Bill From Rocky Mountain NSMB Andrew Major (2).jpg
Gift Giving 2021

Andrew's Gift Guide For Good (Mountain Bike) Friends

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date Dec 2, 2021
Reading time

A Proper Squibbing

There's so much noise in the world today, everyone's just busy, and that sometimes means that it's hard to be certain that our friends and loved ones know we're thinking about them. And let's face it, even thoughtful gifts like your used coffee card with $1.95 left on it, or that last 473ml of Chop Wood, Carry Lager from the bowels of your gear bag may fail to convey that you occasionally remember them in a positive or at least funny-ha-ha sort of way. I'm a big fan of a wee squibbing here and there. You know, publicly mocking their chain lubing methodology or writing a letter to mutual friends to start a library of photos of them changing flats - that sort of thing.

And if a picture is worth a thousand words, then I'm not sure if you can name a better value in mountain biking than some custom stickers taking the piss... I mean, remind your friends that they're on your mind via a proper effigy. Get 'em made, hand 'em out, and wait until someone lets them in on the joke or, much less likely, they notice.

Cargo Bike NSMB Andrew Major.JPG

My friend Kelsie is the master of the sticker game. Here's a shoutout to Dumpster Bear, The Prettiest Muddbunny (who's putting up all the amazing fresh woodwork on Lower Crippler), and Sh*t-Nonsense-Buffalo.

Stickers NSMB Andrew Major.JPG

Another SNB, a dick-butt, and Kelsie also made my Drew-Bob stickers after my kid started calling me that. Remember folks, it's the friendly give-and-take that makes it fun!

Leatt DBX 3 NSMB Andrew (2).JPG

This one I stole from Tyler Maine - formerly of Pinkbike and now at We Are One. It has occasionally served as an early warning system to detect folks who are too sensitive to tease.

There are all kinds of places to order stickers from, and if your squibbing is a proper one, then minimum quantities won't scare you off because all your friends are going to want one. Talk about a dirt cheap (in cost per unit terms) way to spread some cheer through your gang! You never know, they may even act as an icebreaker on the trail. A few times now I've been on the receiving end of "oh hey, you have the same sticker as so-and-so" and I think meeting more nice people who love riding bikes is always a winning present.

It doesn't have to stop at stickers either. I've seen t-shirts emblazoned with untimely photos of folks crashing their bikes or making hilarious faces, at least one coffee mug featuring multiple photos of a friend's suffer-face, and I'm certain there are even better ideas out there.

Bill From Rocky Mountain NSMB Andrew Major (2).jpg

Bill was the warranty wizard at Rocky Mountain for a long time. But just because he's gone to a better place (Nelson) doesn't mean a custom postcard from his long-time friends wouldn't be appreciated.

Dewhinge-ifying Products

Whether it's their back, butt, bunions, or whatever else, there's probably a solution to whatever your favourite riding friend is whingeing about. I find myself most often listening to an incessant droning on about our particular form of wet and cold that seems to creep into the bones. Mixed with the truth that there are only so many people willing to ride janky old school trails year round on Tuesday mornings, the gift of a little comfort is certainly an easier solution than finding new friends.

There are a few solid options for warmer and more weatherproof clip-in shoes (they do still have two giant holes in the top, mind you). There are Shower Pass Crosspoint socks, there's always a flask full of whiskey (or whisky), but my go-to gift idea for riders with feet is a pair of Esker's Canadian-made insoles. Suffice it to say that all my "wah, my feet are cold" friends who've finally tried a pair, even the ones who bolt steel heat-sinks into the bottom of their shoes, give two thumbs up.

Add warm gloves and emotional support jackets to the sort of winning gift solution that will allow you to generously eliminate all that whining about the weather!

Esker Wool Insoles NSMB AndrewM (7).JPG

The Approach insoles from Esker add additional support but most importantly the Canadian wool inserts add comfort whether it's hot or cold, wet or dry.

