What's some cool biking (or other health/wellness) related stuff to buy?
November 8, 2015 5:19 PM   Subscribe

My work has a use-it-or-lose-it "health and wellness" benefit that I need to use up before EOY. What things (especially biking related) can I spend it on?

I've been dutifully filing receipts, but I still have about $600 in benefits left that I will lose if I don't spend.

Things that ARE reimbursable under the program include:
Gym membership and fitness classes and things of that nature
Athletic clothing and supplies (this is interpreted pretty broadly -- sneakers count, for example; so does anything related to biking, including bike repairs, lights, helmets, etc.)
Vitamins + supplements

Things that are NOT reimbursable under the program include:
Sunscreen (no idea why)
Dental care items such as floss, toothbrushes, etc.

What kind of stuff could I spend this on that I'm not thinking about? I would be most interested in spending this on bike-related things but I can't think of any bike-related stuff I need. I already have fenders, rack, panniers, a milk crate, lock, helmet, blinky lights, cool wheel lights, and a smartphone holder. (And no, I don't need a new bike.)
posted by phoenixy to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Mmm, a bike trainer so you can use it inside in the winter (if this is something that appeals to you)?
posted by listen, lady at 5:27 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

And DEFINITELY definitely merino wool cycling clothes. Maybe a Brooks saddle.
posted by listen, lady at 5:28 PM on November 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

My dad is a pretty serious cyclist and I got him some fancy socks for his birthday last year. He loves them, says they're the best socks he's ever owned. He's since bought several more pairs so he can wear them for every ride.
posted by phunniemee at 5:28 PM on November 8, 2015

Are you interested in heart rate monitors or trackers?
Is there a bike club you'd like to join that might count?
Would it be useful to have a 10-visit pass to a nearby gym for the winter?
Do you have any bike items that definitely will need replacing with the exact same thing when they wear out (eg I buy sneakers ahead of time because I always wear the same kind and I know they'll die regularly)
posted by the agents of KAOS at 5:31 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far! I guess I should point out that it doesn't get cold where I live (pretty much never below 45 degrees in the dead of winter). And I am what you'd describe as a casual/commuter cyclist, which is to say that I love my bike but generally keep my rides under 25 miles and would never be caught dead in spandex.
posted by phoenixy at 5:38 PM on November 8, 2015

You need a professional bike fitting and a bike tune-up, ASAP.

$600. Boom!
posted by jbenben at 5:41 PM on November 8, 2015

I don't know how much you ride but I go through a lot of expensive consumables - chains, tires, tubes, casettes. A years worth of that stuff is easily a few hundred bucks for me. YMMV.

I like the idea of a bike trainer unless you don't feel the need for it or hate hate hate riding indoors (I hate it with a fiery passion but if it rains for 2-3 days straight there's no real good way around it)

Possibly splurge on some really good bike shorts. People really like Assos bike shorts I think, for example (yeah, that's a real brand name of bike shorts).

Rain gear or extra cold weather gear stuff is nice to have. I have a couple of rain coats (1 very light one that can be rolled up and put easily in a jersey pocket, one more substantial and very waterproof jacket that can not), 2 thicknesses of cold weather jackets, gloves, warm hats and socks, shoe covers, arm and leg warmers. And I live someplace fairly warm...

Oh if you ride in cold weather at all, man, I love thermal bib tights. They're the best, 100x better than just leg warmers. I should get another pair.

A really good quality front light is good for emergencies - I don't ride in the dark on purpose but everyone gets caught out now and again. I have a $100-ish light that is as bright as car headlights and USB chargeable. A good rear light is good for all conditions, just to improve visibility but they are not usually expensive.

A newish garmin could be nice if you're into that kind of thing. I love my Garmin 510. They're a few hundred bucks.

