The clever title above is your cue to leave this story open on your computer so that your loved ones will see it, start reading and end up surprising you with one of these dream bicycle workshop Christmas gifts. You could print it out, too, if that works better. Hint, hint. (Or you could just treat yourself to any of these and cut out the middle man!) There are 5 gift suggestions here from cheap to expensive, so there’s something for any roadie who likes working on their bike(s).
I went with gifts for maintenance and repair because it’s the off-season for many of us and the perfect time for bicycle projects and getting your thoroughbred tuned up for your 2014 road campaign. Also, having quality tools makes it easier for you to hone your tire-patching, spoke-twisting, bolt-torquing skills; save money by doing your own maintenance; help your friends with their bikes, and even ultimately have a workshop that’s the envy of the neighborhood.
For help with that home workshop, allow me to shamelessly plug my RoadBikeRider eBook, Your Home Bicycle Workshop. It’s the only how-to book of its type and only $19.95. Plus, you can download it in plenty of time for gift giving and burn it onto disk as a stocking-stuffer!
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The other 4 gifts that follow are tools that many mechanics would love to have, but often won’t buy for themselves because they’re frugal. Or, they may think they don’t need such fancy tools, because they’re not pros and there are workarounds that don’t cost as much. So, by gifting them, you’re eliminating these reservations and significantly upgrading their toolkit.
One of the trickiest aspects of modern bicycle components is accurately figuring out what something measures so that you can properly fix it or replace it. And, with the bicycle industry’s ever-changing parts standards and components coming from around the globe, you never know what you’re going to run into.
Feedback Sports Digital Caliper is a simple-to-use sliding caliper that measures inside and outside dimensions up to 6 inches/150mm and displays them digitally. There’s a button to change from inches to mm and the tool is accurate to 0.0005 inch/0.01mm.
Compared to rulers or standard vernier calipers where you have to take a reading and can make mistakes, Feedback’s caliper just shows you the number big and bold so that even someone unfamiliar with bike components standards can’t go wrong. And, there’s even a helpful bike standards chart on the back. They’ll (you’ll) use this tool all the time.
Their days of working on their bicycle with it parked upside-down or hanging by the seat from a branch in the yard are over if you gift them Feedback’s Sport Mechanic Stand. This portable repair stand holds their bicycle by the seatpost so that their pride and joy is at a convenient height and they don’t need to bend over. Plus, they can pedal and shift and spin the wheels and easily access all working parts. The stand also lets them raise and lower the bike and rotate it 360 degrees and stop it at any point.
The Sport Mechanic Stand folds and is lightweight for excellent portability and storage so you can take it to events with you. One of the best features is Feedback’s nice and narrow clamp that makes it easier to mount different sizes of bikes. Plus, the clamp opens and closes quickly and is safe on all finishes.
I’ve been using early versions of this stand for over a decade and they work great at home and on the road and are built to last. Their lightness, easy setup and portability make them excellent on the road. You can easily pick up the stand with the bike attached and move it should you need to get out of the rain or to a more level spot.
You don’t have to be a wheel builder or even have any interest in rolling your own to appreciate Park Tool’s industry-standard Professional Wheel Truing Stand. But I bet once they have one they’ll start dreaming about spokes, rims and lacing patterns -- and that’s a good thing.
This is the same truing stand most bicycle shops have relied on since before bikes had only 10 speeds. So by gifting it, you are setting them up with the best. Be sure to also get them Park’s base ($36) that goes with it since it’s much easier to use this stand on a workbench than putting it in a vise or bolting it to a bench.
The thing that makes the Park stand so great is its ease of use and automation. There are only 3 knobs and anyone can figure out quickly how to put a wheel in the stand and use it. Wheel truing and tensioning takes a little practice, but in this stand it’s much easier and more accurate than doing it with a wheel on the bicycle. It also self centers the rim over the axle as you true.
I left the biggest and best gift for last, and it’s actually something I have on my list. It’s Park’s Power Lift Shop Stand. I got to see and work with it a little at the Interbike bike show and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It’s that impressive.
Road bikes don’t weigh much so you might think it’s silly to have a stand with a motor and chain-driven arm to lift them for you. But it makes a lot of sense when you think how many times on any given maintenance, repair or upgrade job mechanics have to take a bike in and out of the stand. Each time is one more chance to bang the bike on something or to crunch a decal or nick the paint. And if they’re not as young as they once were, it’ll save their body all the lifting, too.
This trick elevator stand can be lowered so that you just roll the bike up to it, clamp it in and raise it by pressing the button. Then, should you need to level a new seat or check the brake lever positioning, you can lower the bike to place it level on the ground rather than having to take it out as you have to with regular stands.
It’s also great to be able raise the bike as high as you need it by just pushing the button and fine-tuning the position exactly (the clamp can be set anywhere from 6 to 78 inches/16 to 198cm high). No more trial and error or having to stoop and bend to get at a hard-to-reach part. And even better, when you can easily move a bike, you can move dark spots into the light and see things clearly to make better adjustments and work more safely, too.
Any of these gifts is sure to be a nice surprise for you or the roadie(s) on your list!
Jim Langley has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for 38 years. He's the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check his "cycling aficionado" website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim's streak of consecutive cycling days has reached 7,267.