A biker’s guide to Christmas

Dailies -

By

XMAS

What do you give a man or woman who already has motorcycling? That can be more difficult than it sounds. The clothes we wear, the tools we use and the stuff we do is highly specialized, subject to elaborate technical requirements as well as style and taste. Here’s 43 gifts, priced from under $20 to nearly $1,000, all guaranteed not to disappoint.

Shopping for a biker this season? Start here. Ride a bike and want some non-sucky gifts? Send this link to your mom.

$0-25

Riding Photos

Popular destination roads like The Snake in Malibu or The Tail of the Dragon in the Appalachian Mountains have their very own photographers that spend every weekend snapping pics of virtually every rider that comes through, uploading them to the Internet, then selling you digital copies or prints. Every trackday has the same.

Recently, I’ve surprised a few people I’ve helped nurture into better riding with prints from the experience. They have yet to fail at drawing a speechless smile.

The two big ones in SoCal are Victory Jon and RockStore Photos, then there’s KillBoy on the Dragon. Check out their indexes after going riding with a friend or pull up dates from when they last hit those roads. Any pharmacy can knock out 8×10 prints of any digital photo in like 15 minutes. An affordable, personal gift that will excite anyone.

Butler Motorcycle Maps
Assembled by bikers for bikers, these maps highlight the best roads and the best pit stops. Back Country Discovery Routes can be used to easily plan epic adventures. Useful for any rider.

See See Survival Kit

A neat little stocking stuffer from Portland’s coolest café-cum-bike shop. It includes a beanie, a beer koozie and a wood-handled pocket knife. For the dirty hipster.

Howard Leight Earplugs
These are hands down the absolute quietest, most comfortable earplugs you can buy. A box of 200 will last a biker and his buddies (they’ll steal them constantly) at least a year. Each pair is individually wrapped to keep them clean and dry. Due to wind noise, sound levels inside helmets can top 120dB at 85mph. Not only will ‘plugs prevent hearing loss, but can reduce fatigue on longer rides too. For everyone.

$25-50

Aerostich Silk Scarf
On first blush, a silk scarf may seem a bit poofy for a badass biker. But, these things are just amazing. Tuck it into the collar of your jacket or leathers and it’ll keep you warm when its cold or, wet it down, and it’ll keep you cool when it’s hot. Packs down to nothing for easy stowing and it’ll really improve your quality of life while riding. Not just for dandies, the café crowd, adventure riders and anyone doing distance will appreciate it too. Buy it in white and it’ll develop a rugged patina with time.

Aerostich Lightweight Portable Bag

One of those wonderful little products that will leave you wondering how you got by without it. Packs down into its own container that’s about the size of a pack of cigarettes so it’ll fit in a jacket pocket or under a seat. Then, the next time you need to stop and pick something up while out riding, you wont’ be left without a means to carry stuff. I’ve carried as much as a gallon of milk and a six-pack of beer in the year I’ve been using it without tears or visible signs of wear. For everyone.

Poler Wunder Bundler

An imminently versatile insulating wrapping that allows you to keep drinks cold or food hot while heading out riding or camping. Makes it easy to strap a six-pack or some lunch to your bike. For anyone that uses their bike to go camping or does stuff in the outdoors.

Deus T-Shirts

Neat t-shirts that manage to capture the spirit of riding in a not overly testosterone-fueled way. For anyone that doesn’t have a “No Fear” neck tattoo.

Motion Pro 7-Piece T-Handle Socket Set
These will make accessing the bolts on any Japanese bike soooooo much easier. Most garage mechanics lack specialized tools like these, which is a shame, they make working on bikes a pleasure. For anyone that rides a foreign bike.

Deth Killers T-Shirts

Stylish, high-quality t-shirts from Bushwick’s baddest indie fashion label. The giftee should probably be under the age of 40 and live somewhere with tall buildings and electric lights.

Brixton Donez Work Shirt
A rugged, heavyweight flannel work shirt that just seems to go perfect with a leather jacket or while wrenching. For everyone.

Spot 2 GPS Messenger

Do you have a loved one that goes wandering into the wilderness? The Spot communicates with GPS satellites, allowing them not only to call for help in a real emergency, but can upload location data at regular intervals and allow them to send pre-programmed messages to let you know they’re ok too. Huge piece of mind for any adventurer.

SOG Powerlock Multitool
Anyone that does anything needs a solid multitool. This one’s my favorite. The pliers pivot on gears, compounding the leverage you put in to provide additional gripping power. That’s great when things are wet, slipper or rusty. All the tools are user serviceable, replaceable and customizable too. For anyone.

