Review: The #creakybottombracket 2015 Holiday Gift List
(2015) Before I begin, I’d like to clarify two things: 1) If one checked the ‘About Me’ section, it would reiterate that I do not receive any endorsement from the reviews on creakybottombracket, and 2) Some of this stuff I haven’t physically interacted with, but the product piques my interest enough to shell out American dollars.
It is quite possible that those who peruse these articles are not, in fact, outsiders but the cyclist proper. That means I'm preaching to the choir if I'm going cliché. Perhaps there will be something on this list that can be “accidently” left on the computer for someone to "accidentally" see.
While I'm not a fan of holiday gift lists, I figured to scour the interwebs for items that have character yet small advertising accounts. It’s not happenstance that websites who operate under the yoke of a big named sponsor bombard their gift lists with the sponsor's products. It hardly feels genuine.
From cycling gifts for on the bike to ideas for après cycling, below are some ideas for the velocipedest in your life. The gifts range from as low as $12 to as high as $2700. And no, I don’t realistically think people actually get cars as holiday gifts, so the higher-priced items are really more wish-list items. Without further ado (and good luck):
HB Stache socks ($12)
Until recently, cyclists struggled to find trendy cycling wear. I once had a
person ask me if the cycling kit she was trying on made her look ridiculous. I couldn't help but respond, “We’re cyclists. We always look ridiculous.” Consider Handlebar Mustache. There have been many entries into the cycling sock game, but HBStache goes further: they outfit the entire cyclist with gear. From their famous 'Belgian the F-ck Up' kit, to their ‘I Cobble Roubaix’ tshirt, one can find numerous gifts to give on the holiday of observation. HBStache is quite remarkable at matching specific cycling shoe colors to their sock line. Be sure to check them out.
Lebelle Artisan Tallow Shaving Soap($16)
Take two cultures that always look to the past – cycling and shaving – and one will discover the wonderful products of Lebelle Shave Soaps. With the popularity returning to wet shaving (using straight razors), one may spend
a while researching great lathering soap; if people think $16 is a lot for shave soap allow me to convince you: I’ve used Lebelle Barbershop soap several times now and the tub still hasn’t gone down. This could be one of the last purchases made regarding shave soap for the next few months. You do need a shave brush, which would be a separate purchase ( Brush-Craft from Pequea, PA, is highly recommended). Happily you would not need a shave scuttle, but be forewarned, just like cycling, this hobby can get out of hand quickly. It could become an obsession.
Mad Alchemy Embrocation ($20)
Embrocation is a curious oddity. Made from natural ingredients, this paste will react with skin and muscles to create warmth on colder rides. There are different types of embrocation from paste to lotion. Mad Alchemy is a product about which I'm curious. Other types, typically lotions, lose their power. Lotions also recommend using them all over; if anyone has learned the embrocation lesson, it's don't apply it in more places than necessary. Pastes can gunk up the knee warmers, which ruins them over time. Mad Alchemy seems to have gone one step further by creating its own culture by adding cycling kits and other necessities (such as the Neck Thingy).
Given the embrocation I've used before it might be wise to start with the mildest. True story: I used a mild variety from another company and wasn't entirely sure I was going to be ok. It got that hot. I couldn't imagine what "hot" would have felt like.
Hotbox Roasters French Press of Bel Air ($20)
Oskar Blues Brewery has not made a single bad beer that I know of. From their session IPA ‘Pinner’ to their chewy, but magical ‘Deviant Dale’s’ double IPA, Oskar Blues is a great product for those cold cyclocross days. Even better is the fact that some places don't allow glass bottles, however that doesn't apply to Oskar Blues canned beer. Replace the beer with coffee beans, and I'm certain Hotbox Roasters will continue the trend. Therefore consider the French Press of Bel Air,
described as 'Parallel Carmel, SNAFU Cashew, and Blueberry AF.' I'm not sure how all that tastes but I'm honestly intrigued. The beans come in a typical Oskar Blues stovepipe can, their trademark. Slip this into the holiday gift giving and it just might get shared that same day.
