» GEAR » Twenty-one Small, (mostly) Practical Gift Ideas for Retro Motorcycle Riders
Buying gifts for motorcycle riders isn’t particularly easy. Especially retro motorcycle riders who have differing and dogmatic opinions on every aspect of owning and riding a motorcycle. Needless to say, pleasing them can be a tricky affair. So here, we’ve created a handy list of small gift ideas for retro motorbike riders.
Buying a Gift for a Motorcycle Lover: Identify the Type of Rider
To the outsider, it may appear that all riders belong to a homogeneous group of boisterous, leather-clad road users. But under the banner of Motorcyclist exist many sub-groups. Each with its own unmistakable style and unspoken principles.
Retro/modern-classic, custom vintage and classic riders can be grouped into a larger sub-group of riders that share similar tastes. And they’re probably one of the trickiest of all the two-wheel cohort to please.
Gift Ideas for Lovers of Retro, Custom, Classic Motorcycles
If you’re not one yourself (and therefore informed) you may be wondering, what aesthetic and gear do riders of retros/modern-classic, custom and classic motorcycles favour? The answer is, ‘several distinctive’ styles. Characteristically, either: an understated classic appearance, with heavy reliance on natural-looking materials, shapes and colours, alternatively, a minimalistic, contemporary or ultra-high design style.
In each case, riders of such machines may be slightly more particular about the type of brands and products/services with whom they associate or patronize. For example, you’re unlikely to ever see such a rider in full Street Rossi, Storm-Trooper garb. Unless he/she is running machine in (for example) one of the Cafe Racer Cup classes. And even then it’s likely to be vintage racer suit. You get the picture.
So it stands to reason that picking out a gift for such a rider should be carefully considered. And it’s with that in mind, that this list of small gifts (most of which are practical) has been composed.
First on the list is the ever-enduring and trusty gift idea – a book.
‘You can never have too many books’, is how the adage goes. And if the subject is motorcycles then never was a truer statement made.
Penned by Gary Inman (co-founder of Sideburn Magazine), How To Build A Motorcycle (published in 2020) offers a wealth of advice on motorcycle customisation – from project inception to completion.
Subtitled, “A Nut-and-Bolt Guide to Customizing Your Bike”, it’s cleverly organised into the key stages of bike building. Engagingly, the book features step-by-step illustrations by artist Adi Gilbert.
This hardback is an ideal gift for those aspiring to build a bike for the first time or novice tinkerers. So it should be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of most classic, custom and retro riders.
Basic bike maintenance is an essential aspect of owning a motorcycle and most elementary of all is bike washing and finishing. Many retro, custom, and classic bikes tend to be naked which means lots of shiny parts are permanently on display. And therefore inevitably, regular washing, cleaning and detailing is necessary.
There are two distinct camps when referring to bike washing: those who see it as a necessary evil and those who adore it. But one thing on which most riders will agree, is that bike cleaning products are comparatively pricey.
As such, gifting a can or two of a rider’s favourite cleaning or finishing product is likely to be welcomed. Muc-Off products for this writer top the list, both for their efficacy and their delicious scent. A scent that lingers days after washing and finishing.
Muc-Off’s Motorcycle Clean Protect and Lube Kit should keep your rider stocked-up on cleaning products for a good few weeks. Or maybe even months, depending on the frequency of washing.
Motorcycle gear that’s considered PPE is usually more closely-fitting than regular garments. Clearly, that’s to help armour remain in the correct position. But, it can also mean that essentials placed into pockets cause discomfort while on the bike. Incredibly distracting, if not somewhat annoying.
One such every-day-carry item is the wallet. And most people can appreciate how bulky this article can be. Furthermore, it can feel especially large when sitting on a motorbike in snug-fitting gear. Thankfully, a number of brands have sprung up over the last decade (or so), whose sole purpose is to reduce the bulk of our wallets (through deft design).
Bellroy is probably the most recognisable name in this segment, though Café Leather and DASH should also be considered for their intelligent designs. They both take a similar approach to towards reducing wallet bulk. Additionally, DASH also incorporates “socially conscious materials“ into its designs.
We’ve featured Bellroy’s Slim Sleeve here which has made the brand a household name.
Branded Moto T-Shirt: Belstaff – Long Way Up T-shirt
An ever-present item in most riders’ wardrobes – branded moto t-shirts are cool enough. Though, there’s a fine line between branding and walking-advert. Graciously, most brands within the retro-inspired sphere of moto-gear tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to branding their apparel.
Simple or bold designs are frequently accompanied by subtle branding. And with an explosive rise in the number of retro-inspired moto-gear brands, there a great many moto brands and designs from which to choose.
