RCUK's Christmas Gift Guide 2016: must-own gadgets for the cycling fanatic - Road Cycling UK

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RCUK’s Christmas Gift Guide 2016: must-own gadgets for the cycling fanatic

From tools to big ticket tech, all the best cycling gadgets to buy this Christmas

Everybody loves gadgets, right? And with Christmas around the corner what better time to treat your cycling-mad nearest and dearest to the latest tech? Or, of course, you could always treat yourself – you’ve earned it.

We’re rounding up this year’s must-buy cycling Christmas gifts, to provide gift inspiration or to help you with your last-minute lists.

So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at this year’s must-own cycling gadgets – we’ve covered all bases from tools to big ticket tech for those with a bigger budget.

Cycliq Fly6[v] Rear Light Integrated Camera

Helmet and action cams are becoming increasingly popular with cyclists, for those who want to document their rides or have a video record in the event of any incidents on the road.

And Cycliq’s Fly6[v] rear light steps things up a level by pairing a 30-lumen rear light with a rear light.

As far as safety goes, that’s two boxes ticked and the quality of both light and camera impressed us when we put them to the test. You’re unlikely to need much more than a 30-lumen rear light for most city riding, while the 720p HD rear-facing camera records at a decent quality. You can read our review here.

Other clever features include ‘incident protection technology’, whereby the Fly6[v] will record for one hour before shutting off to preserve footage should it be tilted at 45 degrees for more than five seconds (i.e. should you be knocked off your bike), and a get home safely feature where the light continues to work for another 90 minutes after the battery life is too low for recording. Cycliq now also offer the Fly12 front light and camera.

Fabric FL30 rear light

While we’re talking clever rear lights, Fabric’s FL30 is another smart bit of kit new this year. The Somerset-based brand launched their first lights collection back in June, with five lights in the range in all and the FL30 is their sole option for the back of the bike.

The FL30 boasts an accelerometer, which increases the intensity of the beam as you slow down – thereby acting as a rudimentary brake light.

It’s not as tech-packed as the Garmin Varia Smart range, which we also reviewed this year, but as a result it also doesn’t come with an eye-watering three-figure price tag.

Mounting is tool-free, and the light offers four hours burn time on flash and two hours on constant. RRP £27.99.

Saris Bones 3-Bike Car Rack

OK, so this one’s been around for a while, but if you’re planning any long-distance trips, and you want to take your car and bike(s) with you, you’re going to need a decent bike rack – and the Saris Bones 3-Bike car rack passed our test on a 2,000-mile loop of France earlier this year.

It’s easy to fit, available in a myriad of colours, just 5kg in weight and offers a secure hold on three bikes. It’s decent value for money too, in our opinion.

Fabric Z250 frame pump

It’s not just lights new to the Fabric range for 2017, with pumps also added to the Frome-based firm’s catalogue. There’s a range of frame and track pumps available, but the most stylish of an elegant selection is the Z250.

A long-barrelled frame pump with a classy wooden handle and aluminium barrel, the Z250 features a braided hose and integrated dual-valve chuck.

If you want a bigger capacity, then – of course – you’d be better plumping for a track pump but the 90psi maximum capacity Z250 wins when it comes to stylish looks and portability.

Wahoo Tickr HR monitor

Cyclists wanting ride data at their fingertips have benefitted from a boom in the market when it comes to HR monitors, speed sensors, power meters and the like.

And when it comes to training, being able to track your heart rate or power is vital when it comes to setting your training zones, calculating your effort and measuring your fitness.

We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of using heart rate or power before, but if you’re on a tight budget, a heart rate monitor offers an affordable way of keeping track of your training.

And all that brings us to the Wahoo Tickr – the entry-level HR monitor in the brand’s range – and one which we were pleased to find accurate, reliable and comfortable when we reviewed it earlier this year.

Topeak ALiEN iii multi-tool

Topeak’s newest instalment in their ALiEN multi-tool series is stronger and smaller than its predecessor, the ALiEN ii, and has a new pressed stainless steel shell to boost its durability.