Classic Cycling Essentials Post-ride Face Wash & Mustache Wax ($24/ $9)
Once a SWAG product, CCE makes quality cycling accessories. When the weather turns less-than-favorable, CCE’s post-ride face wash can mean the difference between an uncomfortable drive home or a rejuvenating post-ride conversation. Especially if the ride involves dirt roads, nothing feels better than peeling the road grit off the face to avoid scaring little children at the local coffee shop heading home.
With cyclists getting into the facial hair movement, let’s not forget the mustache wearers in the peloton. CCE gives them love in the form of mustache wax. This distributor is also out of Pennsylvania, Zionsville to be exact. With their attention to detail, one can find a little slice of respite from a hard day’s ride in less than acceptable conditions. And what's life like when the mustache is out of place? CCE has that covered with their button serving of mustache wax.
Entry into Kermesse Sport’s Fleche Buffoon ($45 in 2015)
Peruse this site and it’ll become obvious that Kermesse Sport runs a great show. One of the events that fail to gain love amidst the spring Bucks County weather is the Fleche Buffoon. This ride visits some of the hardest climbs on both sides of the Delaware River. With its return in 2015 Kermesse Sport shows riders that a long grinding West-Coast climb is one thing, but a short, steep, awful climb can do more damage in the long run. This ride even passes through Holland Township. That means the authentic Volendam Dutch windmill at the top of Adamic Hill Road can be ogled. That is, if one can still support his head after another killer climb. This ode the Leige-Bastogne-Liege spring classic is one of the last Kermesse rides in which I have still not participated.
Rapha Winter Collar ($50)
In the recent winter riding seasons it was discovered that neck warmth could make or break a ride. The neck accessory doesn’t need to be cycling-centered, but it helps. Made of merino wool this collar can usher the cold
air to any area but the neck. If the temperature drops enough the collar could be pulled up to cover the chin or mouth. This could help stave off the dreaded brain freeze that accompanies many winter downhill experiences. It make or break the one point for sprinting to the town line sign. While I've used more economical options, it's certainly a small price to open up more riding days throughout the colder months. There's nothing more enjoyable than the confused glances of motorists upon seeing a cyclist riding in cold weather.
Rapha Velochef Cookbook ($55)
There’s an enjoyable trend happening off the bike that could have been started by Skratch Labs a few years ago. Cyclists wanted recipes for on-the-bike nutrition as well as easy-to-make meals when kicking the feet up at home. I have a couple of cycling cookbooks sitting on the shelf, of which I have worn out the spines. Arranged by TeamSKY’s chef, Henrik Orre, one can add this to the variety of cookbooks above the pots and pans. All I want to know is do they have waffle recipes?
HED Titanium Skewers ($80/ set)
Until thru-bolts become standard, skewers still hold sway on the road riding hub market. And since Chris King doesn’t make skewers it’s hard to match up a wheelset with a skewer. HED makes two types of skewers, steel and titanium. This would make a great addition to the bike in the form of a tiny alteration. While they may blend in with the bike, you’ll know that HED’s Minnesota-based craftsman have added one more quality product for your rig.
Untapped Maple PRO Bundle ($120)
What better gift than Vermont maple products? Even better is this is several gifts in one. In the Untapped PRO bundle one gets sixty individual packets of on-the-bike nutrition. Also included is a CamelBak podium bottle with lumberjack patterning and Untapped pro socks. It would be nice if the bundle included one of their hats and/ or a box of waffles but we’ll get there eventually.
Pappy Van Winkle’s Rip van Winkle Bourbon (price varies)
Talk about a shot in the dark. Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon has websites tracking its extremely rare bottle distribution in the forty states that accept it. I have put in the good word at several New Jersey locations in the hopes of buttering up the people behind the counter into giving me a bottle. The
Pappy 23-year variety regularly fetches up to $2,000 on average, but the younger varieties can start at $50. If you’re outside the US, sorry, but they don’t ship abroad according to their site. And if you do manage to find it at the local post-ride watering hole, prepare to shell out $45 per ounce of this holy of holies in the bourbon category.
