Buying Christmas presents for female cyclists can feel like a minefield - especially if you're not one yourself! So let us put a reassuring arm around your shoulders and give you some priceless tips to guarantee she's smiling on the Big Day...
First things first: let's talk budget.
If your budget is less than £20, there'll be inevitable limitations, but don't panic! There's plenty of great stuff available and you may well be surprised...
1. Chamois Cream
An odd one to start with - if you've ever sat on a bike saddle for more than a few miles in unpadded bottoms, you'll know how uncomfortable it can be! 'Chammy cream' is a godsend - it's designed to be slapped, smeared or wiped liberally on the affected areas.
We sell specially formulated female chamois creams that avoid any sensitivity or stinging 'down there'... She'll love you forever with this one.
Yes, yes, traditionally not the most exciting. But cycling socks have become big news in recent years - 'sock doping' has been proven* to make you ride faster and... just better.
There are some great designs, dazzling colours and cycling socks are actually shaped to make the wearer's feet more comfortable and efficient on the pedals.
* OK, maybe not scientically. Yet.
3. Arm Warmers
Our favourite secret weapon against the cold. They say that insulating you core properly is key to staying warm - but if you haven't worn cycling arm warmers before, you'd be amazed how much difference they make.
And when she does warm up, they're so simple to peel off she won't even need to stop pedalling. And then there are those spectacular designs. Frankly, it's arm doping.
Wrap one of these little beauties round her neck and you'll cut out all those pesky cold draughts in a single lightweight accessory. And there are so many designs there's sure to be one that matches her bike/jersey/eyes (delete as appropriate).
Stretch beyond £20 and a whole world of delights opens up without having to break the bank. Here are some thoughts if you're looking to spend up to £50.
1. Cycling Pants
Our perennial best seller, and with good reason. Padded cycling knickers are perfect to wear under 'normal clothes' - baggy shorts or trousers for commuting or touring, leggings for spin classes or even a skirt or dress to whizz around town between occasions.
The pads are really comfortable yet discreet and the designs are as fun as they are sophisticated. Read more about the unique joys of padded cycling knickers in our blog 'Padded Pants - what's all the fuss about?'...
We often say that these little zip up packs are the most ideal 'presents' in our whole range. They're small enough to tuck into a pocket, large enough to contain her phone, money, cards, ID and even a little snack, and waterproof enough to withstand a really heavy downpour.
Oh, and there's no problem with getting the right size!
Most cyclists like to wear gloves to give them extra control, grip and - in winter - warmth. Ours are all designed for female hands and specifically for cycling.
Fingerless cycling mitts tend to be lighter and designed for warmer riding, and include some really striking designs.
Full Finger Gloves
Long-fingered cycling gloves come in a variety of thicknesses depending on how cold the conditions - and, of course, how much she feels the cold.
4. Merino Neck Warmers
More substantial than simple buffs, these can be used equally adaptably on or off the bike. Merino wool is famous for its beautiful softness and natural temperature regulation - to say nothing of the elegant designs and stunning colours.
Merino Neck Warmers
Obviously, cycling sunglasses will make her look even cooler on a bike. That's unarguable. But almost as importantly, they'll keep stuff out of her eyes. Stuff like rain, wind, pollen, insects and even gritty spray from that rider in front on a wet day.
Ours come from our home town of Oxford, they're brilliant for any kind of activity, and they give the big names a run for their money at a fraction of the price.
In this bracket there aren't many options you can't consider. You're firmly into spending territory that allows you to browse some fantastic top and bottom halves as well as some top end accessories.
1. Jerseys (under £100)
Cycling jerseys are not to be confused with woolly jumpers that might spring to mind at the word 'jersey'. They're the mainstay of any cycling outfit and can be worn on their own, with a base layer underneath for insulation and/or a jacket on top for protection from the elements.
They cover all budgets, styles, fits and colours, but the crucial points to look at are:
- They come in long and short sleeve depending on the model
- They should be relatively fitted - some people prefer really snug, others a more relaxed fit, but either way flapping in the wind is a nuisance
- The material varies from thin summer fabric to thicker fleece lined 'Roubaix'. Some are even water or wind resistant
Long Sleeve Luxe
Short Sleeve Style
2. Base Layers
This time of year, a cosy base layer can make the difference between a happy, warm ride and a miserable, teeth-chattering one. Even on warm summer days a base layer is actually a secret weapon to stop a cycling jersey from becoming too sweaty and uncomfortable.
Choose between technical fabrics or decadent merino wool blends - some are just so nice that we wear them on their own...
Base Layer Beauties
3. Cycling Tights (under £100)
Good padded cycling tights are a vital piece of any cyclist's wardrobe, especially during the winter (although plenty of women also find they prefer them in all temperatures).
Finding the right combination of fit, look and pad to sit on can be a very personal thing. However, lycra is stretchy so the fit element isn't as tricky as you might think, and if you get tights right she'll be forever grateful! Try to get a sense of whether she prefers bib tights, which have straps over the shoulders and are often more comfortable, or non-bib which can win on practicality.
Many are made from lightweight, 'traditional' lycra fabic, whilst some are thicker and lined with fleecy Roubaix material. Some are even waterproof for the really grim days out on two wheels.
Terrific Tights under £100
Above £100 gives you licence to invest in some of the nicest cycling gear around, made from some of the most technically brilliant materials sports science boffins have come up with - plus some true luxury.
A good cycling jackets will keep her warm, dry and looking great on (and even off) her bike. Whilst there are plenty of good ones under £100, a bit of investment into a better jacket will reap rewards over time.
With jackets, the more you spend the better the fabric - choose between lightweight, wind resistant models that will keep her dry in a shower but not in heavier rain, and slightly more substantial fully waterproof models. To combine lightness with full waterproofing and breathability will mean digging a little deeper - she'll love you forever!
Cycling Tights (over £100)
Top end cycling tights are incredibly sophisticated things these days - the material is often compression fit, which genuinely makes muscles work more efficiently and, ultimately, makes for a better cyclist! The manufacturing quality will be exceptional at these levels and they should last for many seasons to come.
Make sure you've read the info under Cycling Tights (under £100) above for more advice...
Tip Top Tights over £100
Cycling Jerseys (over £100)
Up at the top end, cycling jerseys are truly special things - the fit, material, and designs are stunning and the extra cycling-specific features are likely to leave her purring with appreciation.
At this level, sumptuous merino wool and breathable water resistance become possibilities, whilst her appreciation will become a certainty.
Whether she's commuting across town or packing a bag to take on the Alps, cycling bags can be an invaluable companion for all her kit. Choose between the finest leathers, waterproof canvas or sturdy technical materials.
We hope that helps! Don't forget, if all else fails, feel free to drop us a line or give us a call - we've accumulated more years in this than we care to remember, with plenty of first hand experience and are always happy to give the uninitiated (or the more initiated!) some pointers.
Unit 28, Wheatley Business Park, Old London Road, Wheatley, Oxford OX33 1XW // firstname.lastname@example.org // +44 (0) 1302 249 323