I can’t believe that it’s taken all of my motorcycling life until now to discover the joy of heated clothing. All the freezing rides, the frequent stops to jump up and down by the roadside and get the blood flowing again, the numb fingers – none of it was necessary. There was another way and I’ve finally had a taste of ‘the warm side’.
My wife’s always cold – even inside with the radiators on and the woodburner blazing – and I’d researched the Keis brand because I was considering buying her a heated jacket, powered by portable lithium-ion batteries. On closer inspection I noticed that they also did kit specifically for motorcyclists that could hard-wire directly to the bike and let you plug-in and ride. This included heated gloves and boot in-soles as well as the jacket. Suddenly, I forgot about my wife and started thinking of myself. It’s freezing out there at the moment and it’ll still be winter when I leave. Furthermore, I’m on a bike without heated handlebar grips…
Having justified my reasons for not spending the money on my better half, I got the jacket, gloves and in-soles for myself. Selfish I know, but anyone who has frozen their ‘nads off on a bike will understand perfectly. It arrived in three neat boxes with clear instructions which I didn’t actually need to read, having watched a 30-second video online that explained everything perfectly. In a matter of minutes I had wired up a cable to the bike’s battery and installed the correct fuse, routed everything inside the plastics and cable-tied it securely to the frame, leaving just enough slack to allow me to sit and stand on the bike.
I then wired myself up, which is far less painful than it sounds. Simply put on the lightweight, breathable jacket, connect the bike’s power input lead to the jacket’s output and you’re ready to go. I also opted for a temperature control unit that allows me to choose three heat settings, from lukewarm to toasty to ‘scorchio’. Two neat cables zip out of the jacket sleeves to connect to the gloves (which have their own 2-stage heat controls that can also be operated with the gloves on) and the in-soles were connected via an input at the back of the jacket.
Turn the engine on and quickly check that all your connections are secure, and off you go. The first time I tried the gear the conditions were perfect – minus 4, freezing fog and 5.30am – and I had a three-hour ride ahead of me. Under any other circumstances I would have taken the car, but the feeling of warmth flooding around my upper body, hands and feet was incredible. I could even feel one of the advanced heating elements in the jacket collar sending warmth up towards my head area. Let me tell you now, there’s no need to stop riding for winter if you use this kit. When you’re warm you can keep riding for much longer and your concentration levels remain high because you’re not distracted by the shivers and shakes. I managed the three-hour trip in one-stint and arrived at my destination (the Adventure Bike Training centre in north Norfolk) 150 miles later, focussed and ready for a day’s rider training.
I’ve a feeling that the jacket, gloves and in-soles will be an indispensable part of my kit over the next month’s final preparations and in the early stages of my ride until I reach sunnier climes, when I’ll box them up and send them back to the UK ready for next winter. I’ve used them again today, despite the frosty conditions, because there’s a strange pleasure in feeling toasty in February. I’ve always struggled with heated grips because they only warm the insides of your fingers, but these windproof, waterproof, heated gloves cocoon your hands entirely.
I’m going to be riding the bike every day soon, so I will report back on how these items perform over time, but if you regularly have to ride in all conditions, I cannot recommend them highly enough. For those who need more portability, the lithium battery packs are a great alternative and allow the clothing to be used for a variety of other activities such as winter sports, hiking, horse-riding or whatever gets you outdoors. Just don’t tell my wife or it’ll cost me dearly! Find out more at www.keisapparel.co.uk