If you’re buying for a cyclist this year (but aren’t one yourself), the odds are you’re at a loss for what to buy. After all, cyclists are a fickle bunch—gear nerds who go out and get what they want for themselves because they’re so picky. Still, there are lots of great options that nearly any cyclist will love.
Whether it’s consumable items like nutrition on the bike—which might seem like a lame gift, but I promise you is not—or something more sustainable like new gloves or socks, we have something for both the roadies and mountain bikers on your list.
And the best part? Nothing on the list costs more than $50. Most of it is even cheaper, so you can go big and buy multiple items. Look who just won Christmas this year.
Energy Drink/Food: Skratch Labs and Science in Sport
Let’s start with something easy. The right nutrition on the bike is often the difference between a good day and a bad one on longer rides. You can’t go wrong with a good drink mix for water bottles and some gels to throw in a jersey pocket or saddlebag.
Drink Mix: Skratch Labs Sport Hydration
We like the Skratch Labs Sport Hydration drink mix for lots of reasons. Unlike some sports drinks, it’s not over-flavored or too sweet. Skratch Labs simply has the necessary electrolytes to match what’s lost in sweat, so you rehydrate and get a little energy. It’s also organic, plant-based vegan, verified non-GMO, gluten free, dairy free, and Kosher—and it does it all while still tasting great.
SKRATCH LABS Sport Hydration Drink Mix, Lemon Lime (20 Single Serving Packets) - Electrolyte Powder Developed for Athletes and Sports Performance, Gluten Free, Vegan, Kosher
Skratch Labs Sport Hydration has half the sugar and twice the sodium of traditional sports drinks, so you get the sports nutrition your body actually needs on long bike rides.
Energy Gels: Science in Sport Variety Pack
Sports drinks are awesome, but sometimes you need a little more to get you through a long ride. That’s when energy gels are great. They’re very easy to get down while you’re moving and are packed with fast-acting carbohydrates.
Science in Sport Energy Gels have 22 grams of carbs, but only one gram of sugar, so you don’t suffer the energy crash you get with some products. These gels use an isotonic formulation so that you don’t have to drink extra fluid to digest them, thereby avoiding stomach problems.
SIS Isotonic Energy Gels, 22g Fast Acting Carbohydrates, Performance & Endurance Sport Nutrition for Athletes, Energy Gels for Running, Sports Gels for Cycling, Citrus Variety - 2 oz - 6 Pack
Science in Sport Energy Gels have lots of carbs, but very little sugar, plus a light and thin consistency so that they're easy to consume while staying focused on your ride.
Socks: Swiftwick PURSUIT Four
Yeah, yeah, you’re thinking socks for Christmas—how boring—but trust me, cyclists get excited about good socks because they help keep your feet from blistering or developing numb spots on long rides.
Swiftwick’s PURSUIT Fours feature merino wool, which absorbs moisture and keeps you cool in summer and warm when it’s cold out. Reinforced heels and toes maximize durability. Different cyclists have different opinions about sock length, so keep that in mind when you pick a cuff length and color.
Swiftwick- PURSUIT FOUR Cycling & Trail Running Socks, Merino Wool (Black/Coal, Large)
Made in the USA, Swiftwick PURSUIT Four cycling socks feature four-season merino wool that keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. The virtually invisible toe seam eliminates friction in the toe box.
Rear Light: Cygolite Hotshot 100 USB
Let’s face it, distracted driving is a problem, and you want your cyclist to be safe. One way to make them more visible on the road is with a super-bright rear blinking light. You can check out our picks for the best bike tail lights for a full range of options, but the Cygolite Hotshot 100 USB is a budget-friendly rechargeable that puts out a retina-blasting strobe.
Cygolite, Hotshot 100 USB, Tail Light, 100 lumens
The Cygolite Hotshot 100 USB features 2.5 hours of life at 100 lumens, and a super-bright Daylightning flash mode to ensure drivers can see cyclists in all daylight conditions.
Gloves: Giro Jag and Supacaz SupaG Long
Gloves are important to cyclists. They cut down on the wear and tear to their hands and help them grip the handlebars when they’re sweaty. Palm padding reduces hand fatigue on long rides while still leaving the finger dexterity needed for braking and shifting gears. Road gloves typically leave the fingers exposed while mountain bike gloves are full-fingered for better stickiness to rubber grips over rough terrain and extra protection from more-frequent falls. Just like socks, this is also a good opportunity for picking colors that match your cyclist’s favorite bike clothes.
