The truth is that most Christmas gifts mirror the personalities of the people who give them. This is why your sister’s husband (or the equivalent pineapple on your family tree) will always give you the drugstore plastic flashlight three-pack in exchange for the bottle of great Scotch.
So why not start to smarten up? I annually contribute to a charity by purchasing a box of light bulbs. I wrapped last year’s shipment and gave them to the family curse. He tore them open and said, “Jack did you mean to give these to me?”
“Are they the 75-watt ones,” I asked back?
“Uh huh,” he replied.
‘Yup. Those are yours. I gave the 50 watt ones to Ed.”
Ideally, what you are hoping for is a surprise gift, that falls into the thoughtful category, and is the real McCoy. In many cases, these attributes add up to expensive... But not always. The best gifts are those that delight every time they are used. And if they are well made, then they will last forever, and so will the memory of the day and the person who gave it to you. This is my short list of great gifts that I like to give my pals and riding buddies. Each item has a moto application, and most are under $30. They make excellent stocking stuffers -- And fine recommendations for those wondering what they should get you.
The Mini Maglite “AA” LED Flashlight
There is nothing more aggravating than to find yourself in the dark with a crumby flashlight that casts an anemic beam or doesn’t work at all. I have had Mini Maglites for more than 15 years. I can never get enough of these.
• 3 Watt LED technology
• Focusable beam
• Built like a brick shithouse
• Made in the USA
Available at Campmor (online) for $22.99
I consider the "AA" Mini Maglite to be essential equipment on my bike
And I really like the power and pure white light of the LED model.
Item #2 (For above)NiteIze Mini Flashlight Holder
The power went out during a vicious ice storm in the Adirondacks, and stayed off for two weeks! These little headbands are like having an extra hand and eliminate holding the light in your mouth.
• A headband that make mini lights “hands free”
Available from Campmor (online) for $4.99
This is like having a third hand. It weights nothing and stays tight around the light.
The Mini Flashlight Holder by NiteIze is standard equipment on my bike too.
Item #3Nissan 1 Pint Silver Bullet Stainless Steel Vacuum Bottle
Did you ever ride off to a great spot on a lake or even the shore on a late fall day and wish for a hot cup of coffee? This pint-sized vacuum bottle from Nissan fits nicely into a top case or a tank bag and keeps coffee hot! The small-sized insulated cup holds about four ounces -- which is perfect for sipping coffee outdoors, without letting it cool off in the cup.
• Stainless steel construction
• Holds a pint
• Fits into topcase or tank bag
Available at Campmor (online) for $19.99
On a cold day, you can have no closer friend than a hot cup of Joe
by the side of a river, valley, or beach -- especially if there is no
coffee shop around. I highly recommend this unit and it has a great price.
E-Z Air Tire Gauge
There are any number of tire pressure gauges out there that will tell you how much air is in your rubber. But there’s only one that makes getting a good reading -- and topping off the pressure -- a snap. The E-Z Tire Pressure gauge snaps onto the valve via a 6” flex hose (perfect for getting around brake rotors) and gives you a clear reading on an analog gauge big enough to see without your glasses! Need to put a few pounds in? No problem! The air pump connects right to the gauge to give you the exact amount you want!
• Larger than you might expect -- fits into the topcase!
• Easy to use and great for those of us with stiff knees!
Available from Whitehorse Gear (online) for $25.00
This remarkable device maintains a tight bite on the valve, gives an accurate reading,
and makes it easy to top off the tire, even working around brake rotors.
Formotion Motorcycle Thermometer (Stick-on)
I love to see the temperature I’m riding in -- especially if its cold. This little stick-on device starts out accuratly enough, but it will read hotter than hell if mounted on your bike’s exposed dash in the summer sun. Still, I like having one. It comes with white number on a black face (or black numbers on a white face) with double-sided adhesive tape.
• Looks cool... Works okay when it is cool out.
