10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

John Milbank, BikeSocial Consumer Editor
By John Milbank
BikingMilbank BikeSocial Consumer Editor, John owns a KTM 1050 Adventure. He's as happy tinkering in the workshop as he is on twisty, bumpy backroads, and loves every bike ever built (except one). He's bought three CBR600s, two Ducati Monsters, several winter hacks, three off-roaders, a supermoto pit bike, a Honda Vision 50 and built his own custom XSR700. 

 

Gift guides are all too often a collection of sponsored items dragged together with little thought as to how useful – or valuable – the kit is. BikeSocial is different.

Quality, trustworthy reviews are key to what we do here, so I’ve gone through the hundreds of products and services reviewed to find ten that you – or the biker in your life – should be genuinely delighted to receive. They’re in price order, but it’s far from an exhaustive list, so if there’s a gift you think that no motorcyclist should be without, tell us in the comments below…

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

£16.49 | XCP Rust Blocker

In terms of gift unwrapping on Christmas morning, a tin of corrosion protectant might be as popular as a pair of socks. But if the bike’s loved, they’ll love this.

I spent seven months testing XCP, ACF-50, ACS TC200, Scottoiler FS 365, SDoc100 Rust Blocker and many other rust-proofers to find out which really was the best. While XCP gave the best protection, ACS TC200 was very close behind, followed by SDoc 100.

Many biker’s swear by ACF-50 – if your potential gift receiver is one of them, I’d stick with that as while it might not offer the level of protection of some of the other products, it still has real benefits. And it brings bare plastics up a treat.

If, on the other hand, they’re using GT85, WD-40, Motorex Moto Protect or Muc-Off Motorcycle Protectant, do them a favour and treat them to something that’ll keep their bike looking great for a lot, lot longer.

Oh, and if they have a compressor, buy them some XCP in a bottle, along with a cheap paint gun from Machine Mart if they don’t have a spare (paraffin guns don’t work anywhere near as well) and they can apply it like the pros.

To read all of the corrosion protectant tests, as well as how to use them, click here.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

£16.99 | A Haynes workshop manual

I’ve used Haynes manuals when servicing my bikes and cars for the past 30 years – they’ve saved me literally thousands of pounds, and I strongly encourage every rider to get one.

Unfortunately they’re not available for every bike, but the Haynes website makes it pretty easy to search for your machine (you might need to select the date the model was introduced, rather than the date your bike was registered).

You could buy a printed manual (always my choice), or sign up for a year of online access for the same price. Read why I love Haynes manuals so much by clicking here.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

£34.99 | Ultimate Addons phone mount

For riders who don’t need a fully-specified motorcycle sat-nav, using your phone on the bike can help get you home after a day of exploring great roads. The Ultimate Addons kit is well made and very versatile. I use it on press bikes when I don’t have time to wire in my TomTom, and you can check out the full review by clicking here.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

From £50 | A decent chain and lock

We take security testing very seriously at BikeSocial – we’ve got the same tools the criminals are using, and have already rated 30 chains and locks. We can tell you which is the toughest overall, which is the best against an angle-grinder, which is the best value and which is the easiest to carry. And in the new year you can expect to see plenty more being destroyed in our thorough, class-leading tests.

If you’re going to treat someone to a chain and lock, do keep in mind where they’ll use it; the Pragmasis 22mm with RoundLock is the toughest we’ve currently tested, but it’s way too heavy to carry on the bike (and you need a big ground-anchor to use it at home). Though that Roundlock can be used as a disk-lock when out and about, so with prices starting at just £249.95, it’s one of the most versatile pieces of kit we’ve seen. Check how long the biker in your life will need it to be though – the shortest at 1.5m might not be enough to get around what they want to lock it too.

For our unbiased advice on the best chains and locks, click here.

For our tests of the best portable security, click here.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

£149 | Monimoto Smart Alarm and Tracker

With no subscription and easy home installation, the Monimoto is a great gift for any motorcyclist who wants an instant alert on their phone if anybody tampers with it, along with the ability to track it if the worst does happen.

This is the best non-subscription device I’ve tested, but while the police will still respond and use the tracking information if the bike is stolen, for the ultimate performance look at one of the subscription-based trackers we’ve reviewed – expect to pay around £230 for the tracker, then about £100 per year for a subscription. It’s worth it though, with very high recovery rates boasted by the leading companies like Datatool (TrakKing), BikeTrac and SmarTrack.

To read the full test of Monimoto, click here.

To see our industry-leading reviews of the top tracking systems, click here.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

£149.99 | Hood CE-approved jeans

I’ve worn Hood jeans for many years on press launches around the world, as well as when out for a ride for my own enjoyment. Beautifully made, perfectly fitted and with a layer of para-aramid fibre, for 2018 they’ve been redesigned to be even better.

Norfolk-based husband and wife company Hood was one of the first to release fully CE-approved motorcycle jeans to comply with the new regulations that came into force in March of this year, and with an airtex lining they’re now even more comfortable.

