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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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I may have missed this part because i was skimming the article, but how well does it fair if a random/ quick rain shower hits the heated equipment? will it ruin it, electricute you, or blow a fuse or something on the bike (assuming it plugs into the bike)?

Thanks in advance,
Derrick
 

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Nothing. All of our wiring is plastic coated and there would be no shock from getting wet. Heated clothing operates at such a low voltage that it's unlikely the current could be felt, even if the wires were completely uninsulated.

P.S. the largest draw I've seen from heated clothing is 7.5 amps, kinda like sticking your tongue on a 9v battery
 

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Nothing. All of our wiring is plastic coated and there would be no shock from getting wet. Heated clothing operates at such a low voltage that it's unlikely the current could be felt, even if the wires were completely uninsulated.

P.S. the largest draw I've seen from heated clothing is 7.5 amps, kinda like sticking your tongue on a 9v battery

Okay, thanks a lot! as you can tell i am no electrition.
 
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