When it comes to staying warm on the bike, heated grips seem like the best choice but if you haven’t considered a heated jacket or heated vest, you’re missing out.
Heated grips are good, they can lower the sensation that you’re cold, because (surprise, surprise), you really feel the cold in your hands. But think about it; heated grips have a tiny surface area, they have to get heat through your gloves, which have a large surface area, so the heated grips are constantly battling wind chill.
Stop this nonsense. Get a heated vest or jacket instead. They’re brilliant at keeping your core warm, so colder blood from your extremities gets gently warmed up before it’s sent back out to keep your toes and fingers from losing all sensation.
They come in two different types, wired in or battery powered. The wired-in ones run off the bike’s 12v system and are generally more powerful but with improved lithium-ion battery technology, battery-powered heated vests are a great option.
Heated grips are a nice-to-have but once you’ve tried a heated jacket or vest, you’ll laugh at the poor sods who think heated grips are as good as it gets.
Heating system: Wired or wireless (12v or battery)
This electrically heated motorcycle vest by Keis includes a free heavy-duty controller which allows you to control the temperature with ease. Complete with three heated panels, two on the chest and one for the lower back and kidney region for all-round coverage and optimum comfort on long, cold trips. Manufactured from the latest metal fibre element technology, this heated vest is powered by rechargeable batteries or wired to your bike. The elasticated sides provide an excellent fit for both men and women alike.
Heating system: Wired or wireless (12v or battery)
Constructed from a softshell, wind-resistant Nylon keeps this heated vest comfortable, lightweight and highly compact – perfect when you’re unsure what the weather will do. With heating pads on the chest and back including on the collar, you’ll be toasty warm in no time. The vest is water-resistant and includes a lifetime warranty on the heating elements. Battery-powered, you have the option the wire to your bike. Temperature controllers sold separately.
Heating system: Wired (12v)
The Gerbing Heated Jacket is a wired-only connection and cannot be used with a battery pack but don’t let that put you off. Designed to be worn comfortably under outer garments, the heated pads within the chest, back, collar and sleeves for full upper-body coverage. The compressible, waterproof, and durable thinsulate exterior construction and an internal liner made from micro-denier for comfort. If you want overall warmth, why not connect Gerbing heated gloves or trousers which can all be connected through the same wiring and controlled with an optional temperature controller to set at different heating levels (sold separately).
Heating system: Wired or wireless (12v or Keis’ own battery)
Lightweight and breathable, this heated jacket by Keis has heating elements in the chest, back, sleeves and collar and guaranteed to keep you warm in the harshest temperatures. Specially designed as a base layer and not to be worn as an outer, you have the option to plug in gloves and inner soles, this jacket has a massive 85W output for incredibly fast and reliable heating. Due to the powerful nature of the heating elements, this jacket can only be powered by the official portable battery supplied and on a low setting. The coat can be wired to your bike to combat this.
Fitting the connector to the bike
The connections on heated clothing are a lot simpler than most add-on electricals. It uses a permanent 12v connection which attaches to the positive and negative terminals on your battery.
Some kits are supplied with different fuses. This way, if you use multiple heated clothing, you can use a bigger fuse if you need to. Always check you have the right amp fuse or you're in danger of damaging the heating elements.
First, loosen your battery connectors (negative first) and connect the cable ring connectors. Cable tie the lead in place and pull it through the seat somewhere that’s easy to reach the clothing’s connection.
If you’ve done it correctly, there isn’t much you need to worry about but, like all DIY connections, it’s best to check them at regular intervals; especially before a long journey. Carry some spare fuses with you, just in case.
If money’s tight, then you can take a look at this budget option. It runs off a USB battery (the sort you’d use to charge your smartphone). You’ll have to supply your own powerbank but they’re only about £15. This is a top-rated one, for example.
It’s cheap and we have no idea how good it is, but it gets decent ratings. The trouble with non-motorcycle gear is that it’s never that hard-wearing, so I don’t know how it would stand up to days in the saddle.
The great thing about the proper heated motorcycle gear is that it holds its value. So if it’s not for you, you can always sell and get most of your money back. The same can’t be said for a cheap eBay option.