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Holiday Gift Ideas for the Road Leave Winter in the Dust


Motorcycle gifts would not be welcome at this time of year in many parts of the country.

No matter how well-meaning, the gifts would serve as cruel reminders that motorcycles were already in hibernation for the winter months, not to emerge again until spring.

So sad.

But, hey, we're in Southern California, so ring those bells, light those Hanukkah candles and bring on the motorcycle presents!

What follows is a selection of holiday gifts--ranging from stocking stuffers to pricier items--to consider when shopping for a motorcyclist on your holiday gift list:


Aerostich Electric Vest: Although we can motorcycle here year-round, the windchill factor at freeway speeds on a winter night can turn a rider into a "popcycle."

Adequate protection against the cold is not just a matter of comfort but also one of safety. A shivering motorcyclist is not riding in top form.

An electrically heated vest, which draws current from the motorcycle's battery (the hookup is so simple, even I can do it), is a sort of wearable electric blanket that can make the difference between a miserable ride and a comfy one. Several brands are on the market. The slate-blue Aerostich model I tested ($137) is snuggly even when turned off.

* (800) 222-1994 or on the Internet at


Airhawk Motorcycle Cushion: Does your favorite motorcyclist walk bowlegged after a long ride on a cruiser? If so, he or she might appreciate this inflatable cushion that fits over the seat on most cruiser models.

The cushion from ROHO Inc. works along the lines of devices used in hospitals to prevent bedsores.

The Airhawk, covered in a black nonskid cover that keeps it from looking like something issued by a medical supply store, is somewhat expensive ($199.95) but less costly than replacing a seat.

* (800) 850-7646 or


"The Art of the Motorcycle": This gorgeous coffee-table book ($60) served as the catalog for the hugely popular motorcycle exhibition that opened at the Guggenheim Museum in New York earlier this year.

The book's photographs, which treat motorcycles as art objects, are truly breathtaking, and the text on models ranging from the world's first production motorcycle--a 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmuller from Germany--to the super-sleek 1998 MV Agusta F4 is highly informative.

* Published by Harry N. Abrams:


California Helmet Cleanser: I'm not sure how this stuff works, I'm just grateful it does.

You spray it on your helmet liner and let the helmet sit for several minutes. Then you wipe the liner with a cloth and let it dry. Presto! The grunge that inevitably builds up from sweat and grime is gone, making your helmet much more pleasant to wear.

The cleanser comes in several scents, including CK (a knockoff of the Calvin Klein fragrance).

The cost is $9.95 for a six-ounce bottle.

* Available in motorcycle shops or directly from the manufacturer, Helmet Head, at (800) 943-5638.


Michelin Vigil Tire Pressure Gauge: This French tire gauge is not only light and compact, it's also kind of cute.

Because the gauge is only 3 1/2 inches long, it fits perfectly in the hand and stows easily in a jacket pocket or motorcycle storage area. Also, its small size allows it to be used on most hard-to-reach stems that pencil-type gauges can't read.

The Vigil ($29.95) is a pleasure to use, which means your favorite motorcyclist will be more likely to check that all-important tire pressure more often.

* Distributed by Motorace: (800) 628-4040 or


Techna Sunglasses: Made specifically for motorcyclists, these glasses ($30 to $40) have flaps that wrap around the eyes to help deflect wind--an annoyance even when you're wearing most full-faced helmets.

Though they're not likely to win any fashion awards, these sunglasses are lightweight and slim enough to fit behind helmet shields, and they come with carrying cases. For the record, I liked the Vision model the best.

* Distributed by Lesslight: (800) 922-8720 or


Wee Willy: Terrible name, terrific product.

On a long tour, it's inevitable that a helmet face shield will get smudged with dirt and squashed bugs. This stuff is not only icky, it also cuts visibility.

Wee Willy, from CFS Innovations, is a palm-sized device used to clean the face shield. Basically, it's a little plastic spray bottle with sponge and mini-squeegee attached. The bottle comes filled with Windshield Willy cleaning fluid.

You use the spray, sponge and squeegee in that order, and then finish the job with a little cleaning cloth that is included in the kit.

Wee Willy ($19.95, including a refill bottle of fluid) fits into a vented plastic pouch that slips easily into a motorcycle jacket pocket.

* (860) 875-9470 or


Times staff writer David Colker can be reached via e-mail at

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