This gift guide was first published on wheesuckers.cc and is re-printed here by kind permission.
Yes, it’s that time of year again when we road cyclists leave copies of our favourite cycling magazines sprinkled around the house, with the accessories and garments we covet conveniently ringed in permanent red pen. Should passing partner/offspring fail to take the hint, then a subliminal remark that Wayne in your cycling club "was wearing those new Castelli bib tights on Sunday" usually does the trick!
If you are struggling for inspiration this year, however, then look no further than the annual Wheelsuckers' round up of some of the products that the team have clocked this year.
It's an eclectic mix, which we hope will appeal to all tastes and budgets. There are some products from some of the big names in cycling, but this year we have placed a special emphasis on highlighting some of the young, innovative British brands who are thinking a little outside the Xmas box and providing inventive and ground-breaking products in an ever more competitive market.
Just as James Dyson reinvented the vacuum cleaner, the team at Fabric take a fresh look at cycling accessories that too often follow an industry norm. It’s not an easy starting point, but Fabric is staffed by both keen cyclists and a some who are not, the latter providing a objectivity that might be lacking in the R&D departments of more established brands. And their objective is simple: to design functional accessories wholly different from anything else on the market that not only perform, but look exceptional and original too.
Nowhere is this design ethos more apparent than in their Chamber Multi Tool, which packs thirteen functions into its very neat cylindrical housing. The tool bits are held on a caddy that slips neatly inside the chamber and the latter doubles as a holder for the different tools. The chamber comes in two versions: a fixed or (reversible) ratchet option. With both versions the position of the respective tools can be adjusted to increase leverage and/or accessibility. Clever. The Chamber tips the scales at a lowly 162g grams so can be easily transported in a rear pocket, without causing sagging and the circular design is more comfortable against the body than the jagged, rectangular shape of many on the market.
Then there is Fabric’s innovative take on the Water Bottle, which demonstrates the same ‘think outside the box’ design process. Why have bottle cages when a couple of studs can securely hold a bidon in place? The studs simply screw into your usual bottle cage screw holes and the mounts on the bottle slips over them, keeping the bottle securely in place. The penny conscious will appreciate the cost saving of the design (no need to buy a bottle and a bottle cage), whilst the weight weenies amongst you will enjoy the fact that the 1.5g studs save over 10 grams compared to the lightest carbon fibre cages on the market. Though the system takes a little getting used to, once mastered, you’ll never be hovering over the bottle cage display in your LBS again.
The Fabric Chamber Multi Tool costs £29.99 for the fixed and £34.99 for the ratchet version. Both will be available to buy online in December. The Water Bottle (plus two sets of studs) comes is a range of colours and costs £9.99 and is available to buy online via Evans Cycles. To see more of Fabric’s innovative and stylish accessories, including saddles, bar tape and C02 kit, then visit their website, fabric.cc
Campagnolo aficionados will maintain that no other manufacturer delivers quite the finesse and style that is the hallmark of the Italian marque. Made in the same Vicenza factory as their world famous groupsets, Capagnolo’s Big Corkscrew draws on the same artisan craftsmanship and precision engineering that is evident in their derailleurs and chain rings.
The founder of the company, Tullio Campaganolo, designed and patented the first corkscrew back in 1966 and in 2013, to celebrate Campagnolo’s 80th anniversary, a stylish bronze and satin version was unveiled. It’s a bit of a beast, measuring 30cm in height and a full kilo in weight, but if you enjoy your fine wine as much as your cycling, then this is the only corkscrew to have at your side this Christmas.
The Campagnolo Big Corkscrew costs £134 (you may need to take a big gulp of your Chianti after hearing that) and comes in a satin or bronze finish. It is available to buy online, including Evans and Rouleur. For more information visit the Campagnolo website, where it can also be purchased, but you will need to allow for international delivery times.
The inaugural Zappi Clothing collection was only launched earlier this month and if our investigations are correct, it is a unique brand in this competitive sector of the industry as all the profits are funnelled directly into financing a professional youth team for aspiring young cyclists.
The brainchild of former Italian professional cyclist, Flavio Zappi, the collection includes the Classico and the Mondo I and II jerseys, with complimentary bib shorts, tights and accessories, including a gilet and rain jacket. The collection is performance driven and though the cut is distinctly racy in feel, the designs have a retro, classic quality that will appeal to many. The coming weeks will also see caps and socks added to the collection and there are plans to unveil more jerseys inspired by the rich heritage of Italian cycling.
