RideApart takes a look at some heated gear options for the doldrums of winter.
Sub-freezing temperatures, wind from the arctic North, and the occasional moderate snow fall make riding a chilly affair in the months of December and January.
There are two main types of heated gear on the market: those that get connected to the motorcycle and those that run off of battery packs. There are some differing opinions on which is better. This is motorcycling after all, and the only thing we can all agree on is that there is nothing we can agree on.
What are the advantages of each? Battery powered gear allows you to use it on a wide variety of motorcycles without wiring. But the upside of the wired gear is that it offers longer use, and more powerful heat. Let's take a look at what there is on the market.
Probably the best known of the heated gear brands is Gerbing. Purveyors of BMW riders' favorite gear and makers of some of the most technically advanced heated gear you can buy, Gerbing is a bit unique in this category as they are the only brand we are aware of that makes a complete heated riding suit and not just liners. Producing a full featured riding suit that includes a removable coreheat insert, you won't find a more integrated solution to heated gear. Considering that Gerbing makes gloves, jackets, pants, liners, and controllers, they have everything a rider needs to stay warm. (Cost: $399.99)
READ MORE: RideApart Motorcycle Riding Jackets Reviews
Joe Rocket released some new heated gloves for 2014 that utilize a 3 stage heating system and run on rechargeable lithium ion batteries. A full charge should last about 4 hours according to the manufacturer, although it does not specify at what heat level that claim is based on. A nice touch is the capacitive finger tip material for use with smart phones. Unfortunately, they lack some riding protection you would want if you went down in that foul weather. (Cost: $143.99)
Kanetsu Electrics is another purveyor of heated gear and a favorite of Aerostitch wearers for its ease of use and versatility. Made in the USA and featuring an AirVantage inflatable insert, it definitely adds to the unique garments that Aerostitch makes. That inflatable insert allows you to custom fit it with a few puffs of air, adds to the warmth of the liner, and is wearable off the bike as standard jacket. (Cost: $347.00)
We definitely don't want to forget our friends at Firstgear. They produce heated jackets, liners, gloves, sock liners, and more. They are budget-priced and feature-packed. They also provide wired controllers and every accessory you could need. One of the nicest are their heated carbon gloves. These are a full gauntlet/full protection heated glove and, unlike the Joe Rocket, it is heated yet also incorporates full featured protection for maximum crash protection. (Retail: $144.99)
Also from Aerostitch is the Electric Warmbib. This is a quickie bib that can hide under essentially any jacket and it retails for $97.00.
Unfortunately, buying heated gear is more expensive than just buying regular gloves or jackets. The added complexity, wiring, and heating elements integrated into the clothing make them harder to manufacture and design for the same level of protection and comfort.
Are they worth it? That answer depends on you and how you want to ride. If it's important to you to ride all year round and the weather gets cold in your turf, then gaining warmth from some heated gear is akin to hitting the perfect apex. That's something you can't pay enough for.