See See iPhone Wallet
A neat leather wallet that doubles as a notepad and wallet, protecting your phone and holding your stuff in a slim package. See See’s a really cool little café/bike shop in Portland, so you can’t go wrong giving anything with its logo attached and this is a good crossover from general purpose gadget to bike style.

4Sevens Quark AA² R5 Flashlight
LED technology is revolutionizing flashlights. This isn’t the trickest or brightest out there, but it’s still many times brighter than a traditional MagLite, you’ll never need to replace the bulb and it’s capable of running continuously for up to 30 days on two standard, universally available AA batteries. For anyone.

Icon Turnbuckle Gloves
Part of Icon’s classy new 1000 collection, these are stylish, understated, high quality shorty gloves that move beyond casual riding thanks to D3O knuckle protectors. For anyone.

RSD Diesel Gloves

These are amazing to look at and feel great to wear. A perfect accompaniment to an old Café Racer or a cruiser.

Aerostich Touchscreen Elkskin Ropers
A modern update on a timeless classic, metallic threads in the fingers enable the use of touch screen devices. The Ropers don’t include modern impact protection, but they’re still a favorite among touring and city riders, who value the classic style, comfort and versatility.

Xena XX6 Disc Lock

Adding a motion sensor alarm to a disc lock creates a killer security device. Perfect for anyone that ever has to park in a city, you’ll be giving the gift of getting to keep your motorcycle.

$100-250

Alpinestars Winter Tech Performance Suit

This little onesie performs a couple important functions. First, the one-piece design eliminates both drafts and bunching/riding up under riding gear. It also makes slipping into and out of a riding suit an absolute breeze. Designed to fit very tightly, it also provides a compression function, keeping you comfy on long rides. Works equally well under leathers or a textile winter suit, this can add much-needed warmth on chilly rides or serve as the basis of a seriously capable winter ensemble. For anyone that complains of the cold.

Deth Killers Asphalt-Resistant Jeans

A seriously stylish pair of jeans designed and made in the USA. Made from a denim weave that’s 16 percent Kevlar, they’re much stronger than your average pair of Levis. This offers some abrasion protection in a crash, but mostly just makes them stand up to the rigors of an active life much better. You probably want to give them to someone that’s not fat and appreciates clothes that fit well.

Spyderco ParaMilitary 2
In my opinion, this is the best folding knife out there. The shape of the S30V stainless steel blade is perfect for a multitude of tasks, it’s got a full-flat grind for easy slicing and batoning, the compression lock is fast and strong and the skeletonized steel liners make the whole thing very rugged. I’ve used mine to split logs, cook food and even pull it out at restaurants to cut up my food. Just can’t stand a dull knife. Anyone that does anything outdoors appreciates a good knife.

ESEE-5

Or, if you’re really getting outside, you want a knife that will never, ever break. With a .25-inch thick blade, the ESEE-5 is probably the most indestructible knife out there. Designed so emergency responders can pound it through a windshield or even a car door and made from 1095, high carbon steel, you’re not going to chip it cutting down a tree and it’s easy to sharpen in the field. Overkill, but the best kind. Give any guy one of these and instantly make all his friends jealous.

Poler “The Man” Tent

This has rapidly become the favorite motorcycle trip tent in my arsenal. Slightly oversized, it can sleep two in a pinch (you’d better really like each other), but that extra room is mostly just useful for keeping all your gear out of the weather with enough space left to stretch out. Mine’s stood up to torrential rain and 65mph winds with no ill-effects. Great value for money, but a bit large and heavy if you’re backpacking. For anyone that camps beside their motorcycle.

Icon Airmada Helmet

One of the best deals in motorcycling, the Airmada is fairly light, very comfy and has probably the best ventilation of any helmet out there. The Stack schemes are the best graphics out there too. Long oval headshape, so it’ll work for anyone that wears an Arai RX-7 or Bell Star.

Bell Custom 500 Helmet

With some great, great paint schemes and a very low-profile shell for a DOT-approved helmet, this is probably the neatest looking open-face helmet out there. Order one of the bright colors or fancy paint schemes, this helmets all about making riding fun. Even safety Nazis wouldn’t mind having one of these in their arsenal for those occasional jaunts through open roads in the middle of nowhere.

Icon Elsinore Boots

Good looking, comfortable, seriously protective boots. They work equally well under (baggy) jeans as they do with leather riding pants or off-road gear and work in all environments thanks to a strong, grippy sole, solid toe and heel boxes, integrated ankle protectors and a large shin plate. For anyone.

