It’s less than a month until Christmas, which means it’s time to publish our annual CMG gift guide!
Most of these options are available online, and some of them are also readily available at your local motorcycle dealer, or even at venerable retail institutions such as Canadian Tire or Home Depot.
If you’re a moto-enthusiast and your friends and relations are asking what to buy you, feel free to forward this article on to them. If you’re the clueless friend/relation of a moto-enthusiast, then hopefully this will be of help to you. Most of the gifts are priced below $100; pricing tends to fluctuate a bit this time of year, what with sales and the like, but you can find current pricing at the websites in the linked retail sites. Read on!
Journey to the End of the World
This coffee table-sized book by Alfonse Palaima (photos) and Colin Evans (words) is the tale of Expedition 65, a two-month-long organized tour through South America that was organized by Jim Hyde (of Rawhyde Tours). The riders are mounted on big-bore motorcycles with gadgetry that would make James Bond jealous and a chase van offering mechanical support; they even had sponsorship on this jaunt. Definitely not the CMG way of doing things.
But if you’d like to see what it’s like to ride through South America, the photos are absolutely stunning. The text describes not only the rigors and rewards of a long-distance motorcycle expedition, but also the highlights of some of the fascinating places they travel through. Definitely recommended if you’re looking for a book to take your mind off the sludge and slush this winter.
On Motorcycles: The Best of Backmarker
Canadian ex-pat Mark Gardiner’s moto-books are some of the best on the market today. This book has been on the market since 2013, but he’s got a selection of other titles that are also worth checking out if you’ve already read this one, covering everything from his personal experience racing at the Isle of Man, to the always-essential bathroom trivia book. Check out his other titles here.
Live Long to Wander: Basic Survival for Vehicle-Supported Adventures
And here’s a book by Bob Wohlers for the more hands-on adventurers. It’s not motorcycle-specific; it’s about surviving all forms of adventure travel, whether by bike, truck, or even snowmobile. The information is about staying alive when things go wrong in the bush—what do you need in your survival kit? How do you sterilize water for drinking? How do you make an emergency shelter? US-based adventure riders Bill and Susan Dragoo helped quite a bit with this book, so you know it’s not two-wheeled specific, but will be useful no matter how you choose to adventure off-road. Find it here on Amazon.
Dream Racer won the Best Feature Film and People’s Choice awards at this fall’s Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival, so you know it’s a proper film. The movie’s site says “The film tells the extraordinary true story of French Australian Business Consultant Christophe Barriere-Varju who defies extreme physical hardship and personal tragedy as he attempts to take on the world’s most dangerous motor race, the Dakar Rally, on a motorbike.” You can find it here on Amazon.com. You can also purchase it directly from the Dream Racer web site.
Neal Peart’s most recent collection of motorcycle tales. Peart shares the story of his rides alongside his 2015 tour as the drummer for prog-rock band Rush, so if you’re into both classic rock and motorcycles, you might want to check it out. Of course, Peart has a whole series of moto-books, all garnering top reviews. You can check out some of his other titles on Amazon.
These are a few of my favourite roads
This one’s been on the market since at least 2005, but we’re betting it’s still new to most riders. By well-known Canadian moto-columnist Max Burns, it details his favourite backcountry stomping grounds across this country. This, and a few other books by Burns, are available at his website. Motorcycle Mojo also stocks some of them.
Motorcycle Messengers: Tales from the Road by Writers who Ride
Compiled by author Jeremy Kroeker, this collection of stories from well-known scribes includes tales from Carla King, Lois Pryce, Christopher P. Baker, Ted Simon, and others. Kroeker is working on a follow-up book, but for this Christmas, the first collection will have to do. You can buy it from Amazon, and it’s also available directly from Oscillator Press.
I bought one of these at a local dealer because it looked cool. Imagine how chuffed I was to discover it’s easily the best motorcycle chain brush I’ve ever used! Much better than the three-sided brushes that retail for more money, because it truly cleans the chain completely through. Available through Fort Nine, and many local dealerships.
Also from Tirox (didja know it’s a Canadian company?), the Snapjack is the answer to one of motorcycling’s oldest questions: How do you maintain a motorcycle chain while you’re touring away from home? It’s highly affordable, relatively portable, and is also available through Fort Nine; your local dealership might be able to order one in before Christmas, but it’s probably quicker and cheaper to buy online.