Nevertheless, to narrow the field and to ensure a positive reception, it’s probably best to either select a t-shirt brand you’ve previously seen the giftee wearing. Alternatively, you can select an aspirational brand that’s held in high fondness by most classic, custom and retro riders. Belstaff is one such brand. And more so than most, fits the description of subtle when displaying its logo.
Moto Memorabilia: Retro Moto Stickers, Patches and Pins
Adult humans never really get over their childhood sticker, patch or pin obsessions. I imagine maybe that it has something to do with never having been able to finish a 1984 Panini Football Division 1, sticker album. Or possibly failing to get a 100m swimming badge. Who knows? But enough about this writer.
Thankfully, there are plenty of badges, stickers and pins to embellish helmets, leather jackets and fuel tanks, to make up for any childhood failings. Many pins and stickers are replicas of twentieth-century memorabilia and evoke nostalgia, by emulating the designs of the golden era of motorcycling.
So, sticker badges and pins are likely to be up the street of most retro, classic riders – even if they don’t ever affix them to their gear or machines. It’s a low-value gift item but one that will be warmly received.
Valued for versatility and compactness, carrying some form of multi-tool every day isn’t a bad idea in most circumstances. Apart from maybe through airport security. But for riders of motorbikes, it’s common sense.
Despite the popularity of the Victorinox, multi-tool pocketknife (otherwise known as the Swiss Army knife), something a tad more specialised is required for motorcycles. You’ll find that within CruzTools Outback’r Metric (a multi-tool for motorcycles and other powersports vehicles).
Compactly secured within the foldable utility are 14 tools: allen/hex keys, flathead and Phillips screwdrivers, in addition to sockets, alongside open-end and spoke wrenches. Effectively, the tools a rider needs to perform some common mechanical roadside repairs.
The right multi-tool could be the difference between waiting hours for a van after a breakdown or making it home for a reasonable hour. And with a “Lifetime Guarantee – ‘No Questions Asked.” this gift is likely to see much use.
Neck Tube for Motorcycle Riders: Holy Freedom Bullitt Primaloft
Neck tubes/gaiters are an essential item of kit for most riders. They’re an incredibly functional and versatile piece of apparel, in both warm and cold weather.
When not being used as a neck warmer or to take the sting out of insects smashing into a bare neck, the tube has of a variety of other uses too. It can double as a face mask, (particularly useful if you’re reading this in 2021/22), full-on balaclava, a bandana, a beanie and many more.
In the summer, douse it with water and ‘hey presto’ you have portable air conditioning. Undoubtedly, useful in urban areas on the hottest days.
Holy Freedom has a colourful, off-the-wall assortment of neck tubes, in light through to heavy fabrics. And if that brand is likely to appeal to your giftee, then consider Kytone too.
A decent pair of motorcycle socks should never be overlooked. The right pair of long socks underneath riding jeans or leather trousers is a subtle but highly effective way to enhance a rider’s comfort on the bike.
Really, any long pair of socks designed for outdoor pursuits should do. Nevertheless, the socks must be: breathable in the summer, warm in the winter, always moisture-wicking and ideally padded. Though probably most importantly, they must stay up.
Stance, a relatively new brand is reinvigorating the accessories sector and more specifically sock design. Its moto socks are not only fresh and eye-catching but have all the qualities (described above) that a sock needs, to keep a rider happy.
For motorcycle-only brands, consider RST with its long Tour Tech socks which have been designed with the tour rider in mind. Alternatively, for riding in warmer weather opt for Held Socks Summer Coolmax which also come in a shorter length.
Who doesn’t love a trucker cap? Well, some people absolutely detest them with fervent zeal. So, be sure that the rider for whom you’re purchasing the cap is at least amenable, if not a connoisseur of the trucker cap.
In any case for most retro riders, trucker caps are a staple of their attire. Helmet hair is flawlessly hidden under these covers while affording are rider’s dome the opportunity to breath.
And as one-size-fits-all, there isn’t any faffing required to ascertain the giftee’s head size. But you should probably identify which brand your rider is most enamoured of. However, that shouldn’t be too difficult (if you have access to the rider’s existing collection) as most trucker caps feature prominent branding.
We’ve featured the Wheels & Waves, Deus Ex Machina, Trucker cap (available in the Europe online store). Unfortunately, W&W 2020 didn’t happen – so, who knows this item might be a collector’s edition someday.
It’s quite possible that every rider of a retro, custom or classic motorcycle has a wax cotton jacket in his/her closet. Or maybe that’s just a rumour. But why not? The timeless, four-pocket design evokes nostalgia combined with utility and functionality that’s hard to resist – (particularly in its modern CE certified form).
And while construction and safety features of wax cotton motorcycle jackets might be modern, it’s no secret that they still need to be traditionally wax proofed. For most people its a process that’s as satisfying when complete, as it is tedious when in progress.