Since returning to the sport in 2008, Zappi has sought to foster young talent and mentor young cyclists who dream of pursuing a career in the professional peloton. The Zappi Race Team is made up predominately of British U23 riders and though based in Oxford, the squad spend the pre-season training and racing in Portugal, before competing in races across Europe, though mainly in Zappi’s native Italy. So if you want to look good and contribute to a worthy cause, then this is the kit to be wearing in 2016!
Prices start at £80 for the short sleeve jersey, but for more information about the entire range and the ethos behind it, visit the Zappi Clothing online store.
Crosswinds and lashing rain is the norm in Belgium, but even the hardest of Flandrians (think Freddie Maertens and Roger de Vlaeminck as two of the finest examples of the species) need a little protective headgear now and then. This Belgian style cycling cap from the Norfolk based accessories specialist, Sealskinz, offers protection for those days when the elements are conspiring against you.
Fully waterproof and windproof, with a fleece lining and a cosy band to keep your ears toasty on even the coldest days, the cap is also breathable and, should the winter sun emerge from behind the storm clouds, the stiff peak juts out just enough to reduce the glare or conversely, keep the rain off your eyes.
Team Sky is often accused of being a little too robotic, an accusation fuelled by their clinical approach to racing and the oppressive control they exert on the peloton. The team’s Cardiff born member, Geraint Thomas, is the antithesis of all this – a rider who combines a deep commitment and loyalty to the cause, yet at the same time totally unable to hide his boyish enthusiasm for the sport in which he so excels. When interviewed on television, he demonstrates a quick and mischievous sense of humour, which is all the more impressive given that he is invariably collared having just crossed the finish line.
This autumn saw the release of The World of Cycling According to G, in which the double Olympic Gold medallist ruminates on all things pro cycling, from the ‘fringe benefits’ of being a pro (he can now order a coffee in six different languages) to the downside (a couple of pints in the off season and he is falling over), to a harsh lesson metered out by Bradley Wiggins and the demands of racing for one of the top teams in UCI World Tour cycling.
The book reads like the splutterings of a hyperactive child, as Thomas reels off anecdotes and observations, yet always sprinkled with humour and an insight that enthrals. Scattergun in style, it’s one of the most entertaining and irreverent books about the life of the pro cyclist that has ever hit the shelves and will keep you chuckling long after the turkey carcass has been consigned to the dustbin!
The World of Cycling According to G is published by Quercus in hardback, priced at £20. It is available to buy online and in all good bookstores.
The Clug Roadie Bike holder is a funky and discreet little bike device for attaching your bike to an internal wall. Simple in conception, the Clug picked up a coveted Eurobike Award in the summer. It’s the perfect bike storage solution if you want to sit your most precious commodity close to your sofa/desk/bed (delete where applicable), keeping it firmly housed, yet always in your line of sight!
2016 will mark the 30th anniversary of Greg LeMond winning the first of his three Tour de France yellow jerseys. A perfect excuse, therefore, to don the famous, Mondrian inspired jersey of his La Vie Claire team in honour of the great American, arguably the most naturally gifted cyclist to ever grace the sport.
The jersey is a perennial bestseller for the retro cycling shirt specialist, Prendas Ciclismo and this faithful reproduction of the original, albeit with some modern improvements, is made by the Italian manufacturer, Santini, who also made the original in the 1980’s.
The jersey was a personal favourite of the company’s founder, Pietro Santini: ‘That jersey was ground-breaking in terms of design and construction. Back then every jersey was plain with just a bit of embroidery on the sleeves and neck. The Mondrian design totally changed that so that each jersey was like a work of art. It totally transformed the way in which we made jerseys.' Will this iconic design transform your performance? Well, probably not, but it’s a damn site more attractive to look at than a Rudolf the Reindeer sweater.
The La Vie Claire Long Sleeve Jersey costs £65 and is available exclusively from the Dorset based online retailer, Prendas Ciclismo. It worth noting that the jersey comes in a huge array of sizes, ranging from XS to XXXXL, which is good news for Greg, who has doubled, possibly even tripled, in size since standing on the podium in Paris!
Prendas may be known for the retro kit it specialises in, but they are also stocking Volume 6 of the The Cycling Anthology, priced at £8.99. It's one of those books you can just dip into for a little bit of quality writing on different aspects of the sport and this issue includes essays written by Ned Boulting, Robert Millar and Kathy LeMond and many leading cycling writers.
Hunt Bike Wheels was only launched at the beginning of 2015, but has quickly established a reputation, both in the UK and abroad, for producing wheelsets that are durable and robust, yet lightweight. The company strapline is 'The Chase is On' which is rather apt, as this young British company is yapping at the heels of more established, swankier brand in this very competitive sector of the industry.
