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Gear Prudence: It’s the holiday season, and everyone in my family knows that I’m a pretty serious cyclist. That means that every year I get a bunch of bike-themed gifts, which, if I’m being quite honest, aren’t exactly that great. Over the years, I’ve determined exactly what kinds of products and brands I like and these gifts are never those. It’s not that I’m ungrateful—I’m just very particular, and I’m worried that I don’t have a good enough poker face to hide my disappointment. Do you have any tips on how to deal with this? —Secretly Cringing, Relatives Obviously Oblivious, Gifting Errantly
Dear SCROOGE: Listen, sometimes Santa blows it. Hopefully when he blows it, he includes a gift receipt. Faking gratitude for a present you don’t want is hard, so don’t. Instead, actually be grateful for the opportunity to pass along this gift to a cyclist (or bike nonprofit that accepts donations) that could use it. Sure, the whole “being generous to those less fortunate” thing isn’t as fun as scoring an awesome present, but since that’s not happening (due, in part, to your very particular tastes) take pride in your new role as bike gift conduit. Yes, this is technically “re-gifting,” but it’s better to find a bike gift a new home than to toss it on the pile of other bike stuff you’ll never use. —GP
Gear Prudence: What’s up with leather bike saddles? They look uncomfortable, and also, I checked the price, and they’re so expensive! Why do so many people have them? —Cool Or Wack?
Dear COW: Leather is a lifestyle. There was a time when almost all bike seats were made of leather, but the advent of fancy space-age non-bovine materials have since made the leather saddle more of an anomaly than the standard option. That said, leather seats are an increasingly popular option for reasons related to comfort and looks. Like a baseball glove, a leather saddle will, over time, “break in” based on your weight and bum shape. Unlike a baseball glove, leather saddles are not signed by famous players, though I suppose you could bring one to the ballpark and rectify that. Might be weird though.
The other big draw of the leather saddle is aesthetic. They just look classier than synthetic saddles, and if you’re the kind of person who wants to exude an air of taste and refinement, leather is the only way to go. Be mindful, however, that leather saddles aren’t waterproof (invest in a leather conditioner). They’ll also eventually stretch their way into obsolescence, but only after a billion miles (or slightly sooner). —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets @sharrowsDC. Got a question about bicycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.