sport, drop a hint by leaving this list out for a significant other, or just reward yourself for a great season (or console yourself for a crappy one). Our editors have tested and hand-picked a plethora of gift suggestions. We’ll start with tire pressure gauges.
Numbers Don’t Lie
A good tire pressure gauge is a must-have for any serious cyclocrosser. Regularly monitoring your tire pressure allows you to determine the ideal pressure for training and racing, and will help you set your pressure accurately come race day. Don’t trust your pump or your fingers. Keep one on you for every ride and race warm-up and use it, and with some regular use and experimentation with pressure, you’ll be a faster racer.
We’ve been using a small and light basic Slime Digital Presta Gauge ($14) that provides accurate, Presta-only pressure measurements with a battery that’s lasted for more than a year. It has a backlight for nighttime reading, but sometimes requires a jiggle to get a good reading and doesn’t allow easy access to replace the battery. More info: www.slime.com
The SKS Air Checker ($25) is a much nicer unit, with a dual-valve head for Presta or Schrader tubes that pivots for easy reading from most angles. It has a deflator button that’s a nice touch but unfortunately doesn’t trigger a new reading as you release air. Warn the lucky recipient to be careful where he/she puts it – the large on/off button is easily triggered, wasting some of the battery’s juice. More info: www.sks-germany.com
The Topeak D2 SmartGauge ($33) is the industrial strength unit of the bunch, with a universal pivoting head that accepts both Schrader and Presta valves. It features an extremely useful release valve and “Tune” setting that will monitor pressure in real-time during deflation. Unfortunately, it lacks a backlight and its universal head can cause pressure loss when you insert the valve in the gauge, making it risky for a just-before-the-start pressure check, but it’s awesome for fine-tuning your pressure after using a floor pump. More info: www.topeak.com
All offer psi and bar units; the Slime and Topeak add kilopascals (kPa). Regardless of your choice, if you can, give two – one to keep in a jersey pocket, another for the toolbox.
Chase one or several down at your local bike shop or favorite online retailer. It’s the perfect affordable gift to slip into someone’s stocking or cycling shoe, and good shops should stock at least one of the above units.