I’m a year-round rider in the UK. And I hate feeling cold. These statements might seem contradictory. You might be of the school of thought that believes anyone who rides in the winter must feel a little cold. But I believe that with the right equipment you can be comfortable in any situation. With layered clothing I’ve never felt cold on my chest and legs. With proper socks and waterproof boots, I’ve rarely had problems with my feet or toes feeling cold.
My hands are a different story. No matter how many layers or how thick the glove, my fingers were always cold to the point of hurting and tingling whenever the temperature dropped much below 10C. I know, I’m a softie…
A lot of people recommend heated grips. I’ve never had one installed. When I was riding my CBT bike, a Honda CBF 125 I did not want to go through the expense of buying and installing a heated grip system for a bike I did not plan on owning and riding for longer than one year.
On top of that, the whole physics of heated grips don’t seem to make much sense. The palm of your hand is the bit that will get the heat, but that is already out of the wind anyway. It’s the back of the hand that gets all the wind blast and chill, so that’s where you’ll want the heat.
And finally, I never really liked the look of the heated grip controls on the handlebars. It just looks so “bolted on”!
So I researched the alternatives and decided that a heated glove system would suit be best. Installation was easy, and when I changed to a different bike, unlike heated grip systems, I could take my installation with me!
After some research on the interwebs asking biking mates and reading online review made me settle on the Gerbing XR-12 heated gloves. I decided to buy my item from SportsBikeShop in the UK. Unfortunately the long gauntlet model has been discontinued, but the short gloves are still available.
Here were the winning points for me:
- I can add more items to the Gerbing system as I require. They do heated vests, socks, leg warmers etc.
- There is a lifetime warranty on all heating elements (more on that later).
- Installation is simple: just add a cable to the battery, connect the junior controller and you’re set! (Remove the cable when you sell the bike!)
- The installation is fused and fuses are supplied.
- Alternatively you can power the gloves from optional rechargeable battery packs. I’ve never used this, but the option is there.
There are four levels of heat indicated by blue, green, orange and red colour on the junior controller LED, and I’ve never felt like going past orange, even in 4C riding.
The gloves are a little bit on the bulky side, so you lose a bit of feel for the controls, but not as much as you would from under-gloves under a winter glove or from painfully cold fingers. My hands are always nice and toasty.
The batter adapter comes with a fuse, and just wires straight into the battery. I have my cable routed so it comes out from under the seat next to the tank. Then the junior controller wires run through my jacket, between the outer layer and the winter liner, and come out through the cuffs, where I connect then to the gloves using the jack connectors supplied. In a pinch, I can remove my gloves and the wires hold them, like idiot gloves!
I’ve used these gloves in rain, commuting in London or out on country roads. They are fully waterproof and windproof. The latest model has a visor wipe on the left glove. They have provided terrific service and comfort over 4 winters now, with three different bikes (the CBF 125, the Kawasaki 650 and now the Z1000SX).
The lifetime warranty has come in very handy: last winter, one of the gloves stopped heating. A quick email to SportsBikeShop, they arranged a mailing label, and a week later a brand new set of gloves was in my possession. Excellent service!
Prior to that, the junior controller also stopped working. Again, this was replaced free of charge for a new and updated item, that remembers the heat setting. (The old controller would not automatically come on again if the power was temporarily disconnected.)