Give the gift of biking more!
Bike accessory gift ideas
The VONT Pyro set (and most of other nearly-identical lights: Ascher, Jiying, etc) are a great value. They cost from $10-15 per set, are easy to install and are rechargeable. This style of light is surprisingly bright for the price. They are fine for casual riding at night, but maybe not enough if one rides in the dark regularly. I give out a similar light at our bike parades if it's dark (and I sell them on this website as well).
There are many other headlight and tail light sets on Amazon that look identical. The main differentiator here is probably customer service. Look for a brand that gets good reviews. There's always a problem with fake reviews. For these lights, a good review rating and large number of reviews likely means a customer-friendly replacement policy and good service rather than high quality.
I'm still exploring what the step up from the lights above is. There brighter headlights with bigger batteries that cost about the same amount or only a little more. These Blitzu lights are only $12 and should be a lot brighter than the styles of lights shown above. They are rated 300 lumens or more, which will be much brighter than the ~80 lumen lights above. The lumen rating is a manufacturer claim and usually not an independent test result. So take these ratings with a grain of salt.
I used to (I guess still do?) work in the bike industry, and so I have been able to ride with some of the fancy lights. I may have overindulged at past trade shows, and haven't had to buy a new set in a long time. I've used:
- Niterider - Ok, but sort of disappointing reliability. The USB port corroded and the battery life degraded quickly. I might have gotten a dud.
- Planet Bike - their Superflash is the "standard" tail light
- Cateye - Also a longstanding bike light brand. This is what I currently use, gifted by a coworker. I like it. They have a huge range.
- Cygolite - Ok. I get weird vibes from them. I had one light that was disappointing. The rubber strap broke, the USB port cover fell off, and the battery degraded rapidly. I appreciated how it had many different output modes, though. I have another of their lights and despite the USB port cover falling off also, it seems to be holding up better.
- Light and Motion - a localish company (Marina, CA) that makes good lights
Bike bags (for carrying stuff, not for carrying bikes)
Top tube bags
My kid likes to carry stuff with them when they ride, and yours might too. We installed a small top-tube bag on their bike. It works alright for holding essentials: a snack, interesting rocks, a few band-aids, and a fidget spinner. It does not sit too well on the frame and it is not waterproof. I don't have a specific bag to recommend, but for a child, I'd think a bike bag would be a fun and practical gift. Go for a small waterproof one if you think you might need it.
There are other types of bags that might be nice for a kid, like saddle bags, frame bags, or handlebar bags. Some manufacturers design frame bags for adult-sized bikes, so keep that in mind when looking.
Amazon is saturated with bike bag listings. You can find a top tube bag on the $10-20 range that works fine.
Panniers and a rack (for the grown-ups)
For the panniers, I've used primarily Ortlieb ones. I don't think I would purchase any other. They're waterproof, well-built, and can withstand a lot of use and abuse. The latching system that hooks the pannier onto the rack is also the best I've used. Cheap panniers can be $30-40 for a pair. The standard Ortlieb Back Roller Classic costs about $190 per pair.
I recommend carrying the following for quick fixes if you're out and about:
I use a Topeak mini multi-tool. It has pretty much everything I need to fix or adjust something on the go. I've used other multitools made by Park, Topeak, and Crank Brothers. The Topeak mini series is my favorite.
Flat tire stuff
I get a flat on my own bike 3-6 times per year. It's nice to be able to fix these on the go. Here's what I carry:
Patch kit or spare tube
Plastic tire levers are pretty necessary to get tires off of the rim. I like the Park Tool levers. Some of the other levers I've used have bent and broken. The Park levers seem to be way sturdier than others I've used and broken. A set of a few levers is $5-10.
Fixing flats in general
If you're unfamiliar, REI has a nice video showing how it all comes together.
