By Gabe Ets-Hokin
Holiday time! But what are the best gifts for the motorcyclists in your life? Something moto-related, obviously...but you want it to be something they'll use (and make them think of how fantastic and thoughtful you are, of course). We came up with some easy-to-find, affordable suggestions.
What? Earplugs? Of course your loved one already has a set of earplugs, and of course they're from EarPeace, the leader in high-tech hearing protection. But do they have the latest and greatest? Our new Moto Pro with the next-gen Ultra-fi filters protect your hearing while enhancing audio quality at a safe volume, so if they ride with some kind of helmet audio system it's a must-have item.
Odds are your moto-giftee has other non-motorcycle activites that require hearing protection. EarPeace offers products for musicians, safety/industrial use and even our super-comfy SLEEP ear plugs. You could also toss in a new set of filters if they want to change up their level of protection.
Let's go from hearing protection to the exact opposite: ear-splitting noise making. We've heard the “loud pipes save lives” trope, and it may be true, but loud pipes also annoy your neighbors, attract attention from our friends in law enforcement and may damage your hearing, even with our outstanding products properly inserted. But we also need to be heard in emergencies—it's sometimes a matter of life or death.
So why do so many motorcycles with apocalyptic-sounding exhausts have horns that sound like a coughing squirrel? Upgrading your horn to a properly loud two-tone system is surprisingly cheap and easy. Check out the Denali Soundbomb or Kuryakyn Wolo Deluxe Bad Boy—they install in minutes and will make inattentive drivers think they're about to get broadsided by a cement mixer.
Your moto loved-one likely has bins of gloves, gloves for all seasons and all reasons. Now they can send some of them to Goodwill if they install a nice set of heated grips. Again, these are easy to install and like all heated gear, they'll make a rider wonder why it took them so long to get them. We like the Bikemasters—they mount in minutes and though they don't get rotisserie hot, they also don't draw much current and do the job in the temperature ranges sane riders venture into. There are cheaper alternatives, but these require more work to install, and late-model bikes usually have factory accessory systems that are much more expensive but are warrantied and work great.
Do iPhone photos shot with you and your sweetie look like the lens is coated with Vaseline? It might have a broken zoom lens—a known issue that is probably caused by carrying that expensive, delicate device on buzzy, shaky motorcycle handlebars in a solid phone mount. We've gone through three iPhone 11s in two years because of this and have decided a zipped-up pocket is the best place for your little electronic friend.
However, some of us just must have the bringer-of-all-things in their line of sight all day, every day, no matter what, so at least be sure they have a vibration-fighting smartphone mount like this one from Quad Lock. It installs easily and reviewers swear it keeps their phone from becoming a silicon milkshake.
We don't mean something Samuel L. Jackson would wear. We mean cool like to keep your skin temperature cool. As you read in our “Make Every Day a Riding Day” story (you did read it, right?), heat exhaustion and its big brother, heat stroke, pose a serious safety risk to hot-weather riders, and most of us make the mistake of wearing as little clothing as possible. Not only does that risk gruesome abrasion injuries, the sunburn and instant evaporation of sweat makes it harder—almost impossible—for your body to regulate your internal temperature.
Instead, do like the Bedouin and bundle up when it's hot. Wearing a wind-blocking layer can maintain a cooler microclimate underneath, especially if you're wearing a damp vest, shirt or scarf made of “phase-change” materiel. The slow evaporation creates an air-conditioning effect, and can work in triple-digit temps. We've had amazing results from LD Comfort's apparel.
For humid climates, there are vests that feature reusable packs of chemicals that you freeze and then enjoy the extended cooling effects for several hours; these you can find on Amazon for reasonable prices.
A Place for Stuff
If you don't want to shell out any dough for your special biker (understandable), why not give them an absence of stuff instead? Take some time to clear out a closet, armoire, cabinet or garage space so they'll have room for riding gear, tools, helmets or—the most precious gift of all—room for another bike. Because the perfect number of motorcycles = (number of motorcycles)+1.
Sure, the Internet is full of free motorcycle content, but most of it is amateurish or uninformative (this space excepted, of course). If that motorcyclist is of a certain age, they'll remember when their hair was lush and thick, their tires were skinny and slippery, and long-forgotten places called “newsstands” sold dozens—hundreds—of different glossy moto-magazines packed with great motorcycle reviews and lifestyle stories photographed, edited and written by experienced professionals. Weird, right?
Well, time hasn't ruined everything. In fact, it's preserved something awesome, the print motorcycle magazine, except now their beautiful, painstakingly crafted, coffee table-worthy heirlooms. There's still a surprising number of print publications out there, including Iron & Air, Meta, Roadracing World, ADV Moto and Road Runner.
No matter how long they've been riding, a rider can always benefit from continuing rider education, whether it's a dirt-bike school, a flat-track competition class like American Supercamp, or some knee-scraping with a favorite trackday provider. Maybe kids or career have gotten in the way of them really pursuing their passion—you can make their year by letting them get away for a day or two.
Ride safe, have fun and Happy Holidays from EarPeace!