The holidays are a perfect time to celebrate the gift of cyclocross, and what better way to whoop it up than to share some last-minute ’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 reviewed, tested and hand-picked a plethora of gift suggestions. Today we bring you new carbon-specific brake pads from Kool Stop, as well as two grippy handlebar tapes from Zipp and Lizard Skins.
Get a Grip
If you can’t afford to give a new bike, upgrading a racer’s handlebar tape might just do the trick. Lizard Skins’ DSP 2.5 tape ($35) and Zipp’s Service Course CX tape ($24) provide a grippy, cushy wrap to any handlebar that will make an old bike feel new. Even the biggest retro grouch at CXM threw out his cork tape for these new, grippy, durable handlebar tapes.
They don’t absorb water, have a decent amount of padding, and provide a good grip whether you are bare handed or wearing gloves. The textured grip can collect dirt, as all the little grooves also provide a nice place for dirt and sticky mud, but a hose and a light brushing can clean up this tape pretty well.
Installation is not too different than standard synthetic cork or gel tape, but does not require stretching. We found that both Zipp and Lizard Skins provided a generous amount of tape, more than sufficient for 44cm wide handlebars, and the extra length was welcomed as we were able to do a tighter wrap on the flats for extra cushion.
As for durability, we’re lucky to be able to say we haven’t crashed on this stuff yet, but you can see scuffs and scratches from normal contact. But no tearing or unraveling yet.
The DSP 2.5 tape is lighter than the Zipp tape, (58g vs. 90g, with plugs), but the Zipp tape offers twice the adhesive and more texture for better grip during wet races. Play a trick on your favorite racer – have Santa wrap the bars and leave a stocking-stuffer note that a new ride awaits. She (or he!) may be disappointed when she doesn’t see a new bike, but after her first ride, she’ll thank you for the new comfy, grippy ride.
The biggest downside to the Zipp CX and Lizard Skins DSP tape? Riding another bike from the stable without this type of tape, and missing it. But this hopefully is just a short-term problem — we’re saving our money to be able to convert more bikes.
Zipp Service Course CX Handlebar Tape:
Weight: 90g with plugs
More info: www.zipp.com
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.