Got a biker on your Christmas list? Here are some gift suggestions:
Rider-to-rider communication for those who travel two-up has, until now, usually consisted of yelling into the wind or an intercom system of some kind. Often fussy and clumsy, these can be replaced by a Bluetooth-based setup that connects rider and passenger via their cellphones.
Some not only allow you to talk to each other, but also have a stereo sound system built in and will work from up to 10 metres away. Here are a couple: IMC Motorcom and Whistler Wireless. These two are hands-free, will run for up to about 10 hours before recharging, and cost between $150 and $200.
If your favourite rider is a long-distance traveller, or just has issues with the seat on his/her bike, there are things you can do to help. For example, the Airhawk inflatable seat cushion was designed to "address issues of prostatitis, general discomfort in the sacrum and coccyx, as well as areas under the prostate and scrotum."
Infinitely adjustable and useable on ATVs as well, the Airhawk lets the rider sit on "a puddle of air" to make things more comfortable. Priced at around $200.
PathBlazer: If you ride, you've either come close to being hit or have actually been on the receiving end of a driver's stupidity. One way to help even the odds is increased visibility via a headlight that modulates. The Kisan PathBlazer, for example, plugs into your wiring harness and rapidly flicks your headlight on and off so motorists can't help but take note that you're there. Some may even pull over. The PathBlazer is legal in the United States and Canada and costs about $125.
And while you're at it, think about what's behind you. An enhanced brake light is an excellent safety feature and, for about $40 to $50, you can wire a modulator into your brake system that will give your brake light greater illumination as well as automatically flashing it when you stop.
Navigation: Your biker buddy might have a handy GPS system, but the software may be out of date. Some streets just aren't there and some that aren't supposed to be there, are. Solution: get an electronic street atlas. Just program it into your hand-held personal communication device and get millions of places of interest, improved graphics and colour, and full coverage of the United States and Canada. Cheap too: most run around $15 to $20.
Nothing is worse than riding cold. Your reactions slow down, you become less alert, are prone to fatigue and can have trouble focusing. And it doesn't take much for frostbite to sneak up on you when you're riding, as the cold is magnified tenfold by the air rushing past you.
A heated vest will go a long way to keep the chill at bay. Most can be wired easily into your bike's system and cost around $150 to $250. Some manufacturers include Tourmaster, Harley-Davidson, Gerbing and Storm Master.
While you're at it, consider heated hand-grips; again, easily wired into the bike's system and available from a wide range of manufacturers. Choose from those with the warming elements built into the grips themselves or retro-fitted "sleeves" that fit into existing handlebar grips. Usually priced in the $100 to $150 neighbourhood.