Crankbrothers Stamp Shoe NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

I have a few pairs now and use them in all my shoes. As an added benefit, my work boots don't stink after a hot & sweaty day in the shop.

CushCore

Granted, tire inserts may not be for you but they're unequivocally what all your best riding buddies need. Every damn one of them from the fittest XC animal to the slowest sloth surmounting Slippery Salamander. And even if you're looking at lighter insert options for yourself there are a handful of reasons that CushCore is the only choice for them. It's not inexpensive, but when you're out with your best riding buddies you want to have the best experience. Instead of inserting your own card, you could always give them the perfectly patterned haiku that convinces them the rewards are greater if one purchases CushCore for themselves?

Buy new, or buy used if you can find them. In my experience, CushCore lasts forever with zero degradation in performance. I've been riding the same Plus insert on the front of my rigid bike, with very low pressure and regular bottoming out for a couple of years, and it's as good as new. The only cost of ownership has been changing the odd valve core, as with any tubeless valve setup. Oh, you may like their XC inserts, but for your friends, it's full Pro or Plus-sized only.

CushCore 29 Plus NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

That oughta slow the rabbits down on the climbs. Plus, no more waiting while your friends change a flat again. Ever. Plug the tire and ride, or run that flat out.

CushCore 29 Plus NSMB AndrewM.JPG

They're usually not a big deal to install (really!) and remove but that's not what your friends have heard. After CushCore goes in, they're leaving it in.

Why inserts for everyone you ride with? For one, you'll be saved from ever having to wait around watching them struggle to change a flat tire again. Even if they could get that sealant-soaked foam or rubber circle off trailside, do they really want to bandolier it around their shoulders and ride out like that? If sealant or a tire plug (or two, or three) doesn't do its job, there's no tube going into that tire. With some inserts that means they're walking out and you're deciding whether to be the stand-up friend who patiently joins them on their journey. But with CushCore? Run-flat, flat out!

Furthermore, the extra rolling weight really isn't going to add much time for your slower companions who completely wear out their 52t cogs while the rest of their cassette looks fresh. They're just spinning along anyways. On the other hand, your all lungs-and-legs hammerhead is absolutely going to notice the difference while they're trying to turn you into one big sweating cramp. And when you offered to install the CushCore for them, free of charge, in the evening while they're doing other fun things, the fantastic friend that you are, you of course added an extra pound of sealant and 17 wraps of Gorilla Tape.

Remember, it's all about your vocabulary. Choose words like reliable, solid, and bombproof to describe the few hundred grams added to their setup.

Blind Dates

I'll admit that I haven't fully fleshed out how exactly this could, would, should work yet, so maybe you have some suggestions. I've actually been feeling pretty good about my mountain bike fitness lately but deep down we all know that it's relative. My rude reawakening came on a proper pedal ride recently with my friend Naked Nic, with whom I've only ridden a couple of times. Now Naked Nic is one of those high-posting XC dudes with surprising descending skills and in my defense, he's way fitter, way younger, and way taller than me. How much fitter, younger, and taller? His best time from the road to the top of No Quarter on his single speed is around 38 minutes. Mine is, well, significantly slower than that.

We had a great time on a perfect day under the canopy on some of the best bike trails in the world. I managed to not puke, or suffer a jammer and Nic managed to keep moving fast enough that his muscles didn't atrophy. All the while we kept a solid banter going and as a result, I'm motivated to get faster on the climbs.

Remi

Oh, hello loud cocky riding friend who thinks they're really fit and fast. I'm not actually available to pedal tomorrow but this totally random and average mountain bike rider, Regi Mauvin, is going out to do some intervals and you should totally join him. (Photo: Dave Smith)

But! I'm not sure that I really need to be humbled up a hill to know what's what. On the other hand, oh boy do I have a few extra-cocky friends that could use a good shellacking. Maybe up-and-coming pro riders could make a few bucks posting on Patreon? They'd show up in plain kit, and ride my friends into the ground (20% tip if they end up blowing chunks?).

