It may be hard to believe, but the holidays are just around the corner. Assuming you didn’t make it on their naughty list, your relatives are about to start asking: “What do you want?” The obvious answer is a new motorcycle, but you probably won’t get that, will you? They’re more likely to buy you a Hot Wheels replica and chortle with glee. Better off to ask for something sensible. Or maybe, you’re looking to buy someone a moto-gift, someone you know. Either way, we’ve provided some ideas that should help get the wheels turning.
Every year, we recommend more-or-less the same books, for good reason: A solid read is a solid read. But we’ve got a couple of new or updated reads this year.
Chris Scott’s Adventure Motorcycling Handbook came out in its 8th edition this summer, and it’s one of the most practical books on ADV travel you’ll ever see. Even if you aren’t planning on going around the world, it’s got advice that’s helpful for tooling around here in Canada, from Labrador to the Kootenays. Get it here on Amazon for around $5, or shop around and maybe find a deal.
Then, there’s Home By Seven, by Steph Jeavons, the plucky Brit who visited all seven continents on her Honda CRF250L (with some help from boats, of course). This book tells about those travels. Right now, you can only get the Kindle version through Amazon.ca (readable on most mobile devices, of course). If you trust the vagaries of international post, you can order directly through her website, but you’ll want to get on that ASAP, as COVID-19 has wrecked the postal system, along with everything else.
As always, we’ll recommend Mark Gardiner’s first and second motorcycle trivia bathroom books that are always great reads that help pass the…time. There is also his story about his own journey to race the Isle of Man TT. Gardiner’s still living in the US, but he’s a Canadian ex-pat and one of the best writers in the biz today (indeed, we were running his work on CMG, before COVID-19 ruined all the fun). His best work might be his collection of Backmarker columns.
On the theme of CMG contributors: Jeremy and Elle are back from their misadventures in South America (COVID ruined the fun, sort of). His most recent moto-tale anthology, Motorcycle Messengers 2, seems to be off of Amazon at this point, but you can try ordering via his website. CMG’s Zac and Mark both have stories in this collection, along with others from people like Lois Pryce, Carla King, Sam Manicom and Ted Simon.
Speaking of Mark, his own moto-book is also a good read. Zen and Now, a retracing of Robert Pirsig’s footsteps in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, should be legally required as a companion volume. It makes more sense of the original book, and frankly, is much better if you’re the type who wonders about all the philosophy in the original.
As for movies: It’s been a tough year for moto-films, what with COVID-19 and all. The whole film industry is in a funk. However, a subscription to Apple TV+ will let you watch Long Way Up, at least (check out our coverage of Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor’s latest adventure here).
Although we’re bound to be stuck indoors this winter, thanks to COVID-19, there will be racing to watch, too. Thankfully, we can watch via TV or Internet viewing subscription. MotoGP and World Superbike seem to have tentative schedules hammered out for 2021, but most of their races don’t start until spring. If you want a quick fix of TV racing that starts right away, Supercross starts on January 16. Plus, you won’t be wasting precious summer riding time watching SX, as it’s mostly over by end of March!
Mid-December, most of us aren’t thinking about riding gear too hard. But, if you want to get a head start on the spring season, heated gear is a must to extend your riding season at either end, so it’s well worth the investment. A company located in British Columbia called Electrowear Manufacturing Ltd. makes a great brand of heated gear called Black Jack. You can visit their website, or check with your local motorcycle shop to see if they carry them.
Same goes for heated grips; if you don’t have them, and you ride in Canada, you need them. Oxford HotHands are sort of a standard; order them off Amazon if you must, but your local dealer should price-match. Or you could go for the ultimate comfort: Kappa handwarmer muffs! Not every rider will like having their hands bundled onto the bars like that, but this should be the most comfortable way to really ride in cold weather.
As for helmets, jackets, gloves, that sort of thing, it’s best if you try on before you buy. If you want something that actually protects your body or head, make sure it fits first. Poorly-fitted gear can cause bad injuries in a crash. If you’re shopping for someone, make sure you know the gear fits, or that you can return it easily for something that does fit. If someone is asking to buy gear for you, then try it on first if possible, to make sure you tell them the right size.
Since every bike’s needs are so different, it’s hard to recommend a universal toolkit for all. The Motion Pro MP Multi-Tool comes pretty close, though. It’s a bit pricey, but it’s an excellent get-you-home tool. We recommend this ever year because it’s that good.
Motion Pro also brought out a new cable lube tool this year, and it’s far superior to the old version. It’s $30, but it pays for itself the first time it saves a cable. Highly worth the money, and you can buy it from FortNine or your local dealer.
Otherwise, a tool kit from CruzTOOLS (available through distributor Kimpex) is a good universal solution if you’ve lost the factory kit off your bike, or if you just want to replace it. Your local dealer should be able to order it in; there are several kits available, all optimized to different makes or machines (everything from Harley-Davidson baggers to BMW ADVers), so specify what bike you have and they can tell you what will work best in your budget.
Can’t afford a Ducati Panigale V4? Maybe you can afford the Lego version, which looks like a lot of fun, even though it isn’t exactly cheap either.
There’s also the Meccano version of the Ducati GP bike, if you’re skint. If that’s too much, even, then start rummaging around your local Canadian Tire/Wal-Mart/dollar store for Hot Wheels motorcycles.
Everyone needs a good moto shirt. With the border such a mess, we’re not giving the usual advice to go buy something from FTWCO, but you can still order stuff from Bret Taylor’s excellent collection on Redbubble. Choppers, scramblers, scooters, street trackers, it’s all there and not very expensive. Check it out here. Taylor is Canadian, and hopefully Redbubble is smart enough to get stuff shipped out without hassles.
As for our traditional Ugly Christmas Sweater recco: This year, you’re taking your chance with the post, but this beauty on Amazon sure seems to fit the bill. Chances are, if we had an actual CMG office Christmas party, at least one of us would be sporting it.