The poor 12 Days of Christmas…

I feel bad for that trite old rhyme. Everyone is sending you a gift list that uses the 12 Days theme. No one gets 12 presents anymore. That was back in the day before Amazon.

Here’s a list of things that Diane and I can’t live without on our bikes, and a little reason why. A few times in the last week I have been reminded that you folks who are fans of Bryson City Bicycles really appreciate that we “don’t give no guff” and tell it like it is on bike parts. So, here is a list of cool toys that Diane and I suggest and use:

Raceface carbon handlebars. We were both against carbon bars forever. With a really good reason in our heads. We didn’t want to crash and snap a carbon bar. That would really hurt the wallet along with some random bodypart, right? Fahgedabadit! Raceface is making their super strong bars that are so strong they are probably just as likely to break as a metal bar. Plus, the benefit of taking the last little bit of vibration out of your hands is so worth it. I found this out after riding my bike with the new bars, then going back to another bike with aluminum bars on the same trail. The difference is amazing.

A’me heated grips Diane swears by these things. She won’t ride on days when the temp outside is below 50 degrees. Unless she has these grips on the bike. These things are great. Don’t tell her, but I snuck them out on my bike a couple of times, too. Simply replace their non-heated brothers and slide the new ones one, strap the battery pack to the frame (it’s little and unobtrusive) and GO. Warm hands are wonderful. They now have them for road bikes, and I did an install of these not long ago. You can set them up on a road bike on the drops or on the tops, so you can have warmth at the right spots.

SRAM XX1 drivetrain. Ok, this stuff isn’t on my personal bike yet, but it’s on the Niner RIP 9 demo bike a the shop. It’s different. It’s weird. But, it’s wonderful. Most of us ride in the middle ring of our triples. Some of us ride in the big ring of our doubles. Occasionally, we all ride in the granny gear. But wait, the XX1 doesn’t have a front shifter! That’s ok. The 11 cogs on the rear wheel of the bike are all you need. Why? While it is tough to say without getting into gear inches, you are able to move the chain around the gears at the same rate as your granny gear without sacrificing the pedaling umpf of your middle ring. You create more torque in your middle ring than you do in the granny gear, but the 42T cog on the back turns the wheel at a rate similar to dropping into the granny. It’s a huge advantage to be able to use the same cadence of the 32T chainring and turn the back wheel around at a high rate of speed. So, you go up hills you probably didn’t succeed at in the past. And, really, most of us don’t ride in our big ring. But, for you top end junkies, there is a 10T cog so create some serious jam on the flats and downhills. The only problem is that your left thumb is going to get lonely. So get a bell.

Crank Brothers Candys Everyone needs pedals. And this is a huge can of worms. Everyone loves their current pedals. And pedals break. Frequently for some. It used to a running joke among CB owners that you had to have two pairs, one in the shop being repaired, and one on the bike. Those guys fixed that. My current pair hasn’t given me any problems for the last two years; since the redesign most folks haven’t had any issues. But, still, the CB guys do an amazing job of repair work when it is needed. Diane and I use them because we don’t like to fiddle with stuff. No adjusting screws anywhere on the pedals. They are super easy to use, and to get comfortable with. The cleat has the “adjustment” on it, as the edges are cut in different ways to make it easier or more difficult to get out of. They have built in float so your knees will love you at the end of the ride (float is how much your feet can move around without knocking your cleat out of the pedal). They come in 4 different versions from cheap to stupid expensive. The $60 versions come in lots of colors, and are low dollar enough that you can toss them out when you change the colors on your bike.

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