Brands such as Belstaff and Barbour badge-up their own tins of re-proofing wax dressing, however, there are plenty of alternatives available. Nevertheless, for this gift, it’s probably a nicer touch to purchase the wax from the corresponding brand of jacket that the rider owns.
To say that keyrings are a simple and effective solution for organising keys is not profound. Furthermore, keyrings fashioned out of metal can look great and carry enough weight to reassure riders that motorcycle keys are still safely stowed inside pockets.
Although, metal keys may not be ideal for a motorbike’s top yoke (polished or otherwise). The effect can leave the yoke looking rather scratched and tatty.
A simple solution outside of not having a keyring is a non-scratch keyring. Malle London’s simple, handmade, leather key fob meets the non-scratch criterion in an effective yet understated and elegant fashion.
Known for its moto luggage, Malle fully embodies the design aesthetic towards which riders of modern-classic, custom and vintage machines invariably gravitate. Despite its low value, this gift is likely to be highly appreciated.
At some point, most motorbike riders will hit the open road for a trip. For some, this is an annual two-wheel pilgrimage. For others, a glorious once in a lifetime adventure.
Often, it’s a trip that will involve a spot of camping. And if it does, is there anything more pleasant than sitting around a campfire in the evening? Possibly not. It’s a feeling perhaps only more enhanced by the consumption of a hot beverage from a favourite mug.
Is there a more fitting holder for that beverage than an enamel mug? Nope. Traditionally and uniquely crafted, the timeless aesthetic of an enamel mug, slots perfectly into the retro, classic, custom look.
Easy to clean and robust, enamel mugs are an ideal camping cup. More so they’re long-lasting which means (when given as a gift) an enamel mug has the promise to become a long-treasured artefact. This collaboration between Urban Rider, Bike Exif and artist Menze Kwint has that potential in spades.
Alternatively, many retro-inspired apparel brands have similar offerings of enamelware.
Motorcycle Smartphone Holder: Quad Lock Moto Mount Kit
These days most smartphones function well as the main navigation tool and or as substitutes for video cameras – (in place of their dedicated yet more bulky and expensive counterparts). In recognition of this, a whole industry has sprung up, dedicated to providing robust and reliable smartphone mounts for motorcycle riders.
As far as practicality is concerned, this gift ranks high. The only considerations maybe what type of mount and for which type of phone? Handily, Quad Lock, (one of the leading brands in this segment) offer a myriad of solutions – one of which is bound to suit the rider for whom you’re buying the gift.
Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel and Huwai get dedicated mounts, while riders using other smartphones are covered with the Universal Moto Mount Kit option. All Quad Lock Moto Kits are available in either handlebar, mirror, fork or 1″ ball adapter configuration. So all possible mounting states are covered.
Motorcycle Tyre Gauge: Michelin, Fit2Go, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System
For safety, before every ride (or at the very least every fortnight) a tyre pressure check is advisable. Especially when riding frequently. Nonetheless, the majority of riders probably don’t do this. Despite the fact that checking and inflating tyres to correct pressure is the easiest, performance-enhancing, maintenance task that can be undertaken.
Acceleration, braking and handling are vastly improved at the correct PSI. And all it takes to top-up the tyres are just a few coins (sometimes none) and a few minutes at the local petrol station.
Having motorcycle tyre pressure checked programmatically may well inspire more riders to inflate tyres more frequently. And that’s where the Michelin’s plug and play, digital, wireless TPMS steps in. Wireless sensors embedded in valve caps (that replace the motorcycle’s original caps) display realtime tyre pressure portable LCD unit.
The ease of use should prompt most riders to take action when this is low.
If however, that’s a little too twenty-first century for your giftee, then opting for a more traditional gauge like the Oxford, Tyre Gauge Pro Motorcycle may be suitable.
‘Loud pipes save lives‘, may or may not be true. But one thing that isn’t opinion is that decibel levels achieved by motorcycles can permanently damage hearing. Unsurprisingly, this occurs through continual, continuous exposure.
A rider, however, can protect against hearing loss, by plugging his/her lugholes with earplugs. They also happen to make a good small but practical gift.
You may be thinking about purchasing custom moulded earplugs which of course are the zenith of hearing protection. But moreover, they come with a price tag to match. Not ideal if you’re seeking to purchase a small token of appreciation.
Thankfully, that’s where these Pinlock Earplugs step-in. With a more ergonomic fit, they sit perfectly in-between cheap disposable earplugs and their pricier custom counterparts. Yet, simultaneously they offer more protection from permanent hearing damage than throwaway plugs.
Every rider has a favourite pair of riding gloves (a go-to pair if you like). Yet if that pair of gloves happen to be more suited to spring and summer riding, then they’re a no-go in autumn and winter. Unless the rider’s willing to put up with cold fingers if not frostbite. Not advisable.
