‘Tis the season, in the Northern Hemisphere, when temperatures begin to dip and our thoughts turn to toasty-warm fingers on cool days.
You may run heated gear, or you may simply think about it fondly but have not yet taken the plunge. Everyone I have ever spoken to about heated gear, who rode without it and now runs it? To a one, they all say “why did I wait so long to use this?”
Con: It’s Pricey
Okay, yes, it can be expensive. Unfortunately, motorcycling is generally an expensive endeavour. If you have decent riding gear that keeps you warm, but your fingers are always frozen, you can wear heated gloves without any other heated gear. You can add a piece at a time to your heated gear collection. If your bike has enough output, you can wear heated everything.
Note: You Need To (Duh) Power It
That’s the rub, though: will your bike power the heated gear you want? You’ll need to research your bike’s electrical output to be sure you won’t murder your bike’s battery with your jacket. One way to do that is to find that output number, add up all the draws (headlight, taillight, fuel pump, cooling fan, instruments, add-ons like heated grips) and then see if there’s enough extra to run heated gear AND keep your battery charged.
You may also want to install a volt-meter. I know from doing the above math, that one of my bikes was right on the edge of being able to run heated gear. The meter allowed me to run the gear when the bike could handle it, and turn it off when the bike is at idle or otherwise wasn’t charging adequately.
Big “pro tip” right here: if you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes to wiring, get help. All wiring for heated gear should have sufficient gauge for the load. Do research, ask your smart friends.
Pro: It All Works Together
Great news about modern heated gear: it operates on a very simple circuit and (SPOILER ALERT) it is interoperable. That is to say, a First Gear controller will run a Gerbing jacket and that jacket will plug into Tourmaster gloves, and it will all work together. You do not need to go out and buy a matched set of everything in the same brand. As long as they all have the same round coax plug form factor (if you’re running heated gear that connects with the very old wide prong-style plugs it’s time to buy new stuff before it lights you on fire) everything will work.
So hop on eBay. Hound your friend who gave up riding but still has all her stuff. Poke folks for their spares. Then piece it all together and get toasty.
You can easily find an adapter for your modern heated gear’s coax plugs and plug them right into the SAE lead for your battery tender. If you already have that decent-gauge battery tender lead, there’s no additional wiring necessary on your bike. If you don’t, you should probably install one (though, that’s a story for another day). Every piece of new heated gear comes with a fused “pigtail” that bolts directly to your battery terminals and can power your heated gear.