Sena SMH-10 Bluetooth Headset

These link up with your phone, enabling you to take calls or listen to music with your helmet on. They also work great for bike-to-bike or rider-to-pillion comms while riding. The speakers are suitably loud and the mic very clear. Better bass reproduction and a little higher volume wouldn’t hurt, but these are still pretty much the best option out there. For anyone that likes music or talking to people.

Kriega R-35 Backpack

Unlike every other backpack brand on the market, the Kriega has been specifically designed to shift loads off the shoulders and instead carry them through the wearer’s chest and hips. That leaves your arms free to control the bike and drastically improves long-distance comfort. Quality is lifetime and every single design feature is seriously clever. The R-35 is the original and biggest Kriega pack (I’ve used mine for trips, grocery shopping and, well, everything, everyday for over 4 years), but anything in their range will do. Absolutely anyone that rides a bike will have their lives improved by getting a Kriega. If you give one gift, give this one.

$250-500

HHI Daypack

It’s not a Kriega, but with style like this, that’s not a problem. The roll-top design is made from heavyweight waxed cotton secured by a thick seatbelt strap. The bottom is reinforced with thick leather. Inside, there’s padded sleeves capable of accepting a laptop as large as 15” or something as small and slim as an iPad or Kindle. Stylish city riders will love this one.

A Trackday
The most fun you can have on a sportsbike, track days are also a great place to advance skill levels, so you’re giving something that’s both fun and practical. There’s tons of operators, just Google “motorcycle track day” and the name of your nearest track. Anyone that loves going fast will really like this gift.

AGV AX-8 Dual

Our favorite ADV helmet is light, distinctive and versatile. Works equally well on dirt or the street, so it’s a great gift for anyone that enjoys riding both and wants to look like a stormtrooper. Long oval headshape.

Nexx XR1R Carbon

The lightest full-face performance helmet you can buy also has the largest field of vision. Made in Portugal, this is a new brand that’s largely unknown but is seriously shaking up the helmet marketplace with strong innovation. Anyone that dressed up in a leather onesie on the weekends would kill for one of these.

RSD Ronin Jacket
Each panel on Roland’s flagship jacket wears, breaks in and ages differently, creating a totally personal look. The best leather jacket design since the Schott Café Racer is utterly timeless. Make sure you order the optional body armor and back protector too. Anyone and it looks as good off the bike as on.

RedVerz Series II Expedition Tent

A little ridiculous, but then sometimes the best gifts are. This one-man tent includes a garage area so you cuddle your bike at night, out of the rain. ADV riders with tons of room or people that like going to bike rallies will probably like this one.

Dainese Café Boots
Streetwear looks, real riding protection. Dainese adds a strong sole, thick plastic toe and heal boxes, a gear shift protector and ankle impact protection to the classic boot formula. For city folk that like to look good.

Alpinestars Supertech R
There’s no sport rider out there that wouldn’t benefit from an upgrade to the Supertech R. I’ve had several large crashes or impacts in mine and haven’t harmed so much as an ingrown toenail or callous. That protection comes from a Daytona-style inner bootie that controls ankle movement and a rugged outer that deals with impacts and abrasion. For enthusiasts of fast riding.

GoPro Hero3

Indulge the inner narcissist in everyone by giving them the ability to shoot 1080p HD video of their riding exploits. The Hero3 is more rugged, longer lasting and higher quality, plus it’ll sync with your computer via WiFi, enabling easy downloads. Just be prepared to sit through the 21st century equivalent of the old travel slide show, you’ll never look as fast on video as you remember riding. For everyone.

$500-1,000

No-Mar Classic Tire Changer

“It is awesome,” writes our friend Chuck. “Seriously seriously awesome. We’ve done three sets of tires already. Couldn’t be easier, even when manhandling a relatively stiff sidewall like the BattleAx BT-23 GT. Best $645 we’ve spent — a friend and I went in 50-50 on one. Seriously — get one.”

Schuberth SR1

Currently the fanciest helmet out there, unwrapping one of these on Christmas morning will result in wet pants, guaranteed. Developed by F1 champ Michael Schumacher, the SR1 makes advances in weight, aerodynamics, ventilation and fit. For any serious sport rider with a long oval head shape.

Icon 1000 Chapter Jacket

The first jacket to ever take full advantage of D3O armor, the Chapter is cut to fit without bulk or obstruction. Then figuring in the buttery soft leather, this thing fits like a second skin right from the off. Anyone will like one of these, just be aware that the black version is a little flashy with all those red zips. We recommend the brown or grey.

