It's not just performance-minded cyclists who are hoping for a little something under the tree this year – urban riders have wants and needs, too. Here are some suggestions to keep your favorite commuter safe and happy this holiday season.
A'ME heated grips
Let's face it – it's cold outside this time of year and the fact that commuters are often on the road at the chilliest time of day doesn't exactly help. A'ME offers heated grips for both mountain bike and drop bars, both of which feature a toasty resistive element tucked underneath a replacement surface to help keep your hands warm. They're far from inexpensive but then again, the fact that your favorite someone might not be willing to buy these for themselves will make for an even better surprise.
Atomic 22 component locks
U-locks and sturdy supplemental cables are the best way to secure your machine while you're inside at the office but they still leave other bits vulnerable to theft. Atomic 22's range of locking skewers, bolts, and other hardware feature 'infiniti3D security' interlocking key patterns that are unique to each bit and supposedly virtually impossible to overcome. Offered in both complete keyed-to-match sets and individual options for nearly everything on your bike (including wheels, derailleurs, stems, saddles, brake calipers, and even cranks and pedals), all of the bits are machined in the UK from titanium and stainless steel.
Starting at US$19/£19, www.atomic22.com
Bar Fly iPhone case
Phones aren't just phones these days – they're also multipurpose gadgets that many cyclists use as cycling computers and navigation systems. Bar Fly's new iPhone 5 case puts the screen out in the front in the bars for easier viewing and can be positioned in either portrait or landscape orientation. Waterproof construction makes it suitable for use in rain and snow and you can even flip the whole thing upward to shoot video. An optional bundle includes a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart-compatible heart rate monitor strap, too.
Biologic Joule 3 dynamo hub
Generator hubs are the ultimate solution for riders who disdain having to swap, or even recharge, batteries but most are unappealing bulky and heavy. The svelte Biologic Joule 3, however, is decidedly sleek with its trim polished aluminum shell and unusually light at just 356g (claimed). It's also available in both silver and black, plus disc and rim brake varieties depending on your particular needs.
Have your local mechanic build it into a wheel and then pair it with high-powered front and rear 6V/3W LED lamp heads for a bright and efficient combo that'll always be there when needed.
ICEdot crash sensor
Cycling in traffic – particularly during morning or evening rush hour – can unfortunately be a daily roll of the dice. ICEdot's helmet-mounted Crash Sensor won't prevent a hit-and-run but it can provide some reliable aid if and when some low-life leaves someone for dead in the gutter. Onboard sensors notify emergency contacts and relay the victim's GPS coordinates when a crash is detected (and when paired with a compatible smartphone), thus minimizing response time for first responders and potentially making the difference between life and death when the victim is unable to request aid on their own.
King Cage Kargo Cage
The Kargo Cage takes King Cage's standard stainless steel model and tacks on an additional space behind for a dedicated nylon bag that's perfectly sized for a spare tube and small repair kit. King Cage offers the Kargo Cage in road and mountain sizes, too, depending on what size tube your commuter rig requires or how much stuff you'd like to carry.
Light & Motion VIS 360
Helmet-mounted lights offer two key advantages over bike-mounted ones: they're positioned higher up where they're more likely to be noticed by motorists, and since they can be aimed at will, their output can be more efficiently pointed where needed. Light & Motion's VIS 360 combines a modest 120-lumen LED headlamp with an integrated rear LED flasher – that also happens to house a micro-USB rechargeable Li-ion battery. Amber side markers on both units increase side-on visibility, too.
All told, the entire package weighs just 130g. And if you want more light, you can instead opt for the VIS 360+, which boasts the same 3-hour run time but bumps the output to 250 lumens.
Mirrycle Corporation Incredibell Brass Duet bell
You're just as likely to encounter pedestrians as you are motorized traffic when cycling in urban areas and with everyone on their cell phones constantly texting and checking Facebook, more often than not they're not looking out for you. A simple bell is not only a more polite warning than screaming "on your left!" but the high-pitched sound also tends to cut through the din of everyday life more effectively. Mirrycle's Incredibell Brass Duet has been one of our favorite options for its quality construction and distinct tone, plus the brass finish lends a nice, traditional look.
Ortlieb waterproof bags
It's one thing to arrive at work soaking wet but another entirely if the dry outfit you've packed has also gotten drenched. The overreaching theme of Ortlieb's vast range of panniers, bags, and packs is protection from water so if your favorite commuter frequently has to battle the elements, you could certainly do far worse.
One option is the Velocity backpack, which features heavy-duty waterproof materials and a roll-top closure. External adornments are limited to just a dense foam back pad (because add-ons are harder to keep dry) but there's a small organizer panel on the inside for smaller items.
Woody's custom wooden fenders
Fenders don't have to cost much at all if your only concern is minimizing road spray. But if the hardcore commuter in your life also likes to go about life with a little more style, there's little to top Woody's custom wooden fenders. As the name suggests, these are custom made laminated hardwood fenders built one set at a time in Bend, Oregon.
Available in both flat and curved profiles, all Woody's fenders also feature durable hardware made of brass and stainless steel. Full sets can cost a couple hundred dollars but there are shorter options available, too, for much more reasonable sums.