A better bungee cord? ROK Straps are that, and more. Find them for sale at any of the Canadian dealers listed here. Proper useful equipment for a rider who might want to strap down a bag to a motorcycle seat.
Doc Allen’s VersaTool packs a lot of functionality in a small package, with screwdriver and hex key heads. You could also add Torx heads, for a bike that uses them. This gadget isn’t high tech, but it’s easily packable in a motorcycle jacket pocket or even under the bike’s seat. You can find it on eBay, or via Aerostich; it’s fairly affordable, no matter where you purchase it.
Do loud horns save lives? Maybe, maybe not, but this is a very affordable addition to most motorcycles, and it could possibly prevent a crash.
Cell phone handlebar mount
A modern smartphone can also hold down GPS duties. A handlebar mount makes that work more easily. This is a budget version; several higher-quality units are available from RAM.
These are available everywhere, from Home Depot to Fort Nine to Canadian Tire. They’re incredibly handy for prolonging a motorcycle battery’s life, and pretty affordable too.
FTW Co.’s T-shirts are not for everyone, as several of them have cartoon characters waving a middle finger around. But others, like this retro MX design, are great designs. FTW Co. often has some sort of sale on, if you watch the site, so while their shirts are pricey, you can get a deal if you keep your eyes open.
Lords of Gastown is based, as the name implies, in Vancouver, and caters to the hipster cafe racer/chopper set. Again, not all designs would be for everyone; there’s lots of skulls, and other Kustom Kulture-influenced artwork. But hey, we don’t judge: If you want to give someone a T-shirt with a giant eyeball riding a chopper, then this is the place. Again, if you don’t feel like spending big bucks on a T-shirt, look around—there’s usually a sale on.
We always recommend Bret Taylor’s motorcycle T-shirts, and they’re still available this year. They’re still cool designs, but much less emphasis on Death’s heads and other spectral graphics. You can get a classy cafe racer blueprint, or a chopper, if that’s how you lean. There are a few other designs to pick from as well.
Toronto’s independent motorcycle collective also sells T-shirts and other gear to raise funds. Pricing is reasonable; find designs here.
Ah, Aerostich equipment: Pricey, but top-quality kit. This sweater is supposed to reduce windchill, which is certainly handy during the edges of the Canadian riding season. It costs almost as much as a proper heated jacket but this is a handy addition to heated gear. The Aerostich website is full of goodies of interest to motorcyclists, from camping gadgets to tools to high-quality riding jackets and pants. It’s expensive, but the gear is some of the best you can find.
Ugly Christmas Sweaters
Ah, what would the holiday season be without an ugly Christmas sweater party? You can find hideous motorcycle-themed pullovers here, here, here and here. Wear them responsibly!
The classic gag gift for the dirt biker in your life. The perfect mood-setting aroma for a motorcycle movie night?
Can’t afford a new Triumph? You can at least afford this classy coffee mug, with a vintage Triumph ad. There are a lot of other coffee mugs available at Etsy, including a Ducati 750 SS design, this Valentino Rossi design, and this timeless message: “Keep Calm and Ride On.” Wise words for us all.
Octane Press has two great calendars for sale this year: the Bike EXIF custom calendar, and the Adventure Motorcycle calendar. Both will spruce up the office a fair bit, and are much classier than the usual naked-girl-on-a-bike theme.
This model kit from Haynes results in a motorized, scaled-down model of a V-twin motorcycle engine—as long as you put the 150+ parts together correctly. A fun project, though, if you’ve already finished working on your own bike and it’s ready for spring. Good to show your kids (or nephews and nieces) how an engine works on the internals!
Aside from these ideas, we’re guessing most motorcyclists would be happier with a gift certificate than with parts that don’t fit their bike, tools they don’t need, and books they’ve already read, so we’d recommend looking into that from one of these Canadian retailers: AltRider Canada East, British Cycle Supply, FortNine, GearsCanada, Gnarly Parts, Pete’s Superbike, and Twisted Throttle Canada. Chances are, your local motorcycle dealers also have gift certificates available as well.