If you train much you might like a power meter. You can't get one for $600 that I know of, but, for example the Stages power meters start at around $700. I use mine on every ride, it's a device that measures how hard you're truly working.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:45 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hah, I just read your followup so probably ignore everything I said.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:46 PM on November 8, 2015

What about simple upgrades? New clipless pedals and shoes? New, lighter wheels?
posted by hhc5 at 5:49 PM on November 8, 2015

Good splurges that you might not already own:
Cycliq camera/light combos (every cyclist I know wants these)
a nice saddle
a folding helmet, or just a nice one

Oh, and maybe more panniers, or even a backpack? Timbuk too and the like make nice ones, and there's also great handcrafted stuff out there.
posted by veery at 5:55 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Fancy lights! I got a hub generator for two of my bikes and I don't know that I can go back to battery/rechargeable lights. A hub is 100-150, depending, and lights range from 30ish to 250, though things over 100 stop being brighter for the most part and start adding things like "usb charging for your phone". My folder has a "lumotec eyc t senso plus", which was/is all-around nice and cost about 70. Nice beam pattern and pretty bright, and definitely an amazing upgrade from a blinky.
posted by you could feel the sky at 5:55 PM on November 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

In a similar situation, I got sporty casual clothing that I wore all the time and even to work on Fridays. I'm wearing some wool socks I got right now, I also got a merino base layer and nice gloves. Your personal style may vary.
posted by momus_window at 6:20 PM on November 8, 2015

I love my bike but generally keep my rides under 25 miles and would never be caught dead in spandex.

I know you said this but since you're not paying for it, I think you should reconsider. There's stuff you can buy that doesn't look like roadie-spandex but achieves the same thing (Giro New Road collection, a lot of MTB stuff, even the Levi's commuter jeans and jackets). Cycling is much more enjoyable with the right clothes and it makes a big difference even if your commute is just a few miles.

The dynamo generator hub is also an excellent idea, I have them on two of my bikes. A good wheel with the hub is $300-600 by itself plus the light. If you commute on your bike it's life changing, they are very, very bright and they're always there.

If it were me I would probably go the consumable route with chains, cassettes, bottom brackets, etc. I have multiple bikes and am always buying that stuff, and especially with the drivetrain it's like if you replace one you should probably replace them all...
posted by bradbane at 6:33 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Since I just spent the last half hour shopping for a hitch-mounted bike rack for my car, I'll go ahead and recommend that. You will go on more fun bike rides if you take all the frustration out of transporting your bike!
posted by juliapangolin at 6:53 PM on November 8, 2015

How about trying some new activities? Yoga, pilates, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, nutrition, foam roller class (omg, take a foam roller class). If you explain that you are trying to use up health credits before EOY you can probably get some sort of voucher or punch card.
24 hr fitness has all kinds of classes that you can just drop in on that comes with the memberships if you want to go that route. Then you can go sit in the jacuzzi/sauna/steamroom.
Book sessions with a trainer.
How about some PT or theraputic massage.
Theracanes don't do anything for me but my cousin loves her's. I do, however, love my foam rollers.
Membership to whatever your local version of Colorado Mountain Club is? Sign up for some classes there?
Local hospitals often have classes, some are free but some you need to pay for.
posted by BoscosMom at 7:02 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you wear prescription glasses? If so, you could get cycling-specific glasses like these from Rudy.
posted by megancita at 7:45 PM on November 8, 2015

Did you know it's good to replace your helmet every few years? Apparently the foam and such wears out. I just learned this and replaced mine even though my old one looked okay to me. After three or four years, it doesn't offer as much protection.

So: new helmet!
posted by bluedaisy at 11:03 PM on November 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Look at some cycling clothing that is made for an urban environment. Here in DK we bike as transport so we just wear "regular" clothing. For ease of movement and still looking stylish, take a look at:

* Vulpine
* Swrve
* Levi's Commuter line
posted by alchemist at 12:15 AM on November 9, 2015

I also like generator hubs and lights. Some can even charge your phone if you aren't using the light.
posted by advicepig at 4:42 AM on November 9, 2015

Would a bike seat bag qualify? Mine is indispensable.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:16 AM on November 9, 2015

The Garmin Varia radar tail light would be a nice boondoggle if you could get it reimbursed.

Or argue that race entry fees are the same thing as a gym membership and fill up your calendar.
posted by mattamatic at 7:38 AM on November 9, 2015

I was going to suggest signing up for a winter commuter package at your LBS. In Chicago you can page a few hundred dollars or so and it covers cleaning (for salt/snow), repairs and maintenance over the winter. If you don't live in a cold place that might not be on offer though.
posted by Bunglegirl at 8:48 AM on November 9, 2015

A koala water bottle?
posted by Pax at 6:42 AM on November 10, 2015

I don't know what the road safety situation on your commute is like, but I wonder if a Fly6 would be reimbursable? It's a red rear light with a built-in HD camera.
posted by workerant at 2:43 PM on November 10, 2015

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