– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Got Heat?

The winter months are upon us, and while we here at MD aren’t located where it gets truly cold (SoCal), many of our readers are. Even if you are in sunny southern California, and ride year ’round, you’re gonna get pretty chilly, especially out in the high desert and upper elevations. A leather jacket, and basic leather gloves aren’t going to cut it, and layering to the point of looking like you’re auditioning for a Michelin Man look-alike contest doesn’t add to the pleasure of motorcycling, either. Enter the heated vest and gloves.

Reasons for using heated items like gloves and vests are many and overlapping. The body gets cold to a point where you shiver, which is one of the first signs of hypothermia, a condition where the body’s core temperature drops below 96 degrees F. Muscles contract and release in high cyclic repetition, stimulating blood circulation in an attempt to generate heat. In a scenario where this does not work, the body then starts to go into survival mode and starts to constrict blood flow to the extremities. Hands, fingers, feet and toes suffer first as the body attempts to maintain necessary heat in the upper torso to preserve the vital organs. Continue much longer, and fatigue will become a factor, like weakness in the muscles and drowsiness. Shallow breathing reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the brain.

Hands and feet (along with the joints along the path to them) that have stiffened and become numb to the sense of touch make operating the motorcycle controls an exercise in faith and luck. Not being able to feel how much pressure (if any) is being applied to the brake lever/pedal conjures up some unpleasant scenarios.

While the physiological aspects are affecting the body, the psychological aspects rack the mind and can be just as debilitating. Mental energy that is needed to safely ride your motorcycle may now be spent thinking about how cold you are, that you can’t feel your hands or feet and jeez, a nice, warm drink should be nice right about now. Those hand blowers in the rest stop restrooms you curse when there are no paper towels now loom in your mind much like an aquatic oasis in the desert. All this distraction puts you that much closer to potential disaster.

The use of heated riding gear in conjunction with your normal riding jacket/pants/suit reduces the amount of layering you’ll need to do, maybe even eliminating it altogether. Less layers means greater freedom of movement and range of motion. Getting ready to ride the bike becomes a simple plug-in affair, instead of putting on one insulating layer after another, and then realizing that (insert any necessity you regularly use) is in the pants pocket under all those layers that you are now sweating in……

In cooler weather, around 50 degrees, most jackets with liners, and the insulated winter motorcycle gloves will do the job just fine on shorter rides/commutes. Dip into the forties and below, throw in another 20-30 miles, or, in my case over 100, and heated items like vests, gloves, grips, and maybe even socks, become a necessity, both for your comfort and safety. An added side benefit is that you are as warm as the driver of the four-wheeler, and probably warmer as you walk from the bike into the store or your workplace, while they huddle and shiver in the wind their car/truck shielded them from. Plus, you get to enjoy all the usual benefits that motorcycles provide.

There are a few manufacturers of heated motorcycle clothing, just use those words in a search on the internet and you’ll see all the major players in that arena.

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