Aerostich Roadcrafter

The last word in practical motorcycle attire, you zip a roadcrafter on over your street clothes (in like 15 seconds) and are instantly protected against crashes and the weather. As an added bonus, you can wear a business suit underneath it without that getting wrinkled. If you want to give the absolute best, this is it. A myriad of custom options allows you to have it built bespoke for the intended wearer and, if it needs adjustment, they’ll handle that without hassle. This will absolutely improve the life of any rider, but ones naturally inclined to wear full protection will appreciate it most.

A Vanson Jacket

The best leather jackets, bar none. So thick and tough it’ll take them years to break in, you’re giving a gift that will last a lifetime and adapt itself so well to its wearer that it becomes a fundamental part of their personality. Once you wear a Vanson, you’ll feel naked in anything less. I wear an AR2 retrofitted with Alpinestars BioArmor, the Cobra includes protection as standard.

What gift ideas have worked for you in the past? What are you hoping to get this year?

A note on helmet fit: with motorcycle helmets, fit is the single most important factor. It’s not just a question of size, every person has their own unique head shape and helmets, too, come in a variety of shapes to suit. If it a helmet doesn’t fit properly, it will be less safe and less comfortable. We recommend ordering helmets through a retailer like RevZilla, which offers a no-hassle, no-cost return policy which, if you’re ordering now, will extend until after Christmas. If a helmet doesn’t fit properly, exchange it for one that does.

  • Dennis Bratland

    If Vanson jackets are the best why do they need to be retrofitted with armor?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      They make plenty of styles with armor. I wanted a jacket that didn’t come with it.

    • the antagonist

      Several Vanson jackets come with armor, just not that particular model.

  • Ben

    A local shop turned me off from both the Elsinore boots, due to a number of returns when buckles broke. Not that I was considering them, though. Some cool ideas on this list.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gavin.todd.75 Gavin Todd

      You can get extra buckles, I swithched to the el bajos though for all day comfort.

      • Ben Wipperman

        I’m glad that you can replace the buckles, but the reports I heard involved premature breaking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottpargett Scott Pargett

    Nice list, thanks. I purchased the silk scarf for a riding buddy last christmas. The DK jeans are a great gift for any 2-wheeler closer in your life.

    • the antagonist

      Do you have the DK jeans? Are they like slim fit, or full on skinny fit? I’m really interested in a pair, but my thighs don’t fit in skinny jeans.

      • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

        They’re more slim than skinny. Fit true to size.

      • Jesse

        I’m a solid 34/34. I have a pair that I’m still breaking in, and they fit pretty spot on.

  • Tommy Erst

    fwd’ed to my gf and faily.

  • Charlie

    Vintage Vanson is the call. What a great article. I need so many things, including that blade. The only gift I would add is some Gerbings electric gloves. For those of us wrestling with the elements

  • Mark D

    The Aerostich silk scarf is awesome. Soak it in the sink, and it make 100 degree slogs through Sacramento almost tolerable. Let it dry, and it keeps you warm up in Tahoe!

    • roma258

      Never tried it in the heat, but it’s awesome when the temps get chilly and oh so comfy.

  • BillW

    I’m considerably less enamored with my Spot tracker after actually needing to use it recently. My clutch let go, leaving me with no drive. Pulling over, my phone was going between “Searching…” and “No Service”, so I hit the roadside assistance button on my Spot (and yes, I paid the extra subscription fee for roadside assistance).
    1) Spot service tried to call my cell, and couldn’t get through. So they called my registered emergency contacts, my wife and daughter, and told them that Spot had received an assistance call from me but they couldn’t reach me. They failed to specify that I had NOT requested medical assistance (that’s a different button). Result: paniced wife and daughter, imagining me bleeding in a roadside ravine.
    2) It’s got a GPS, right? I somehow got a phone call from the local tow company, and they asked for my location. Luckily, the call stayed up just long enough for me to give it. Hello? Luckily that call came through, or I might still be stuck in Tennessee! The whole point is that SPOT is supposed to work where cell phones don’t!
    3) When I sent a complaint email, I got a response that I my request had been assigned case number XXX.XXXXXX. No, I’m not deleting the number for privacy. The response email actually had Xs for the case number. And no further reply has been forthcoming.

    I sure hope the “SOS” button, which is supposed to alert Search and Rescue, actually results in my location being reported to the SAR service.

  • MeatyBeard

    There goes all my monies. Thanks a lot.

  • http://twitter.com/GeneCash Gene Cash

    Ugh. Fucking christmas. The best part of christmas is December 26th, when you know you don’t have to put up with it for another 364 days.

