Kids Ride Shotgun NSMB AndrewM (12).JPG
Christmas 2020

Andrew's Gifts For Mountain Bikers

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Dec 1, 2020
Reading time

Ebenezer No More

Normally I'm that grumpy bah-humbug type that can't stand Christmas in November. No lights, no shopping, and please, please, please no ear-bleeding holiday music. It seems like the insane traffic fully loaded with belligerent asshole drivers comes earlier every year. Christmas is here - beep beep.

This year's a little different thanks to that one big overarching F-U from the universe that clouds our every day. You know the one. Any time I'm in the car after dark my six-year-old and I take a different route home so she can see the Christmas lights folks have (already) put up and tell me what's great about them. From a basic, bulbous tangle tossed absently into a tree to a single house using more electricity than the block we live on, every setup is especially special this year. It's lovely. It's so lovely it has, apparently, melted my heart because I'm really and truly jazzed for the holidays.

I know a lot of folks are lamenting not being able to see their friends and family and are digging for that extra special gift this year. Hopefully my list helps someone out.

Rocky Growler 20 NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

I didn't budget for bikes on the list this year, but with all the folks young & old discovering, or re-discovering mountain biking this year, here's a quick mention that budget hardtails with modern geo are fantastic - on the trail and under the tree.

For The Young

I think for a young family on my list it's a KRS Christmas. For friends who are mountain bikers and have really young kids, or are having kids, the experience of using a Kids Ride Shotgun Seat will make for unforgettable parenting moments. I really wish my daughter and I could have spent years more time on the system before she grew out of it, and that we had one when she was small enough that my wife could have tried it as well. The smaller the parent, the smaller the bike, the less time they are going to have to experience the system.

Kids Ride Shotgun NSMB AndrewM (8).JPG

I think the easy-on-and-off KRS Saddle System we reviewed is worth every penny of the 150 USD | 200 CAD price of entry...

Kids Ride Shotgun NSMB AndrewM (9).JPG

...especially if you're amortizing it over years instead of months. My kid was right on the cusp of being too big for it, on my size large frame but it was still so much fun.

On a tighter budget, or buying a gift for friends or a family member who doesn't mountain bike? Check out Shred Til Bed, also by Kids Ride Shotgun, for a really fun A-Z book featuring animals having a blast riding bikes, a plethora of mountain bike terminology, and sprinkled with some great themes that are applicable anywhere in life. The price may feel a bit steep at 29 USD | 43 CAD but the quality is solid. You won't find it on bookstore shelves, or anywhere but the KRS website at the moment.

Shred Till Bed (2).JPG

Shred Til Bed is fun for a much wider range of ages than the typical alphabet book... is what I tell my kid when she catches me reading it to myself.

Shred Til Bed NSMB AndrewM (5).JPG

I'm a big fan of letter 'C' and there is other solid messaging in the book as well. "A crash can happen when you're riding, get back on to keep on trying."

Lastly, if you're on a really tight budget and still want to wow - an IOU for some free childcare during peak riding conditions is an amazing gift. The folks you bestow it on won't even mind when you hand their kids back loaded with insane amounts of candy testing out some fresh vocabulary. The best part is it's the kind of gift you can give year after year, for any occasion, and still witness it being received with genuine appreciation.

For The Old

We all have whingey friends playing fast and loose with their best-before-date and if you like riding with them there are a few gifts that could quiet their moaning. At the very least, your investment in trying to improve their comfort on the bike demonstrates to them that, despite their incessant bleating, you'd still rather ride in the mountains with them than not.

I have an endless list but I'm thinking Rev Grips, or push-on grips, for the hands, bars with an increased setback for the wrists and elbows, an SQLab Active saddle for the bad back, and a Fasst Flexx bar for the arms, shoulders, and any other upper body ailments. There are lighter action brakes that are suitable for weak or arthritic fingers, high-high rise bars for a more upright position, and stems with more rise for those looking for a better fit without their friends making fun of the amount of rise they're running. Phew, let me know what I missed.

For The Busy

Too busy to ride regularly? Buy something that plugs in. No, not a stand mixer with wheels. Lights, silly! Crushing out a lap in the last light of day doesn't have the same urgency when you have the lumens on tap to have fun in the dark, and it's also way cheaper.

