September 17, 2012 by Rider Newsletter Staff
Plug in to warmth with heated riding gear
No matter where you live, there are some days that are simply too cold to ride. Or are there? If you’ve got the cash, heated clothing can keep you toasty on days you used to leave the bike at home. Even the heaviest clothing will eventually let you down in the cold. Even when you are able to put up with the ambient temperature, heated clothing can make you a safer rider. If you’re shivering and shuddering, you may not be paying attention to the situation around you, which is not a good thing. If anything, riding in cold weather demands more attention to what you’re doing, not less.
There are a number of manufacturers offering a wide variety of garments including vests, jacket liners, gloves, glove liners, pant liners and shoe inserts. No matter the brand, the basic design is pretty much the same. Heating elements run through the material providing heat throughout the garment. Most heated clothing is powered by your motorcycle’s power system, so if you have an older model, you need to be sure there’s enough power to spare. Most modern bikes should have plenty of available power for at least two heated garments. You can also get garments that use rechargeable batteries.
For conventionally powered units, the electrical connection is made directly to the battery. A wiring harness is provided to connect the power output to the input on the garment. Lower cost units may have a simple on/off switch, while others include a power control that allows you to control the level of heat. If you can afford it, the dial control is well worth the investment.
Manufacturers suggest that you wear something both under and over the heated garment. If you’re wearing a heated jacket, for example, an undershirt or shirt will keep you comfortable while the outer garment keeps the heating system as close as possible to your body for maximum effectiveness.
All this warmth and comfort comes at a price. Expect to pay $50 or more for heated socks and as much as $400 for a high-end heated jacket. You’ll also pay extra for fancy connectors, wireless controllers and other accessories. Another consideration: heated clothing may not be a great online purchase – at least for a vest for jacket. The reason is that a good fit is essential for maximum warmth. Also, sizing varies considerably among manufacturers. If you’ve never worn heated garments before, the opportunity to try on various brands and types could be highly beneficial.
So, are there air conditioned garments as well? The answer is sort of, but they’re coming along. But, that’s a discussion for a more appropriate time of year. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, why not plug in, switch on and ride away? After all, the forecast is for cold outside and toasty warm on your bike.
There are many manufacturers of heated clothing out there. Here are a few to get you started. Remember; Google is your friend.
This is a good overview of the subject: