Last year we did our first gift guide. After all, we could all do with a little advice on where to get that perfect gift for our two-wheeled friend. However, after last year’s article, one thing was clear from the feedback we got – make it Canadian!
Add a horrible exchange rate and that seems like a very sensible thing to do, but sadly, we could not include everything we wanted without a few non-Canadian suggestions, though we’ve done our best to support the Canucks where possible. We’re not offering judgement, just a list of everything we can find and placed in alphabetical order.
And no, we haven’t done the typical shitty journalism thing that so many magazines do and just print a long list of advertisers. In fact, sad to say, most of the outlets listed are not advertisers, but many are Canadian and worth a look at before spending your hard earned dosh, especially with Black Friday tomorrow and some likely deals to be had …
LITERATURE (by Canadian authors)
All the books listed here are written by Canadian authors and about motorcycles. We’ve linked through to Amazon.ca not because we’re suggesting that you should buy from Amazon but because it is an easy way to find and link all the different books. We also (mostly) stole the book summary excerpts and tweaked them to sound like our own. Yep, too lazy to do a proper job, well except for Max Burns’ books. It appears he doesn’t like Amazon, so we stole the blurbages from his website instead.
Beyond the Coffee Shop – Ok, so Nick Adams is an English emigre to Canada, but it still counts. And what do you do when you emigrate to Canada? Buy and old Guzzi and head north, that’s what. Stories are bound to ensue.
Riding with Rilke: Reflections On Motorcycles And Books – In Riding with Rilke, Ted Bishop takes us on the road through some of the richest landscapes in North America and Europe, with numerous stops along the way. Whether describing the archival jolt of holding Virginia Woolf’s suicide note in the British Library or the outlaw thrill of cruising Main Street in small-town America on a bike nicknamed “Il Mostro,” Bishop tells a story filled with insight and humour.
Adventures with Neddow – There was no thought given to collecting the stories when I started writing them, these adventures that I shared with Neddow. They were simply fun tales, a record of where we went and the laughs we shared doing it. My original intension was to simply gather the stories into some sort of handout for Neddow’s wake but it surprised me how often Neddow had eased into my story telling. I also realized what an entertaining read each story is. That’s when I decided to put them into a book. I wanted to let the rest of the world get to know Neddow, the grand character he truly was—friends and family already knew this. And I wanted everyone else to share in the fun we had.
Unresolved Connections – six diverse stories where the reader is invited down uncommon roads to places rarely visited. Reality remains an occasional travelling companion throughout but rarely dictates the route or circumstance, and never does it get in the way of the telling. Accompanying the words are several of Max’s own illustrations, each a coinage of his mind spent whenever he felt the need. Or the desire.
These are a few of my favourite roads – is an unabashed look at what makes Canada such a grand place to travel and explore by road. The reader is guided through a discontiguous route of fun backroads and uncrowded places gathered from Max’s many travels in Canada, coast to coast, as he habitually seeks out alternatives to the dreaded TrashCanada (a.k.a. the Trans-Canada Highway). A zig-zagonal path of cross-Canada adventure lazily evolves, the route unraveling as the sun rises, from east to west, with no shortage of photos to help stir your dreams of travel.
Around the Bend (again) – The Around the Bend column first appeared in Cycle Canada Magazine in 1985, a private page burdened by few restrictions where Max was encouraged to revel in various absurdities and obsessions as long as he maintained some connection to motorcycles and the people who ride them. The open road, risk, politicians, speed limits, life, it all became fodder for his soapbox oratories. This collection of 60 columns shows Max to be at his unpredictable best—or worst, your choice.
On Any Wednesday – is a collection of five motorcycle adventures chasing the trails and sparsely-travelled backroads of northeastern Ontario and northwestern Québec, typically pursued by a fast-approaching winter. In his notoriously satirical and witty manner, Max uses the motorcycle not just as a vehicle to get from point A to point somewhere, but also as a vehicle to explore life and a few of its absurdities.
The Winged Wheel Patch – This 8 1/2″ X 11″ hardcover book contains 112 photos and drawings (including sketches from famed Canadian war artist Alex Colville), many which have never before been published. The authors’ text is complimented with plentiful quotes from official war dairies, regimental histories, and the riders themselves, all fully indexed and footnoted. Also included are specifications for all motorcycles in official use by the Canadian Military during the 20th century.
The University of Gravel Roads: Global Lessons from a Four-Year Motorcycle Adventure – at 33 years old, Rene Cormier cashed in what few possessions he had to finance a three-year long motorcycle journey around the world. The tour ultimately took five years to cover 41-countries on his 154,000-kilometre route.
Make Haste, Slowly – a 330 page saga set on the Continental Circus of European racing from 1960 to 1967. It is a race by race chronicle of Canada’s foremost Grand Prix rider, Mike Duff who went to England in 1960, and rose through the ranks to compete as a factory contracted Team Yamaha rider. He never won a world championship, nor an Isle of Man TT, but he rode some of the most exotic racing machinery ever built on glamorous race courses that are but names in a book to most.