Lately, I've been mainly riding a self-contained combination of a 1300-lumen Bontrager Ion Pro RT on my lid and a Light & Motion Seca Comp 2000 on my bar, and that works great for me for all the janky trails I like to ride at night. There are endless good options on the market but I recommend a helmet mount light that works with the GoPro camera mount standard.

Bontrager_Ion_Pro_RT_NSMB_AndrewM.original.jpg

I like the colour, illumination, runtime, and quality of the Bontrager Ion Pro RT lamp. This is my general go-to for helmet mount duties. Still getting full run-times out of a light I tested two years ago.

Light And Motion NSMB AndrewM (6).JPG

The L&M Seca Comp 2000 is a great value in a very bright bar-mount light option. The strap system is quick, easy, and secure and the light can take a bath or a beating and is still good to go.

Not everyone will ride alone in the dark, so get some yourself and start dragging them out. You'll both appreciate the free time on a bike, the extra fitness come spring, and the mental health maintenance. As a bonus, it's very easy to social distance on even the most popular trails on the North Shore when it's pouring rain on a winter's eve, and most other places as well once the sun has set..

For The Bold

That could also be for the cold because I really find a full-face helmet's relative comfort is boosted when a wet chill is trying to get into your clothes. Either way, I've been riding in a lid with a chin bar a lot these last months and I think it's a great way to add a degree of insurance that I'll be able to get myself home to nurse my wounds. I've also been sporting knee pads every ride since May and occasionally have been known to throw on some elbow pads when my little one isn't using them as leg armour.

I've witnessed a few very spicy crashes in the last few weeks. All by advanced riders. All on fairly innocuous sections of trails. All on cold days where overheating wasn't really a concern and all riders who own DH full faces. I'm happy enough wearing my 7iDP lid with the cheek pads pulled out for long climbs, or clipping and unclipping the chin bar on my DBX 3.0, but for some folks that's just too much faffing about to be bothered with. Luckily for them, there is a whole crop of highly breathable fixed-bar full faces on the market like the Kali Invader, Smith Mainline, or Fox Proframe.

Whether it's a teenager learning to ride the North Shore or a mom or dad famous for laying themselves out hard on the trail, I think everyone spending more time riding with a chin bar is a good thing. There are a plethora of options out there with a wide range of fits so a gift card or a store with a good exchange policy is probably ideal.

Bash Guard Wolf Tooth NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

Lately, I've been wearing a full-face helmet almost every ride. The 7iDP Project 23 is my go-to if I think I'm going to crash...

Scare Yourself NSMB AndrewM.JPG

...the Leatt DBX 3.0 gets the call up for longer Shore XC rides with spicy sections or riding with my tiny mountain biker when it's cold.

I could wax on all night and if anyone is looking for more specific suggestions then hit me in the comments and I'll be as helpful as I can. I get a fair number of Santa's Helper messages every winter. I can't promise you I'll turn plain parts into compelling sentiments but from Boeshield to brakes I can probably come up with a winning suggestion for any budget. And if I can't we have a great community of readers here at NSMB.com. Is that pandering and foreshadowing my best of 2020 list? Heck yes.

Merry Christmas and happy new gear!

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Comments

thaaad
+1 Andrew Major
thaaad  - Nov. 30, 2020, 11:04 p.m.

We've been debating back and forth between the Macride and the KRS seat for about a year now. Andrew (or anyone else) can you chime in either way? I assume you bought the KRS seat for a reason rather than the alternatives.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 thaaad
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2020, 11:30 p.m.

I haven't used the Macride and actually only even tried the KRS seat because it was sent for a review and I was the only NSMB contributor with a small enough human to stick on it. I guess we had always just been doing our thing because I'd never even considered a kid-in-front setup. 

That's the big reason I bring up the KRS seat whenever I can. I very much regret not having one sooner (as The Clairebarian was borderline fitting in on my large frame when it arrived) and I think the experience-per-dollar value is epic. On paper, there are reasons that I think the KRS is a better concept than others that I've seen but frankly, it's the only product in the category I've tried so I can't give you pros/cons from first-hand experience.

Reply

thaaad
+1 Andrew Major
thaaad  - Dec. 1, 2020, 11:16 a.m.

