CMG’s Christmas gift guide: Books and movies

The bike’s put away for the winter, unless you live in south-west BC, but at least Christmas is just around the corner. Yay — another morning of unwrapping socks and underwear. That is, unless you take a gander at this handy CMG gift guide and use it to buy items that encourage motorcycling in the family. Better yet, send it to your wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend/significant other, so they know what you REALLY need: more motorcycle stuff, to get you through the winter.

BOOKS

Travel

Finally, you can get your hands on Jeremy Kroeker’s latest moto-tale anthology, Motorcycle Messengers 2. This is a collection of stories “by writers who ride” from around the world, including Lois Pryce, Carla King, Sam Manicom, Ted Simon, Billy Ward, and CMG’s own Mark and Zac. Jeremy’s off gadding about South America, but you can now order the book directly from Amazon.

Fear not! Even though Jeremy is riding around in South America, you can still buy his book on Amazon, enjoying the work of top moto-writers (and also Mark and Zac, who somehow sneaked into the book).

Almost everybody on that list has full-length books of their own, starting with Lois Pryce, whose latest is Revolutionary Ride. If it’s anything like her first two (Lois on the Loose, Red Tape and White Knuckles), it’s bound to be highly entertaining. Sam Manicom’s also got a few titles under his belt, but his most popular might be Into Africa, detailing his adventures on an old airhead BMW. Or, you could buy his whole series, on sale for Christmas.

Continuing along the theme of road-tripping books, Jupiters Travels by Ted Simon is perhaps the second best-known classic of the genre, right up there with Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but with a very different flavour. Like a trippy mid-’70s ride around the world on a Triumph Tiger flavour.

Would you buy a motorcycle book about a guy traveling around the world in the 1970s, on a dodgy Triumph Tiger? We sure would!

And, speaking of Zen, there’s also CMG editor Richardson’s Zen and Now, a retracing of Pirsig’s footsteps that is much less confusing, and might actually shed some insight into the original book.

Coffee table books

Those travel tales are all great reads, but what if you just want a coffee table book with nice pictures? If you’re into custom bikes, check out The Build by Robert Hoekman Jr., from Octane Press.

According to Octane, it’s “as much a 192-page motorcycle art book as it is a blueprint to building the perfect custom bike.” It explains all the bike styles, then details how to build your own custom bike, starting with how to pick a donor, how to decide and move towards the look you want, and how to find or build the parts you need.

Read The Build, and learn all about motorcycle customization while you drink your coffee.

If you prefer your vintage bikes without horrible abuse inflicted at the hands of hipsters customization, then you can check out McQueen’s Motorcycles: Racing and Riding with the King of Cool. Actor Steve McQueen’s motorcycles regularly fetch top dollar at auction, and it’s not just because of their association with the Hollywood legend. McQueen was a discerning collector in his own right, and this collection of photos and words about his bikes is indeed an interesting tome for the coffee table.

For kids

The best way to get kids hooked on bikes is to start them young—and one of the best ways to do that is with Beverly Cleary’s classic tales of motorcycle-riding Ralph the Mouse. Buy the original book, the Mouse and the Motorcycle, on its own, or buy the complete set if you don’t mind reading them all to your kids/grandkids. And, or course, there’s always the classic gift of colouring books (some adults like ’em too, if they’re high quality).

General reading
For once, Chris Scott writes about something other than gadding about the Sahara, and the results seem to be positive!

Ex-pat Canadian motojourno Mark Gardiner’s first and second motorcycle trivia bathroom books are always great reads, as well as his story about his own journey to race the Isle of Man TT, but his best work might be his collection of his Backmarker columns.

Peter Egan, another highly popular moto-writer (not an ex-pat Canadian, but nobody’s perfect!) also has a fairly recent compilation of his writings on the market — find it here on Amazon.

Chris Scott’s overland travel books are well-known, but his street-focused The Street Riding Years: Despatching Through 80s London isn’t as commonly read. It’s a pity, because it’s got good reviews from the people we know who’ve had the book. It’s a bit tricky to get your hands on, but it is available on Amazon if you want something different.

Finally — the coolest moto-book we’ve seen this year could be the graphic novel version of Stealing Speed.

The original version, by IOMTT winner and motojournalist Mat Oxley, could be one of the best roadracing books of all time. It’s a Cold War tale of how the Suzuki roadracing factory team managed to acquire the two-stroke tuning and design secrets of the MZ team, thanks to a defecting rider who left the Eastern Bloc squad for greener pastures.

That book is well worth the read, but now Oxley’s selling a graphic novelization of the book as well. It’s decently long, at 192 pages, with line drawings spruced up with basic colorization, same as a classic British boy’s annual. This is set to be a modern motorcycle classic, one that almost nobody in Canada has, and this is the one we’d recommend before looking at any other book this year.

Want more ideas for some great motorcycling gifts? Here’s everything else!

MOVIES

There just aren’t that many feature-length motorcycle films released, in either the fact or fiction categories. And most of the fictional ones are crap, sadly. Some of the factual ones aren’t that good either. And then, if you can find a good one, it may be impossible to find it on DVD or whichever streaming service you prefer.

One of those good, modern and impossible-to-find-on-DVD films is Oil in the Blood, a 125-minute documentary that screened at the Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival this year. Oil in the Blood is aimed at exploring the people behind the culture of custom motorcycles; it’s not possible to get a physical copy of the film, as far as we know, but you can get a digital download from Amazon (check to make sure it’s valid in your geographic region, though).

You can get your hands on a physical copy of Wayne, the Wayne Gardner documentary that also screened at the TMFF, but it’s a Region 4 DVD. If you have the equipment to play that, great. If not, buy the digital download — both available here.

It’s a couple of years old now, but you can also check out Daniel Rintz’s Somewhere Else Tomorrow, especially if you dig the travel books at the start of this story. It’s one of the best real-world travel films put out in the past few years. If you don’t mind getting something that’s much older, with lovable DIY ethic (albeit limited production values), you should check out Austin Vince’s Mondo Enduro, and its technically superior sequels, Terra Circa and Mondo Sahara. All three movies are great stories about budget motorcycle adventures.

Aside from those, there are always the classics: Easy Rider, the outlaw biker flick that turned 50 this year; Akira, the movie you need to watch to understand current Japanese motorcycle design (motorcycle content trails off as you progress into the film, though); One Week, the more-recent and always-mentioned CanCon entry to this list that follows Joshua Jackson on a Norton, from Toronto to Tofino.

Want more ideas for some great motorcycling gifts? Here’s everything else!

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