The 4Season Disc wheelset (pictured below) and its rim brake sibling, the 4Season Aero, are the top-sellers for the Sussex based company. Both are perfect for the vagaries of British roads and climate and at 1585g/£349 and 1589g/£279 respectively, they offer excellent value for money and, it has to be said, a very stylish addition to your bike – the subtle, contemporary logo is far removed from some of the brash ‘look at me’ branding of a few Continental manufacturers we could mention!
Hunt Bike Wheels are currently taking orders on both of these wheelsets, but be warned, the April shipment of the tubeless ready 4Season Disc wheels sold out within 36 hours of Hunt announcing pre-orders, so get in quick to ensure your pair will be sitting under your tree on Christmas morning.
The cyclist’s equivalent of those Christmas chocolate bar assortments that come in the shape of a stocking, the Fuelit Discovery box is a selection of some of the most nutritious and innovative energy bars and gels on the market, including Science-in-Sport (SiS), Nectar, Mule Bar and a few lesser known brands, like the German AM Sport. As the name suggests, the Discovery Box allows one to sample some new products and flavours and is the perfect gift to kick-start those New Year training rides.
The Fuelit Discovery Box costs £9.99 (plus £1.50 p&p) and can be ordered directely through their website, where you will find more information on their sports nutrition boxes. You can also check out our review of the Discovery Box, published earlier this year.
The Swiss cycle clothing manufacturer, ASSOS, have a reputation second to none for the quality of their bib shorts and tights. The innovation and comfort offered by their s7 range of bib shorts, unveiled last year, has now trickled down to their winter collection and their LL Mille s7 Bib Tights, modelled by a very festive looking Assos Man below, have to be one of the most comfortable pair of winter bibs on the market.
ASSOS are adept at focusing on how a particular garment is going to perform and the level of performance it will provide and these bib tights are a case in point, combining excellent thermal protection and a very comfortable Mille pad insert.
The RX Heavy fabric, which ASSOS also use for their deep winter Bonka bibs tights, is reassuringly substantial, but the material is thinner in less exposed areas, most notably in areas prone to chaffing like behind the knees.
Some may not like the overt, instantly recognisable branding of Assos clothing, but with these tights it is kept well out of sight on the rear straps, leaving just a very stylish, black pair of bib tights with only discreet reflective stripes and a small ASSOS logo visible. Just enough, in fact, to ensure that your companions know that you are wearing a quality piece of kit from the Swiss brand!
The Assos LL Mille s7 Bib Tights cost £175 and are widely available online, including Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles
If ever proof was needed that cycling shoes can do more than just provide a great connection to the pedals, the Giro Republic LX Reflective Road Shoe has a unique reflective finish that illuminates when struck by headlights, increasing your visibility substantially.
With a design based on their stylish, retro inspired Republic LX Road Shoe, the Reflective version combines an elegant, laced-closure upper for maximum adjustability and high traction walking pads for stable footing on slippery roads and pavements.
The Giro Republic LX Reflective Road Shoe retails at £149 and is available to buy online. Contact Giro’s UK distributor, Zyro, for a list of stockists.
If it’s possible for a chain cleaner to be cute, then this offering from Pedros has to be it!. Don’t be fuelled by the porcine shape of the Pedros Chain Pig though, as this is a natty little device for getting that accumulated grime off your chain after a winter ride.
The little ‘tail’ locks around the lower jockey wheel of your rear derailleur, allowing you to turn the pedals without having to hold the device in place. Stiff brushes get to grips with the worst of the detritus and the sponge at the front end of the pig soaks up and filters the excess degreaser and, in doing so, gets rid of the any lingering grit and grime. Fun and functional, use this and you’ll be squealing like a little piggy yourself whenever you clean your bike.
The Pedros Chain Pig costs £24.99 and is widely available to buy online. More information is available on the Pedros website.
In October, the London based cycling clothing brand, Vulpine, launched a crowd-funding campaign with a mission to raise £500,000, offering their customers and the wider public the chance to invest in the company. Just five days later they had achieved their goal and they raised over a million pounds in equity before a halt was called to the campaign. Obviously the investors recognised that this was a company that had potential to expand into the global market and their hook up with Sir Chris Hoy earlier this year with the HOY Vulpine collection, extended their range from more stylish city orientated gear into the lucrative and competitive road cycling sector of the industry.
