Want > need
Speaking as a mountain biking Dad, I can personally attest that the main thing I like to get given is tools. A Dad can never have enough tools.
All of the following items give me joy. They make me think “thank God I own one of these” whenever I reach for them. They are also things that I put off buying for far too long because they didn’t feel essential enough. And as such, they all make completely brilliant gifts.
1. X-Tools Pro Coloured Allen Key Set
Some tool purists may sneer at these (“I can identify a 2mm versus a 2.5mm Allen key from twenty paces” etc etc) but amidst a pile of dull-coloured tools they jump out as a friendly burst of colour. And I, for one, need all the help I can get from identifying a 3mm from a 2.5mm.
2. X-Tools Internal Cable Routing Tool
This is essentially a magnet and a bit of string. But what a great bit of frustration- and time-saving kit it is. It’s the sort of tool that makes you unafraid (possibly even eager) to have a go at replacing cable of anything internally routed.
3. X-Tools CRV Ratchet Spanner Set
I’ll admit that these aren’t actually used that much. Not for working on bikes any way. But they are very probably the most fondled and fiddled with items in the whole garage. They are the fidget spinner for forty year olds (fidget spanner?)
4. Birzman Torque Driver (5Nm)
Torque wrenches are the quintessential tool-you-should-own-but-don’t. With a proper torque wrench you can ensure you aren’t damaging your cockpit bits. They also really help ward off stray creaking and clicking that occur from incorrectly tightened bolts, which is nice.
5. LifeLine Digital Pressure Gauge
As tyres get bigger and bigger volume, having an accurate tyre pressure gauge is borderline essential these days. It’s no good relying on your track pump’s display (they’re rarely accurate when reading below 40psi).
6. X-Tools Pro Cutting Nippers
No matter how expensive or snazzy your mountain bike, it will involve zip ties somewhere. Zip ties (or cable ties, if you will) are one of the unavoidable facts of mountain bikes. Sure, you can just use scissors to trim the ends but that always leaves bits sticking out. Incredibly sharp dangerous thigh-slashing bits. These are one of the most satisfying tools out there.
7. Park Tool Shop Hammer HMR4
Yes, it’s a hammer. But what a hammer! A hammer is still a surprisingly frequent thing to use when working on mountain bikes. It’s not even when things are going wrong that a hammer comes out. Knocking forks out of head tubes, removing cranks from BBs, and so on.
8. Lezyne Sabre Lever/Tyre Cro-Mo Wrench
It looks like a simple thing but this thing is actually three tools in one. It’s a pedal spanner, a big-ass metal tyre lever for the world’s most stubborn tyres and it’s a bottle opener (for opening a beer when you’ve finished wrestling with the world’s most stubborn tyres).
9. X-Tools Pro Magnetic Bowl
A magnetic bowls is one of my best assistants. It’s so handy and just plain sensible to have a magnetic bowl nearby to catch all the easily-lost little things you need to put somewhere quick (usually while you can’t move away from the workstand because you’re holding something else in place wit your other hand). You’ll never lose a pedal washer or disc rotor bolt again.
10. X-Tools Rotor Trueing Fork
There are other rotor truing tools available, most of them cost more than this one, but this one form X-Tools is the best one because of its multi-slot design.
11. Park Tool Master Link Pliers MLP-1.2
Before you order your Dad a set of these, just subtly check if he has some already. Now that Powerlink chains have been around for many a year, link pliers like these aren’t such a rare item in MTBers’ toolkits. But if he hasn’t got a pair of these, get him some.