Riding warm in winter: Last-minute motorcycle stocking stuffers

Lightweight heated vests and shirts can turn a cold day into a warm ride

Even though our East Coast colleagues laugh when we talk about winter riding in Southern California, it does get cold out here -- particularly in the canyons and on the crests where the riding is best, and particularly in the early morning when the roads are empty.

But many local riders lack the wardrobe for comfortable, safe, cold-weather riding, and are left shivering when their added layers and bundles do nothing to cut the wind chill at 40 degrees and 60 mph.

Here are a couple of affordable high-tech alternatives to those sometimes uncomfortable layers. Under a sturdy jacket, worn with proper gloves, boots, and a full-face helmet, these will toast a cold ride to perfection.

The apparel manufacturer Aerostitch makes a variety of lightweight, cold-weather vests and bibs. Both the Electric Warmbib and Kanetsu Windstopper vest are very effective at maintaining core temperature in chilly weather.

They do, though, require plugging in. That means installation will include hooking electric leads to your motorcycle battery. The leads then plug in to the clothing, which has a simple on/off switch to engage the heating elements.

The Warmbib retails for $97, and the more substantial Kanetsu Windstopper costs $197.

Equally effective, but a little easier to use, is the Ansai heated vest or shirt from a company cleverly called Mobile Warming.

The vest and shirt, both available from Mobile Warming's online store, are battery powered, and thus require no wiring or plugging-in. A full charge seems to produce enough heat for a full day's ride.

These products also, unlike the Aerostich items, have multiple settings. You can start riding on a very cold morning at 100% warming, then drop down by increments as the day warms.

The vest and shirt both retail for about $159. 

Twitter: @misterfleming


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