2023 Gift Guide - Week 4 (Small Things)
Yep. The holidays are still approaching. It's not too late to be ahead of the game and reduce your stress as the days count down to whatever gift-giving holiday you celebrate. We've got some more good ideas for you - this week we're placing the emphasis on smaller, awesome things. Some of them cost less than a tall boy of your favourite craft beer, so you could buy one for each of your regular riding buddies and sprinkle them about on your next group ride. It's fun to poke about for these smaller ideas - we've highlighted a few from garage tinkerers, the kind of at home inventors that have always been a part of the culture of the sport.
And in case you missed them, here are links to Gift Guides from the last three weeks:
Shamrockwood 315 NubHex Drivers
By: Pete Roggeman
I once worked as a bartender behind a marble bar at a very high-volume restaurant and patio in Vancouver. After getting faster and faster at moving bottles, glasses, ice, and ingredients around in a coordinated team of four, it became obvious that on some days my hands were fast and accurate as greased lightning, and on others it felt like every bottle of beer was a greased pig. Spills are bad enough, but breaking glass over an ice well is a cardinal sin for a bartender (RIP to the servers that might make that mistake when reaching across the bar). Anyway, the point is that our bodies have high- and low-functioning days. This would be a non-sequitur in a gift guide article on a mountain bike site except that these NubHex Drivers from Shamrockwood315 (not someone's handle from an Irish-themed bartending chat room) are the kind of tool that can smooth out those awkward days and save you from dropping your 4 mil in the ice well (the non-sequitur has become a mixed metaphor).
There aren't many small bike maintenance jobs that drain my patience faster than changing a bottle cage with tough to reach bolts, especially because I usually budget 60 seconds for the job and it always takes longer. Sometimes it's the cage's fault, sometimes I don't have a tool that will pretzel itself into the right shape, or hold its pretzeled shape, and sometimes I'm just having the kind of day where anything I put into my hand just wants to jump right back out again. These NubHex Drivers make it easy to reach certain hard-to-access bolts, notably those that hold unusually-shaped bottle cages. They're 3D-printed bit holders and you can buy a single driver for 4 bucks, or spend 8.99 for one with two additional bits riding shotgun that are easy to swap in and out, or a set of four colour-coded NubHexes with one bit each: 3, 4, and 5mm Hex and one T-25 torx. What a cool idea that makes at least one job way easier without costing a ton like many other (semi) proprietary tools. Easily earning a spot on my bench and my travel kit, these NubHex drivers would also be welcome in any rider's stocking, no matter what their DIY skill level may be.
Shamrockwood315 NubHex Drivers start at 3.99 USD for single bit drivers and go up to 17.99 for a 4-piece set (3, 4, and 5mm Hex and T-25 torx).
Stanley Adventure Stacking Beer Pint | 16 oz.
Funny how we all claim to love working on bikes, but then the topic of beer always comes up as if it's the bribery required to calm our nerves when fiddling with bottle cage bolts...
I have nothing against bottles but have enjoyed the trend towards craft beer coming in cans. For most places and times in my life, cans just make more sense. Except when I'm trying to be discrete (post-ride mini-tailgate, for example) or if the beer is being shared around. Not sure how it seems like growlers just disappeared all of a sudden (Covid? Covid) but I dusted mine off recently and was glad to fill it and be able to pour out of it. Anyway, whatever the reason, it's nice to have some quality pint cups, and not the glass kind. Not surprisingly, Stanley makes great ones.
Typical for Stanley, the Adventure Stacking Beer Pint cups utilize their trademark double-wall vacuum construction, and are constructed using stainless steel. Bonus: unlike a lot of vacuum-insulated vessels, these ones are dishwasher safe. Grab a few, stack 'em up, share with friends. 'Tis the season.
Nitecore NB10000 Power Bank
Black rectangular power banks seem ubiquitous and somewhat anonymous and if you'd rather keep it that way, it's understandable. Between travel, the occasional long work day on the road, and other times when I'm away from wall outlets for many hours at once, I often need (or think I need) a power bank to make sure my phone/watch/speaker, etc needs supplementary juice. Whatever the use case, I wouldn't normally pay much attention to one or the other as long as it worked, but Nitecore - makers of popular flashlights among certain EDC community members - sent this along, claiming it was the world's smallest and lightest 10,000mAh Power Bank. I have no idea if that's true, but some cursory comparisons are bearing it out. In fact, it's roughly the same size as many 5,000mAh power banks, and slimmer than many. And that has made it mighty handy over the last year. Weighing a remarkable 149 grams and measuring a slim 12 x 5.9 x 1 cms (4.8" x 2.32" x 0.42") it is quite a bit smaller than my iPhone 12 Pro and will charge it fully twice.
The Nitecore NB 10,000 has USB-A and USB-C outputs that can fast charge simultaneously (at an impressive max total output of 38.5Wh) and it also supports pass-through charging, meaning it can be plugged in and charging, while also charging one of your devices. There is also a trickle charge setting so you can crank down the current if you're charging something small like AirPods or a smartwatch. It costs more than an Anker that does the same things (but is slower, heavier, and larger) but it does fit the bill for those that need a small and mighty charger if space or weight is at a premium.
