A Guide To Choosing What You Need
When it’s wet and cold and windy, the last thing you want to worry about is being cold, but some of us wanna keep on keepin’ on, even when the weather gets a wee frightful. However, nothing ruins a good road trip much more than chattering teeth and frozen fingers so lets review how best to suit up suitably for the chillier seasons.
Before we get to official gear, remember that the best way to start the warming trend is to layer up. Thin technical base layers can be purchased at outdoor outfitters, and that includes technical socks. If you are dedicated to enjoying the ride, even when it gets icy, start by investing in what’s closest to your skin. Wool, cashmere, and silk are dependable natural fibers that stay warm even when they’re wet. Then there are synthetic solutions that wick moisture away. Cotton might feel nice at first, but it neither wicks nor stays toasty when temperatures drop.
Also, if you didn’t realize just how cold it was but are determined to keep going, you should be able to pop into just about any store along your way and buy disposable warmers. They are now designed to fit not just inside pocket of all kinds but can be comfortably installed in boots, gloves, backs (that works nicely). You could probably stick them inside your helmet, although warning, that can be surprisingly hot.
If you thought of it ahead of time, there are also rechargeable pocket warmers. They aren’t as versatile but they last a lot longer and have temperature control.
Though we’re not endorsing any particular brand, we’ve read good things about heated motorcycle gear made by these companies: Ex Pro, Tourmaster, Synergy, First Gear, Gears, Gerbing, HotWire, Olympia, Vanguard, 12V, Thermacell, Powerlet, Fly Racing and Klim.
Keeping your core warm will go a long way to circulating heat out to your extremities, so let’s start here.
A heated vest will add less bulk but, well, your arms are on their own. If you tend to overheat, this layered over a thermal shirt and covered over with a windbreaker, might be sufficient. If not,get the fully heated jacket. Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure that the jacket comes up nice and high so that the wind doesn’t sneak in past your neck.
The main concern when it comes to your hands is that you need to be able to feel the controls and not lose too much in the way of protection. It’s the reason that heated grips might be the best choice for you, although opinions are equal on both sides. Many riders mention that heated gloves do more to keep the entire hand warm than heated grips, but your mileage may vary.
Honorable mention goes to bark busters for your hands and, for the rest of you, windscreens and full fairings. Anything that protects you from the bone-chilling wind is good, but that’s another article, so let’s get back to the electric clothes.
Your legs tend to stay quite still when you ride and they’re farther away from your core. Keeping them (and your feet) warm takes pressure off your heart to circulate heated blood around. Heated pants will definitely do the trick, but a couple layers and windbreakers will go a long way, especially if you’ve got heated soles and a radiating middle-section.
You’ve got options: heated socks, heated soles, and heated boots. Like all the other gear, it’s good to find out if its water “proof” or resistant—especially the socks. It might seem like a great idea to get cheaper gear of any kind until you find out that it might electrocute you in a heavy downpour, or you can’t ever wash it. Which leads us into the last part of this discussion.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each system. If you’re commuting shorter distances, battery-powered gear might be a nice idea, since you might be wearing the gear off your bike as well, and might enjoy the added heat source. If you’re going the distance, gear that’s hooked up to your bike might make more sense.
Battery-operated power sources need to be recharged, have a shorter “life”, and don’t get as warm. Additionally, the elements that are wound into your gear are necessarily smaller. Also, remember that the battery pack will be taking up a pocket or adding bulk somewhere.
When you hook your clothes into your bike's charging system they'll deliver unlimited heating, offer larger heating elements, and the potential to hook up various elements to the same charging unit. However, they do require advance set-up and, once you’re off the bike, you’ll need to find another source of warmth. That said, there ARE dual-powered options
BUMPING IT UP A NOTCH
Variable controllers allow the rider to maintain your various parts at different levels of warmth, and some versions use come with Bluetooth control through your phone.
Though it takes extra effort and additional investment to ride in the colder months, the advantages are many. Fewer tourists, less traffic, no bugs, spectacular sunsets, and kaleidoscopes of colorful leaves are just a sampling of reasons why it is worth gearing up and getting out, even when the going gets tricky.