Holiday Gift Traditions - Reinterpreted for the Cyclist

Traditional gift-giving for the winter holidays is not so much about giving and receiving presents, as it is about the act of giving itself. Still, there are specific types of things that we tend to gift at this time of year, and these things tend to be symbolic: Light-hearted and sparkly gifts symbolise celebration. Warm and cozy gifts symbolise familial ties. Luxurious gifts symbolise good fortune in the year to come. Keeping these themes in mind, I have sought out the cycling-specific equivalents* of some popular winter holiday gifts. Not meant to be taken too seriously, but hopefully a fun read!

[left image via Velo Orange; right image via Lindt USA]

Traditional gift: Chocolate Truffles 
Reinterpreted for the cyclist: Classic Bicycle Bells

Holiday chocolates in festive wrappers are fun, shiny and celebratory. It is not even about the taste, but about the shiny look and the crinkling sound they make as you unwrap them. Champagne and sparkling wine is often brought into the mix to enhance this effect. How better to interpret it from a cycling perspective, than with a cheerful classic brass bell? Starting at as little as $8 (the Velo Orange version), they are a good match for the expensive holiday truffle offerings. Plus, long after the joy of the chocolates is gone and the crinkly metallic wrappers have been disposed off, the trusty bicycle bell will continue to bring good cheer to its recipient. 

[left image via Ibex; right image via GAP]

Traditional gift: Socks and Gloves
Reinterpreted for the cyclist: 100% Wool Socks and Gloves

Though there are plenty of cozy-looking, fluffy socks and gloves for sale this time of year, much of what is available tends to be made of some blend of acrylic and cotton with only a touch of wool, if at all. But it is amazing what a difference 100% wool makes in protecting your hands and feet from the cold - especially while cycling. Why not get the real deal for those you love? Surprisingly, the prices are not even that different: the Ibex "Knitty Gritty" gloves (100% wool) are $20, whereas the Gap "Knit Gloves" (100% acrylic) are $14.50. Both are available in a cheerful red colour, but the wool version will keep the cyclist happy through the winter months. 

[left image via DZ Nuts; right image via Bath & Body Works]

Traditional gift: Fragrance and Bath Products
Reinterpreted for the cyclist: Fancy Chamois Creams

A gift of a soothing bath experience is easily translatable to a gift of a soothing cycling experience. Though many are embarrassed to discuss this, chamois creams can be extremely useful in preventing chafing and infection on some of our most cherished body parts during long rides. Many of them have herbal ingredients that smell especially festive for the holiday season, and the packaging of the new ladies' version of DZ Nuts is quite gift-appropriate as well. At $20 per tube, it's a good equivalent to most mid-range body lotions and bath products. 

[left image via Dutch Bike Seattle; right image via Harry and David]

Traditional gift: The Gourmet Food Basket
Reinterpreted for the cyclist: The Bicycle Basket

Nothing puts a smile on people's face like the traditional bicycle basket. It's adorable, it's extremely practical, and maybe, just maybe it will make motorists more kindly disposed towards the cyclist when they see it. There is something about baskets - be they for picnics, for mushroom-picking, or for cycling, that evokes images of the good life, and an innocent hope that things can be nicer, simpler, and more fun in the future. Those are pleasant thoughts to have during the winter holidays. And after all - here is no reason why the food basket and the bicycle basket gifts can't be combined. It would be fun to fill a wicker bicycle basket with the gift recipient's favourite treats. Prices vary in the $30-60 range.

[left image via Bicycle Quarterly; right image via Conde Nast]

Traditional gift: The Magazine Subscription 
Reinterpreted for the cyclist: The Bicycle Magazine Subscription 

Magazine subscriptions make good gifts for the winter holidays, because they reinforce the yearly cycle and the idea that something new and exciting will start to happen in the new year. Plus, it is not just a one-off gift: the recipient will continue to receive a little something throughout the year that will remind them of the person who gave them the gift. There are many bicycle magazines on the scene nowadays, including Momentum for those interested in transportation cycling, Bicycling for those interested in racing, and, my favourite, Bicycle Quarterly, for those interested in bicycle touring. Prices for subscriptions in the $20-30 range.

[left image via Brooks England; right image via J. Crew]

Traditional gift: The Cashmere Sweater 
Reinterpreted for the cyclist: The Leather Saddle 

Entering the territory of the more expensive gifts, one traditional one is the classic cashmere sweater. So beautiful, so luxurious, so delicate and light... and so easily destroyed by red wine spillage, or your adorably clingy cat. The leather saddle communicates the same ideas of luxury, quality, good taste and tradition - except it is infinitely more durable, particularly for the cyclist. A gift that is not only luxurious, but will last and can be used daily, is truly a gift to remember. The retail price of the Brooks saddle pictured above is $99 - just like the cashmere cardigan from J. Crew.

