We already talked about great moto-books and films to look at for Christmas presents, but what if you’d like to buy bike parts or tools for someone?
This is a bit tricky, as you need to make sure you get the right parts for the right bike, and you don’t want to buy them tools they already have. For this reason, a gift certificate to your local dealer, or an online retailer like (FortNine, Blackfoot, Royal Distributing) is a good idea. Having said that, here are a few ideas to look at:
The gift of warmth
The best thing you could buy for any motorcyclist is more riding days, and in Canada, you can (kind of) do that. Most motorcyclists see their riding season restricted by the cold in fall and spring, so if you buy them good heated gear, it should help them get more riding in.
The first thing to look at is heated grips. There’s a choice here. First, there’s wrap-around heated grips that install over the bike’s existing handlebar grips, with Oxford HotHands the best-known examples. These are the best ones to buy if the recipient isn’t mechanically adept. It’s hard to screw them up, and they’re easy to remove.
However, the wrap-around versions aren’t as good as the ones that replace your existing handlebar grips. Oxford also makes these, as well as Bikemaster and other companies. Be careful not to buy a set that’s intended for an ATV thumb throttle, and remember, there are affordable no-name Chinese versions on the market, but they tend to not fit as well as the more expensive models. No matter which version you go with, these are much more fussy to fit than the wrap-around style.
You can also buy the heating elements and install them under the motorcycle’s existing grips, but these are even more fiddly than the replacement grips.
If you’re looking to buy a gift for someone who’s already got heated grips, you can take things to the next level and buy them heated motorcycle gloves or glove liners. FortNine has a wide selection (check it out here), but they tend to be pricey. They’re much more effective than heated grips, though, and you don’t have to do as much fussing about to install them.
A heated vest or jacket is also a great idea, for the rider who doesn’t have one. The advantages of a heated vest are fit (they fit under a tight motorcycle jacket more easily), price (they’re cheaper than a full heated jacket), and the fact that many heated vests come with some sort of battery-operated capability. Even if you’re riding a Vespa with wimpy charging system, a battery-powered vest will fight off the chill on cold days.
The advantage of a full heated jacket is that it pumps out more warmth. Smaller bikes and scooters might not be able to power the heated jacket, but a full-sized bike (say, 750 cc and up) should have no problem.
You can also buy heated pants and boot insoles. The best place to look at a wide selection of heated equipment is a dedicated powersports retailer like Royal Distributing, FortNine or Blackfoot. You can ask your local dealer, but don’t be shocked if they don’t have them in stock.
Finally, if all this heated gear talk just makes your eyes glaze over, there’s always the classic Helly Hansen “wooly bear” long underwear; wearing this stuff is like wearing a built-in furnace.
The gift of DIY
Heated gear might help a rider get out on the streets earlier in the spring, but what are they supposed to do all winter long?
Work on the bike, that’s what! Again, this can be sort of tricky, since you might not know what tools a rider already has in the shop. But if you’re feeling spendy, here’s one that most Canadian riders probably don’t have: the Motion Pro Multi Tool.
The Multi Tool is probably best-suited for an on-the-bike toolkit, but would be a handy tool for short, quick jobs in the garage, too. It can handle most of the light-duty fasteners on a motorcycle (remember, buy the metric tool for Japanese/European bikes, the SAE tool for made-in-America machines). The best Canadian price we’ve seen is at FortNine, although you can probably save a few bucks doing cross-border shopping.
You can also buy decent motorcycle toolkits from CruzTOOLS, with different kits optimized for different bikes (even dirt bikes). While not as flash as stuff from Snap-On, Cruz products carry a lifetime warranty and the kits do seem to be well thought-out. Kimpex distributes them in Canada, so ask your local dealership if they can order them in for you.
Since we’re talking about pricey tools, we should also mention Knipex. Knipex’s made-in-Germany Pliars Wrench tools are extremely well-liked, as they grip stuff square-on, instead of the off-centre grip that you usually get with Vice-Grips and similar products. This means you’ll have fewer stripped fasteners. You can find Knipex tools at most local hardware stores; if they don’t have them in stock, they should be able to order them in. Or, just order them online.
Finally, if you’re really looking to support the local economy, check out the offerings from Tirox Products. Tirox is a Canadian company with a line of very practical chemicals and tools aimed at the common motorcyclist, and most of it isn’t too expensive. You can get Tirox products at your local dealer, or online through FortNine and other Internet storefronts. Since every rider eventually runs out of chain lube, or bike cleaner, or whatever, Tirox’s stuff is a good choice (its 360-degree chain brush and SnapJack portable jack are also pretty handy).
The gift of travel
Many motorcyclists love touring on their bikes, but if you’re just getting started, it can be expensive to buy all the luggage and other stuff necessary. But it doesn’t have to be! You don’t need expensive luggage racks and hard luggage and all that stuff. You can just bungee a bag to your bike, and hit the road.
With that in mind, a set of Rok Straps is great for just about any motorcyclist who wants to take a trip on their bike. For the just-starting-out rider, these are infinitely superior to your usual bungee cords, and still not terribly expensive. For the more experienced rider, Rok Straps are a good way to haul all the extra camping gear you’ve accumulated over the years. And even if you’ve already got a pair, it never hurts to have a second set. Buy Rok Straps through the Canadian website, or just about any online moto-retailer.
The Airhawk seat pad is another useful piece of motorcycle gear that makes long days in the saddle much more comfortable. They’re easy to install, and you can find one that fits most bikes. For riders on dual sport bikes (think KLR650, DR650, bikes like that), the Mad Dog seat pad is even more affordable, and fits those machines fairly well. It can make a buzzy enduro bike much more usable over long miles; find it here on Amazon.
Finally, traveling is a lot easier if you know where you’re going. A good map helps you plan where to go, but a good GPS is even better for telling you how to get where you’re going.
There are a few motorcycle-specific GPS systems available from GPS City, which tends to have the best prices in Canada. However, many riders already have an excellent GPS system sitting in their pocket already, in the form of a smartphone. Simply add a handlebar phone mount, and Google Maps/Apple Maps can direct you along public roads just as handily as Garmin can. The best phone mounts are probably RAM products, but if they’re outside your budget, Amazon often has a wide selection of motorcycle phone mounts.