Do you have a mountain biker in your life that disappears for hours on end, to only return covered in dirt, mud and a cheesy grin? Not sure what to buy them to aid their riding addiction?
The list below is put together with input from the mountain bikers of the BikeExchange office. The opinions are unanimous, this is gear that any enthusiast mountain biker would love to own.
Marsh Guard mud protector
Traditional mud guards are a little dorky, but the new generation of fork-mounted guards offer a minimalist look while being surprisingly effective at keeping things out of your eyes.
Marsh Guard is arguably the originator of such a design. The product’s creator, Jason Marsh, is mechanic to three-time downhill World Champion Greg Minnaar and the idea came out of a need for vision at ridiculous speeds.
Yep, these are just a piece of plastic, but they’re great for aggressive riders and will fit almost every common mountain bike fork – making them a useful and cost effective gift idea.
Bontrager TLR FlashCharger Pump
Tubeless tyres have fast become the norm with enthusiast mountain bikers, but inflating them can present troubles. Whereas an air compressor was once the answer, bike brands are now offering ‘tubeless-specific’ pumps as a solution.
The Bontrager TLR FlashCharger was the first tubeless tyre pump on the market and remains a top choice. It works much like a regular bike pump, with a special second chamber available for seating stubborn tubeless tyres. To use it, flick the pump’s switch, pressurize the barrel by pumping, and then release the air.
It’s priced at a premium, but we can attest to it being well-built and works as advertised.
CamelBak Lobo 3L
Does the mountain biker in life enjoy disappearing into the bush for hours on end, yet refuses to take lunch? This hydration pack from CamelBak will ensure they have all the water and necessities they need.
The Lobo is a true classic in CamelBak’s range, offering minimalist, yet smart storage with a comfortable fit. It’s not the best choice for those that pack the kitchen sink, but light travelers will love it.
There’s a range of colours to pick from, and our experience is that these packs are very hard to wear out. The included three-litre hydration bladder is one of the very best too.
Oakley Radar EV Prizm Trail sunglasses
Eyewear in mountain biking is so much more than keeping glare out of the eyes. Trail debris is forever being kicked up by the front wheel, or the rear wheel of the rider in front and so having eye protection is important.
However, keeping crystal clear vision is critical, especially as climbing steep hills often leads to foggy glasses. For this, a quality pair of riding glasses can make all the difference to the ride experience.
Our absolute favourite is the Oakley Radar EV Prizm Trail, these offer plenty of eye protection, great prevention of fogging and a comfortable fit. The ‘Prizm Trail’ aspect refers to the mountain bike specific lens which offers distortion-free vision and unbeatable contrast on trails that are so often littered in dappled light.
Fox Ranger Cargo Shorts
A good pair of riding shorts is commonly a top-three item on any cyclist’s ‘must have’ list. For mountain bike shorts, the holy grail is a casual look that doesn’t restrict your pedalling, doesn’t hook on the saddle and still provides a little padding for your rear.
Another classic of the sport, the Fox Ranger shorts sit at the mid-level and offer plenty of value. The cut on these is well refined and nicely suited to a wide range of mountain biking riding styles.
Black is the safest purchase, but other colours exist if you’re feeling more daring. If you do pick another colour, keep in mind that colour matched top and bottoms is quite trendy in mountain biking right now.
Specialized 2FO Clip-Lite shoe
Only recently have regular mountain bikers been given shoe choices that don’t look like a road racing shoe. These are often styled like a skate shoe, offer improved traction when on foot and still provide a stiff and efficient platform for easy pedalling and pedal engagement.
One of the best examples is Specialized’s 2FO Clip-Lite. Designed for use with clip-in pedals such as Shimano or crank brothers, these shoes are surprisingly light, impressively grippy and perfectly comfortable for all-day use. The Boa dials are simple to use, while the smooth shoe upper offers protection from the elements and is easy to clean. Find a [Specialized bike dealer], they should have these in stock.
Stan's No Tubes Tyre Sealant
Another item for the tubeless tyre user, tyre sealant is there to automatically plug any small punctures or rips that may occur while out on the trail. It’s widely considered a ‘must have’ for any tubeless tyre user and just so happens to have a limited shelf life once installed in the tyre (three-six months) – meaning that it’s a gift always well received.
Stan’s is the most iconic option and widely used. There are plenty of tubeless sealant options now on the market, but a bottle of Stan’s is probably the safest bet if given as a gift.
Thule VeloCompact 927 bike rack
Being Swedish and made for the car makes this the most expensive item here. Very few mountain bikers have the luxury of riding to trails and so a way of transporting bikes is often a key aspect of riding.
The Thule VeloCompact 927 fits onto a standard tow ball, safely and securely supporting three bikes by the wheels. A special tilt feature means there’s still access to the rear boot when the rack is fully loaded, and the rack is optimised to carry big-wheeled mountain bikes.
The rear brake lights, indicators, aluminium construction and foldable design all add to the cost. However, having recently reviewed the VeloCompact 927, we can attest that it’s a top quality item.
ESI Chunky mountain bike grips
Looking for a low cost and small item to give as a gift? A pair of mountain bike grips is often greatly appreciated and shows a fair bit more thought than a cinema gift voucher.
One of our favourites for cross country and trail riding are the USA-made silicon grips from ESI. These offer great vibration reduction, impressive grip in a variety of conditions, low weight and high durability.
Most riders with an average hand size will prefer the ‘Chunky’ size, with smaller handed riders often preferring the ‘Racers Edge’ version. An ‘Extra Chunky’ size is available too for the lobster mitted. Like most things, black is the safe bet, but there are a number of colours to choose from.
Fox Digital Shock pump
Just about every mountain bike over $1,500 now features suspension with an air spring. With the use of a special shock pump, this air spring lets the rider fine tune the suspension to their needs. And it’s fine tuning indeed, where a 5 psi difference can often easily be noticed.
For this, an accurate shock pump is a very welcomed accessory for any keen mountain biker. Our experience is that the Fox Digital Shock pump (also sold under RockShox brand) is one of the very best for accuracy. It works with all major suspension brands and is simple to operate.
If this list still hasn't ticked all the boxes on your list, trying searching over 35,000 bikes and accessories on BikeExchange to find exactly what that special someone is after.