There are 25 high-quality tools included in all, from allen keys to chain, and even a knife and bottle opener. Weighing just 272g in total, and coming with its own carry bag, the ALiEN’s versatility should have you covered in all but the most extreme of roadside disasters.

Garmin Edge 25 computer

Garmin’s range of GPS bike computers includes eight units in all, from the entry-level Edge 20 to the all-singing Edge 1000.

The Edge 25 sits at the lower end of the range but, for riders who want a compact, simple to use computer which still delivers a range of data, it’s a superb piece of kit.

It may be tiny, but the Edge 25 is still ANT+ compatible so can be paired up with a heart rate monitor and other similar sensors, while there are range of interactive features, including live tracking. Read our full thoughts on the Edge 25 here.

Otherwise, if you want a more complete computer which offers a fuller range of data and training analysis, alongside mapping and navigation, we were also impressed by the new Edge 820. Check out there review here. Either way, if you give a Garmin this Christmas, the recipient is unlikely to be disappointed.

Garmin Varia Radar

Garmin launched their new Varia safety range at the start of the year, and the Radar is one of the more intriguing pieces in the range.

The concept is simple – the Varia Radar can see what you can’t, namely cars approaching from behind, and displays it on your head unit (be it the dedicated Radar Display or a Garmin Edge GPS unit).

The rear sensor doubles as a light, which gets brighter and flashes as a vehicle approaches from behind, too. It’s a very clever bit of kit.

We put it to the test towards the end of summer and were really impressed. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth the investment if you can afford it and want to increase your safety on the road.

Wahoo ELEMNT Bike Computer

Garmin have had a strangle-hold on the GPS bike computer market for some time – indeed, we’ve already featured the Edge 25 computer here – but in the ELEMNT, Wahoo bring a genuine rival to the scene, offering a simple-to-use device with a huge range of data at your fingertips.

A big, clear screen, excellent GPS tracking, turn-by-turn navigation and easy-to-use synching with your phone and other Bluetooth and ANT+ sensors are all part of the package. You can read our full review here.

Scicon Aerocomfort 2.0 TSA Bike Travel Bag

Travelling abroad with your bike and worried about taking it on the plane? Scicon have your back with the Aerocomfort 2.0 TSA bike bag, which has impressed us while we’ve been reviewing it on multiple overseas trips.

The smart design scored top marks when it came to ease of use – you can fully pack your bike up in no more than five to ten minutes.

And don’t just take our word for it – Etixx-QuickStep, Tinkoff, Orica-BikeExchange and Trek-Segafredo have all used the Aerocomfort 2.0 TSA for transporting their riders’ bikes to the WorldTour’s biggest races.

It will cost you (though there are significant discounts on the £445 RRP), but if you want your pride and joy to be well protected when you travel abroad, and want a bag which is a doddle to use, then this one from Scicon is among the best out there.

Tacx Vortex Smart T2180 turbo trainer

Smart turbo trainers are becoming increasingly popular, as a means of spicing up what could otherwise be a mind-numbingly boring winter of turbo trainer sessions.

There are plenty of options on the market, all at various price points, but the Tacx Vortex Smart offers a decent return on your investment. Otherwise you can see our pick of seven of the best smart turbos here.

The wheel-on trainer, with a maximum resistance of 950 watts, features an electronic brake which can help simulate gradients of up to seven per cent.

If you want a full motor brake, you have to shop up the range – in which there are nine Tacx turbo trainers in all – but for less than £400, the Vortex Smart offers plenty of bang for your buck.

Powertap P1 Power Pedals

OK, we’re definitely pushing the budget now, but as far as the power meter market goes, Powertap really have hit the bullseye with the P1 Power Pedals.

Pedal-based power was first realised by LOOK, but Powetap have taken the idea and refined it with a super-easy to install and use power meter.

Installation is done via allen key, so no faffing about with extra tools and, of course, the beauty of pedal-based power is you can swap them onto any bike. Check out our full review here.

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