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 (12v) or Wireless
This electrically heated motorcycle vest by Keis is a dual-power model, meaning you can wire it into your bike or you can use a portable battery. The battery option means you can use it for a wider range of activities. 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.
Heating system: Wireless (USB powerbank supplied)
With four heat zones, two in the front, one on the neck and one in the middle of the back and three different heat settings. This heated vest comes with a 10,000mAh battery that claims to provide heat on the lowest setting for up to 10 hours and should last over 500 charges. You can use any USB powerbank with this vest, plus the powerbank doubles as a phone charger. The battery slips neatly into its own pocket too. It’s machine washable and looks well made.
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) or wireless using Gerbing’s battery pack
The Gerbing Heated Jacket is can be used wired to the bike or wire-free with Gerbing’s battery pack. However the battery pack is pricey. 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.
Heating system: Wired (12v)
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. This jacket has a massive 84W output for incredibly fast and reliable heating. Due to the powerful nature of the heating elements, this jacket can only be powered by being wired to your bike.
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.
The Cheapest Heated Motorcycle Clothing
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 battery pack, for example, which will also charge your phone.
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 a year’s worth of riding?
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.
Heated clothing FAQs
How long does a typical battery last in heated clothing?
Most heated kit has different power outputs and power settings. On a low setting you could expect a 10,000mAh battery to last for 8 hours.
Are heated vests safe to wear on a motorcycle?
The only hard part in a heated vest is the portable battery (if yours is able to use one). The voltage is low (12v) and so you won’t get electrocuted if, for example, your jacket leaks and you get the vest soaking wet.
Can you clean a heated vest or jacket?
Most quality heated vests can be machine washed. Check the instructions on yours.