[left image via Mercian Cycles; right image via Tiffany &Co.]

Traditional gift: Heirloom Jewelry 
Reinterpreted for the cyclist: The Custom Handbuilt Bicycle

If expensive jewelry is to be given, the winter holidays are a traditional time for it. The idea is that jewelry is "forever" and the holidays are a good time to reaffirm that sentiment and commitment. The recipient of the jewel will wear it close to them - maybe even daily - and think of their special relationship to the gift-giver in the year to come, and hopefully all the years thereafter. A fine handbuilt bicycle frame can communicate the same sentiment to the person who is truly crazy about bicycles. Not only is it bound to be a very cherished possession, but the cyclist will likely ride it frequently and enjoy it immensely. Plus, if the bicycle is lugged, their filigreed forms are not dissimilar from actual jewels. Like the Tiffany's diamond earrings above (the .22 carat version), the stunning Mercian frame is priced at around $1,000. 

Regardless of which holidays you celebrate (for those in the "Christmas and Hannukah" camp, the holidays stretch out for an entire month this year!),  I hope you find them fun and enjoyable. And if any of these gift ideas are of interest, there is no harm in accidentally leaving your laptop open where your loved ones can see it, now is there?... They might even get the hint!

[* The products pictured here are not endorsements, paid adverts or part of any promotion]


  1. This was a really great posting! I believe the Ibex gloves were my favorite. Even non-cyclists could enjoy them. And speaking of heirloom gifts, don't forget a Phil Wood hub! Easy to pass those on to the grandkids with the Mercian!

  2. I love it! The side by side advertising was perfect.

  3. Cyclotourist: I have a Mercian (three, actually) with Phil Wood hubs. But I don't have kids which, at my age, means that I probably won't have grandkids onto whom I can pass my treasures.

    It's probably a good thing I bought those frames and hubs for myself. If someone had given them to me, he or she probably would've gotten his or her way with me. If that'd happened, I just might've had grandkids!

  4. Rebecca: I agree. Can you imagine Velouria in advertising?

  5. I've consulted in the advertising industry (think Faye), but that is as far as it goes. Not a madwoman type.

    So what "normal" gift would you compare Phil Wood hubs to? I confess that I don't hunger for them, which at least is good for my finances, for a change!

  6. I really loved this posting for the holidays... silliness indeed! You are quite good, Velouria!

    Personally, I don't wear your recommended 100% wool Ibex, but a blend smart wool glove with little grips in them and love them until it is howling wind and below 40 degrees F. Then it is time for something that I ski in.

    Also, do I really have to choose between a cashmere sweater or a brooks saddle? I am a girl who wants both. Though I would totally take a custom frame over diamonds any day!

  7. I'll take the Mercian frame, but with the Tiffany earings instead the Phil Wood hubs!

    The brass bicycle bell is already on my christmas list this year, but now I'm also coveting cosy red wool gloves. A lovely entertaining and informative post from lovelybicycle once again!

  8. Haha Clare, that's cheating : ) Can't have both categories!

    A word of warning about the Ibex gloves: They run large. We got some for ourselves, but I ended up giving my "S/M" to the Co-Habitant, because they fit his (large) hands better than mine, and we are returning the "L/XL" that were originally meant for him. Of course, some prefer loose gloves, or to wear these with a liner underneath - but I wanted something more form-fitting. On the other hand, the gloves pictured do have excellent grip on the palms and the underside of the fingers. There are these textured raised bumps in the shape of the Ibex logo - wish they fit me!

    Oh and in general, I don't so much recommend those specific bicycle gifts, as am merely pointing them out. I have no personal experience with Mercian, and I prefer the male formula of the DZnuts. And while I like the idea of wicker baskets, I prefer to ride without them in practice. I do own a VO bell and a Brooks B17 (the model pictured) and love them, and I love Bicycle Quarterly - but it's not for everyone.

  9. I wish, oh wish that someone would give me nice woolens for Christmas. I always seem to get art supplies and novelty cycling gifts. Never buy art supplies for an artist that is more than 13 years old, and I don't need another acrylic sweater with Santa and Rudolph riding a tandem. I've gotten 2 of them. (Actually I suspect I've received the same one twice, the last time I gave it to a thrift store in another town). I've been wearing the same dark gray wool jersey(not a cycling jersey, just a jersey) since the the administration of George the first and I wish someone who loved me would take on the task of finding something like it. I'm not sure anyone loves me that much.

    I've never thought of Brooks saddles as Christmas gifts but I think it's a fine idea...Another black Brooks Professional? Yes please! Bicycle Quarterly! Thank you so much! I'm going to take these suggestions as encouragement to try to find nicer gifts for my wife and daughters, What is the Brooks B-17 special equivalent for a modern(well, sorta modern) 12 year old bookworm?


