Friday, November 20, 2015

Getting a gift for a Biker (a.k.a. Motorcycle Enthusiast)? Here’s what you need to know:

It is a bit early – not even Thanksgiving week yet! – to start talking about holiday gift guides…. BUT with the holiday season about to kick off, I thought I’d get this out there so you can have a fighting chance!! Have that new son-in-law with a Harley® parked in the garage? Or perhaps you drew the name of that co-worker who has more pictures of his/her bike than pics of people in their cubicle…. Never fear – the first ever ‘Life Behind Bars’ holiday gift guide is here!!

First off, it really is the gift that counts with most bikers. So there’s no need to worry if they’ve already got those pair of gloves, or that set of motorcycle themed pint glasses. If we don’t already have it, we’ll use it. And if we already do own the exact same gift you just gave us, we’ll put yours to use once the other one wears out.

That being said – if you’re planning on buying parts for his/her bike, please find out the year, make and model of said bike! At F.X. Caprara Harley-Davidson® we really do want you – and the recipient – to be happy! Trust me when I say that they may be a little disappointed to find out that the gift you got them won’t fit. And we won’t know what kind of bike it is just because it has saddlebags on it – that could be a Switchback, Heritage, Street Glide, etc., etc. A picture can usually help tell us the make & model, but not the year. If we have seen the bike for service we can look it up, but if you’re shopping for Uncle Leo two states away, please know what bike Uncle Leo is riding.

You can get personal, just not too personal – meaning please think three times before sending out their gas tank for a custom paint. Surprise – for most bikers their bike is an extension of them, like an arm or a leg (yeah, it’s that important!). Sure they may have talked about having a picture of Elvira painted on their tank, but then changed their mind. I once freaked out my husband – I got a bigger tank for his Sportster®…. then I had to get a different seat because of how the two fit together…. I sent him a ‘coupon’ exclaiming how I was the best wife in the world to do this for him while he was off fighting for our country (he was deployed at the time). You can probably guess he wasn’t too happy with me until he got home and saw his bike… Luckily he liked it, but it was a close call!

Also, please do not buy a helmet for anyone unless they’re with you trying them on and say, “I want this one!” We’ve had customers find a bike in 5 minutes – and then take half the day picking out their new helmet. There are half helmets, 5/8’s helmets, ¾ helmets and full face helmets. Some with a shield, others without one. Some with a drop down sun shield. Size runs vary depending on the manufacturer – I fit a medium most of the time, but sometimes a large is better. Everybody’s head is a little different, and their sense of style – especially when it comes to a helmet – most decidedly so. If you want them to have a new helmet for safety reasons, please either get them to go shopping with you or get them a gift card.

So now you have an idea of what not to get a biker for Christmas…. Here’s some helpful ideas for what to get them:

  1. Most Harley® Enthusiasts love getting t-shirts, coffee mugs, shot glasses and stickers with the dealership name on it. Especially if you live two states (or more) away, go to your local Harley dealer and get them ‘dealer branded’ stuff. Every dealership I stop at I always get a t-shirt & a shot glass.
  2. GPS may be on a lot of bikes, but motorcycle maps (not made of paper) always come in handy. Have they been talking about riding up through Nova Scotia?? There you go!
  3. Are they a reader?? Books like The Harley-Davidson® Motor Co. Archive Collection, Growing Up Harley-Davidson®: Memoirs of a Motorcycle Dynasty, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are a good bet. Do they enjoy movies?? Add to their DVD collection with Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, The Wild One, The World’s Fastest Indian, or – of course – Easy Rider.
  4. The open road is available at home or man cave: plenty of home décor can be had for the Harley® Enthusiast. From clocks to signs, from calendars to pint glasses to vintage advertising – allow them to show off their biker side even when they’re sitting on the couch.
  5. One part that’s a universal fit (as long as their bike has a battery) is a SuperSmart Battery Tender. While their Harley® is sitting there it is drawing power from the battery and can drain it in as little as six weeks. In case you’re thinking they can just start the bike in order to charge the battery, I’m here to tell you it’s not. The bike has to be under power -meaning you can’t just start it & let it idle like you can with your car. A $40 battery tender now will save them a $120 bill for a new battery later.
  6. Check around your area for any bike raffles going on and get them a ticket (see if they have to be present to win). For instance the Fort Drum (which is right in our back yard) chapter of the Combat Vets Motorcycle Association is raffling off a Dyna® Street Bob® in June 2016, plus cash prizes, all for a mere $20 a ticket. Even if the Biker you're getting the ticket for already has a bike, they'll still appreciate another one! Motorcycles are kind of like potato chips, you can have more than one....
  7. Set the mood with some music: a MP3 Player is a nice gift! Even if their bike has a radio, chances are they can still plug in a device and jam to their own tunes as they roll down the road.
  8. Get them Riding Gear – gloves, head wrap, boots, and goggles. Just double check the shop’s return policy in case of fit issues. 
  9. A picture says a lot of words, a film says 10 times more! Get ‘em a Personal Camera (think GoPro) so they can show you the ride they took through the California Redwoods rather than just tell you.
  10. Still not sure?? Then my best suggestion is to get them a gift card. Bikers can always use extra funds – maybe they need $50 more towards a new leather jacket, or they want to pay down their service bill. It may not seem very personal, but it will definitely be appreciated.

Not into the guessing game? Have them fill out their Wish List on Harley’s website (you can do the same too, you know) which you'll be able to see. But no matter what you decide to give them, most bikers will not consider the gift itself, but the love expressed by the giver.