Mark Gardiner (yes he is Canadian, just living in the US)
On Motorcycles: The Best of Backmarker – The best of Mark Gardiner’s ‘Backmarker’ and ‘Classic America’ columns, plus feature stories and a few rants.
Riding Man – For 100 years, the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy races have been the world’s most dangerous organized sporting event. Mark Gardiner quit his job, sold everything he owned, and ventured to the Island to race there himself, struggling to qualify for — and survive — the TT races.
Bathroom book of motorcycle trivia – 365 entires of trivia that should keep aunt Bethel from falling asleep at Christmas dinner. With such stuff as What was the first production motorcycle with electronic fuel injection? (Honda CX500 Turbo, 1982). Or Why is Mike Hailwood still the best road racer who’s ever lived, no matter what Valentino Rossi’s fans say? (Two words. No, two letters: TT).
To Dakar and Back: 21 Days Across North Africa by Motorcycle – Paris-Dakar is considered to be one of the world’s top five adventures, in the same league as climbing Mt. Everest. The human drama that unfolds each January is unparalleled. n To Dakar and Back, Hacking recounts the three weeks of blood, sweat, and tears that took him on a 10,000 kilometre journey — in the heat of competition — from the glitzy streets of Paris, through the hinterland of North Western Africa, to the triumph of self-realization.
Motorcycle Messengers: Tales from the Road by Writers who Ride – is a collection of travel stories from some of the leading writers in the motorcycle travel world including Lois Pryce, Neil Peart, Ted Simon and Mark Richardson to name but a few. My Kroeker brings them altogether in this great compendium of motorcycle travel writers.
Motorcycle Therapy: A Canadian Adventure in Central America – From the Canadian Rockies to the Panamanian Jungle, join two guys fleeing failed relationships as they endure painful bee stings, painful snakebites and (when they talk to girls) painful humiliation.
Through Dust and Darkness: A Motorcycle Journey of Fear and Faith in the Middle East – Jeremy Kroeker is a Mennonite with a motorcycle who went on a voyage to Europe and the Middle East by motorcycle to seek answers from another perspective. The resulting journey and revelations are chronicled here.
Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road – Neil Peart suffered the loss of not just his daughter but his wife too. the ensuing grief saw him take to two wheels and this book recalls the journey.
Roadshow: Landscape with Drums: A Concert Tour by Motorcycle – Neil Peart’s ultimate travelogue – a concert tour, as he writes about Rush’s 30th anniversary trek — 9 countries, 57 shows, and 500,000 fans.
Far and Away: A Prize Every Time – Peart’s thoughts and travel musings as he rides his BMW R1200GS from gig to gig with his band Rush.
Far and Near – Follow up to Far and Away.
The Perfect Vehicle – Melissa Pierson sifts through myth and hyperbole of the motorcycle: misrepresentations about danger, about the type of people who ride and why they do so. The Perfect Vehicle is a historical account of the motorcycle intertwined with Pierson’s own story, which, in itself, shows that although you may think you know what kind of person rides a motorcycle, you probably don’t. Or maybe you do. This is all sales bumpf stolen from the Amazon site after all.
Zen and Now: On the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – On the Trail of Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Zen and Now, Mark Richardson expands that journey with an investigation of his own – to find the enigmatic author of Zen and the Art, ask him a few questions, and places his classic book in context.
PARTS & ACCESSORIES (Canadian outlets)
With the internet it’s very easy to order most anything you want with a few clicks. Here’s our list on Canadian online stores (in alphabetical order) that should offer just about everything including gift certificates if you’re not sure exactly what you want to give.
AltRider may be a west coast US outfit, but they do have a Canadian outlet located in Montreal, Quebec. their gear focuses specifically on adventure bikes along with heavy-duty guards and accessories for bikes like the Super Ten, the GS lineup, V-Stroms and much more, they also carry a lineup of adventure riding DVDs, tools, tires and more.
Got an old British bike or know someone who does? Perfect, they’ll always need spare parts and what better place to shop than Nova Scotia’s British Cycle Supply who stock just about everything you’ll ever need to update that classic British machine.
If you want to outfit your adventure bike or touring machine for serious work, Twisted Throttle Canada (based in New Dundee, Ontario) probably has what you need.
Their site has dozens of bikes listed for machine-specific parts; if you want a windshield for a Suzuki V-Strom or a luggage rack for a BMW R1200 GS, you’re in luck. But they also have a handy holiday gift guide, located here.
FOR THE ROAD (some Canadian content)
A few suggestions that will make the next adventure more fun, quieter and even safer.
This is actually a Canadian company based in British Columbia and makes great maps showing backroads. If you’re looking for a gift for the adventure rider then a set of maps showing all the backroads to go explore is a perfect idea.
They’ve also got a Black Friday weekend sale on with 20% off all their GPS mapbooks.
Quick and easy stocking stuffers here and will enable your beloved motorcycle partner to still hear you when they’re old and decrepit.