Nitecore NB10000 Power Bank - 59.95 USD / 79 CAD
Feedback Sports Range Click Torque Wrench
By: Pete Roggeman
There are as many options for bike tools as there are types of home mechanics, ranging from the cheap and cheerful multi-tool that Fred uses at home, on rides, and on the road, to the well-prepared perfectionist with the Toolbox Wars setup that's worth more than an entry level hardtail. Sitting a little closer to the traveling enthusiast side of things is Feedback Sports' Range Click Torque Wrench. Everyone should have a torque wrench. We can debate when they're required and when they aren't, and the fact that the rules apply differently based on your experience, the componentry you're handling, and whether you have the hands of a wide receiver or those of a rock-splitter. You don't have to spend a lot for a 5Nm tool that works only on 4, 5, or 6mm hex bolts (used mostly for stem adjustments) and you can leave high-torque bolts to your LBS or borrow your friend's torque wrench for the occasional BB or linkage bearing maintenance. For those that want to cover many of the bases (both in terms of torque range and available bits), this recently released unit from Feedback Sports is a gem.
It includes a click-type ratcheting torque wrench handle, 13 high-precision S2 steel bits, and a protective TPU case with loops to secure the tool. The bits: standard length (25mm) hex bits: 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm; standard length Torx bits: T10, T25, T30; and 3 extended length (50mm) bits: 4, 5mm hex and T25 Torx. It can handle torque measurements from 2-14Nm with an easy to read dual-sided scale that displays 1Nm increments - one side shows 2-14Nm in even increments, the other side shows 3-13Nm in odd increments, solving the issue of legibility and accuracy on smaller torque wrenches in a clever way. Feedback claims it is accurate to within +/- 4% for 4,000 cycles. The torque wrench handle uses a 72-tooth ratchet and measures torque in both directions so it works on regular and reverse-threaded bolts.
It comes packaged in an attractive, durable travel case, and is compact without being too small to fit in the hand nicely, so it's equally at home on your workbench or if you need it while on a road trip. If you don't have a torque wrench, this will handle all the small jobs in a package that makes it good for the road, but comfortable to use at home. We're never disappointed with Feedback's products, and the Sports Range Click Torque Wrench is another good one that would make an awesome gift for any rider.
OneUp EDC Tool Dynaplug Adapter Kit - Tubeless Repair Plug
By: Pete Roggeman
There is no shortage of cool 3D-printed stuff out there, and this is one of them: an insert for your OneUp EDC tool that allows you to run Dynaplugs. It's a simple adapter that threads in and costs $5 US on eBay - just add your own Dynaplug, or you can buy the adapter with a few included plugs for $15. The creator is a rider named Parker Smyth, who was trying to pare down his enduro race kit and came up with the idea to combine his OneUp tool and Dynaplug kit. He didn't intend to sell it but friends and others that saw it wanted to buy it, so he's set up a little corner booth on eBay.
I've been using one housed inside a OneUp pump, and had no problem fitting my OneUp EDC pliers around the Dynaplug adapter. It's only been deployed once, and that worked exactly like any other Dynaplug experience, which is to say that it worked just as intended.
OneUp EDC Dynaplug Adapter Kit (adaptor only) about 6.80 CAD / 5.00 USD
By: Andrew Major
I had a bunch of stuff to say about stickers and then I found out that my favourite Cy Whitling image is also available as a puzzle and promptly forgot everything else. So yeah, stickers. Who doesn't love stickers?
Actually, 'love' may be too innocent a word to use here. If I buy something nice for my mountain bicycle and the brand doesn't include a sticker, I'll admit I'm a bit judgemental about it. I'm not saying I'm going to base future purchasing decisions on the lack of a buck-or-two worth of colourful vinyl, but if it's down to two products I'm equally keen on then some differentiator has to come into play.
Anyway, stickers make a great gift that is inexpensive and yet can be highly personalized. They make a great addition to any toolbox or bike rack, or for covering up scratches and dings on a bike. They're also a great way to identify a coffee cup or beer mug as yours, and no one else's.
Aside from the links in my photo set above, my submission for the sticker for someone who has everything is Rivendell's 'Pride 'O The Cosmos' for 4.25 CAD / 3 USD.
I'm also a big fan of Endless Bike Co's 'There Are No Boring Trails, Just Boring People.' which are 2x for 7 CAD / 5 USD.
Please feel encouraged to include your suggestions for best stickers in the comments below!
Colourful Cable Crimp Ends
By: Andrew Major
Publisher Pete told me we were writing about small things for Week 4, and there's no tiny touch smaller and less expensive than colourful cable crimp ends. These sell for somewhere around 0.10 CAD a piece. Buy a jar of 500, in a single signature colour or assorted mix, and be set for life as a home wrench. Or stop by the local bike shop you frequent and they'll dig you out a few in whatever hue makes you hungry.
I can't think of another Jagwire product that I'd recommend unless you're really in a pinch, but when it comes to pinching on cable ends they're my go-to. Many folks have a preference for how they crimp down the ends, for me it's always flattening them out with a pair of Knipex Pliers.
Jagwire Colourful Cable Crimp Ends. 64 CAD / 45 USD for 500.