Updated Feb 20, 2016
Nothing will more quickly falsify a sport touring motorcycle enthusiast’s smile faster than a northern winter’s seasonal entrance. Here we are, fully honed from our travels during the warmer months, only to place the entire riding year’s newfound knowledge under the same protective cover as our favorite two wheeler. Heated motorcycle clothing in the form of gloves, vests and socks along with static installations such as heated grips and seats are all viable solutions.
The thing is, they’re even more useful during the warm season! When that first beautiful spring weekend comes along, most of us have already set aside time to enjoy it. Waking up early for what’s expected to be a high of 65 degrees, we wheel the bike out of the garage only to be blasted in the face by a 45 degree chill that won’t secede until later in the day. Yes, the sun will warm up by noon but we’re leaving now, I say! Now!
Summer’s no different. No matter how hot the afternoon, dry cold fronts can stalk a sunset. Wouldn’t it be nice to simply push a button or flip a switch and immediately feel our core temperature begin to find it’s balance? That’s pretty much the consensus around here and enough reason to put elaborate focus on the matter so first and foremost, let’s figure out how much heat is enough to sufficiently keep up with our surrounding environment.
One key factor is body type. I myself tend to run pretty hot but even then I find that my gloves aren’t enough to keep my fingers warm at certain speeds/temps. Again, this is all weather dependent but once that thermometer drops below the 45 degree mark my appendages go numb.
Originally thinking heated grips to be enough, I've found that weather below 45 degrees leaves my hands toasted on one side and frozen on the other.
If you’re on a budget or simply looking for a non-electrical solution, you might consider a box of charcoal hand and foot warmers. People underestimate how effective these things are. One on top of each hand as well as under the palms will getcha’ cookin’.
For tolerably brisk riding (45+ degrees), heated grips may suffice. We’ve installed both Hot Grips and Symtec Heat Demons, the second of the two being preferred for their price tag and ease of use. While heated grips do require a bit of technical know-how, they’re certainly convenient when sudden temperature changes take hold. Feeling the bite? Reach down and choose between hi/lo.
Originally thinking that heated grips would be enough, I soon found that any weather below 45 degrees left my hands toasted on one side and frozen on the other. Having since bought my wife a pair of Venture heated glove liners, I’m of the opinion that a combination of the two is likely the best approach. Heated grips keep your palms warm whereas heated glove liners gently toast the front side of your fingers.
With a pair of well insulated winter riding gloves, this combination does an excellent job. Still, there’s a lot more to being comfortable during a cold day’s ride than just warming our hands. For example, what if we’d like to heat our feet and torso?
In my first year of riding, I didn’t care how cold it was. My excitement about motorcycles kept me warm through the worst of it. Even though I still have the same love for riding today as I did then, I now know that riding in even mildly low temps can fast become a bad experience.
Our trifecta investment for tackling cool to cold weather riding exists in the form of daisy chained attire. In addition to heated glove liners, Venture also offers a heated vest that’s compatible with Firstgear’s heated socks. After installing their power control’s included coax-to-battery ring connector, each individual heating component can be connected seamlessly in phase. That’s one power connection, one temperature controller and three heated components operating in unison.
Note: You’ll want to itemize and order whichever adapters/extensions work best with your setup.
I’ll cap the above avalanche of possibilities with yet another that’s still somewhat foreign to me. A friend and I swapped bikes for one leg of a recent group ride. From the start, I thought I’d had a personal accident in my pants but as it turns out, BMW offers heated seats on their flagship sport touring R1200RT. This got me curious as to wether or not anyone makes a universal heated motorcycle seat insert. As one might expect, They do!
To conclude things, understanding which products on the market will best benefit your cool to cold weather motorcycle riding experience starts with simple self awareness. Whether you’re going for a short cruise along the California coastline after dark or defiantly battling a Wisconsin winter’s cabin fever, some combination of the items on this page can dial in a comfortable journey. My advice? Go for the trifecta (heated glove liners, heated vest and heated socks).
What Heated Gear Do You Use While Riding?
There are a lot of great heated products out there. Which do you prefer most? What do you like about them and why? Your input is invited. Post an article!