1. Honda CB750 by Mick Duckworth highlights one of the most important bikes of the 1970s, and what is considered by many to be the original Superbike. Launched in 1969, Honda’s first four-cylinder roadster revolutionized the motorcycle market, setting new standards of sophistication, user-friendliness and reliable high performance. A mix of period photos and excellent contemporary studio and outside images brings the CB750 into focus as the important and beautiful bike is was and still is. Competition history is included, as is a section of CB750 offshoots like the Rickman CR750 and Honda’s own Super Sports version. A must for the committed CB750 fan. Price: $39.95.
2. Sooner or later, if you have a motorcycle, you’re going to need a trailer. The latest and greatest (and one we’re trying out here at Motorcycle Classics) is the Cruiser Trailer from Baxley Trailer Company. Based on the company’s popular ST001 Sport Bike Trailer, it’s a bit longer to accommodate larger motorcycles. It’s a simple and effective design that’s also relatively easy to assemble with just a few hand tools — and a buddy. We had ours together in about an hour and a half and were impressed with the quality. The frame is powder-coated box-section steel, and while it weighs just 315 pounds, it will haul an 850-pound cycle safely and securely. Very cool. Price: $2,400, plus shipping.
3. The Art of BMW by Peter Gantriis is a beautiful coffee-table book featuring brilliant, colorful photos of BMW’s classic models along with detailed descriptions of their features. But it’s not your typical year-by-year model history book. Instead, it collects 32 different BMW models, from 1925 on, and looks at them as objects of art, with BMW history the happy by-product of the examination. The older models come from the collection of well-known BMW enthusiast Peter Nettesheim, who is shown in his shop in the forward of the book. Price: $40.
4. What classic motorcycle aficionado wouldn’t want a 1948 Indian Chief sitting in their garage? Buying raffle tickets for this year’s AMA Raffle Bike, the lovingly restored Chief shown here, supports the important work of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum and gives you a chance at having that beautiful Chief for yourself. Tickets can be purchased online at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum website for $5 per ticket or $20 for five tickets. The winner will be announced at AMA Vintage Days at Mid-Ohio in July 2012.
5. Norton Commando: The Complete Story by Matthew Vale is a definitive look at the most popular Norton model of all. Examining the history and development of the Commando, Vale’s new book gives specifications, outlines model changes, and provides a good brief on Commando competition history. Little-known bits of history — ever heard of the Norton 76, a proposed successor to the Commando? — make for interesting reading, and riding experiences of past and present owners, along with plenty of upgrade tips and ideas, make for great reading. It also includes a blow-by-blow account of the author’s restoration of a 1971 750cc Commando. Price: $34.95.
6. The New Year is here, and if you don’t have a 2012 calendar yet, allow us to suggest getting yourself one that features great British motorcycles. Pick your poison: Triumph or Norton, straight from the fine folks at Baxter Cycle in Marne, Iowa. The Classic Triumph Calendar features a nice mix of the older Triumphs you’d expect including Bonnies, Trophys, T-birds, a Trident and more, along with a lovely Nineties Daytona sportbike. The Classic Norton Calendar sticks to classic Norton singles and twins, with a good selection of various Commandos throughout. Price: $20 each (plus $5 shipping).
7. Remember our story about the Redneck Gyro? Here’s the gift we want: A gift certificate for a RetroTour. Buy your buddy a gift certificate for a two-day tour — and get yourself one while you’re at it. $200 gets you two days aboard one or possibly a few different classic bikes, depending on the tour you sign up for. This includes bike rental and the damage waiver for two days. Additional days are just $75 apiece if you’d like to go on a longer trip. (Motels, meals and gas are the riders’ responsibility.) RetroTours is working on a schedule of tours for 2012, and the details should be up on the RetroTours website by the middle of January. Ask about scheduling a custom trip; RetroTours is all about unique experiences. Price: $200 and up.
8. Around here we’re addicted to motorcycles (surprise) and coffee, too, which means one can never have too many motorcycle-related coffee mugs. Fresh from the folks at Aerostich comes this nifty “Motorcycles OK” drink receptacle. The sign on the mug is an exact replica of the signs found in California above the HOV lanes, reminding us that bikes are transportation, too, and in many cases, transportation with benefits versus the four-wheeled alternative. Price: $6.
9. Modern Motorcycle Mechanics by J.B. Nicholson was first published in 1942. The author, together with his brother, Lawrence, had opened Nicholson Bros. Motorcycles in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1933, where they imported DOT, Calthorpe and Douglas motorcycles. By 1935 they had transformed the business into a fledgling mail order parts supply house. This book, one of the first comprehensive texts regarding the operation and maintenance of motorcycles of the day, resulted from their efforts. It was sold in well-known shops and by greats such as Floyd Clymer in his motoring catalogs, and by the brothers themselves. Full of J.B.’s clear and concise service and maintenance information, and ever-handy clearance and settings charts for several different makes and models, the Seventh Edition Reprint of Modern Motorcycle Mechanics is 766 pages — just like the original. The book covers everything from setting the timing on a single-cylinder Lucas magneto to rebuilding the engine of a Harley-Davidson 45. Price: $49.
10. In Travelling with Mr. Turner, author Nigel C. Winter takes a fascinating ride on a modern Triumph with Triumph’s great designer, Edward Turner, following Turner’s 1953 publicity ride to John O’Groats aboard a 150cc Triumph Terrier. The fact that Mr. Winter wasn’t actually there for Mr. Turner’s ride only makes this book shine brighter, as Winter treats readers to a unique perspective on Turner, Triumph and British motorcycle industry history, re-examining Turner’s ride through the dual lenses of yesterday and today. Uniquely told, it’s a thoroughly interesting and enjoyable read. Price: $16.99.
11. The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing by Melissa Holbrook Pierson is a story about the pleasures and perils of compulsive long-distance motorcycling and one man’s mission to outride everyone else. It follows the story of John Ryan, a diabetic, middle-aged man who loves nothing better than riding impossible distances at no small risk to himself. Buy why? The author, a longtime motorcyclist who gained fame in our circle for her 1998 book The Perfect Vehicle: What is it About Motorcycles, chronicles the gratifications of long-distance riding as well as the challenges and solitude that accompany it. Important for its critical insight into why we ride, it also represents Ms. Pierson’s re-entry into the world of motorcycles. Engrossing and thoroughly intriguing. Price: $24.95.
12. We love the designs of these cool Nicholson Bros. Motorcycles T-shirts. The logo was created to commemorate the shop and the Modern Motorcycle Mechanics manuals (see #9). The short-sleeve shirts are available in two designs, one on a black shirt and one on a charcoal shirt. The long-sleeve shirt, available in black, highlights the publishing dates of the seven editions of Modern Motorcycle Mechanics. Price: $25 (short sleeve), $35 (long sleeve). MC