My Top Five Motorcycle Stocking Stuffer Picks for Last-Minute Panic Shoppers
Ah, yes. The 2015 Yuletide season fast approaches, and if you are anything like me, you’re putting Xmas shopping off ’til the last minute. I name the big online virtual shopping sites, FedEx and UPS as the enablers of my procrastination, oh and obnoxious holiday traffic of course. No matter what your reason/excuse is, I have some good news for you — a short list of items that I either currently use, or would like to have. If you have a rider to shop for and you get to it straight away, you will likely still have plenty of time for shipping. And if not, well, just blame the carrier. Works every time.
Continue reading for my top five stocking stuffers for bikers.
Apex Skull Cap
The first item is on my wish list made necessary by my recent shift back to a full-face helmet. My welder’s cap worked great with my half-helmet, but the bucket causes the doubling at the seams to bite into my scalp at the temple, causing a low-grade headache. Not a migraine or anything, but definitely distracting and un-fun.
I started casting about for a good under-helmet cap, specifically for cold-weather riding. Since I am a RATT (Rides All The Time), I get plenty of the cold, and some of the vents in my bucket cannot be closed, so my head gets surprisingly cold in spite of the Dark Helmet (Spaceballs, anyone?) coverage.
Enter the Apex Skull Cap from HMK. I handled one of these at my local shop and was impressed with it. It was warm, it fit my melon and the seams are a non-issue. Not only will the microflex-fleece cap keep your head warm, the low-cut sides cover the ears and across the back of the neck. In addition, it will wick moisture away from your scalp if you are stuck in traffic and start to sweat a bit. Best of all, it goes for 25 bucks, so its literally stocking-stuffer material for the rider in your life.
Next up, we have my very favorite riding glasses. I’ve worn plenty of glasses over the years. Cheap, dollar-store shades, expensive mirrored glasses and everything in between. Most didn’t have any sort of safety rating, and some even had glass lenses, which was a big mistake that could have had disastrous consequences. It’s always hard to find shades that are safe, offer good coverage, look reasonably cool and work well with helmets, including full-face buckets. I discovered the Condor series glasses in 2010, and have worn them ever since. Thanks BP!
The Condor 1FYX8 tinted safety glasses meet all the above requirements. They don’t bite my head, even under the big bucket plus headrag. They’re comfortable under the helmet or by themselves, and have nice coverage low to the cheekbone. Pushed tight to the face, your cheekbones contact the bottom edge to form a dam to prevent air intrusion from giving you the old watery eye. In addition, they look more like riding sunglasses and less like you just stepped out of a machine shop.
I’m sure they won’t fit every head and face as well as they fit mine, but I think the majority of riders will find them acceptable. The price is right at less than $3 a pair, so you never have to fret about losing them, scratching them or whatever, ’cause you won’t have much invested in them. I order them by the dozen, and just grab a new pair whenever I need ’em.
Condor offers these shades in a variety of colors, some of them with a mirror finish, or clear for night riding. They also have a slightly narrower version of my shades, so check out the selection carefully before you make a decision. Condor is in Europe, but there are plenty of U.S. retailers that carry the glasses. Look for them in industrial or work-gear supply houses.
One can argue that what qualifies as a stocking stuffer differs from person to person, and the next wish list item is the Hero camera from GoPro. It’s a bit more extravagant than most stuffer-type items at $129.99 with free, two-day shipping directly from the factory. Motorcycle videos on YouTube can be a lot of fun to make and watch, and I, personally, would like to make some first-look, first-ride videos for the TopSpeed site.
My wife and fellow writer, Allyn Hinton, is heavily in favor of me riding with one, ostensibly for proof of fault in case of a wreck, but I think this may be partly about monitoring my level of jackassery management when I’m out of sight. Not saying that I blame her, just stating the facts.
Whatever you or your riding loved-one have in mind to do with the camera (giggety?), this isn’t a bad price for a base-level camera from an established brand, and it opens up a whole world of possibilities. Just be reasonable guys, no videos of 100 mph wheelies through town, m’kay? The folks in blue will not be amused.
The next two items are purely comfort related. Yeah I know, comfort is relative. For me, things are going to hurt, period, and I define comfort by how long I can go before things start hurting, or get too cold or what have you. Full leathers are great, but without underlayers all you have is cold leather against your skin. So you layer, but thermal underwear is kind of bulky, and so are the warm shirts on top. Next thing you know, you are like an over-stuffed sausage in your leathers, barely able to breathe or move your arms. No fun, no fun at all.
For years, I have used a set of Gen III Silk Weight long underwear from Rothco for everything from riding, to working crab and oyster boats in the winter. Rothco makes gear for our military, so they know how to make stuff that is tough. The long johns are very sheer, almost like really thick pantyhose, and have next to zero bulk. In addition, the polyester weave has a nice, silky feeling against the skin. (No, I’m not one of those guys, but it really does feel nice.) They’re warm, and don’t bunch and bind beneath the rest of my gear. Tops and bottoms are available separately, and can be had for just under 20 dollars apiece. That’s cheap comfort folks.
Beaded Seat Cover
Finally, something that falls into the used-to-have-and-want-again category, a beaded seat cover. You know, like the automotive-style beaded seat covers, only smaller. I had one years ago that I bought for my Honda Rebel, and while it did nothing to soften the hard spot in the front of the saddle, the rest of the seat was pretty-darned comfortable.
My stock Sportster solo seat makes me wish I still had the thing, so I went hunting for a replacement. Behold the Bead Rider, a beaded seat cover that straps to your seat, with different shapes and sizes for a variety of rider and pillion seats.
The beaded design supports the rider on multiple points of contact, and if you are uncomfortable, just shift a little and let different areas bear the load awhile. This type of cover saw me through many a long ride on the Rebel, trying frantically to keep up with the Harley Big-Twins on the highway, and it’s time for me to get another one.
Maybe your rider’s butt could benefit from my experience, who knows. What I do know is that it will cost you between $25 and $100 to find out, depending on what you ride and whether it’s solo or a set. Worth a look if your loved one makes long trips, or has a lengthy commute.
There you have it folks, I hope this helps any of you in a pinch, or even folks shopping for themselves as I have been doing. (Wink, nudge.)
Happy Holidays, and keep it dirty side down.