Christmas is a big commercial racket run by a big Eastern syndicate. But when it comes to Christmas gift suggestions, at least we can look to the centuries-old approved adage of: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. And to every road cyclist, some top-quality (but affordable) goodies form LookCycle, Pearl Izumi, Northwave, 7Mesh and Chamois Butt’r that will help ensure your Christmas doesn’t suck one big Yule log.
Look KEO Blade Carbon Pedals ($240)
I’m predominately a mountain biker and the Look KEO Blade Carbon road pedals made that perfectly clear. The transition from SPDs to the Look KEO Blade Carbon pedals was a somewhat steep learning curve. However, I noticed the higher power ratio than with SPDs on the first ride. The KEO Blade’s pedal platform is pretty wide at 67mm and its surface area is a massive 700mm2. There is simple math going on here. When pressure is distributed over a larger area there is more support. I also noticed how, when paired with Northwave carbon road shoes, pedaling was considerably more efficient, especially on hills. The Look KEO Blade Carbon’s come standard with two sets of blades so I was able to alter/experiment with the release tension. Clipping in and out took practice and patience for me because the pedal is one-sided (as opposed to two-sided with SPDs) the timing and placement has to be perfect. It isn’t unusual for me to take a hundred feet to finally get fully clipped in.
But you on the other hand, you awesome roadie you, should have these on your Christmas list!
Northwave Verve 2 SRS Shoes ($129)
These were my first run with road shoes and, like the Look KEO Blade pedals above, they took some getting used to. But wow, once I did, the difference was mindblowing. I only wish I had gotten the full review up sooner.
When I combined these with the Look KEO Blade pedals I definitely experienced greater pedaling efficiency with a fraction of the weight of mountain bike shoes and SPDs. Now image if I had an actual carbon road bike instead of my trusty Civia Hyland commuter bike with fenders, rack and bell. Anyway, the Northwave Verve 2 SRS cycling shoes are built on a women’s last and have a phenomenal fit. Vents along the sole provide decent air flow and the stiff carbon reinforced sole was plenty rigid for pedaling efficiency.
After riding with this setup this summer I can now see why the roadies dig the carbon setup. Sizing for me was a little hoakie. The size I normally wear in mountain bike shoes (38) were definitely too small and it took a couple of shipments/exchanges before I got the right fit at size 40. Be sure to follow Northwave’s sizing chart on the website. I didn’t, which is why I was shooting in the dark with the sizing. But I love these shoes, they make me a faster cyclist.
Water-resistant, durable, lightweight, and packable, both inside its own pocket and a Christmas stocking! The Pearl Izumi ELITE Pursuit Hybrid jacket easily prevents light rain and drizzle to interrupt your ride. The arms are long enough to fully cover my wrists while stretched over the handlebars and the longer cut in the back provided good lower back coverage.
The zipper is strong and durable and two-way so if I get too hot on rides I can unzip from the bottom and not create any wind-resistance.
The fit is very sleek and tailored and silicon grippers on the hem ensure it stays in place. The jacket itself is very basic but pure Pearl Izumi. Did I mention it fits in a Christmas stocking?
If you live in a cold climate and think it’s insane to gift yourself or someone else a pair of cycling capri’s for Christmas, it’s time to open your mind to the possibilities. I see a lot of gals wearing these in spin classes. So there’s that.
I wear these with colorful ski socks on the warmer winter days (warmer in Minnesota in December is like mid-forties) or, when it gets really cold, as a baselayer under overpants. But when spring comes, and you’re ashamed of your pearly white legs, at least you’ll have these capris. They have a comfortable waistband, silicone leg grippers and offer a degree of compression and SPF protection. Also work great under mountain bike shorts.
7MESH WK2 Bib Short ($150)
Aesthetically-pleasing, ultra slimming, and no rolling waistline, you’re one with the short. Many already know the benefits to riding in a bib short. Many have said they ride in nothing else. The WK2 from 7Mesh have a wide, supporting waistband that is comfortable, soft and stretchy. Cross-back straps and silicone grippers keep the shorts in place. It has smooth flatlock seams and a durable women’s specific chamois pad for long days in the saddle.
It’s also “friendly” to the calls of nature because you don’t have to completely disrobe in the port-a-potty or behind that tree. Just pull down at the back, squat and let ‘er flow.
Chamois Butt’r for Her’ ($18)
Like the Original version, Her’ is non-greasy, prevents chafing on long rides and rinses easily in the shower or bath. It’s the ingredients that make it a little more inviting than the original flavor.
Her’, I have found, doesn’t go on nearly as thick. Its ingredients include aloe vera, green tea leaf extract, tea tree oil, shea butter and lavender oil.