Road Cycling Glove: Giro Jag
The Giro Jag is a cheap but durable road cycling glove that features enough padding for long rides. The Lycra backing allows sweat to evaporate and keeps the gloves from getting too stretchy when wet. The hook and loop closure makes them easy to get on and off.
Giro Jag Men's Road Cycling Gloves - Blue Jewel (2017), Small
Giro Jags don't have some of the bells and whistles of more expensive products, but the price is right for a reliable product that wears well. They're available in a wide range of colors to match just about any cycling clothes.
MTB Cycling Glove: Supacaz SupaG Full Finger
Padding is less of a “thing” in mountain biking gloves because you get a fair amount from MTB grips. Plus, you tend to twist your hands so much getting over obstacles that heavily padded gloves quickly get shredded. Here, it’s all about grippiness and good sweat evaporation. That’s why we like Supacaz SupaG Full Fingers. Plus, the color choices are endless.
Supacaz SupaG Full Finger Cycling Gloves (Oil Slick, L)
Supacaz SupaG full-finger mountain bike gloves have a comfortable design and Lycra backing that make them a joy to wear. The palm and inside of the fingers have a silicone grip for maximum control.
Bar Tape or Grips: Supacaz Super Sticky Kush or ODI Troy Lee Grips
Handlebar tape and mountain bike grips make good gifts because they tend to get chewed up leaning against buildings or in mountain bike crashes. Plus, a new color makes it look like you got a whole new bike!
Bar Tape: Supacaz Super Sticky Kush
Some cyclists are intimidated at the prospect of replacing handlebar tape themselves, but it’s really not that hard once you’ve learned how to get it even and properly tensioned as you roll it on. Park Tool has a good handlebar tape how-to video for first-timers.
Super Sticky Kush handlebar tape is nice because it has a tacky feel even in wet conditions. Plus, the foam delivers superior shock absorption despite being quite thin.
Supacaz Super Sticky Kush Country Collection - France
With a formula that absorbs shocks with the thinnest of foam, Super Sticky Kush handlebar tape is popular with road cyclists thanks to its superior comfort and tackiness in wet conditions.
MTB Grips: ODI Troy Lee Design Grip with Lock-On Clamps
I’ve been using these Troy Lee Design MTB grips from ODI for several months now, and they’re excellent. They’re sticky in the hand and the lock-on clamps keep them in place and prevent end damage when I bang into things. You can find a color to match any bike.
Troy Lee Designs ODI All-Mountain Downhill BMX Bike Handlebar Lock-On Grips (Red/Black)
Troy Lee design MTB grips from ODI feature locking rings at each end to stay in place and protect the ends from damage in crashes.
Seat Bag: Lezyne Road Caddy and Topeak Aero Wedge
Having what’s needed to fix a flat is often the difference between getting home or the humiliation of having to call someone to come get you if you’re a cyclist. I pack a spare inner tube, CO2 cartridges with a valve adapter, a patch kit, some boot material for large tire cuts, and a couple of hex keys into mine.
Small Seat Bag: Lezyne Road Caddy
A bit like sock length, the size of seat bag to get is a personal choice with cyclists. I prefer super-minimalist, but I recognize that limits what I can get in there. It’s probably just my physiology and position on my bikes, but I find larger bags tend to bump the insides of my thighs if they have a strap that goes around the seat post.
The Lezyne Road Caddy is an excellent example of a minimalist bag. It has the secure hook and loop strap with a buckle—key to not having the bag fall off mid-ride. At a little over three inches by four, this is a small, lightweight bag that will serve you well.
LEZYNE Road Caddy Bicycle Seat Bag, Medium Size, Water Resistant, Bike Caddy Bag
The Lezyne Road Caddy is 80x40x115 mm and weighs only 70 grams. It's water resistant and has a sturdy hook and loop strap with a buckle to keep it securely in place over bumps.