  10. A brass bell. Now why didn't I think of that?

  11. When I say to the kids "christmas isn't just about getting presents, you know" it means they aren't getting anything!

  12. Practical and cheap: I saw this over at Henry Cutler's bakfiets-en-meer blog:

    No personal experience, but Dahon fits this to their folders nowadays so it must have its merits.

  13. How about a bike substitute for a swiss army knife (no - not a multi-tool). Check out some of these folding bikes!

  14. wot??? no fountain pen recommendations for the cyclist that wishes to sit by a roaring fire writing lovely Christmas letters to far flung friends?

  15. As much as I would love to convert everyone to fountain pen use, I won't push my luck : )

  16. Oh... I like this game! How about this one:
    Instead of this french canvas bag:

    How about this one instead:

    And I agree, I'll take the mercian *and* the earrings, I don't care who knows I'm cheating.

  17. I was definitely FINE with the world as it was sans DZ Nuts.

  18. What a coincidence! For Christmas, I decided to go the bike-inspired route and am giving my 7 year old niece a bright pink woven bicycle basket filled with some fun bike goodies, including a Hello Kitty bell.

    Now if you will excuse me, I need to forward this post to my family and friends. ;)

  19. There may be more overlap than you suspect between vintage bike owners and fountain pen users. I got my first real bike (Raleigh Sports) and first real fountain pen (vintage Art Deco pen that had been my grandfather's) when I was in third grade and never looked back...

  20. I absolutely love your site! I'm relatively new to cycling, and my site, which is more about the "sport" of cycling, is still in it's early stages, but I'd like to post your link on my site, unless you have some objection. Great job!

  21. neighbourtease - You don't know what you're missing! (Though the stuff is only useful on a roadbike, you don't need it for an upright bicycle.)

  22. What a fun post! And what thought has gone into matching some of those images up, such as the bells and chocolate. Genuinely good gift ideas there. I don't like my chances with the Mercian though (or the earrings come to that!). :-)

  23. I am surprised that you ladies are succumbing to the diamonds! Come on, they are not naturally scarce and are basically refashioned glass-cutters sold at inflated prices : ) Mercian frames, on the other hand, are naturally scarce - harvestable only by the glow of moonlight upon the heaths no more than once a fortnight...

  24. No diamonds for me, Veloria! My one lovely ring (anniversary ring) is a Ceylon Sapphire and my wedding band is titanium. The sapphire gets a lot of compliments. The rings are my only jewelry and I don't want any more.

    I will take a custom bicycle frame over jewelry any day. Or a Rohloff hub.

  25. I love fountain pens, but for reasons best not gone into here no longer have any (unless you count Rapidograph/Staedtler Mars; and they all need a good cleaning). I might have to do something about that one of these days.

    "I am surprised that you ladies are succumbing to the diamonds!"

    Really, it's the Brooks/Cashmere combo that makes more sense.

    "they are not naturally scarce and are basically refashioned glass-cutters sold at inflated prices"

    'at's ma girl!

    "Mercian frames . . ."

    Ya left out the Vestal Virgins.

  26. I must admit, I already have plenty of Brooks. Bring on the cashmere. Black and brown hold up well to wine stains but you are right about the cat damage.

  27. I suspect that this year I'm going to get lots of wool winter wear! Yippee! That and a new wheelset, a new powder coating, a new set of fenders, new dynamo lighting, new saddle. This Christmas thing isn't bad...

  28. Though I do love cashmere, I am just no good with delicate clothing. Brooks leather has a much more realistic chance of survival!

    I do wear a pair of diamond earrings, custom made for me as a wedding gift almost 6 years ago now. I like them so much that I never take them off, hence the lack of interest in other jewelry.

    kfg - I can only write with fountain pens (and pencils - but that's for drawing, not for real writing), because ball points are too difficult for me to press down on and rollerballs/felt tips are weird. Modern fountain pens are very safe; I even use them on the airplane.

    somervilllain - Which new saddle? I am getting one gift from my list here, and the first installment of it has just arrived today!

  29. "Modern fountain pens are very safe"

    It needz moar ninja training, my preciousss.

  30. Great post! But I wouldn't turn away a cashmere sweater from Jcrew under any circumstances. Btw, I read about two more cycling mags I'd never heard of here

  31. Velouria, I have a cashmere coat that I bought on a sale. It's a beautiful maroonish burgundy color that, I'm told, works well on me. But I almost never wear it because I've ruined anything made of delicate fabrics that I've ever owned. So, ironically, even though I have that coat, I own no other cashmere items.

    For the same reason, I've rarely worn or owned anything in suede, even though I love it as I love cashmere.

    I once had a suede saddle which, as lovely as it was, I didn't like because it was harder to move back and forth on it than it is on one topped with smooth leather. On the other hand, I've never seen any cashmere bike clothing!


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