Gift giving is about the art of the possible – that is the possibility of bringing a smile to a friend or loved one who loves motorcycling. Motorcyclists may know what they want, but what they need might be something else altogether. Finding and satisfying that need is the “possible” we want to help you achieve.
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We’ve assembled 10 great gift ideas that will make any motorcyclist happy, and sport touring riders will especially love. In fact, if you ride you might take our list as a personal shopping guide and that’s okay too.
Idea #1 Books About Motorcycling
Sometimes the next best thing to riding is reading about riding. The number of books on motorcycling cover everything from riding skills to adventure stories. Here are two recommendations.
For the rider who enjoys an adventure tale with historical significance, consider The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara (barnesandnoble.com). First published in 1993, this story chronicles a nine month period in the early 1950’s when the author and a friend doubled up on an old Norton motorcycle to explore South America.
For riders who are looking for tips on better riding, take a look at A Twist of the Wrist II by Keith Code (superbikeschool.com/shop). While the cover illustration and subtext suggest the book is for aspiring racers, in fact any street rider will ride safer, more confidently, and ultimately faster by developing the skills Keith explains.
If you feel like super-sizing your gift, toss in a class at Keith’s California Superbike School (suberbikeschool.com). Your very appreciative motorcycle riding friend will go beyond reading to hands-on coaching while riding one of the school’s BMW S1000RR’s.
Find more motorcycle book ideas in our review of three books worth a read.
Idea #2 Tire Repair Kit
A flat tire will spoil any day on the road, but for motorcyclists it’s the worst. Without a spare, and often far from services, riders have to be self-reliant. A tire repair kit can make the difference between a long walk and a quick fix than gets them to a shop for a more permanent repair. Motorcycle tire repair kits are designed for tubeless tires, which virtually every motorcycle sold in the last 40 years has. Repair steps are straightforward: a) find the leak; b) clean out the leak; c) insert a plug; and, d) reinflate the tire. The better kits include everything that’s needed. Browse the major motorcycle etailers, Revzilla, Cycle Gear, and SportbikeTrackGear, to find a kit that fits your needs .
Make your gift extra thoughtful by adding a tire pressure gauge. Proper tire pressure is essential for good handling and safe riding. You can learn more in the article How to Pick the Right Tire Gauge.
Read How to Repair a Motorcycle Flat Tire for more on tire repairs.
Idea #3 Motorcycle GPS
Better than a best friend riding shotgun, the voice of a GPS navigator is calming reassurance for any motorcyclist in unfamiliar surroundings. Paraphrasing an early advertisement from Garmin, a leader in portable GPS navigation, “with GPS you’re never lost”.
That covers the fundamentals, but modern GPS devices are increasingly similar to the screen found in cars today. That is, the GPS connects the all the devices around the motorcyclist in one place. They’re all there – phone, music, and comm systems, even email and text alerts.
For more about the Garmin XT read Zumo XT Review – The Latest in Motorcycle GPS.
Idea #4 Rider Communication System
While riding with on-board GPS at times may create the illusion of having a friend along, but no one would say it’s like actually chatting. An in-helmet communication system, from Sena or Cardo for example, can bring friends right into the moment. And more than that, a comms system integrates live radio, streaming music, and GPS audio. In effect, comms puts you “in the room” with friends while staying fully connected to the devices that make the ride enjoyable and safe.
Two stand-out blue-tooth headsets are worth a look. First the Sena Quantum Series 50C system (www.sena.com) includes a built-in 4k video camera along with premium sound and the latest communication technology for reliable connections over extended distances. Our second suggestion is the Cardo Packtalk series (www.cardosystems.com). Using Bluetooth technology, this product allows seamless connections between riders in what Cardo calls “dynamic mesh technology” allowing any device to connect with any other device in the group. It’s pretty slick.
Both the Sena and Cardo are about the same size and shape, mount outside the helmet, and use a combination of buttons and wheels to select features. Either will take several hours of practice to use instinctively but they have functionally equivalent interfaces.
Read the Packtalk review to learn more about a motorcycle communication systems.
