|Here's a good selection of bike specific tools.|
Nothing sucks more than getting a doodad for your bike that you don't need or really don't like and then get stuck using it in order not to displease the person who gave it to you. Let's face it, you have to be quite the douche to tell someone that got you something, they think, is nice, that you don't like it or can't for the life of you figure out how you can possibly find something useful to do with that pink thingamajig.
One easy way to avoid the trappings of misguided cycling gift giving is to get them bike specific tools. Any semi-avid cyclist will appreciate receiving a tool that will save them money and worry. This could also propel said person to develop new skills. Should this happen, your gift would be exponentially bigger for no extra cash.
So which tool to get? First of all aim for quality, not quantity. A good tool will last a lifetime and that person will think of you every time they use it. The best place to shop for them is at your local bike shop. Forget the box stores, they sell crap and the chances of you getting somebody who knows what they are talking about to help you out, are slim.
If the person in question has no tools, the first one to get is a good chaintool. After that I would go for quality tire levers, the quikstick comes to mind, a crank puller is next to remove cranks from the bottom bracket, a set of hex keys, spoke wrench, etc.
|On the left, a quality Park chaintool. On the right, a crappy cheap one.|
Keep in mind size, if your target doesn't do regular bike fixing at the house but does worry about failures while riding, buy a tool that will be small enough to carry. Talk with the rep at the bike shop, most of them ride as well. If you don't feel like they are interested to help you, go to another shop or see if someone else in the store is actually passionate about what they do (I feel that this quality is getting so rare, it should be labeled as a superpower.).
If you are unsure about what to get as far as tools go, my only recommendation is to get a good quality multi-tool. They are great for emergencies and at least you have something to fix almost everything. Don't forget, something is better than nothing.
Until next time, ride safe and free.