For a more universally recognizable rider, like say, Rémi Gauvin, it could be packaged as a nice gift. Hey buddy, for the holidays this year I bought you two hours of non-stop fire road sprint intervals with Rémi. It's really important that you show up with fresh MaxxGrip Assegai DD tires front and rear and CushCore Pro inserts.

Custom x Lasers

Whether you're picking up something for yourself, a friend, or your favourite trail builder that you barely know, (but certainly appreciate) in 2021 everyone deserves something nice, something unique, something special. The answer is, of course, laser etching. If you live in any area with a mid-to-large sized population there's an outfit that will laser etch whatever blank shiny anodized bits you'd like - stem caps, multi-tools, chainrings, etc. Who doesn't love little custom details?

Wolf Tooth has a custom laser graphic program for their regular pack pliers that will hopefully spread to other products. The standard pack pliers are a good tool, but the 8-Bit system is the kind of investment that's worthy of etching a nickname or slogan onto. Maybe add a phone number or e-mail address if it's something like a very sweet multi-tool that could fall out of a pack or otherwise get lost.

Live Like Vic NSB NSMB AndrewM.JPG

There are only fifty of these NSBillet #LiveLikeVic stem caps in circulation. For those that don't know, Vic built many of the classic Black trails on Burke Mountain, including Upper & Lower Vic's, and probably has invested more hours into trail building on that mountain than anyone.

Now, I know it's the thought that counts and a custom laser etched 8-Bit tool is big money, and many people have an EDC Tool so there's nowhere to put a custom top cap, so I also have a budget best-gift-of-the-season idea. You're welcome, no, encouraged to steal it!

Now this will take a bit of crafting but all you need is a decent shovel, a can of spray paint (you choose the colour), and a stencil. Now spell out a special message for your favourite builder and leave the shovel, with a little bow, somewhere you know they'll find it. Something really appropriate like, #ThanksForTheJank, or #YouRockMyTrail, or even #NoDigJustRide if your favourite grumpy old builder occasionally has a sense of humour.

Wolf Tooth 8Bit Pack Pliers NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

I love my 8-Bit Pack Plier system. Would I have paid a few bucks to have DREW-BOB laser etched onto the outer face along with my e-mail address, in case I drop it somewhere? Absolutey.

Endless Kick Ass Cog NSMB AndrewM.JPG

I have lots of awesome stickers, from CCM to #Scofflaws, on my toolbox. The two Endless Bike Co stickers just happen to sit close enough to sandwich my customized 22t #KickAssCog between them.

So, that's the end of the assembly line. Best of luck with your thoughtful, and/or hilarious, gift-giving efforts this year - big and small. Thank you for all the great comment-section conversations and other online interactions this year. All the best to you and yours as we cycle into the end of the year 2021 with a lot of hope for bigger group rides and local racing in 2022.

And, CHEERS!

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Comments

fannystackaskill
fannystackaskill
12 months ago
+10 Cr4w Grif Andrew Major Mammal imnotdanny Greg Bly Zero-cool Timer kcy4130 Tremeer023

Can we just take a second to appreciate the only MTB gift guide that isn't full of sponsored crap?

Reply

mammal
Mammal
12 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Zero-cool

I LOVE this site for that. It's becoming increasingly uncommon for mtb media.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
0

Cheers!

———

It may have been a missed opportunity not hitting up the local breweries to MS-Paint a different brand of beer on to Bill’s head though right?!

Reply

mammal
Mammal
12 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Either Cariboo or Tuborg Gold for Bill... Nothing else.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
+1 Mammal

Hahahaha… Paint his head into some popery - no problem. But don’t f*** with how you represent the man’s taste in beer!

———

Jordan (who wrenched at the Cove) once did me a HUGE favour and performed warranty-voiding surgery on my Honzo so I could review stealth dropper posts for NSMB. It was a big deal for me and I thought I’d get him some fancy beer but thankfully asked a buddy who had worked there first - has to be Corona. 