Idea #5 Motorcycle Earplugs
Let’s face it, no matter what the helmet maker says there’s no such thing as a quiet ride at or above highway speeds. It’s just plain gets noisy. So much so that between the sound of the wind and engine, it becomes virtually impossible to hear much less understand GPS instructions, music, and just about everything else coming out of your helmet speakers. Worse, data show that as noise levels increase so does stress. Riding should be about de-stressing, and for that earplugs are a must. Disposable earplugs certainly work, but they tend to indiscriminately blur or muffle both the sound you want and those you don’t. Two great choices in reusable earplugs are Eargasm (eargasm.com) and Loop (us.loopearplugs.com). Both use filtering technology to lower noise by about 20 decibels while still letting what you want to hear come though clearly.
Read the article Eargasm Hearing Protection for Riders to learn more about these innovative products.
Idea #6 Helmet Lock
For all the features manufacturers build into their sport touring bikes, surprisingly a secure place for your helmet is not one of them. And yet, everyone at some point finds themselves weighing the risk of leaving their helmet on the bike against the inconvenience of carrying it along. A helmet lock tilts the scale in favor of leaving the helmet behind.
Locks come in many designs but follow two common patterns. The first uses a cable looped through the helmet and a suitable point on the bike. The other employs a lockable clip attached to the bike frame. Helmet locks provide value in two important ways. Most importantly, locks help ensure no one casually walks off with your helmet. And secondly, they ensure passers-by don’t accidently bump your helmet off the bike. Kuryakyn (www.kuryakyn.com) offers several locks including a frame mounted option. Revzilla (www.revzilla.com) also sells a wide range of lock options worth exploring. Which lock works best depends on personal preference and motorcycle frame design.
Read Practical Motorcycle Security for Touring Rides to learn more about securing your motorcycle and gear.
Idea #7 Battery Trickle Charger
Few things are as disappointing after a long winter as a dead battery just before the first ride of the season. Your motorcycle may look like nothing’s going on during those idle months, but in fact the battery keeps on powering small background systems like the clock. Over time the accumulation of these so called “parasitic draws” will drain the battery. A trickle charger functions in the opposite direction, by continuously delivering a low-level charge that ensures the battery is always topped up and ready to go. There are several trickle chargers designed for use on a motorcycle.
The most popular choice comes from Battery Tender (www.batterytender.com). Their products are reasonably priced and include everything needed for convenient use on most any motorcycle.
Idea #8 Cold Weather Gloves
Oddly, hands don’t shiver but cold hands do make operating a motorcycle just a little harder and that in turn makes riding a little less enjoyable. Cold fingers have a hard time finding turn signal buttons and reaching for clutch and brake controls. A good pair of cold weather gloves are essential during rides on cooler days.
The right choice of course is a matter of taste. For sport touring riders, gauntlet style gloves and cuff length gloves are most popular. A gauntlet style covers the wrist area offering a bit more warmth and wind protection, while cuff length gloves are easier to tuck under a jacket sleeve helping to keep rain from running inside the glove. Other considerations to think about include use of waterproof material, level of insulation for warmth, and screen-friendly fingertips. Here’s an option in each style from two leaders in motorcycle apparel, Dainese (www.dainese.com) and Alpinestars (www.alpinestars.com).
Idea #9 Motorcycle Cover
Think of a motorcycle cover as your portable garage. Carried along on the tail rack, it’s ready to do double duty at the end of a ride. Most people think about covering their motorcycle to keep it clean and protected from weather. But that’s one purpose. The second is to keep curious eyes and hands off the bike. A good motorcycle cover is a surprisingly effective first layer of security.
Learn more about picking a cover that works for your bike and the kind of riding you have in mind in how to pick a motorcycle cover
Idea #10 Take Along Toolkit
Motorcycle toolkits are like an insurance policy you hope to never use. Fortunately, modern motorcycle quality and durability has significantly reduced the chances that a rider finds him or herself stranded for mechanical reasons. Instead, tools are more often used to make ad-hoc fixes to self-induced problems such as a broken mirror. A high quality multi-tool together with the tools that come with most motorcycles will handle most roadside repairs.
It’s the Thought That Counts
There you have it – 10 great gift ideas for the motorcycle rider in your life. Everything from books about motorcycling to useful gear for touring riders. Happy gifting!
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