I appreciate the info :)

Reply

whisper06
0
whisper06  - Dec. 4, 2020, 10:54 a.m.

Hey thaaad, as a NS dad that wants my kids out on the trails with me I bought the Mac-ride about 4 years ago. I can't say enough good things about it. The quick and easy installation, the fact that it does not touch your frame. I started with it on a Spec. Enduro and had it on my Spec. Rockhopper and ended with it on My 2020 sight c2. All medium frames. I put but of my kids through it during this time and they loved riding with me. 

The KRS is also a great product, other than it touches the frame and I would be hesitant to clamp it to a carbon frame.

Either or my recommendation is not to hesitate buy one as quick as you can and get the kids out on the trails with you!!! They will love it, you will love it.

Side note. I recently sold my Mac-Ride for $25 less than what I paid for it. After 4 years use it was still in mint condition.

Cheers, hope to see you out with your little ripper/s

Reply

mrbrett
+2 Andrew Major bumVSmtn
mrbrett  - Dec. 1, 2020, 6:37 a.m.

I have tried both, or at least my son/daughter have. Our current setup is a MacRide with a KRS handlebar.

To me, I like how the MacRide doesn't contact the frame.

The KRS seat has a more comfy saddle (coming from a guy that's never sat on it). 

Either one is good, but if I was making the decision today I might lean towards KRS because I like how it's is available at bike shops and not just direct. I bought my MacRide before other options were widely available, and demo'd a KRS since.

Also, that KRS handlebar is a pretty awesome add-on. Previously I had push on grips bumped way inboard for the kids to hang onto, but the tiny handlebar is adorable, a more appropriate height, and allows a bell or something else for the kids to fit on there.

My son is 6 now, and lanky, and I have a long top tube bike otherwise there would be no hope of fitting him on there. We still do the odd school pickup on it. My daughter is 2 and ferocious, and she has a lot of fun biking. I'd say peak ride-along age is ~3-4, depending on the size/tolerance of the parent and size of the kid. At 4 my son was a tight fit but we did some shuttle riding in Golden, Revy, and Fernie on it and had a blast. Pedaling around the local trails was fun too - night riding, XC trails, all of it.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 thaaad
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2020, 11:01 a.m.

Awesome info! What size frame do you ride for reference?

Reply

mrbrett
+1 Andrew Major
mrbrett  - Dec. 1, 2020, 12:14 p.m.

L Doctahawk (fairly long, lots of room)

L Process

XL Mukluk fatbike

More space is better if you're riding an Ersatz Tandem™ of either the KRS or MacRide variety!

Reply

thaaad
+2 mrbrett Andrew Major
thaaad  - Dec. 1, 2020, 11:16 a.m.

Thanks! That's all great info

Reply

shrockie
+1 Andrew Major
Shrockie  - Dec. 1, 2020, 11:32 a.m.

We had a Mac Ride before shotgun came out. I liked that it was super fast to set up to switch between bikes. I used it on a Townie, Nomad and E-commuter. only takes a couple seconds to install. shotgun takes a little more set up. both are good options.

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - Dec. 1, 2020, 2:16 p.m.

Just debate another year or so and you wont need either.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 thaaad
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2020, 2:46 p.m.

Hahahaha; that’s the real challenge with any kids gear unless you have younger minions too.

Reply

kraf
+1 Andrew Major
kraf  - Dec. 1, 2020, 4:52 p.m.

I have the Macride and the benefits are no frame contact, and single hex bolt to attached to the steer tube adapter spacer. Rear bolt is attached to your dropper collar with a thumb wheel. It takes about 30 seconds on/off so is fine for use on your daily driver mountain bike without being a pain. Seat is more like a saddle, sticky rubber with a deep pocket which I think is good for keeping the kids low and in one place.

Looking at the shotgun install video it looks like 6 or so bolts to tighten/loosen to get it on/off so that is not ideal. Agree the handlebar add-on would be useful to keep the child's center of gravity higher and back because they tend to pitch forward on small trail nose-downs (so you have to be extra careful).

Size wise I think at age 4 kids are getting pretty crammed in there with either one of these. Think kids helmet bumping into your chin and maxing out the leg extensions. Macride was designed by a BC couple one of whom is an engineer that used to work for Race-face. Good local connection there. When I ordered mine one of the owners hand delivered it to my house in Vancouver so hard to argue with the customer service.