    My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving when all my friends get together and have a nice dinner. No goddamned presents hassle/stress. (except afterwards there’s a week where I can’t go on the roads because of all the christmas shopping fucktards who drive like even worse assholes than usual.)

    • roma258

      I hear ya, but this here is some pretty awesome swag, agreed?

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke]

    The Frogg Toggs bandanna, although not nearly as stylish as a white scarf, will hold more water and will therefore keep you cooler longer during hot riding days. Plus, you can oftentimes find it on sale for $11 or less. This summer, on several multi-day rides totaling 4000 miles during the hottest days of July, it came in very handy. The plastic storage container that it comes in is about water-bottle sized. I got into the habit of rinsing (or washing as needed) the bandanna every night, and packing it away soaked into its container in the early morning. Then, when the temperature went up during the day, I’d pull it out to fight the heat.

    A great, low-cost, utilitarian stocking stuffer.

  • Campisi

    After clicking through to the Vanson website, I am no longer shocked at how much money they wanted for the tour jackets at the Rush concert I went to last month.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kallen71 Kyle Allen

      Speaking of Rush… Neil Peart wearing his #Aerostich Transit Suit

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.c.knapp.3 Justin C Knapp

    I guess comparing the RS Design Ronin with armor to the AR2 is like comparing apples and oranges?? looking at both for a tour.. Will the Ronin hold up with armor?? Or are we looking at a jacket leaning more in the direction of fashion? I understand the Vanson is super tough, thick and durable (no armor) but can be put in later. I was just more interested in the Ronin. What are your thoughts Wes for a cross country tour with a leather jacket in August?? Thanks

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Riding cross country, you probably want a littler more riding gear on than just a leather jacket.

      As noted above, Vanson does make several styles with (really good) armor.

      The Ronin’s a really nice-looking jacket that’s made to work on a motorcycle or in a crash.

  • Dustin B

    How did I not know about Poler stuff? Dangit.

  • YOLO4JESUS420

    Thank you! I was pulling my hair thinking about what to get the bf. Too bad the Butler maps don’t have any east coast rides – any suggestions for a publisher that does?

    • HoldenL

      For his trips to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Dragon, and environs, I recommend America Rides Maps. I found them useful for selecting my own routes and wandering around without getting lost.

      MAD Maps are more well-known and wider-used. I don’t find them as useful, because the maps outline precise, pre-defined routes. But a lot of people prefer it that way.

      • Blixa

        Thank you so much! Greatly appreciated.

  • Chris Davis

    I has motorcycling and I would like to has at least one of each in return for post witty comments with insight.

  • F H

    Seems like there are some people on here who know and love Deathkillers… has anyone treated themselves to one of these?

    http://www.dethkillers.com/dethstore/leather_1.html

  • http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic

    Great list. Lots of cool stuff. I sent it to the Lovely Wife, and she was impressed by the completeness of it. Thanks for the ideas and making me want more stuff than I would ever use.

  • Heatsoak

    Slight correction on the Schuberth: NOT ideal for people with long-oval head shapes.

    Another good present: gift certificate at any place that sells tires!

    • HammerheadFistpunch

      Tires – word to that.
      Actually, what’d REALLY be a gift is a tire changing machine to mount these newfangled radial tires. The online retailers can get the exact tire I want to my door in a day or two, the problem is getting down to the shop to get it put on, hoping the Tire Guy is there that day, and hope against hope they manage to mount & balance it properly.
      This isn’t even getting into the $20-30 they get to mount the carried-in tire.

  • cds

    Daddy needs a new pair of Daytona Urban GTX boots. size 45, pls. Last pair kept my feet dry and secure for 10 years. Pricey but worth it.

  • atgatthd

    Sweet write up Wes, thanks!

  • Khali

    Really nice list, got some great ideas (things to ask for as gifts).

  • thecrumb

    I have a brand new Stich sitting in box next to the tree. I know what it is but the Wife won’t let me open it until Xmas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.howard.9889 Michael Howard

    The Kriega R35 is great but it’s not waterproof, which is pretty much my main requirement for moto luggage. My R30′s main compartment is totally waterproof (it’s a roll-top “drypack”) and only gives up 5-liters of capacity to the R35′s 35-liters. About $30 more.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.fuisz Tony Fuisz

    Thanks Wes! Santa brought me a Kriega backpack and a tent thanks to this list!

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      That sounds like a great christmas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alherb Frank W Jones

    Local Hell’s Angels had a Secret Santa.. they all got each other the silk scarf.. local track day wasnt as popular, go figure?

  • Porter

    Got the R25. Wishing I’d gone for the 35. Not much room left after I put the laptop in it. PBR is for the weak, by the way.