Holiday 2010 Gift Ideas for the Biker in Your Life

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For a lot of people, Harley Davidson is synonymous with motorcycle–but for actual riders this isn’t the case. Unless they actually ride a Harley, or are just riding something else while saving for a Harley, chances are they don’t want a coffee mug, teddy bear or shirt with that familiar orange and black logo on it. 

Similar to if you kept buying a classic rock fan Elvis merchandise. Harley and Elvis have more gift-able merchandise than just about any other brand in their  categories, but the Beatles fan wants an Elvis “All Shook Up” snow globe about as much as the BMW rider wants a fringed leather vest with a Harley logo. On top of all that, most tie-in merchandise is pretty useless and riding gear is kind of a personal thing with most people. They want it to fit, they want it to work and they may have a preference as to brand, color and size–especially when it comes to protective gear. Once a Shoei helmet or Alpinestars boot saves their bacon in a crash, they never want to use anything else.

So what can you get the loved one in your life who rides a motorcycle?  Read on for some simple suggestions, but first one important question: What kind of bike, or bikes, do they have? If they have more than one it makes it easier–and most riders have more than one. Most bikers have exactly one too many, or one too few, depending on who you ask.

Check the garage when they aren’t around and make a note of which brand bike they have. Is it a big black and chrome Harley-like thing, or even a Harley? Is it skinny and tall with no license plate and really bumpy tires? Is it plastic and swoopy and looks like it can transform into a robot if you press the right buttons? And finally, what brand is it? (It usually says on the tank.)

If it’s a tall skinny dirt bike like a Ducati (or other racy sport bike), feel free to give the gift of a massage or a trip to the chiropractor. After a few hours off road on a dirt bike, it will help fight the dreaded arm pump and sooth sore legs and backs.

Ducatis are notorious for having the raciest riding position and after a weekend scrunched into a racer tuck, it may take a stretch on the rack to get you back to your full upright position.

But hey, no one complains that they can’t haul plywood in a Ferrari, do they? If you want to be the fastest, and look the fastest, sacrifices must be made.

One of the best gifts around, no matter what they ride, is lessons. Now the Harley rider most likely isn’t going to want to go to the California Superbike School, but there are dirt track oval schools  that will teach all kinds of things about bike control–and Harleys rule the dirt tracks.

Sport bike schools and track day providers have sprung up all over the place in recent years. Some of these even let you use their bikes and safety gear, so you can get your feet wet on a race track or a different type of bike without too much commitment.

If you know what brand the ride and they have more than one of that brand, then I’d consider it a safe bet to buy them some sort of tie-in casual gear. You know the sort of thing: Hats, t-shirts, socks, blankets, banners, sneakers, mugs, etc.

Metro Racing is a good source for this stuff, as they have gotten the rights to reproduce just about all the old logos from bike companies over the years.  Siege is an artist and a racer out of the Pac-North West who makes some really cool vintage looking shirts that you won’t see everywhere. 

And you can always go with this AMAzing classic as well.

If they ride in the dirt you can’t go wrong with “Monkey Butt!”  Rick was there when the dirt bike was being invented and he tells some funny stories, many of which are true.

For other riders here are some more can’t miss titles:

“Shop Class as Soulcraft” by Micheal Crawford, “Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig, “Hells Angels” by Hunter S. Thompson, either of the Peter Egan collections from Cycle World or, on a slightly more technical side, the Kevin Cameron “Top Dead Center” collections from the same magazine.

If they don’t do much reading, or it’s just too dark to read, why not DVDs?

“The World’s Fastest Indian” was not only a good movie about motorcycle, it was a good movie. “On Any Sunday” from the 1970s is a classic, no matter what you ride. And if you can find a copy of “Little Fauss & Big Halsey” with Robert Redford, you will enjoy him playing the total jerk for a change.

Also, I can’t speak for everyone, but I enjoy the bad 60s and 70s biker exploitation/drive-in B movies, and you can get a whole pile of those for about $20.

Last, when all else fails, you can try a gift card to any major bike retailer, many of whom are on Savings.com. You can also get AMA gift memberships, so someone is looking out for all the riders out there.

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