£169.99 | Available: gerbing.co.uk
Being cold on a motorcycle in the winter isn’t just an inconvenience – it can be dangerous if you start to lose concentration. With my own built-in thermal fat layer, I didn’t think I’d ever need heated kit, but spending more and more hours on the bike as the temperatures drop has made me change my mind.
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Gordon Gerbing began developing electrically heated clothing for the aeronautics industry back in 1976, and now the business is a leading manufacturer of kit for skiing, horse-riding, rambling and of course, motorcycling. Available as 12V and 7V garments, the ability to wire into the motorcycle’s charging circuit, rather than carry a lithium-polymer battery, makes the 12V kit the best choice for bikers.
At full power the Gerbing Heated Jacket Liner will draw 6.4A, but trust me – you don’t need that much juice unless you’re riding in the Arctic. Power is fed to a cable that comes out of a zip inside the jacket, supplying the Microwire heating elements on the chest, back, collar and sleeves. Microwire was developed to meet the rough treatment a Special Forces soldier would put it through, without being bulky – carbon-fibre wires were too brittle and thick, while copper heated too slowly, and could fail. Using bundles of microscopic stainless steel strands, the heating element is guaranteed for life – if it fails, it’ll be repaired or replaced for free.
The Thinsulate soft-shell jacket replaces your outer jacket’s liner, and is snug, comfortable fit, with inner and outer pockets. Zips at the end of each arm hide plugs to attach Gerbing’s heated gloves – fed by a second input cable – while an accessory lead can power heated trousers or socks.
The jacket comes with a wiring harness and a selection of fuses, which is easily connected to the bike – I have the cable coming out under the seat of my Kawasaki Z1000SX. An essential purchase is a heat controller – starting at £25.99 for the four-level Junior Controller, I’ve been using the TC-Dual Portable Temperature Controller (£59.99), which allows you to precisely set the temperature you want over two separate channels using a pair of digital displays – ideal if you’re also using heated gloves. Cleverly, this controller remembers your last heat setting when disconnected from the bike.
At first, plugging yourself into the bike for each ride can seem a faff, but the comfort is well worth the effort – riding to the Motorcycle Live Show at the NEC early one morning, I soon regretted turning it off to see what difference it made. As there’s no thermostat, you need to set a higher temperature when you pull away, then reduce it after a few minutes. The warmth comes through very quickly, and feels great on a long ride.
If you forget to unplug when you stop, the connection easily pulls apart, and the design means there’s no real chance of shorting the circuit as the plug drops away. As it’s wired directly to the battery, it’s wise to start the bike before plugging in.
If your journeys are short, you may not benefit so much from heated kit, but the minor hassle of popping a plug into a fly-lead’s socket really does pale into insignificance if you’re going for longer rides during the winter.