Available from Whitehorse Gear (online) $37.95
This picture is about twice as large as the real thing. I like getting data about my riding environment and this works well enough, as long as it's not getting direct summer sun.
Helen Two Wheels Super Pack Straps
These straps come as two 6” lengths and two 5’ lengths. They provide scratch-proof lashings to just about any spot on your bike and eliminate those annoying pongee cords that can let go with disastrous results.
• Work better than pongee cords... Last forever.
• Better to order two sets.
Available from Racer Parts Wholesale (online) $22.00
Helen Two Wheels Super Pack Straps will give you tight lashings anyplace you
can wrap a strap around your frame, without weak knots or pongee cords.
Won't scratch anything either.
Tuthilltown Spirits -- Hudson Manhattan Rye Whiskey
This is the perfect accompaniment to the end of the trail. Hopefully, you’ve had a hot shower and have your feet up. The campfire is glimmering in the otherwise dim lens of the headlight. And you’re holding a Manhattan made with this extraordinary rye whiskey.
Available at select liquor stores in New York City that cater to a better clientele. Click here for more info.
And then again, you might have rated a slightly more expensive gift. Do you do a lot of camping on your bike? Do you attend a lot of regional rallies? Does your ass get tired of sitting on logs, rocks, or picnic bench seats -- especially after a long day in the saddle?
The Incredible Kermit Chair
Then try the famous Kermit Chair. At 5 pounds, it will weigh more than your tent, but offers a great alternative to sitting on anything else. Made of oak with stainless steel fittings, it takes less than a minute to set up with no loose parts. And its rated to hold 350 pounds! It packs to 22” by 3.5.” And order the leg extenders while you’re at it. These raise the seat level to a standard 17.5.”
The chair is $129. The leg extenders are another $30.
• Supports 350 pounds -- tested to much higher!
• Made in the USA!
• Different colors available!
Available from the Kermit Chair Company
The Kermit Chair is without a doubt one of the most civil introductions
to motorcycle camping and rally participation. Great for canoe camping too!
Please note that I have no affiliation with any of these fine products. But I do own all of them and highly recommend each.
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain-- PS (With A Shrug)
A great list of useful moto-related presents! Let's see a pic of you with #2+#1, hmmm?
If I might add some other suggested moto-gifts?
Tire Plugger Kit
CruzTools' M14 Metric MultiTool for Metric Motorcycles
H13 MultiTool for Harleys and other US Bikes
Any of the motorcycle articles books by Peter Egan.
Robert E Fulton Jr's book: One Man Caravan
After you read the book, look at the DVD (usually available through your library system): Twice upon a Caravan
Adventure Touring from a female point of view: Lois on the Loose
Jack... I am ashamed of you... I though you cash starved PR types would have set up a way to make money from this promotion! After all... you make money off the crap your write!
Campbelldr in Wexford!
Dear Charlie6 (Dom):
Great suggestions -- all of them! One of the things I carry is a Leatherman, specifically for doing electrical stuff. It is one third the size of the standard Leatherman and is set up with a wire stripper than can be very useful.
The tire plugger kit is another "must have," but I have discovered that most guys are as particular about tire plugging kits as they are about beer. Thank you for taking the time to make these suggestions. I'm going to treat myself to Fulton's "One Man Caravan."
I hope other folks will suggest stuff as well.
Thanks for your comment.
Hey Dave (Campbell):
It's great to hear from you. And good luck in your new job! It looks like we may actually get to ride together this spring!
One thing that warms the huge cockle of my heart is when readers open up and let me know exactly what they think of my work. You and I think alike Dave!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Jack, nice assortment of bike related Christmas goodies. Like the user friendly tire gauge.
I believe we have the coffee thermos.
Mr. Jack: While I'm sure your choice of Rye is very good I want to turn you on to Templeton Rye. No I have no connection to it other then being from Iowa too.
Great ideas all of them. Great blog also. Thanks for the entertainment.
I'll take one of each.
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