Reply

reini-wagner
+2 mrbrett Andrew Major
Reini Wagner  - Dec. 2, 2020, 8:50 a.m.

Hi,

based on the @Andrew's first article on the KRS seat, and having some time on hand during the first covid lockdown, I built my own version of the KRS seat for my then 2.5 year old son. I installed it on my Explosif rigid bike, with a moto-style handlebar where he has his own grip taped bar section, he loved it from the outset. Initially we used it only in the city for shot commutes on car-less roads. Then we started on very mellow trails and forest roads, and also some roads less frequented by cars. We use it very regularly, and it really provides a great father-son experience, and it enables us to also include the 7 year old daughter + mom on our trips whenever it fits.

DIY kid front seat

https://nsmb.com/photos/view/19976/

I'm a member of a cycling club, and having had some cash to spend, we decided to buy one set of KRS seat and handlebars some weeks ago for the club members to test. I've since installed and used it on a 2013 Honzo ST. Installation took some time but was ok, the dimensions of the fittings in connection with the slim-ish steel tubes were no issue. What I noticed it that most of the screws needed to be tightened strongly and retightened several times to keep the seat as well as the handlebars from rotating. Seat comfort was ok according to the tester :) We used that setup for some mellow forest rides. I can very much recommend the KRS seat, and also highly recommend to also shell out the additional bucks for the handlebar addon. That makes a lot of difference for the little ones, to be able to hold on to bars that are of appropriate size for their small hands.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 thaaad
Andrew Major  - Dec. 2, 2020, 4:44 p.m.

The DIY seat is cool!

Two of the key design features of the KRS saddle are carbon-frame friendliness and (near) universal mounting. It may not mount as intrinsically as it could with a more limited scope, but it's cool that it basically fits everything from a DH rig to a road bike.

Reply

DanL
+1 Andrew Major
DanL  - Dec. 1, 2020, 10:40 a.m.

Manitou Markhor forks - any thoughts on them? They look like the solution for the 1 1/8" straight steerer problem on older bikes - especially now I'm looking for used FS bikes for tweens

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2020, 11 a.m.

The 1-1/8” version is only available in 80mm-100mm travel with a 9mm QR. It’s not a suitable replacement for most the bikes you’d most likely be looking at.

For example, the Kona Dawg line is an awesome starting g point for a great bike on a budget but you’d be looking for a 140mm fork. Old Stumpy would be 120-140mm, etc.

Also many of these bikes did have thru-axle forks. 

Nothing against the Markhor specifically but at best it’s a suitable replacement for some  late 90s early 2k hardtails (not many FS bikes from then worth dropping a dime into).

For most parents, I still think the Growler (or similar) is the answer to the question.

Reply

SteezeMcQueen
0
SteezeMcQueen  - Dec. 1, 2020, 12:53 p.m.

The Markhor can also be adjusted to 120mm.  I got one for an old Raleigh Tokul 1 and it has transformed an old beater into... well, a more comfortable and faster old beater.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 bumVSmtn
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2020, 8:46 p.m.

Which version of Markhor? My understanding is the 1-1/8” chassis they have left (26” / 9mm) are Max 100mm.

120mm would certainly rescue a few more bikes from the recycling depot but I still think what the market needs is a 1-1/8” Yari 27” (can also do 26”).

Reply

DanL
+1 Andrew Major
DanL  - Dec. 1, 2020, 1:45 p.m.

Goldarn it, it lists it as 100mm-120mm travel with either 9mmQR or 15mm boost until you come to order one. Gnash gnash

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 2, 2020, 4:41 p.m.

I do truly wish there were some 140-160mm options with a straight 1-1/8" steerer (even one option). Even if it was a Boost chassis it's easy enough to Boostinate wheels. 

Longer than 160mm and a dual crown is always an option.

Reply

bumVSmtn
+1 Andrew Major
bumVSmtn  - Dec. 3, 2020, 1:40 a.m.

Been looking for a decent modern 1 1/8” DJ fork. Any thoughts? So many good DJ frames out there collecting dust with blown Marzocchis and Argyles. At least you can find service kits for Argyles, but sourcing them used is now coming at a premium for folks stuck with a mint bike and a blown fork. Am I alone in this?

