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I've seen a couple of posts with people asking about heated gear, so I thought I'd share this with you guys. A while back I asked a fellow biker and copywriter I know to help me write an article about heated gear to help educate people. I think it's a great read and answers most of the questions people have. Feel free to ask any questions you feel are unanswered.

FYI - I removed links to our product pages so this isn't viewed as a "sales pitch" of some sort. Hope that's okay.

Taken from our Street Wise Blog

Heated Motorcycle Clothing – The Best Way to Extend Your Riding into the Winter Months


The battle against Mother Nature has long been a struggle for those who ride motorcycles. For most, the extreme temperatures of summer and winter have been where they call it quits. For the summer extremes, it is often short lived and once the noon day sun has gone away, the riding can resume. However, when it gets cold, it stays cold in many areas and will stay cold for months at a time. For riders in these climates, they can hope for a warmer day to take a quick ride or simply winterize their motorcycle and give up riding. However, this is changing with the introduction of heated clothing from a couple great manufacturers. The times of wearing multiple bulky layers to stay warm on a cold day are over by using the bike’s electrical system to keep the occupant warm with active heating, rather than through the use of layers of insulation.

How Heated Clothing Works

Heated Motorcycle Clothing actually works in a very similar manner to the heated motorcycle grips and seats that many motorcyclists have become accustomed to; it is just scaled down and built into the clothing itself instead of the motorcycle. The difference primarily is in the material used to create heat. In all of the heated clothing, carbon fibers are used. They are durable and flexible, both required for any garment used for motorcycling. Heat is produced when electricity passes through the heating elements on these garments and the resistance of the carbon wires creates heat. The typical garment draws from 15 watts for a pair of gloves to 65 or 90 watts for a jacket or vest. All manufacturers have provisions to wire together the individual pieces so integrating an entire body solution is easy.

Concerns About Heated Clothing

One of the most commonly cited concerns about heated clothing is the electrical draw necessary to power all the clothing. In most cases, the rheostat, or temperature controller module, is attached directly to the motorcycle’s battery. During normal operation, even a sport bike’s small generator or alternator should be able to keep up with the draw of a typical heated clothing setup. However, to be safe, using a 65-watt, versus 90-watt version of the jacket liner is recommended for those who worry about the current draw. However, with a little math, it is easy to estimate any motorcycle’s maximum wattage output. All modern motorcycles operate at or right around 12 volts, with charging systems that vary in their amps of output. A typical cruiser will put out about 48 amps. By multiplying the amps by the volts, the wattage output for the bike can be had, in this case, 576 watts. Even with the draw from the bike, there is still plenty of output for an entire system. Sport bikes have smaller charging systems, but with modern bikes needing a strong spark to start up, even some sport bikes have bigger alternators or generators than their counterparts from a couple years ago. One of the newest liter class bikes has a 34amp setup, good for 408 watts. If there are concerns, checking with a motorcycle service department to get the charging specs for a specific bike, as well as the typical load, is only a phone call away.

Controlling the Temperature

All companies that make heated clothing have done so with comfort in mind. For the liner pieces (in other words those that go under other layers like the feet, chest and legs), they are all designed to be, as they say, “heat neutral” when the system is off. This means that while another layer, they aren’t going to have an insulative effect if left on all day. A rider can unplug and wear the liner all day underneath their other clothing if they choose.

While on the bike though, plugged in and riding, both companies put the control of temperatures in the user’s hands, just in different ways. Both systems offer adjustment; it is the level of adjustment that riders need to consider. In some cases, the rheostat is built into each piece and has three separate heat settings available. The upside to this is that each piece heats more independently. The downside is that it is very possible to need a little more or a little less heat that will not be available. The controllers available for the other brands are completely variable. They are available as single or dual controllers and if need be, more than one could be used. By being completely variable, the exact right amount of heat can be had on any piece. These parts are available as portable units or as permanent or even semi-permanent mounted pieces that can be easily integrated into any motorcycle. The use of a rheostat is absolutely vital to being comfortable and safe with the use of heated clothing.

