What Motorcycle Would Santa Use On Christmas Eve?
Let’s imagine Al Gore was right; Manbearpig and global warming are real and the EPA has declared unrestricted war on both. Extensive studies indicate that reindeer flatulence is a significant contributor to the worldwide greenhouse-gas totals, and the EPA used some its newly-acquired firepower to strike a blow against reindeer farts for the sake of mankind. As you can imagine, this leaves ol’ Kris Kringle in a bit of a pickle what with Christmas upon us, so what’s a guy to do?
Continue reading for our picks for Santa’s solution.
Opinions vary on this point, but in my movie Mr. Kringle heads down (literally, ’cause everything is down from the North Pole) to a Ural dealer and scores himself a Gear Up shot in the Urban Camo paint scheme, complete with the accessory legguards, large windshield and hand warmers. Then it’s off to the local custom shop to have the greys painted red for a kind of Santa Claus Camo plus a white fur seat cover with chrome conchos.
Why a Gear Up you ask? Simple. Look at action shots that feature Ural products and you will see 7 out of 10 shots of sidecars running amok in difficult wintry terrain, so I reckon the Gear Up would be able to handle landing on snowy roofs, no problem. Plus, the two-wheel drive feature would provide the traction necessary to navigate the icy grades, and the sidecar comes with plenty of room to carry Santa’s magical-mystical-bottomless-bag-o’-goodies.
Power comes from the 749 cc “Boxer” engine, a rather dated-looking piece of machinery if I ever saw one. This, of course, is due to the history of the machine. The basis of the Ural company comes from a German-made motorcycle abandoned in Russian territory in what was sure to be a hasty and disorganized retreat from Stalingrad. Improvements have been made over the years, but at its core is a design drawn up in the first half of the previous century, and it looks the part. Not sayin’ it’s a bad thing, just stating the facts here folks.
Performance isn’t exactly in the liter-bike bracket with 42 pounds of grunt and 41 ponies on tap, and the flat-twin configuration isn’t exactly known for its high-revs, but the low-tech mill is a bonus in my opinion, especially for folks who may have to effect repairs far away from the nearest dealer service department and on a rooftop at that. Santa can easily switch between one- and two-wheel drive, and the four-speed tranny comes with a reverse gear for maximum mobility in tight quarters.
Last but not least, the factory left on the antique kickstarter. To be clear; I don’t view this as simply a quaint little detail, but instead look at it as a possible lifesaver to have some backup starting capabilities, especially in battery-sapping frigid weather of which Santa has no shortage.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it...
My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "It’s cute that my hubby thinks he knows something about riding in winter conditions, Southern boy that he is. Having grown up in South Jersey and lived a good part of my adulthood in New England, I know a thing or two about cold-weather riding, so it’s my opinion that carries the greater weight here. I do like the Gear Up, don’t get me wrong, but I think Santa will need a little more than that, though he will enjoy a romp around the North Pole with Mrs. Claus in the sidecar on his off time.
While we do agree that traction and stability are paramount for icy work, I’m thinking Saint Nick would be looking for something a little more 21st century to get the job done. With that in mind, I went to my favorite non-bike on the market right now, the Delta-trike Spyder RT from Can-Am. (Okay, Santa would probably use a snowmobile if he couldn’t use the traditional sleigh, but that’s not the title, is it.)
First off, let’s consider the comfort factor. The cowcatcher-like front end splits the wind, and an adjustable windshield steers it up and over the rider’s head — something to consider when you have a long white beard flapping in the wind. Mirrors and front turn signals come married in little winglets off the front fairing that form wind pockets to protect the Santa’s hands and forearms. Hand warmers in the grips take full advantage of the dead air space to keep those digits from freezing into painful claws, and while not part of the standard equipment, an accessory heated seat will keep Santa’s tukas thawed out as well. A rider’s backrest rounds out the package with lumbar support that allows Mr. Claus to relax and enjoy the ride, or at least huddle out of the wind. Oh, and let’s not forget the entertainment features, because having tunes is essential on long trips.
The VW-like trunk in the front end combines with the hard sidebags and touring pack in back, but the accessory trailer is the real cargo (presents) hauler with up to 400 pounds of towing capacity. Sachs Big-Bore shocks tame the front end, while the rear runs a Sachs air shock with adjustable preload. A six-inch-plus suspension travel gives Santa a plush but stable ride. All-around, 270 mm discs slow the rig via a foot-operated, three-way brake distribution system for even braking pressures, and a parking brake makes for safe parking on hills, roofs or other inclines.
Propulsion falls to the Rotax 1330 ACE powerplant. In contrast to the antique boxer in the Ural, Rotax actually makes aircraft-grade engines, and so Santa would definitely go with the higher-quality mill. Nevermind that the three-cylinder engine cranks out a generous 96 pound-feet of torque and 115 ponies, far beyond the meager output from the Ural.
Stability- and Traction-Control systems help preserve the integrity of that precious connection between machine and rooftop at the contact patch, and while it’s no substitute for skill, it should go a long way toward increasing overall safety in less-than-ideal conditions. ABS, cruise control and power steering add the finishing touches to an already tour-tastic ride, and a semi-automatic transmission makes for effortless around-town work— useful when hopping from one house to the next.
Some of us might choke on the sticker, but I’ve always heard that Santa has more money than Davy Crockett, so I doubt the $23,449 starting price would put him off at all. Since it comes in Pearl White, it shouldn’t cost much to add those Santa-Red highlights and have it looking like a proper ’Saint Nickcycle.’”