Heck, have to appreciate folks who know what they like!

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
12 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian

TBF the personal ones we do never have had any sponsored content and never will. Like Andrew, we are free to talk about whatever we like. The ones we do that are sponsored are clearly identified as such.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
+1 Velocipedestrian

For sure! I took it as a general compliment to NSMB’s Christmas format. Most places don’t clearly divide between sponsored Christmas content and editorial.

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
12 months ago
+7 Andrew Major mrbrett Cr4w Zero-cool khai Michael Klein flatch

Where is the Meat? One thing I wouldn't do is give any friend a Go Daddy gift card as they are trying to stifle Discuss-sion on controversial industry blogs.

I like the idea of giving friends CC. It's a win-win really. If they don't get flats it's a win. If they still smash their fancy carbon rims to bits and have to battle to pull out the sloppy CC trailside to put in a tube, then wear the sealant infused insert bandolier style for the rest of a long ride...that's a win as well.  Heck if they try and ride out on the insert and damaged rim just to prove they can and struggle mightily knowing if they stop and give in to the TUBE they'll never hear the end of it...well that's a win!  There really isn't anyway to lose and all for less than a front row ticket at a Justin Bieber concert.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

HA! Thanks Vic!

I haven’t seen a bandoliered CushCore setup yet but I have seen a Tannus slung over the shoulder dripping copious amounts of Stan’s goop!

I think you can CushCore a few friends for less than a nosebleed seat at a Biebs concert though?! I mean… I knew he was big-big, but the man has his own line of TimBits!

Reply

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
12 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Mike Wallace

Tannus doesn't provide good value as a gift. Too easy to put in and to take out. Especially trailside under pressure. Although I wouldn't say no to laughing at someone's sloppy Tannus bandolier as long as I didn't have to pay for it.

I don't think even Gretzky got his own Tim Hortons donut food product. You better Belieb he's gone Big Time!

Reply

mammal
Mammal
12 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Cr4w

TimBiebs, Andrew. TimBiebs.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
+3 Vik Banerjee Mammal mrbrett

If there’s a big announcement this week that Sidney Crosby has fired his agent and management team we can assume it’s because there were never SidBits right?!?

Reply

FLATCH
flatch
12 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Just trying to get a tire off trail side would be worth the price of admission. 😂

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
0

I can only imagine. Some of the messages I get from my friends installing/removing at home… 

I know two dudes who’ve cracked the inner wall of their rim beds in the process of removing tires! Gorilla tape, shallow rims, and heavy duty tires can be an adventure.

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mammal
Mammal
12 months ago
+3 Andrew Major IslandLife kcy4130

This is fantastic, my mind set ablaze with friend-themed dee-cals...

Hilarious picture of Bill. I was a lowly intern at Rocky for many-a-work term, and a few things always come to mind when I think of Bill. 1) Cariboos and Foos, usually with D'Arcy and Al in the back (Al drinking Tuborg Gold). 2) The constant squabbling with Morty his desk neighbour, like a married couple. 3) The last guy I've seen riding a Hammerschmidt, on his 50lb Flatline, so he could crank up Cypress. Hope he's doing well in Nelson.

Also hilarious that you chose Remy for the interval/ass-kicking segment. I was grinding up GSM on my hard tail a year or so back whilst feeling unusually out of shape , and he came absolutely out of nowhere, just flying up behind me. I had a chance to look back, and say "hey Remi", and get out of his way, totally convinced he was on an Ebike. Nope, normal Altitude, he was all "hey, thanks!" on his way past, but his blinding pace was a full-on, unintended "F-YOU OLD HACK". I couldn't even comprehend how someone could turn cranks that quickly and disappear in the span of one switchback. Then I caught him pulled over about 4 switch backs up, with an semi-appologetic look, on the verge of heaving up his lunch, and I hit me. Ooohhhhh, intervals! I guess that's something that sports people do... I felt much better about myself at that point. Also, Remi's such a great guy in general, also remember him from my Rocky days.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
+2 Mammal IslandLife

I never met “Morty” in person but one time when ‘Rocky Mountain’ showed up on the call display at the shop I answered the phone “Scotty Morton Bicycles” (can’t remember who told me it would be funny).