The Randa Softshell Jacket is indicative of the HOY Vulpine range: eye-catching design and detailing married with superlative construction and performance. It looks great, but this is a jacket built to withstand the harshest of winter riding conditions, with a good level of water resistance and protection from the cold and an ergonomic cut to ensure total comfort. It ticks all the necessary boxes, including a high neck, two humungous rear pockets (with a small zipped one for valuables) and discreet under arm venting. As classy as Sir Chris.
In 2013, Sir Bradley Wiggins penned his autobiography, My Time, and now, hot off the press comes its follow up, My Hour, the definitive inside story of his assault on the hour record.
A record, need we remind you, held by such illustrious names as Eddy Merckx, Chris Boardman, and Jens Voigt, but Wiggins trounced them all when he clocked up 54.526 kilometres at the Lee Valley Velodrome in June, eclipsing the distance of the previous incumbent, Britain’s Alex Dowsett, by 1.589 kilometres.
In My Hour, Wiggins takes us behind the scenes, charting his preparations and training, before chronicling his ’60 Minutes of Pain’. It’s a wonderfully illustrated book, with plenty of moody portraits of Sir Brad and eulogies to some of his heroes of the Hour Record though time. My Hour is a fitting record and celebration of a phenomenal achievement by one of Britain’s greatest ever sporting sons.
My Hour by Bradley Wiggins (he’s dropped the ‘Sir’ from the sleeve of this book) is published on 19 November by Yellow Jersey and costs £20. It will be available to buy in all good book shops and online.
We road cyclists belong to a very recognisable tribe, but take away our bikes and strip us of our lycra and helmets and no one, not even our cycling brethren, would be able to identify us. C’mon, how often have you been walking in your civvies and seen a pair of roadies approaching and wanted to cry out “I ride too you know!” as they whizz pass?
Now, however, you can let everyone know where your passion really lies. Featuring modern, vintage and retro inspired designs, n+one offers a range of designer t-shirts that will appeal to the road cyclist who wants to declare their love of the sport, whether walking the dog, shopping in Ikea or enjoying a couple of sneaky cocktails on an evening. With designs that tap into the very ethos and essence of the sport, the n+one collection is eclectic, stylish and fun.
The n+one collection of t-shirts come in a range of colours and designs and all are printed on ethically sourced Fair Wear base garments. In addition, n+one will be donating 5% of sales to the Dave Rayner Fund, which supports young British cyclists pursuing a professional career on the Continent.
Based in Poole on the Dorset coast, Muc-Off have an enviable reputation of providing cleaning and lubrication products for bikes, which resulted in them becoming the official supplier to Team Sky a couple of years ago.
They don’t, however, confine themselves just to the bike and have been updating their collection over the last few years to include products to pamper the rider too, including body washes and shower gels.
More recently they have bolstered the collection with the addition of their Athlete Performance range, which focuses more on ensuring our pistons run smoother and recover a little faster! All come in 150ml tubes and include the Warm Up cream, which will warm and stimulate your muscles prior to exercise. The intriguing Amino Ultra Endurance helps to fight lactic acid build up, whilst the Amino Explosive Power should ensure you are first in the queue at the café stop!
And what better way to soothe your tired limbs than the Amino Recovery Balm, which is formulated to aid muscle recovery. They make perfect little stocking fillers and each of them is beautifully boxed – in fact it’s worth mentioning that Muc-Off packaging is worthy of the perfume counter – even their tubes of Bio-Grease (to keep your bearings and pedals oiled) would not look out of place on the hair products shelf in Boots the Chemist!
Muc-Off Warm Up Cream retails at £15.00 for a 150g tube and the Amino Recovery Balm, Ultra Endurance and Explosive Power all cost £24 for a 150ml tube. They are available to purchase on the Muc-Off website, though their range of cleaning and lubricant products are widely available online, including Wiggle, Evans Cycles and Chain Reaction Cycles.
The Norwegian outdoor clothing specialists, Helly Hansen, has one of the most enviable reputations in the industry for providing high quality kit for extreme winter sports and adventures. It’s a shame therefore, that they have yet to make in-roads into the sport of cycling. The good news, however, is that cyclists can benefit from their extensive range of highly regarded base layers and the fact that several online cycling retailers stock their kit is evidence that many of us err for guaranteed quality over cycling specific kit. In fact, the latter point is not an issue, as Helly Hansen base layers have and ergonomic and snug cut that makes them a perfect first layer of protection for high and lower tempo riding in the winter.
They also come in a good range of colours and designs for both male and female specific body shapes. For more intensive workouts or racing in the colder months, the HH Dry Elite Long Sleeve jersey is their raciest cut, with a high wicking, quick drying stretchy fabrics. The HH Dry Charger with ½ zip, is a slightly more regular fit, but again the fit is snug and, if you round down your sizing, there is no excess material to cause discomfort of chaffing.