Larger Seat Bag: Topeak Aero Wedge Pack
For some cyclists, bigger is better when it comes to seat bags because you can pack them with more necessities, such as like tire levers and multi-tools. Mountain bikers often like a slightly roomier seat bag like the Topeak Aero Wedge Pack for tools and spare parts because they suffer more mechanical problems like sticks that get caught in the gears or components that are shaken loose along rough trails. It comes in four sizes ranging from a little over six to nine inches in length.
Topeak TC2261B Aero Wedge Pack with Strap Mount, Medium
The Topeak Aero Wedge Pack is a seat bag with enough room for more than just a spare tube and CO2 cartridges. You can pick from four sizes. It features a secure strap system that will keep it from falling off in even the most severe mountain biking.
Multi-Tool: Topeak Mini 20 Pro
Much like a Swiss Army Knife for bicycles, a good multi-tool can be a lifesaver when you suffer a mechanical problem far from home or your car. These are a must-have for any cyclist, but there’s a weight penalty where road biking is concerned (if your cyclist cares about such things). The more features, the heavier they are, so it’s a tradeoff. I like ones such as the Topeak Mini 20 Pro that include a chain tool. I’ve had rear derailleurs get snapped off on the mountain bike, and being able to shorten the chain is about the only way you’re going to be able to ride back when that happens.
Topeak Mini 20 Pro Mini Tool (Black)
The Topeak Mini 20 Pro has all hex key sizes common to most bikes plus screwdrivers, Torx bits, spoke wrenches, and a chain tool. It weighs 5.31 oz and comes in a neoprene bag.
For Extra Safety: Road iD
Take it from someone who’s been knocked unconscious in a bike crash despite wearing a helmet, wearing a Road iD just makes sense for cyclists. Even if you’re riding with friends, do they have your emergency contact information? Road iDs are completely customizable. You can engrave anything you want on them like your name, an emergency phone number, or a link to a website for more information that emergency responders can use. Wearable IDs are even more important if you have a medical condition or take medications like a blood thinner. It’s an inexpensive investment in peace of mind.
You can find prices and more information about styles and options on the Road iD website.
Chain Lube: Rock N Roll Gold
As a long-time bike mechanic, every time I pass a cyclist with a squeaky chain, it’s like nails on a chalkboard because I know the damage they’re doing to their drivetrain. With chain and cassette combos going for hundreds of dollars these days, having plenty of chain lube around is important. I keep bottles in my workshop and in my car.
Rock N Roll Gold chain lubricant is intended for both road and mountain bike use. The company says their formula penetrates to the heart of a chain, collects dirt, and then pushes it to the surface where it’s easily wiped off. If left overnight, it sets up a protective membrane that keeps out water and dirt.
Rock N Roll Gold Chain Lubricant, 16-Ounce Complete Kit w/ 4oz Bottle & Applicator
Rock N Roll Gold lube is formulated to clean and lubricate at the same time. Simply apply and then wipe off the excess. For best results, do it the night before a bike ride, so it can set up a protective membrane to keep out dirt and water.
For Fun: Recycled Chain Picture Frame
Someone gave me a picture frame made from a recycled bicycle chain a few years ago, and I think it’s a great idea. It’s a simple and inexpensive gift that shows the person you’re giving it to that you appreciate their cycling passion. You might think it’s a little tacky, but the chain is actually understated and you have to study it for a few seconds when you first see it to realize what it is.
Bike Chain Picture Frame by Resource Revival | Recycled Bicycle Photo Holder | Rustic and Modern Metal Display Created for the Adventurer - 4x6"
The 4x6-inch Bike Chain Picture Frame by Resource Revival is a great way to show your support for recycling and give a personalized gift to a cyclist in your life.
First Aid Kit: 299 Piece All-Purpose
Cycling seems to come with its share of bumps and bruises, especially for mountain bikers. I keep a first aid kit in my car, and it’s come in handy more times than I care to admit. Get one like this 299-piece kit that can deal with a wide range of incidents, such as road rash, cuts, and insect stings. Disposable chemical cold packs are great, too, if you happen to clip a tree.
First Aid Only 299 Pieces All-Purpose First Aid Emergency Kit (FAO-442)
This 299-piece, all-purpose first aid kit can deal with a wide range of injuries ranging from road rash to cuts and insect stings.