Planning a trip to Alaska? Make sure your gear can face it
When the winter sets in, motorcycle riding might become a pain in the ass. But if you invest your money in the right gear, cold chills will be a memory. The heated motorcycle gear market offers a lot of solutions but you have to study the problem a bit before buying. Here’s what you need to know before facing the cold weather. Pictured above: Ed March's C90 Adventure
Heated gear is imperative for cold weather
The usual motorcycle gear can stand against low temperatures when you are riding the wind will cut through any material like a blade. If you consider yourself a resistant fellow try to remember the last time you rode for a few hours in cold weather. The first thing that comes through my mind is: “Damn is so cold”.
The heated gear is essential for motorcycle riding but, you can also use it for other activities in winter time, for example riding on your ATV or snowmobile. The sensation of being warm will allow you to ride for longer distances and raise your comfort level. A pair of heated socks and heated gloves will keep you free from frostbites and will enhance the use of the bike controls.
People misjudge the heated gear because the prices are pretty high. But the benefits you get are greater than the extension of your riding season or the sensation of being warm. The heated gear can be life-saving if you ride for longer distances alone and you get hit by a storm.
Building the heated gear
The first on your heated gear list will have to be the heated gloves. This way you will get a better idea regarding the benefits of this type of gear. The warm gloves will allow you to modulate the bike controls even in freezing conditions. They are very helpful even if you combine them with the usual winter motorcycle gear. Forget about using only the heated grips, the exterior of your palms will suffer from the wind even with the most protective gloves.
The heated jacket/vest is the second on the list. The combination of warm hands and warm upper body will allow you to ride even in the hardest conditions.
The heated pants and heated insoles or heated socks will complete the set. If you get a full heated gear, you will even consider daily commuting to Alaska just for fun. The sensation of warm will help you concentrate on the road and the dangers hidden by the cold weather.
What to look for when buying
Obviously, the heated gear runs with the help of a 12V power source. There are two types of gear that can be used with the help of your bike's 12V plug or by using rechargeable batteries.
The plug-in gear is recommended because it runs as long as your bike is running. The bad part is that the system comes with wires that you have to keep in mind when getting away from the bike.
The battery-powered gear must be charged regularly and allows you to perform other activities like skiing for example. The bad part about this type is that the battery will last only for a couple of hours and you have to keep an eye on the battery level.
The heated gear must feature a fuse and an adjustable thermostat to regulate the temperature. The fuse will keep the electrical system of your bike free from short-circuits if anything bad happens and the thermostat allows you to modulate the temperature.
How to get the most out of the heated gear
Keep these facts in mind when using the heated gear and, you will get most of the system.
- Use a layer between the gear and your skin. Try to use synthetic garments and stay away from cotton (retains moisture).
- A wind stopper or your textile motorcycle jacket will improve the chances of staying dry and warm.
- Carry some spare fuses with you if you have a plug-in gear.
- Start the bike first, then the heated gear and shut it down before turning off the engine. This way your motorcycle's electrical system won’t be overloaded.
- When it comes to long trips, try to cover as many miles as possible with the system off. Activate the heated gear only when you feel very cold, this way the warming sensation will allow you to keep riding.
- Make sure your motorcycle electrical system can handle the extra load generated by the heated gear. Most modern bike generators can handle extra electric gadgets without any worries.
Gloves: cheapest – $80, average – $150, most expensive – $260
Vests/Jackets: cheapest – $125, average – $200, most expensive – $400
Pants: cheapest – $100, average – $190, most expensive – $250
Socks and Insoles – cheapest – $60, average – $100, most expensive – $200