Pre-Flatline! We used to regularly tease Bill about his RMX when he dropped by the shop - years after Rocky stopped making them - I mean, you work for the company Bill!!! Years later, I look at how I think about bikes now and I wonder if he just knew something I didn’t.

———

Remi is both super nice and super fast. Easy choice!

Reply

mrbrett
mrbrett
12 months ago
+2 Mammal IslandLife

I have a similar Remy signting - I recognized him biking up a gravel road in Squamish, approaching from behind, coming in hot. I was confident (hopeful) he was on an eBike based on his speed. Nope, no eBike. Passed by politely, flew by like I wasn't moving.

Reply

craw
Cr4w
12 months ago
+3 Mammal Andrew Major mrbrett

Beere Brewing give me straight flashbacks to Ontario. The Beer Store used to use the same font.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
trumpstinyhands
12 months ago
+2 Andrew Major mrbrett

Ah...a CCM sticker. I've been thinking (but not doing anything about it....) for years about getting some CCM, Super Cycle, Nakamura etc stickers for the back of my vehicle as an antidote to all the "look at me, I'm a mountain biker! Look at all my mountain bike related stickers!" vehicles out there ;)

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
+2 Mammal Cr4w

Not that CCM… 

There was a time when I had a bag of stick-on Apollo head tube badges with this thought in mind, but they were lost in a move years ago.

———

I laughed at first… but sadly I know first hand that kids need all the help they can get convincing dad (it’s always dad) to forgo a couple bells/whistles in his new Tesla Model-X and spend the difference on not trying to have them riding death traps where the stems can’t be tightened properly.

Being called “an elitist” by an Arc’Teryx robed Model-X driving douche because there’s no way to make the used shit heaps he bought his kid safe did not make my best of 2021 list. 

I’d feel terrible if I had a hand at all in legitimizing BSOs.

Reply

mrbrett
mrbrett
12 months ago
+4 Cr4w Mammal Andrew Major kcy4130

Re: BSOs;

My brother in law told me I was "wasting money on expensive bikes" and he got a brand new one (with shocks!!) for $149. I'll be damned if it's not made of actual cheese. Not even a hard cheese, but soft cheese like brie. It's crazy how easy it is to bend things on that bike - in to shape, out of shape. Fixing it is like trying to walk on shifting sand.

Not trying to be elitist, but I am trying to keep him pedaling to the CircleK's and camp site bathrooms of the world, and it's a challenge.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
0

If I can clamp the front wheel between my legs and turn the stem no matter how much the stem is tightened, I won’t work on the bike.

Quill stems on BSOs are extra problematic because of tolerances between the wedge and the steerer. But I’ve seen it plenty with ahead stems too.

It’s amazing how good budget bikes are these days - Shimano Altus, Acera, or Alivio drivetrains are impressive until you’re legit mountain biking. But a decent entry level bike was $300 CAD twenty years ago. It seems now it’s about $700 CAD to get a Tourney-equipped daily driver.

Can’t fathom what you get for <$200 including assembly!

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mammal
Mammal
12 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I laughed exactly 4 times. Thanks for the words mrbrett.

Reply

IslandLife
IslandLife
12 months ago
+2 Andrew Major imnotdanny

Haha... won a Super Cycle Hooligan from some charity raffle thing a number of years ago.  Dual suspension.. is that a high single pivot?  Dual crown... what's not to like!  Instantly became our camp and neigbourhood bike.  Super fun... for about a week.  Wow.. the speed at which every part began to rust away was quite shocking...

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Sethsg
Sethsg
12 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Hey, it's the future, adjustable geometry.