Hearos – We go through earplugs and one of the best brands of disposable earplugs we’ve found to date is from Hearos. Sadly, they’re impossible to find in stores, but that’s what the internet is for isn’t it?
No Noise – Not the cheapest of earplugs but we were sent a pair from Canadian distributor, Twisted Throttle Canada and were impressed. They’re reusable and come with their own metal tube to keep them attached to your key ring so you always know where they are. Lasted a full season of heavy use before they got too grimy even for Editor ‘Arris’ ears.
Another one that is ideal for the adventure rider who may ride out of cellphone range. We use Spot devices on the Fundy Adventure Rally to ensure that each team out in the woods can be tracked and has a method to raise the alarm in case of an emergency.
They also have a special on right now where the device is free with a one year activation package.
FOR THE MIND (all Canadian)
You never stop learning, especially when it comes to riding motorcycles, so why not give the gift of a training course. No, not the go around the cones and get yer licence kind of training, rather the “wow, I can now ride better, faster, higher” Bionic man type of training. They should all have gift certificates available that would make the perfect stocking stuffers. Well, better than an orange that’s for sure.
Chief instructor Michel Mercier is a 3-time Canadian Superbike Champion and FAST Riding School Owner and knows a thing or two about piloting a bike around a track. Located at the Shannonville track a couple of hours east of Toronto, the FAST school has bikes and gear available to rent and will make you a better road rider too.
Renedian Adventures (South Africa)
Rene Cormier spent five years of his life circumnavigating the world on a BMW F650GS. What do you do after that? Start a tour company and show others the wonders of the world by motorcycle, that’s what.
SMART Adventures (Ontario)
Located about an hour north of Toronto at the Horseshoe Resort, SMART Adventures offers rider training for dual sport and adventure riders as well as those sad souls on ATVs and Snowmobiles. Chief instructor Clinton Smout is a mainstay of the training world and such a nice guy he must have a really evil twin somewhere.
Trail Tours (Ontario)
Located about an hour east of Toronto in the Ganaraska Forest, Trails Tours offers guided tours as well as schooling on off-road riding. We’ve had the good fortune to go several times and always come away with a few extra skills and a big smile.
FOR THE HOME (mostly non-Canadian)
Who doesn’t love a motorcycle specific calendar, a great poster or t-shirt? Give your home a motorcycle theme with some of the funkiest and brilliant gifts we could find.
Yep, blueprints. This US company boasts over 300 11″ x 17″ White Line Blueprints (white line on blue field) made the “old-fashioned” way with ammonia activated paper on mid-century technology machines.
They include anything from roller coasters to jet engines, and also have a few motorcycle engines that make for an unusual but cool gift for that petrol head.
ETSY (lots of obscure stuff)
Et what? Etsy is an online store similar to Amazon that acts as an umbrella for lots of artists and funky types to sell their wares, and they even have a Canadian store that shows prices in C$. Fancy a lamp made out of a vintage motorcycle rear shock or a helmet that makes you look like Predator from the film?
There’s a lot of unusual motorcycle related stuff there and here’s a quick link to the motorcycle gifts section.
Octane Press (calendars)
Octane Press sadly are not a Canadian outfit but they do do some great calendars that don’t involve scantily-clad chicks draped over choppers (a beautiful Bike EXIF calendar here, a scenic adventure riding calendar here).
We haven’t seen more spectacular motorcycling calendars, and not a tattoo or plastic breast in sight. Refreshing.
This 24 x 18, 4 color, limited edition screen print by Methane Studios is part of an edition of 50 and is signed and numbered by the artist.
There’s more to choose from so why not get a bit of motorcycle art in your home/office?
What Christmas is complete without pulling out the Monopoly board and watch the youngsters get pissy and throw the board up in the air when they realize the way of the world – kill or be killed (financially speaking of course).
Now you can do it all with a motorcycle theme, with the classic road names replaced with the iconic riders from the current MotoGP™ grid , along with other motorcycling legends from across the years. Additionally the traditional houses and hotels have been replaced with famous stands and circuits to match the racing theme.
What’s not to like? Just don’t pick Rossi – you’ll be winning the game right up till the end then the Marquez piece will magnetically connect before crashing out of the game. The next card you pick will then say “Go directly to the back of the grid. Do not pass go. Do not collect the championship trophy”. Us bitter? No, not at all.
MotoGP/World Superbike Video pass
The thing about motorcycle racing is, it’s hard to find on TV. But, thanks to Dorna’s Internet broadcasts, you can watch MotoGP and World Superbike all season long, as long as you pay up.
This is actually a pretty fantastic gift idea for a sportbike fan, as it even offers access to past races, if you feel like watching classic track duels from history. You can find the MotoGP video pass here; the World Superbike video pass is here.
Vancouver based Bret Taylor designs t-shirts and some of his designs are with motorcycles.
Did we miss anyone out? Of course we did, there’s lots of places to spend your hard earned dosh, but if you have a particular favourite Canadian author, shop and/or product that you think deserves a mention, please add it to the comments below so we can check it out and add it to this guide.