Found in its Blue Collection, Knox Cold Killer gloves make it possible for riders to wear their favourite spring/summer gloves all year round. Well, to a certain extent – for short-winter or medium autumn bimbles.
Composed of windproof and water-resistant material, paired with a breathable inner membrane, they’re designed to be worn under regular moto gloves. And they should keep out the cold long enough to get an autumn/winter throttle fix. As such, they’d make an excellent gift in the colder months of the year.
Retro-inspired moto-gear sold as PPE has two objectives: appear indistinguishable from ordinary clothing and simultaneously provide the rider with abrasion and impact protection. Because of this fact, lightweight moto armour has become synonymous with vintage-inspired, protective moto gear for impact protection.
Most vintage/custom-inspired moto apparel brands partner with armour makers to literally and figuratively [marketing-wise] strengthen their offerings. As such, within the garments of such brands, pockets and sleeves can be found that accommodate limb and body protection armour.
Perhaps most well-known and highly regarded of these armour brands is D3O. The brand’s Ghost armour which is exceptionally light and equally strong is so named because it’s barely visible when worn under protective gear.
For this gift, to ensure the best fit you’ll need to check what type of armour the article of gear accommodates and from which brand e.g. Knox, Rev’it See Smart or D3O etc.
Caring for leather motorcycle boots and jackets in the proper way not only makes them look good but should prolong their usable life. This means periodically some form of treatment has to be applied.
Much like motorbike maintenance, some riders relish doing this routinely [treating gear]. Others see it as a chore to be avoided until absolutely necessary. Neither position gets away from the fact that’s definitely required.
Over time, bugs, road dirt, oil and general grime can start to abrade motorcycle leathers. So, it’s prudent that leathers are cleaned and treated as required.
As a gift, this leather care restoration kit by French motorcycle jacket brand, Helstons might require some elbow grease by the receiver. But they’ll thank you for it… eventually.
The kit has been designed to clean, nourish and protect the brand’s own leather gear. Nevertheless, it works on all motorcycle leather. It’s available in three finish types: black, neutral and neutral matt – so the range can work across all of the rider’s leather gear.
Novelty Moto Gift Idea: Luckies of London, Fuel, Heat Haze Candle
Most riders aren’t ashamed to admit that they adore the smell of motorcycle [petrol] fumes. It’s all part of the visceral experience of riding a motorcycle. Which, aside from the feeling of freedom and thrill of speed, encompasses sight, sound and scent.
If you’re looking for an item that in part recreates that experience then this novelty gift for all-round moto-heads might be it.
Luckies of London’s Heat Haze candle from its Fuel collection was created for lovers of speed and inspired by classic racing. Luckies describe the candle’s scent as, “Metallic and smoky with notes of pine and a hint of fuel”. And while the scent may have been created with car nuts in mind, it should evoke similar feelings for motorcycle riders alike.
Given their relatively small size, motorcycle batteries tend to discharge relatively quickly when the bike is left standing for long periods. This is particularly true during the winter months. And there’s nothing more deflating for a geared-up rider than a bike that won’t turn over. All because of a flat battery.
An easy way to avoid this is by investing in a trickle charger.
A trickle charger (after charging the battery to full capacity) will deliver just enough charge to maintain it. In theory, the battery could stay in that state of perpetual maintenance for months, even years. And therefore disappointment is avoided, the next time the rider turns the key after a riding hiatus.
There are many trickle chargers available, with various fancy features that work well. Though for a simple, inexpensive, no-frills, gift option, Oxford Products’ Oximiser 900 (888 Anniversary Edition) is the one. It should be welcomed into the must-have section of any garage.
Last but not least, caring for a motorcycle helmet should be high on the priority list for all motorbike riders, regardless style of rider. That not only includes the way the helmet is handled but how it’s cleaned. From the visors to the inserts, cheek pads, filters, vents and everything in-between.
The interiors of some retro-styled helmets aren’t removable which means they can’t be washed in the traditional sense. To that end, such helmets after period can become grimy (to somewhat understate the fact).
Appearing on the list again is Muc-Off with its special Helmet Care Kit for motorcyclists. Included in the kit is a can of Foam Fresh (used for cleaning the interior of the helmet). In addition, the kit also contains a visor cleaner and an anti-fog treatment – all of which can be applied with the micro-fibre cloth (also supplied).
Whoever receives this gift will have all the essentials to keep his/her lid in tip-top shape, throughout the year.
Hopefully, you now have plenty of ideas for gifts for friends that ride retro, custom and classic bikes. If you’re a little bit sneaky you may wish to share this list with the person for whom you’re intending to buy – see if anything piques his/her interest… (wink wink).
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