12 gifts for the vintage motorcycle fan on your list.
1. Every year the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame museum raffles off a different vintage motorcycle to raise funds for the museum, and the tradition continues for 2013. This year’s bike is a 1943 Indian 741 custom bobber, which will be awarded to some lucky winner during AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, in July 2013. Buy a ticket and give yourself — or a friend — a chance at owning a lovely vintage Indian, and support the Hall of Fame Museum in the process. Tickets are $5 each, or $20 for five tickets.
2. We see a lot of different motorcycle jackets around here; leather ones, nylon ones, denim ones, you name it. But we hadn’t seen a wool-looking one until now. From the folks at Chrome Bag Store, who have been making cool bicycle messenger bags and more since 1995, comes the Ike, made from a breathable, polyester, wool-like twill fabric with wind-stopper front panels, a two-way zipper and pit vents. It also features a longer torso and sleeves to keep you covered when in the riding position. No, it’s not a full-on motorcycle jacket: There’s no armor. But it is a well-fitted jacket that is comfortable to wear and looks good on or off the bike, and it’s a lot nicer than that old denim jacket you wear half the time you’re running errands on your bike anyway. Price: $125.
3. Many a tome has been written about traveling aboard a motorcycle, but one of the classics is and will always be Ted Simon’s Jupiter’s Travels. Raised in London by a German mother and a Romanian father, Simon abandoned an early career in chemical engineering to go to Paris, where he fell in love with journalism. On Oct. 6, 1973, at the age of 42, he set off from London aboard a 500cc Triumph Tiger for what became a four-year solo journey around the world. It is, in our humble opinion, a book every motorcyclist should read at some point in his or her life. Price: $24.95 plus shipping.
4. Back for 2013 is one of our favorite calendars: the Bike EXIF Custom Motorcycle Calendar. The 2013 edition features a variety of high-design motorcycles, including Jeff Decker’s custom Vincent Black Lightning, Walt Siegl’s slick Ducati 900SS, and a lovely bike on the cover that should be very familiar to our readers: Yes, that’s the Yamaha Virago 920 café built by Greg Hageman of Doc’s Chops, which we featured in our May/June 2012 issue. Printed on quality art paper, the calendar measures a hefty 16.6 by 10.75 inches. Good stuff. Price: $15.99 plus shipping. More info is on Octane Press' website.
5. Some motorcyclists find getting lost to be part of the experience of traveling. Others travel with a GPS. One of the best and most motorcycle-friendly GPS devices available is the Garmin zumo 665LM, built specifically for use on a bike. Features include a 4.3-inch touchscreen color display, complete with a glove-friendly intuitive interface. The sunlight-readable display is easy to see, and the waterproof case is UV and fuel resistant. It comes preloaded with City Navigator NT street maps and millions of points of interest including motels, restaurants, gas stations and more. The zumo 665LM is also an all-in-one entertainment center, as it features an on-board MP3 player, XM radio receiver and more. Price: $799.99.
6. Another unusual but awesome jacket we stumbled across is the River Road Men’s Laughlin Jacket. Made of a polyester/nylon blend, the jacket is treated to provide water resistance. Stylish and slimly cut, it looks more like a casual cool-weather jacket than a motorcycle jacket. The two front zippers serve as vents or pockets, and there are two vertical rear vents on the back. The jacket features a removable, insulated fully-sleeved liner, CE-approved armor in the shoulders and elbows, an EVA foam back pad, reflective piping on the front and back, and a snap down collar. Available in black or brown, it’s a nice all-purpose jacket that’s relaxed enough to wear just about anywhere, on your motorcycle or off. Price: $149.95.
7. Each year the fine folks at Baxter’s Cycle in Marne, Iowa, put together a calendar full of lovely vintage bikes, and this year the Classic Triumph Calendar 2013 features 12 months of Bonnevilles, Trophys, Thunderbirds and more. A pair of modern Tigers, a cool Seventies-style chopper built from a 1964 T120R frame and a 1966 T120C engine, and even a rare Triumph Tina 100cc automatic scooter from the early Sixties are included. 16 x 12 inches. Price: $20 (plus $5 shipping).
8. What to buy the motorcyclist who has everything? Another pair of boots, of course. Alpinestars calls these Fastback Waterproof Shoes, and they’re sort of a cross between a high-top sneaker and a motorcycle boot. What that means is optimal comfort both on and off the bike combined with a waterproof and breathable membrane for all-weather protection, along with external thermoplastic rubber protectors and a shank reinforced sole for added strength and stiffness. We just picked up a pair, and they’ve impressed us with their solid construction, good looks and excellent comfort. Price: $199.95.
9. Whether you’re a racer or a rider who enjoys leisurely back road Sunday morning cruises, being able to record your journeys can make riding twice as fun. And if you’re going to buy a video camera for recording on the go, nothing beats a GoPro. There are now three different models at three different price points, and the latest GoPro, the HERO3 Black edition, is the company’s most advanced camera yet. This edition features built in Wi-Fi, GoPro App compatibility and an included Wi-Fi Remote that gives you full camera control and live scene preview on any compatible iOS smartphone or tablet, with support for Android smartphones and tablets coming Winter 2012. Very cool. Price: $399.99.
10. Bill “Mr. Honda” Silver is famous in vintage Honda motorcycle circles as the go-to guy for anyone needing advice on an old Dream, but his expertise runs even deeper than that. Classic Honda Motorcycles: Identification Guide to the Collectible Models 1958-90 gives prospective buyers information on the current market for classic Hondas. Silver’s book is divided into 12 chapters, with each focusing on a specific family of bikes (The V-Twins, Inline Fours, The CBX, etc.), and it also includes an appendix of Honda motorcycle specifications. If you’re considering buying an old Honda, or if you know someone who is, this book provides photos of the models accompanied by descriptions of components, paint codes, parts availability and more. Price: $40.
11. If you’re a fan of old bikes — and we assume you must be if you’re reading this — you’ve no doubt dreamed of coming across the fabled “barn find.” Somewhere, stashed away in some decrepit shed, hopefully in wonderful condition, is the old bike of your dreams. Author Tom Cotter has been collecting stories of the cool bikes and cars people have found around the U.S. and the world for years, and his latest collection of stories, The Harley in the Barn, features 40-plus stories of found Nortons, Hondas, Indians, BSAs and more. Good stuff for dreaming. Price: $26.
12. John Hancox has been drawing and painting for more than 45 years. A fan of classic motorcycle racing and the Isle of Man in particular, Hancox sells his art in the form of prints, cards, calendars, coffee mugs and more. In this article's image gallery is a picture just one of our favorite works he’s produced, featuring a cool BMW café racer at speed. A variety of designs featuring café racers, race bikes, famous racers and TT legends are available, and the cards are cheap at roughly $3.25 a piece. Buy a dozen and mail them to your favorite motorcycle people instead of the boring Christmas cards you always send! Price: Approximately $3.25 each, plus shipping.