Fortunately I have a 20mm rigid through axle DMR fork, but do enjoy that bit of cushion when I catch old guy air at the pump track.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 bumVSmtn
Andrew Major  - Dec. 3, 2020, 7:53 a.m.

Half joking, but have you considered a Krampus fork? Comes in a pile of colours and the axle-to-crown height is similar to a sagged 100mm Argyle.

AndrewMajor
+1 bumVSmtn
Andrew Major  - Dec. 3, 2020, 7:56 a.m.

If you want shorter, the 1X1 fork is less money and still tough-tough.

bumVSmtn
+1 Andrew Major
bumVSmtn  - Dec. 3, 2020, 8:32 a.m.

Oh, they are definitely on the radar!

I’ve just talked to three people in the last year looking for straight steerer forks for DJs in my community. 

Rigid is for sure the most future-proof option.

Zero-cool
+2 Velocipedestrian Andrew Major
Zero-cool  - Dec. 3, 2020, 11:48 a.m.

It’s a shame the new Marzocchi DJ fork is only available with a tapered head tube. Of all the disciplines of MTB you’d have thought that they might realise that dirt jumpers seem to run their old and trusted frames forever (at least here in the UK that seems to be the case. 

Luckily I still have a Dirt Jumper 1 in good working order if I ever hit my mid-life crisis and think by broken body needs to try jumping again

AndrewMajor
+1 bumVSmtn
Andrew Major  - Dec. 3, 2020, 10:40 p.m.

Rigid isn't just the most future proof option - I think it may be the only option?! It is a shame though to think about how many steel DJ frames are out there that are 1-1/8" specific whether it's fairly recent rigs or the odd Balfa Minuteman I still see ripping around. 

A real shame.

jt
+1 Andrew Major
JT  - Dec. 7, 2020, 9:57 a.m.

Manitou Circus Expert is available in 1.125 straight with 100mm travel and 20mm dropouts.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 8, 2020, 7:55 a.m.

Good find JT! 

At least that covers DJ and old XC bikes.

Have to switch to 100mm to get the option for anyone looking.

grimwood
+1 Andrew Major
grimwood  - Dec. 1, 2020, 8:54 p.m.

I know your review on the Rev grips is one the way, but since you brought them up... I set them as recommended (middle?). Then do feel pretty good on the wrists, but I feel like it’s a little more wear on my callouses. What do you think? Tune softer or firmer? I’m sure I could just try it, but if you’ve got an answer, that means no wasted rides!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2020, 9:14 p.m.

These are the ‘Race’ grips. Lower price, less machining on the clamps (I prefer the aesthetic), and a single rate. 

I’m riding the smallest width. 

Regarding callouses, I think it may just be the grip pattern. I really like them, but if I could get them with those smooooth Sensus Swayze waves then look out.

Reply

Shackleton
+1 Andrew Major
Shackleton  - Dec. 2, 2020, 3:07 p.m.

I do like my rev grips but I wish they made a fatter version. I do have big hands but not so stupid that I can't buy gloves. The fattest revs are only 33mm dia so feel tiny compared to my GA2 fats and sensus meaty paws. So slim that the vibration damping advantages get countered by having to grip so damn hard!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 2, 2020, 4:39 p.m.

There's a reason there isn't a lot of competition on the market for the Meaty Paws - you have to have big hands AND like fat grips. That said, those that love them love them. 

You could probably buy the slim version and stretch a pair of push-ons over them!

Reply

Shackleton
0
Shackleton  - Dec. 2, 2020, 2:21 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

Timmigrant
+1 Andrew Major
Tim Coleman  - Dec. 8, 2020, 10:05 a.m.

I'm looking forward to the review on the REV Grips. I haven't tried them, and undecided if its a concept I even want to try.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 8, 2020, 10:19 a.m.

Did not like them pedaling around the road outside my place the first time I tried them. They do totally disappear (in a great way) on the trail though. 

To me, it's another one of those products that seekers who need them will find. I know lots of people whose hands/wrists affect their ability to ride as long/hard/often as they like and I think for them this is a fantastic product. I'm pretty happy with just running push-on grips, but if I was running lock-ons these would be my go-to.

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