The Benefits of Heated Clothing

While it may be possible to be warm on a motorcycle at freezing temperatures without heated clothing, heated clothing offers a couple huge benefits. For anyone who has ridden with a heavy coat or even a number of layers of clothing on, they know that those layers impede the movements of the rider. Taking a heavy leather jacket that is oversized and stuffing it with poly-fill, wool or other layers will keep the rider warm but at the cost of being able to maneuver their motorcycle in the manner they are used to. These layers can affect head movement as well, compromising the ability to check blind spots or even watch for cars that should be stopping at an intersection. On top of making the rider more comfortable and potentially safer, the addition of heated clothing can extend the temperature in which a motorcycle can be ridden. A cold day can become a colder night and turning up the heat setting is the perfect solution for getting home comfortably.

For commuters who may have to work extra hours to touring riders who are unabated by cold weather, heated clothing is the best choice for staying warm.
 

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glodigger
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Good info on amp draw, hope some will comment on what they use and works for them.
 

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Excellent post with excellent information. However, I'm im an area where salt is an issue and I don't have the ability to clean the cycle after a ride. When it gets to +20 F, I call it quits because that's about when the salt trucks come out and the riding season ends for me. I just can't see spending the bucks for heated gear that I will use for approximately 1 month.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
@ Jeff

Can't blame you. It's bad enough trying to clean road grime off the bike. Salt takes a ton of effort and can be very damaging.

To those who find the info useful, please give me +Rep! Thanks!
 

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@ Jeff

Can't blame you. It's bad enough trying to clean road grime off the bike. Salt takes a ton of effort and can be very damaging.

To those who find the info useful, please give me +Rep! Thanks!
I ride all year, clear roads of course, This year I went "heated".
There is a big difference in the ride from all the BULK "quilted stuff" to light wind breakers and heated gear.

I purchased "First Gear" heated jacket liner and pants liner, carbon heated gloves also. Easy to hook up and control with their dual controller.

Don't forget to get a balaclava.

Al
 

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Just posted a late response to a much-earlier thread that I started myself. I bought a pair of Harley (Gerbing-manufactured) heated gloves back around Thanksgiving and I think that they're freakin' awesome! I have a set of hand wind deflectors (National Cycle) on my RKC, but the heated gloves go way beyond any help the deflectors ever gave me! The gloves draw super-low amps (about 2??), and I'm thinking of getting more heated gear. I've looked into it for myself, and newer, bigger HD's shouldn't have any problem putting out the power, even for a full set-up (gloves, jacket liner, pants liner, socks) for one-up, but it may cause a problem for two riders both with full gear.
Good luck,
Matt
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Glad to hear you guys are having such positive experiences with your gear. I don't think I'll ever go back to bundling up in layers when I ride during the cold months. It's just not worth the hassle, and I hate that "stay-puft" feeling I get with layers of warm clothes. hehe.
 

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I'm Your Huckleberry
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FWIW,

To expand a bit on some of the info from Matt, I have read from Stroker in the past that a H-D bagger has about 50 amps of available power, with 25 of those amps being dedicated to operate the motorcycle, leaving of course, 25 amps (or 300 watts) of 'free' power to run clothes and other accessories.
I would imagine that the police version produces more, because of the large array of devices that must be run in active duty police trim, but I don't know how much more.

Hope this helps..


PS - EDIT -

Just trolled thru the Gerbing website

Jacket liner 77 watts (jacket draws the same)(
Pants liner 44 watts
socks or insoles 15-17 watts
gloves or glove liners - 27 watts

Total for a full Gerbing setup = roughly 165 watts.

So for a full on bagger with the full compliment of 2-up heated gear it is going to be very close, if not just a tad over the total available power in your bike.
Of course not everybody runs with all the gear, and it's pretty unlikely that it'll get used with all of it at the highest setting at the same time, so there is a perceived cushion there.



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Thanks! I needed that.
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Good info!
 

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Heated garments are great, but a simple word of caution- if you are running far and packing light, please keep in mind that should something happen with power delivery to the garments you might find yourself very cold very quick. Do pack additional layer/s just in case, however most heated gear today is top notch. I personally have enjoyed Aerostich's Airvantage vest for better than six years now and consider it's inflatable air bladder a big plus. Just as important is a realy good wind blocking top layer, which many of us already own- a GOOD rainsuit.
 

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We just purchased pants and jacket liner, H-D (Gerbing). The jacket is on order. I rode Saturday about 250 miles in 35 - 40F weather, some very light misting rain (not enough to get wet).

We've been riding since 1970 wearing all sorts of improvised and specialized cold/foul weather gear. I've done the hypothermia ride more than a few times. Besides being unhealthy and uncomfortable, hypothermia affects coordination and judgement. Being cold while riding is unsafe.

