Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 12 6 Days of Festivus, Part 1

The biggest complaint I get this time of year from my non-bikey friends and relations when we hold the Airing of Grievances is that they don't know what a bike geek (like yours truly) would possibly want under the Festivus Pole. Seeing as how I only review stuff on this blog that I already own and use, I can't really help my friends and relations, but maybe I can do yours a favor. Thus begins my first Generic Nondenominational Holiday Cyclist Gift-Giving Guide! (And note that, as usual, if a link kicks you over to Amazon and you make a purchase, my beak gets ever-so-slightly wet, so thanks.) On the upside, my tastes are cheap (unlike Oprah), so my list of favorite things tends to run somewhat frugal.

You may not know it from the bug-eyed glasses and bizarre outfits, but most cyclists are human. And as humans, we're mostly water, so hydration is a big concern. Assuming your cyclist isn't one of those "bladder on the back" types, there's no better water bottle than a Kleen Kanteen. Most bike-types go with the 27 ounce size, but I recommend the 18 ounce -- it's a little smaller than a regular water bottle, but it's also the size most likely to fit a bog-standard water bottle cage. I'd also go with the plain stainless just because I don't know how well the painted finishes will hold up against said bottle cages. And no matter which size you choose, the Sport Cap is the way to go, since it's the only one that's "drink on the fly" compatible.

Now I can already hear the howls of protest: "You said these gifts were CHEAP! That's a 17 dollar water bottle, for Pete's sake!" Okay, okay, okay, guilty. But amortize it. Your basic plastic water bottle is what, four or five bucks? Use it for a few months, run it through the dishwasher a couple times, and I'm guessing you have a leaky, bashed-up hunk of recycling bin fodder. Do the same to a Kleen Kanteen and it will just say, "Is that all you got?" I bought my first KK four years ago and finally had to replace it this season after I accidentally dropped it off the bike onto concrete at 20 miles per hour... and it only picked up the tiniest pinhole dribble-leak from that incident.

Some minor quibbles about the Kleen Kanteen, lest I be accused of a one-sided review. First, since it's steel, good luck squeezing it to spray water over your head on a hot day (unless you have superhuman strength thanks to a regimen of -- ahem -- "supplements" that are banned by the UCI). Second, as the water comes out, air needs to go in -- a feat accomplished by a small valve in the top that sounds like an obscene phone call from a porpoise. And finally, a steel bottle on a hot day sweats more than... well, more than a fat bike blogger on a hot day.

(Oh, and my word-nerd quibble... Kleen Kanteen with two Ks? What is this, my hometown greasy spoon, the Kountry Kitchen? And the double-E in Kleen? I know, I know, cutesy branding is memorable branding, but it still makes my head hurt. Luckily, the logos wear off.)

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