I trust these jeans when I’m riding unknown roads in unknown countries at speeds far greater than I’d usually be happy with; I really can’t recommend them enough.

For the full review of the men’s Hood K7 Infinity jeans, click here.

For the full review of the women’s Hood K7 Infinity jeans, click here.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

£199.95 | Scottoiler automatic chain oiler

There was a time when fitting a Scottoiler to a bike was a fiddly, time-consuming process – faffing with vacuum pipes was a real pain. Since introducing its electronically-controlled systems though, UK company Scottoiler has made it much, much simpler.

The new xSystem includes everything needed to get it up and running on the bike, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a machine it’s not suitable for. I think it’s great, and do appreciate the fact that – once correctly set up – it makes for a much cleaner and longer-lasting chain without the hassle of lubes. But you might want to subtly find out if it’s something your biker wants… it’s brilliant on almost every machine, but a sportsbike rider might be more reluctant to fit one than a tourer for instance.

Find out how I got on with it on my KTM 1050 Adventure by clicking here.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

Around £200 | Heated jacket

If the biker in your life rides in autumn or winter, they’ll absolute love you if you treat them to a heated jacket.

I’ve used both of the leading brands over the years – Keis and Gerbing – and they do a great job of keeping you warm. When buying, just make sure that the kit includes a heat controller – it’s sometimes an optional accessory, but you really can’t use them without it.

If you want to spend about £150, you could buy a heated vest from the same companies, though for the ultimate in toastiness, get something with sleeves too.

To read our review of the Keis J501 Premium Heated Jacket, click here.

To read our review of the Gerbing 12V Heated Jacket Liner, click here.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

£300 | TomTom Rider 550

The TomTom Rider 550 is the best sat-nav I’ve used, be it on the bike or in the car. It gives clear instructions, offers great winding roads and lifetime map updates (plus speed camera alerts). It’s also waterproof, and its new quad-core processor makes it much faster than the previous model.

We’ve sometimes seen it as cheap as £300 at some online stores, so shop around for the best deal. You might also spot the cheaper-still 500 version, but I’d recommend the 550 as it’s got worldwide maps and motorcycle-specific points of interest.

To read the full review of the TomTom 550, click here.

To see how the TomTom compares to the Garmin 396 LMT-S, click here.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

£200-£260 | Sena Bluetooth intercom

A helmet communications system allows the rider to listen to music and get directions and speed camera alerts from a sat-nav. If the rider’s mates have one too, they can pair them and talk to each other while they ride. And if the pillion has one, they can chat to the rider without a complex series of hand signals. Did three punches to the kidneys mean slow down or ‘I need a wee’?

I’ve used a variety of intercoms over the years, and to date the best I’ve tried have usually been Sena. Interphone used to be my favourite, but its smartphone app has had poor support of late, with the newer models just not seeming quite as good as the old ones. It’s still good stuff, but the Senas have tended to have the edge (except the 20S, which had problems in the rain if you didn’t use some dielectric grease on the contacts).

We’ll soon be testing more of the latest tech, but for now at least, the 10S is a great option as a universal device. If you’re looking for something to fit into Shoei’s outstanding Neotec II helmet, the Sena SRL is an excellent choice – you can read the full review here.

Intercom systems are also available in pairs – a set of 10S devices for two helmets can be had for around £380, and offers a great way for a rider and pillion, or rider and rider partners to get a lot more out of their trips together.

 

10 genuinely useful gifts for bikers | Real reviews

 

Still looking for the perfect gift idea?

For a truly exciting – and useful – gift, you could buy some bike training. BikeSafe is run by local police forces and costs around £40 – having done it twice, I’d thoroughly recommend this, and can promise you it is NOT about being lectured by coppers; it’s thoroughly enjoyable and really inspiring (and certainly not slow if you don’t want it to be).

You can also look for local IAM and ROSPA groups, or an independent instructor. Or why not book some track time – it really doesn’t matter what they ride, but do check it’s something the person you’re buying for might be interested in; some people do find it a little intimidating (though they’d be pleasantly surprised if they tried it). Bennetts Insurance customers who have signed up to receive emails about rewards will be the first to hear about highly-discounted track days run in partnership with California Superbike School (CSS), which go live on the exclusive rewards page, where you’ll find an ever-increasing number of special offers.

Or for the ultimate gift (besides actually buying them a new bike), you could book some training with CSS – read one of our reviews by clicking here.

If none of these gifts inspire you, how about a new helmet? I’d be careful here, as the fit and styling is extremely personal. Maybe your gift is the promise of a trip to the local motorcycle shop to choose a new lid; you should change it every five years, so for our reviews of the best, click here.

Alternatively, what about something for the garage – a charger might be ideal for instance? Check out our maintenance and service reviews here.

If you’ve still not found something, have a browse of our glove reviews, leather jackets, textiles and more by clicking here.

Whether you’re looking for a Christmas gift or birthday present, BikeSocial can help you choose something they’ll love, and that you know has been properly tested and reviewed…

 

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