Heated cold-weather gear

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Gerbing's

Gerbing's carries a complete line of heated gear for motorcyclists. They have everything from socks and pants to gloves and jackets, along with the controllers and accessories needed to make them work. They also have an outlet store. Quality and service are good.

Widder

Widder was a popular manufacturer of heated gear for a long time, but they are now officially history, sort of. Their website just says "Thanks for the memories." Widder products are now being sold through the Iron Butt Association eSTORE.

Mounting a plug for Widder gloves

The Widder gloves use a proprietary BMW connector, so you'll have to visit your local Bimmer Boutique to buy a plug. They're about $21. You can use the stock accessory connectors by cutting off the leads and soldering in some longer wires to go to the plug. Then, drill a hole in the side fairing to mount the plug. It comes with a nice looking weatherproof cap, so it looks good installed.

Heatgloves1.jpg

The plug is below thigh level, so the knee is further forward and there's no problem with the cord hitting the rider. The connector is waterproof, and the gloves work well.

Heatgloves2.jpg

Heated grips or gloves?

Opinion 1

I had a set of Widder gloves, but I just sold them on eBay. I now have Kimpex grip heaters on both of my bikes and am much happier. For me, the gloves are a big hassle; they're quite bulky, and connecting/disconnecting the wires every time you stop, plus dealing with the wires running through your jacket, are a big pain.

The grip heaters are always transparently there. They get quite warm; however, they obviously heat only the palms of your hands, but I find that works well enough for the convenience. They cost only about $30, and they aren't too difficult to install, though you should allow a couple of hours for a clean install with neat wiring.

Here is the copy from Kimpex on their grip heaters:

  • Kimpex Grip Heater Kit
This kit is for placing heater strips under your grips and wiring into your bike. It has a three position switch for low, high and off.

Kimpex grip heaters.jpg

To find these, go to your local dealer or run an online search. The Kimpex online catalog is nearly impossible to use.

Opinion 2

I have heated grips and I also have Gerbing heated gloves and vest. I like the gloves much better than the grips. On moderate days I don't have to turn on the gloves, and on really cold days I can run them on high. There's lots of variability in between.

My own experience was the heated grips worked well in the 40's but not into the 30's. Here the palms stayed warm but my fingertips still got cold. The gloves have elements throughout the fingers and they are always nice and toasty. But gloves and controller are big $$$ compared to heated grips.

The grips are easier to use for sure. You don't have to string the wire in your jacket and connect them all up, etc... You just have to flip the switch. They are always there. So, I still like them, and they make a great backup if I am out in summer and the chill comes on.

Overall, it's a tossup for warmth on moderate days, with the cost and convenience going to the grips. For cold days, the gloves rule.

Places to buy winter gear

One can always Google for what you want. Here are a couple places to start:

Gerbing's and Widder - See above

CozyWinters is a good place to look for winter clothing for motorcycling and other outdoor pursuits.

Forest City Surplus has discounted cold-weather gear.

Campmor is one of the most popular places for outdoor gear.

A word about the charging system

If you're looking to buy a complete set of heated gear, be aware that you probably won't be able to ride all day with everything turned on. Leon: "Vest alone - no problem. Vest, gloves and socks - I ran the battery completely dead once in about 5 hours while riding. Everything just got dim (and cool) and when I braked for a corner everything went completely dead. I was able to disconnect the gear and get the engine restarted by coasting down a hill."

"For rides of a couple of hours or less, there shouldn't be any issue with a normal set of electric gear. Just connect the battery tender when you get back home."

A voltmeter is a good tool to have if you're doing much riding with your heated clothing on.

Installing heated grips

See this page.

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