It's also really good for people who have an arm that's longer than the other, just bend the bike frame a bit and you'll be fine.

Reply

cornedbeef
cornedbeef
12 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Mammal

The day BSOs are outlawed and actual minimum quality standards are put in for bikes will be a day of celebration as a professional mechanic.

The US adopting German-style laws mandating good lighting systems, adequate hydraulic brakes, quality tires, and mandated safety standards for ebikes will be a week of celebration for me.

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LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
12 months ago
+2 gramm Andrew Major

Love the Cock Monkey sticker !

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gramm
gramm
12 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Ya!!!!  What's it refer too ?? ;)

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
0

Show some respect, it’s Captain Cock Monkey.

———

Whoever made those should get a bike-mounting-friendly die cut version done this year. I’d love to receive one as an Xmas gift and would certainly display it on a bike without the big white back panel.

Reply

mammal
Mammal
12 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I thought it was lovingly referred to as a "Dick-Butt", but maybe you're talking about a different, equally wonderful sticker.

I'm really left wanting to know the story behind the Shit-Nonsense-Buffalo. Mystery and intrigue abound.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
0

Different stickers. CCM is the #NoDigJustRide monkey.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
+1 Mammal

SNB tells the story better but here goes:

SNB’s little hobby is answering those African Princes who want to give him $2,000,000 but need $1000 wired to them so they can make it happen.

One week he gets this guy going back and forth and basically he’s phishing buddy back. Finally his Royal highness just sends SNB a message telling him he’s talking crap and that he’s a:

“SHIT NONSENSE BUFFALO.”

Maybe it’s some kind of awesome Google translate thing?!

Anyways, that’s where it came from.

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mammal
Mammal
12 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Thanks for the explanation! That's definitely worthy of a custom sticker.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
0

Cheers! Yeah, that's my thinking. We all have these inside jokes, or nicknames, or etc within the circle of folks we ride with and I think celebrating them is awesome.

Reply

mayberex
Mario S
12 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Mammal

dickbutt + cushcore = rampage ready

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
+1 Mario S

Totally! Slack HTA and DH bike wheelbase too. Ha.

Reply

Shoreloamer
Greg Bly
12 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Gift the gift of a smile. 

And that image put a wide grin on my mug.  

Thank you.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
12 months ago
+1 Greg Bly

Cheers, Greg!

Reply

Skeen
Skeen
11 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Awesome article as usual Andrew! My gift idea for this years is twisting up/ sharpening old spokes into pokers for my buddies who never learned that skill while wrenching in a shop (or elsewhere).

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
11 months, 4 weeks ago
0

Thank you,

Small world X Great idea!

So, not an original idea I had by any means, as my friend Nice Guy Geoff has been doing this for years, BUT, I have some spoke/nipple combos that I saved when swapping a rim and I've been planning to make three packs of pokers - straight, 90°, 45° - like the Park ones. Just need to cut them to length, bend as needed, and then do them on the grinder. They have anodized gold and purple nipples for ends so I think they'll look pretty cool?

So yeah, maybe realistically a next year's thing. But thanks for getting me thinking about it again!

Reply

Skeen
Skeen
11 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

“They have anodized gold and purple nipples for ends so I think they'll look pretty cool?”

Yes definitely a cool detail!

Reply

grimwood
grimwood
11 months, 1 week ago
+1 Andrew Major

Andrew, as always, entertaining read. I picked up a set of those insoles. I think these may be my first after market insoles ever. Mind blown. They totally changed winter riding for me. Even 2 hour rides at near zero, I don’t feel the heat drain out at my clear. A side benefit is that my shoes feel just a bit stiffer (these are 3 year old clapped out Shimano AM9’s). 

For other interested in sizing. I bought a 42 insoles for 42 Shimano shoes. They take up a little bit more volume than the stock insoles.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
11 months, 1 week ago
0

Thank you Mike.

Pumped that they made a big difference for you.

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