Fenders help keep your legs and back dry (drier?) when you ride! Front fenders can also keep road splatter off of your face! The super-economical fenders zip tie into place. They don't look so great but make riding in the rain so much better. One note: It's sometimes challenging to fit fenders onto a kid bike. Kids bikes may lack space or eyelets for mounting. Our bike didn't have enough seat post exposed for the fenders that clamp onto the post. The cheapo zip-tie fenders worked for our 20" bike.
For adult bikes, I prefer the style of SKS's fenders. Planet bike also makes well-functioning fenders. I like them because they screw onto the frame for a more robust attachment. It's not fun adjusting flimsy fenders on the go. When purchasing, make sure fenders will fit your bike. Check where they mount. Some mount on special eyelets on the frame. Others clamp to the seat post or fork legs. Pick ones that will work for your tire width and diameter.
Decorate your bike and make it stand out
This might be more of a fun aside rather than a biking gift idea, but decorating a bike is often a fun kids activity. You could assemble a bike gift bag with decoration materials:
- Colorful ribbons for streamers - for handlebar streamers
- Color pipe cleaners and multicolor zip ties - fun for decorating helmets
- Washi tape, electrical tape, fancy duct tape - for attaching it all together
Our kid's aunt gifted us a bag of plastic spoke beads, and they were very well received. Most of these kits include a ridiculous number of pieces. This means there are plenty to give out to other kids and put on our own bikes.
Flags and Koinobori
Adding a flag can help improve the visibility of a bike rider. Giving a child a chance to decorate or make their own flag is a way to make it more fun. We added a Koinobori windsock to our flag pole on our kid trailer. It made it way more visible and whimsical. Though if you're riding behind it, you have to make sure you don't get too close, or it might hit you!
We bought a 24" Koinobori windsock, and it cost about $12.
Bike clothing gift ideas
When we went to our Bike East Bay family riding class, our instructor reminded us to check our helmet. It turns out that ours needed replacement. My child loves their Nutcase little nutty helmet, and they come in a lot of different fun designs. People we ride by give encouraging compliments.
A friend has the Baby Yoda helmet made by Bell, and it is a hit.
Rain gear and other outdoor gear
Any waterproof jacket helps when in the rain and can make a nice gift for someone who bike commutes in the rain. I've covered this in a separate post, but here is an excerpt of nice items for the rain.
Waterproof breathable jacket: I like having a waterproof breathable jacket, with pit zips and adjustable cuffs. I can get warm pretty easily, and the cuffs and pit zips help me adjust air flow. Showers Pass makes some nice waterproof, breathable bike jackets.
Waterproof breathable pants: Waterproof pants made a big difference. In medium to heavy rain, I'd end up soaked from the waist down if I didn't have waterproof pants. Rain water falls on your thighs and splashes up from your tire and fenders near your pant cuffs.
Waterproof socks / shoes: I went on a memorable ride through Golden Gate Park in the rain some years ago. I was wearing waterproof shoes, because I had anticipated the rain. This did not go well. The shoes were waterproof, but water ran down my legs into the shoes. I felt like I had two fishbowls on the pedals. Neoprene waterproof socks make riding in the rain much more comfortable. The SealSkinz are nice and quite comfortable. Waterproof pant cuffs that prevent water ingress into your shoes helps a bunch too.
Waterproof bike gloves: Some of the bulkier gloves make shifting and braking difficult. I prefer neoprene waterproof gloves, and have a pair from Sealskinz. Showers Pass also makes nice neoprene waterproof gloves. The thin ones aren't as warm, but do a good job of keeping your fingers from getting too wet.
Waterproof cap: This isn't necessary at all, but I have a waterproof cycling cap that I wear under my helmet. It is also from Showers Pass as well.
The best bike-themed gift I know of for kids is the book, Cycle City, by Alison Farrell. It's a fun illustrated cycle utopia of a book with all kinds of bikes - tall bikes, cargo bikes, kids bikes, a bike parade, in the style of a modernized Richard Scary book.
Give them a whole bike
They are expensive right now and sometimes hard to come by. But some are way better than others. I'll update this as I'm able as well.
Note: I have Amazon Affiliates links above and may make a commission if you make a purchase.