Belgian Boys Club Tommeke Bibs ($165)
We’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on Belgian Boys Club products before including socks and neck gaiters. They’re well made products. There’s one problem to their stock though: it goes ridiculously fast. This small cycling apparel site based in Belgium celebrates all things classics related. And since one of their own, Tom Boonen, is entering his final year of professional cycling, it’s no wonder they finally came out with a set of bibs to honor the Flandrian. With Belgian-designed apparel made in Italy, it’s a foregone conclusion that anything from the BBC website will be quality. As stated in another review, don’t hesitate to purchase anything from this site. There’s no guarantee it will be there tomorrow.
Oakley Jawbreakers (starting at $200)
Oakley just announced their customization program for the Jawbreaker glasses. That is good news for anyone looking to match his or her gear with his or her team kit. Want orange hinges? Done. Want a green frame? It’s now possible. With the arrival of Jawbreakers it means once again the competitors will only fall farther behind. It’s always great to see Oakley in the Grand Tour peloton. It’s one of the few items American design has offered to the pro-level racers.
Chris King T47 Bottom Bracket ($220)
No one wants to be that rider creating the irritating creaking of an angry bottom bracket. I've pulled out of a handful derby rides due to the embarrassment it carries. Frame companies state it’s a component concern. Component companies say it’s a frame issue. Chris King partnered with Argonaut Cycles to eliminate the dreaded creak. This could lead to the change of the domain name. Despite this, it is exciting news. The threaded bottom bracket will soon be returning to frames. Hopefully gone will be the days of rolling down the road with a new expensive rig only to have one of the least-expensive products ruin the experience. This hasn’t been released yet, but it’s due out shortly. Coming from Chris King one knows that it will be a quality component to add to the bike.
Entry into Anthem Sports Tour of the Catskills ($230 for 2015 stage race)
Anthem Sports has changed over the past few years. What used to be UCI-sanctioned races has now become festivals that have included races, gran fondos, childrens’ races, and even a 5k. Anthem Sports is best known for its Tour of the Battenkill, a nearly seventy-mile affair that spends 1/3 of the time on the dirt roads of Washington County, NY. This year’s Tour of the Catskills has been pared down to a one-day affair, too. A race that once saw a criterium and time trial on day one and a road race on day two, competitors could potentially expect a lower price for a beautiful race setting. With a noteworthy amount of cyclists within two-hour proximity to the Catskills, this could be a perfect mid-summer road race to rack up some points.
Bont Vaypor Classic ($370)
We’re not really sure how or why Velcro straps made it into the peloton, but it’s a perplexing issue. People have cited that laces could get caught up in the chain. Does that mean the cycling shoe industry took it upon themselves to solve this oh-so-serious matter by removing the laces in the clip system to look after the professional cyclists? Luckily the laces are returning. Bont has added a lace version to their flagship Vaypor line. They have two versions actually, the Classic and the Track. The difference is that the track version has a ratchet strap to cover the laces. With their heat moldable system and extremely stiff soles, Bont shoes are the real deal. They do say “Hand-made” all over the place, but after some prodding they admit Bont shoes made in China (but stated it's their own warehouse). Considering we’ve been running Bont shoes for several years, and also considering they offer color and forming customization, Bont shoes are worth the splurge for foot comfort.
GoPro Hero 4 ($499)
The clarity of GoPro products can be sampled on Youtube regularly. Riders have wondered which direction cycling is going and GoPro has an answer. Consider syncing your ride footage with select CycleOps trainers and you can relive the route. The footage can communicate with your trainer to add or detract resistance based on your route profile. Beautiful outdoor rides can be re-ridden if the weather outside turns nasty. The GoPro Hero 4 can connect to a cell phone if you’re interested in beaming the enjoyable ride to friends in real-time. The features go on and on with the Hero 4. All that’s left to do is to pick out your video soundtrack before posting online.
Ritte Ace Frame ($2700)
Thinking of replacing the big-name frame on which you perch? Want to roll up to the next group ride with a lesser-known cycling frame as a conversation piece? Ritte’s Ace frame can help with both issues. Their flagship frame is categorized in the aero road bike category. It’s impressive geometry means it’ll carve up winding descents as well as respond when getting out of the saddle. Ritte’s website, kits, and hilarious videos prove that this company gets it. Cycling can be enjoyable while not being stuffy. Being the most expensive item on the list means that the likelihood of seeing this on the morning of the holiday may require an opposite splurge in the other direction.