Pulled on the pants over some very lightweight polar-fleece -- pretty much the weight of everyday sweat pants. Up top, just for comparison, I was wearing a T-shirt, poly-pro long-John top, polar-fleece pull-over, down ski jacket, and H-D rain-suit jacket.

The upper end was keeping "not cold," but bulky, difficult to get head movement to check traffic. Fairing and windshield help keep wind off the "core." My experience has been that my legs and feet get cold because they're exposed.

I have heavy wool hiking socks, over cotton socks, in waterproof / insulated foul weather boots. My feet stay "not cold" . . . Not cold is OK, but the feet are not warm.

Pants, on the other hand, kept me toasty warm. This is an amazing sensation -- riding in cold weather and feeling WARM, toasty warm. We're excited about getting the jacket.

I was an Army Medic in Alaska. We've been trained / educated about staying warm in an Arctic environment, hypothermia and its prevention. Heat loss from hands, feet, and head are significant. "If you're feeling cold, put on a hat." -- stops the heat loss off your head, and allows the rest of your body to warm up. Same functional advantage for keeping hands and feet warm.

I just checked on gloves, glove liners, boot liners. Evidently Gerbing is coming out with a heated boot. I have nice H-D cold weather gloves, behind the fairing my hands don't get cold. But heated liners would be a nice touch. It'd be nice to have heated boot liners.

Toasty warm, like sitting next to a pot bellied stove. That's a whole new dimension from dressing to ride and "not getting cold."

:clap:
 

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Heated garments are great, but a simple word of caution- if you are running far and packing light, please keep in mind that should something happen with power delivery to the garments you might find yourself very cold very quick. Do pack additional layer/s just in case, however most heated gear today is top notch. I personally have enjoyed Aerostich's Airvantage vest for better than six years now and consider it's inflatable air bladder a big plus. Just as important is a realy good wind blocking top layer, which many of us already own- a GOOD rainsuit.
very wise advise, I have had my own and my better halves gear go out on us on rides, my right glove, her left glove, different times, also carry spare fuses, when hers went out it blew a fuse so her liner didn't work either!

gerbings service is great, but it takes 4-6 to get your stuff back from them (at least in the winter)
 

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Heated equipment

just getting into heated clothing. I have gloves and wife just brought me a heated liner for Christmas. Guess I will need the controller. Any
comments or subjections about hooking the liner to the gloves and battery appreciated. The Gloves and liner are Harley Davidson(Gerbing). Where do most people place their controller? I`m riding a 2003 road king classic
 

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Great advise. I got a HD jacket liner last year used, and it works great. This year I got the HD pant liner and was able to use it twice before the snow and salt arrived. I am please so far with my experience.
 

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I've been running the Tourmaster Synergy brand for about 4 years now.

http://www.tourmaster.com/category/Heated_Apparel/59

I have the pant liners, full coat and gloves. I used to laugh at guys with heated gear. Now I'm one of em !

My method of checking for sufficient alternator output was simple. I hooked the stuff up to my Victory V92C (28amp alternator), cranked it up and measured the voltage at the battery. On that bike with all garments maxed I still had 13v across the terminals, however it was losing the battle at idle showing 11.9. So it was still rideable in that mode and no issues at all when not maxed out, or if you just have the jacket liner and gloves running.

The Harley has (i think) a 50 amp alternator and it doesnt even know the gear is there.

So you can always do your own little test and I'll ya what....heated gear isnt cheap but once you have it its pretty darn nice. The only stone I throw at it is I hate having wires all over the place. LOL ! And...forgetting to unplug when dismounting the motorcycle.

EDIT: and good point by the fella above about bringing extra garments in case of failure. I've had no issues but a buddy of mine did recently when his heated vest gave out. It was old and heavily used so it lasted a long time.
 

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just getting into heated clothing. I have gloves and wife just brought me a heated liner for Christmas. Guess I will need the controller. Any
comments or subjections about hooking the liner to the gloves and battery appreciated. The Gloves and liner are Harley Davidson(Gerbing). Where do most people place their controller? I`m riding a 2003 road king classic
I have the Gerbing Heated Jacket with gloves. I use the dual controller with the optional cover that has a belt hook and I attach it to my left side strap on the coat. I can just reach over and adjust easily when riding. ust have to remember which knob controls what.
 
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