Winter is a time when we think about our bikes. That way, when we are riding, we don’t have to think about our bikes. During the off-season, we overhaul parts to make them last another year. We switch components in search of comfort, performance or beauty. We then test the modifications during the early-season rides, make any necessary adjustments, and when the real adventures begin, our bikes are ready. Then we can focus on the ride. We may glance at our bikes leaning against a tree while we enjoy a picnic lunch, but they shouldn’t intrude into our cycling experience.
With the holidays approaching, many people ask us for gift ideas. Beyond the obvious, like a Bicycle Quarterly subscription (from $ 36) or one of our great books (from $ 35), a new component will remind us of the gift-giver every time we ride our bike. It’s much more personal than a gift card…
Back to those bike projects – they often fall into three categories:
Small changes to already great bikes
Through Bicycle Quarterly, I get to test some the best bikes in the world, but on most of them, there are three things that I would change immediately if they were mine.
The gentle curves of Compass handlebars allow you to find the perfect position for your very individual anatomy. It’s hard to believe how much difference great handlebars can make, until you experience them. The new-found comfort will have you plot longer rides, exploring all the places that previously seemed out of reach. Compass offers different models, both with classic and modern oversized clamp diameters. From $ 115.
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times now, but supple tires really are the biggest change you can make to your bike. Almost daily, we get e-mails from customers who tell us how their bikes have been transformed with a new set of Compass tires. Available in all-black and with the always-fashionable tan sidewalls. From $ 57.
Most bikes have gearing designed for Tour de France sprints, yet few of us have a five-man lead-out team for that final rush to the line. As a result, we don’t use half the gears on our bikes, and we wish for smaller gears that we don’t have. A new crankset can customize your gear range exactly to your needs. Our René Herse cranks not only are beautiful, light and strong, they also offer an unmatched choice of chainrings between 52 and 24 teeth in singles, doubles and triples. From $ 435.
Sometimes, your riding has changed, and so has what you need from your bike. Often, a favorite bike can be modified to do what you want to do. In the latest Bicycle Quarterly, we feature the “Frek”, an old Trek that Steve Frey modified into a full randonneur bike (above). Most projects don’t go that far, but it’s amazing what you can do to with a few simple, but highly functional, additions.
Our M-13 racks attach to bikes with cantilever brakes. They make it easy to carry a handlebar bag. Now available with an integrated light mount (shown) or without, in two sizes for medium-width and wide tires. From $ 155.
Generator lighting is the ultimate in convenience: Always on your bike and never out of batteries. The headlights we sell feature excellent optics and a broad, even beam pattern. Riding at night can be as much fun (and as safe) as riding during the day. From $ 68 (lights) and $ 249 (hubs).
More and more riders use fenders, and for good reason. Often, the forecast predicts a “chance of rain”. Without fenders, we are reluctant to head out, only to regret our choice when the day remains dry. With fenders, we’ll go on our ride, and most of the time, it doesn’t rain. If it does, it’s only a minor nuisance, because we don’t get hit by spray from our wheels.
Aluminum fenders are lighter than the plastic alternatives and keep you drier, because the front fenders reach lower, and the rolled edges keep water from splashing onto your feet. When mounted properly, they will last for decades. We carry a good selection from Honjo, who make the world’s best and most beautiful fenders. From $ 136.
If you have a bike that works perfectly for you, congratulations! A few finishing touches might make it even more enjoyable.
Nitto bottle cages aren’t just beautiful, but they also are superlight and hold your bottle more securely than most other cages. From $ 60.
Small details like the René Herse straddle cable hangers can really make you enjoy looking at your bike much more. The smart design gives you a choice of a freely turning roller that re-centers your brakes automatically, or a fixed roller so you can set your straddle cable position – useful on brakes with uneven spring tension. $ 38.
If you have a Gilles Berthoud handlebar bag, the new cell phone pocket is a useful addition. No longer do you need to dig through your bag for the phone every time you want to take a photo! The pocket attaches to the Velcro that holds the stiffener (which most riders remove anyhow). I’ve been using mine on every ride. $ 24.
Finally, don’t forget the rider’s clothing. Compass knickers combine excellent performance with style. They’ve become the favorite wear of most riders who’ve tried them. $ 129.
I hope this has given you some ideas as you approach your bike projects this winter, and some gift ideas as well. Click on the images or links for more information about these components.
I plan to work on my bikes over the next month, so that they are ready when the new season starts. Because summer is too short for working on bikes!