Thinking of a present for a cyclist can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it does narrow down the list of candidate presents, but then again it is very easy to get things wrong when buying a gift for a cyclist. Of course, any present should be appreciated as it is always nice to be remembered, but in this guide we hope to give your buying process a little more consideration if only to make that cyclist in your life extra happy.
Let’s begin with things to watch out for:
We all know what to do when the t-shirts that we receive as presents that are too big: they become instant sleepwear. Unfortunately, cycling apparel does not make good sleepwear unless you plan to use those jersey back pockets as midnight snack storage. You should know that most cyclists are very particular about the fit of their kit: some are a little conscious about tight-fitting cycling clothes, while others will not wear jerseys that are not streamlined to aero-perfection.
But it’s not just clothes. On the cheaper side of the spectrum are inner tubes, bike bags, or even socks. The wrong size inner tube is useless to a cyclist, and you should know that sock height (or lack thereof) is an important matter to most cyclists.
Buying the wrong thing
On top of size preference, many cyclists also have strong opinions about, well, most things. Those of us who use drop bars could always use bar tape, but bar tape is a very personal thing and shouldn’t be given without thought. Black bar tape is mostly safe to give, but some of us actually use tape as an opportunity to color accent our bikes.
Cycling media is also tricky. You should definitely not buy a Tour de France book for someone who isn’t interested in bike racing. You should definitely not buy a history of Giant Bikes for someone who has no interest in the brand.
Also be careful about buying random things like water bottles or cycling caps, as these are also very specific products although it should be said that most cyclists won’t mind a surplus of caps as they are nice for collecting.
Lastly, you should figure out whether or not the cyclist in your life likes knick knacks or not. Some of us cannot get enough cycling material and welcome every single piece of bike-themed paraphernalia, while others actually end up confused when given a t-shirt just because it has a bike on it.
Safe but cool options
So what are safe but cool gift options for cyclists? Here are some of our favorites:
- Nutrition and hydration consumables. If that cyclist in your life is into endurance or enthusiast cycling, they will probably find use for nutrition supplies. Included in this list are delicious nutrition bars for distance riding, energy gels if they use them, cycling-specific recovery supplements, and hydration and electrolyte products. Most nutrition products can come in handy whether a cyclist is into enthusiast riding or bike commuting.
- Socks. Socks can be tricky but as long as you get the right length, size, and thickness to meet a cyclist’s preference, you can go crazy with the designs because we can never really have enough socks. Side note though: plain white socks would have to be very technically impressive to be considered okay.
- Inner tubes. Like nutrition and hydration consumables, inner tubes are always a welcome gift for most cyclists. Just make sure you get the right size (usually indicated on the sidewall of a bike’s tire), and the right valve (presta or schrader), and you have a simple but welcome present.
- Maintenance materials. Here’s another thing cyclists can’t get enough of: chain lube, degreaser, and other cleaning and maintenance materials. But like everything else above, make sure you get the right kind either by asking or by checking their current supplies. If they don’t already have one, a dedicated chain cleaner has been known to spark joy in the eyes of home bike mechanics.
- Offer to become a cycling buddy. Lastly, and definitely our favorite, the best gift you can give most of us is to become a cyclist yourself and ride with us!
As with every gift, the key to finding the right present is thoughtfulness and consideration. We’ve tried to point out things to watch out for, and even threw in a few staple presents that just about any cyclists would appreciate. Let us know if we’ve missed out on your favorite cycling-related gifts!