Wot, you haven’t gotten your Christmas shopping done already? Even notorious deadline slacker Zac has gotten his pretty much finished. But if you’re still looking for something to send that moto-person on your list, or if you’re a moto-person whose relatives are always wondering what to get you … then here’s your answer!
A good book kills off a winter evening pretty quickly, and there are some great reads by Canadian authors.
Every year, we recommend ex-pat writer/rider Mark Gardiner’s books, and this year he’s once again selling his first and second motorcycle trivia bathroom books. If you enjoyed the first one, you probably want the second book as well, because as he puts it, “Number Two is always more satisfying than Number One.” Toilet jokes aside, Gardiner also has more serious fare, including Riding Man (about his adventures racing the IOMTT) and this collection of his Backmarker columns.
Or, if you want a book that’s specifically about travel inside Canada (there aren’t many), you can check out Beyond the Coffee Shop by Nick Adams. Old Italian motorcycles, northern Canada … sounds like the tagline to a CMG
Of course, CMG big cheese Mark Richardson’s follow-up to Robert Pirsig’s inscrutable Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (always a good buy for someone who likes a deeper read and/or never finishes a book) is available on Amazon as well. Zen and Now is one of the best examinations of Pirsig’s work and life, so if the original book mystified you, maybe Mark’s follow-up can help.
If you know someone with both a case of serious wanderlust and an interest in the unique, then Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders is both a stimulating read, and a good way to pick new places to ride to in the summer. Another book that might get some touring plans kickstarted: check out Lonely Planet’s Canada Travel Guide.
Those books aren’t moto-specific, but Michelle Lamphere’s The Butterfly Route is, and if you want to settle down to a good read on two-wheeled travels, it seems pretty well-liked (and several chapters talk about her Canadian adventures as well!). UK writer Sam Manicom also has a well-regarded series of adventure travel books that are worth checking out (Tortillas to Totems also includes some CanCon), and fellow Brit Lois Pryce has this tale of riding through Iran as a solo female.
As always, Aerostich, perhaps North America’s finest purveyor of advanced motorcycling goods, has a lineup of good reads, including their selection of low-priced in-house publications (the interesting-looking Aerostich Lightweight Touring Book and Old Riders Almanac are $5 and $10 respectively; they’re short reads, but useful).
Aerostich also carries this English translation of the Joe Bar Team moto-comic, which might tickle the fancy of any sequential art enthusiast who also owns a bike. The French-language originals are reckoned to be classic over in Europe, and this translation isn’t easily found in Canada. We’re guessing this isn’t a politically correct book, so be careful who you give it to.
Almost all riders love a good motorcycle T-shirt, and one of the best places to grab these is your local dealership. But there’s lots of interesting stuff available online as well, like FTWCO’s groovy lineup. As we say every year, some of these shirts aren’t for everyone (middle-finger shirts might not cut it for straight-laced Dad), but these are definitely some of the coolest Ts you can purchase (sadly, they aren’t cheap!).
If you want a bike-specific shirt, eBay is your best bet. Here’s a groovy Suzuki VanVan shirt available on eBay. There are tons of other bikes you can find model-specific shirts for, such as the Yamaha V-Max, Kawasaki KLR650, BMW airheads, even rare/weird stuff like Jawa or CZ or Excelsior-Henderson, or whatever else you can imagine. Order soon if you want it shipped in time!
If you want something more local, Toronto’s Moto Revere has some new shirts in stock this year, and Vancouver’s Bret Taylor once again has some pretty cool offerings as well. Or, if you want a baseball-style shirt, Canada-based Mad Squirrel has this cool shirt.
And if you need to gear up for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, we’d recommend this sidecar sweater, as long as you don’t mind laying out the coin.
If you’re into documentaries, check out Chasing Evel, which is a made-in-Canada look at legendary stuntman Robbie Knievel and his chase of his father’s records and legacy.
Generally speaking, there aren’t a lot of great new moto-movies on the market. But, if someone hasn’t already seen them, the grassroots DIY world travel of Mondo Enduro, Terra Circa and Mondo Sahara are all great watches (buy them bundled here, to save money).
Perhaps a bit more loosely related to the bike movie scene, Akira is worth checking out if you’ve got the patience for weird anime. The bosozoku scenes, well, they are what they are, but if you want to get an idea of where motorcycle design is headed in the next few years, start here.
Ah, what’s better than unwrapping a cool toy under the Christmas tree? Call us childish, but we still contend that not all toys are for kids, and maybe the coolest moto-toy you can get/give is Lego—specifically, this Lego Technic Street Motorcycle, with functioning suspension, chain drive and more. You’ll have to dig around a bit to find this Lego set, as it’s sold out on Lego.com. But isn’t the search for the perfect Christmas gift half of the fun? There’s also a really cool BMW GS Lego Technic model out there, but you’ll likely pay big bucks as it has been hard to find for a few years.
If you know a kid who’s into Barbies, you can find a scooter-borne Barbie and motorcycle-riding Ken for them, which sends two messages: bikes are cool and for cool people, and if you want bliss, find yourself a significant other who’s also into bikes. These are Very Important Things for kids to know!
The Hitcase mobile phone case is one of the coolest gadgets you can get for a motorcyclist, providing both a very rugged, waterproof phone case, and also turning your phone into a wide-angle action camera. Hitcase has cases available for most iPhones, and cases for older models are available on eBay.
The SP Connect phone mount is a high-quality mount available for flagship Samsung and Apple phones. This RAM Tough-Claw mount is also a very good option, not cheap, but adaptable to most motorcycles and phones (but with no waterproofing).
Any serious motorcyclist who rides in the rain will hopefully have waterproof boots, but waterproof boots often don’t stay waterproof forever, which makes these Tourmaster boot covers an interesting option. Check with your local dealership and they may have another similar product for less money. These are a great emergency item to stash away on a touring bike.
Heated grips are a great gift for a motorcyclist who doesn’t have them, especially for someone who rides in bad weather or commutes on their bike. These Oxford Hot Hands grips aren’t as good as the Heaterz grips, but are much easier to install, and a bit less cash. Many high-end motorcycles come with these installed now, but many smaller-capacity bikes don’t, and they can make riding much more enjoyable in cold or wet weather.
Finally, it’s always worthwhile to take a peek at the Canada-based Tirox website, where they’ve got a wide variety of products that are handy for motorcyclists. These include high-end plastic polishes and wash formula (for when you shine your bike, something Mark does and Zac doesn’t, the benefit of owning a dual sport) and chain lubes (for when you lube your bike’s chain drive, something Zac does and Mark doesn’t, the benefit of owning a Harley-Davidson). Tirox also sells the Snapjack which makes chain maintenance quite easy, one of the best chain cleaning brushes around and other useful stuff.
This Etsy seller has a real load of cool posters available for download (you pay and print it off locally). Mopro has some absolutely gorgeous wall art available as well, and if you need a poster, check out Town Moto. And, you’ll have to order it from the UK, but some of the loveliest motorcycle paintings we’ve seen in recent years come from John Lowerson, who paints classic Brit trailbikes out in their natural environment, among other things (he’s big into classic cars and warplanes too). Check out Lowerson’s work here, and you’ll likely fall in love.