If your winter training is likely to involve longer and lower tempo base rides, then the naturally insulating properties of their merino wool base layers are a better option – wonderfully soft and thermal, with the added bonus that if you do get caught in a shower they will keep you relatively warm. Their 100% pure merino Wool Base Layer is as luxuriant as a vest can get, with such a fine weave that you question whether it is wool or synthetic.
The HH Wool (above left) base layer retails at £60 for both the male and female versions and also comes in a ½ zip version for £80. The HH Dry Elite costs £50 and the HH Dry Charger ½ Zip (above right) comes with a £45 price tag. Both the male and female versions come in a good range of colours and designs. The extensive range of Helly Hansen base layers are widely available online, including Wiggle, Chain Reaction and Evans Cycles. Visit the Helly Hansen website. Where you will find technical information and lists of stockists.
Did you ride the Paris-Roubaix sportive in the spring or conquer the Tourmalet, the Stelvio or Galibier on your summer hols!? Well, what better way to commemorate your entry into the Pantheon of cycling gods than a cycling themed wallpaper to remind yourself, and your family and friends (both the cycling and non-cycling variety) of the sheer epic-ness of your achievement!
Drops is a specialist in bespoke wallpaper and will print a custom image to fit a specific wall measurement. The have some stunning images on their books, including some by renowned cycling photographers such as Geoff Waugh and the Gruber brothers. Their collection is broken down into various cycling themes, like The Classics, the Grand Tours and Iconic Climbs. Alternatively, if you have a high resolution photograph of your own that you would like to reproduce, then they can produce a bespoke wallpaper using the image.
So if you want to make a bold and unequivocal statement about where your passion lies, then now is the time to look again at that redundant wall space in your home!
Prices for Drops bespoke wallpapers vary according to size, but for more information on the services and options they offer and how to order, visit their website drps.cc (and yes, that is without the ‘o’)
Unless you are running tubeless tyres or luck is on your side, it’s only a matter of time before you get a puncture during your winter training, in which case the Topeak RaceRocket HP mini-pump will be a great addition to your cycling armoury. Weighing only 80g and measuring 18cm in length, it comes with a small fixing bracket, but the beauty of this little pump is that it is dinky enough to pop into a rear pocket.
Capable of pumping your tyres up to an impressive 160psi (far more than you will ever need) the RaceRocket HP can accomodate both a Schrader or Presta valve, with a simple mechanism to switch between the two.
If you are planning to train in warmer climes this coming spring or intend to cross a few foreign sportives off your cycling bucket-list, then Rapha’s essential Travel Kit will ensure your legs and backside are not only perfectly pampered, but will be invigorated by the heady scents of aromatic plants and herbs that one can encounter on the slopes of Mont Ventoux no less! You have to hand it to Rapha – they really do focus on the details!
The set includes a 50ml tin of Rapha Shaving Cream, Post Shave Lotion and Chamois Cream – a luxurious combination for the cyclist who has their sights trained on a Continental campaign.
The Rapha Travel Set costs £30 and is available to buy via Rapha.cc
We bicker over many cycling related issues long into the night, but the one thing we are united on is that a ride with your cycling mates must begin and end with a decent coffee!
It’s a sentiment shared by many and when not commentating for EuroSport, the former professional cyclist, Magnus Bäckstedt will be found extolling the strengths of his own brand of coffee.
Big Maggy’s came about after an unlikely hook-up between two Jersey based entrepreneurs and the former Swedish pro. The beans are an intense combination of Java and Mocha, which are roasted and blended in Jersey.
And if you like the coffee, then serve it up in the official Big Maggy’s coffee mug! Magnus (aka Big Maggy or Magnus Maximus to his friends) attained cycling immortality when he won the 2004 edition of Paris-Roubaix and though his ‘Coffee for Champions’ will not guarantee you a podium finish in the famous velodrome, it will certainly get your winter rides off to a winning start!
Big Maggy’s coffee costs £5.99 for a 227g bag and the mug £14.99 and both are available to buy at bigmaggys.com
So after an especially punishing winter ride or when you’ve over-indulged on the mince pies, find yourself a quiet corner away from the noisy festivities and lay your head on this bike wheel inspired cushion by designer Ella Doran. Where better to rest your weary head and dream of the challenges and triumphs that await you in 2016?
The Ella Doran Bike Wheel Cushion costs £52.50 and is available to buy on elladoran.co.uk where you will also find rugs, lampshades and aprons with a cycling theme.