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ADV ProductsHeated Motorcycle Gear That Doesn’t Tether You To the Bike

Heated Motorcycle Gear That Doesn’t Tether You To the Bike

 We test FirstGear's portable battery-powered heated motorcycle clothing.

Published on 04.03.2020

I can recall a day, about a week ago, when things were different. When cold weather meant throwing on an extra layer and dealing with it as best you can. I think I was tougher then. However, why be tough when you can simply push a button and be warm? FirstGear’s assemblage of heated gear provides the rider nearly any environment they want to dial in, in nearly any cold environment they want to ride in. 

Highly functional and solidly constructed, different items can be run simultaneously or independently depending on rider preference. At the core of the system is the heated jacket, which is worn as a liner underneath your motorcycle jacket. The lightweight nylon/polyester construction features a main zipper plus five smaller zippers for compartments serving different functions. Inside the back of the jacket is a small storage compartment, and on the outside of the jacket, roughly where the left pocket would normally go, is another storage compartment intended for the included high-capacity (15600 mAh) lithium-ion battery. The battery is connected to the jacket with a Coax plug and is motion activated so it turns off automatically when there is no movement. Inside this pocket is a pass-through hole where the jacket’s power cable can be routed either inside or outside the pocket, depending on whether it is being powered directly from the bike, or via the portable battery. 

FirstGear Heated Gear Line
The jacket liner, pant liner, gloves, and sock liners can be interlocked together and powered off a portable battery or from the bike’s power.

When the weather warms up, and juicing up the jacket is not required, the power cable can be tucked away in a small zippered pocket directly beneath the battery compartment. Two more power leads can be found zipped up near the cuffs of each sleeve, which allow either heated gloves or glove liners to be attached. 

Zippered pockets in the jacket sleeves hide cables which provide pass-thru power to the heated gloves.

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A small flap at the hemline on the left side of the jacket holds the three-way power button. Pressing and holding the button for approximately two seconds will power the jacket on or off. Once powered on, simply clicking the button toggles it through the three heat setting options of high, medium, and low. The illuminated button changes color to correspond to each setting – either red, white, or green. An optional remote control, powered by a disposable A23 battery, can be mounted on the handlebar. And after a straightforward, seamless Bluetooth sync procedure, the jacket’s settings can be easily controlled on-the-fly while riding without taking one’s eyes off the road. 

FirstGear heated gear
A small flap sticks out the bottom of your heated jacket liner that allows you to control temperature settings with the push of a button.

Removing the power leads from their storage compartments at the end of each sleeve, provides connections for the heated Outrider gloves. As a stand-alone glove, the fit and construction are both excellent. In addition to knuckle and finger protection, the gloves feature Knox SPS scaphoid protectors on the palm side. The left glove has a rain squeegee on the index finger, although it is attached in a “laid down” orientation which is sleek, but less effective as a squeegee than some designs. Both gloves feature touch-screen-friendly fingertips. Pulling heavier cold weather gloves on and off is a bit more difficult than lightweight MX gloves, so being able to check a phone or GPS, gloves on, is a plus on any ride. When plugged in, pass-through circuitry allows the settings on the gloves to be controlled independently from the jacket, as well as independently from each other. Typically, one would most likely want to run both gloves on the same heat setting. However if desired, each glove can be set to any temperature on its own, with the jacket either on or off.

Heat settings on the Outrider Heated gloves.
Touchscreen compatible Outrider Heated Gloves.
Touch-screen-compatible fingertips were a welcome feature when navigating by GPS app.

Moving down, heated pants and sock liners complete the ensemble. The nylon/polyester/spandex pants are robust enough to work as a stand-alone layer, or even stand-alone pants in a travel context. A long flap on the left provides access to the power switch even when wearing a low-hemmed jacket. Behind the switch is a zippered pocket containing the power lead, which can also double as a battery compartment should a rider want to electrify the pants while off the bike. Short ankle zippers allow for easy entry and exit, and small hook-and-loop closure pockets inside each ankle store the power leads to connect electric sock liners. Either the upper items (jacket and gloves), or the lower items (pants and socks), can connect to either the bike or battery power source, and be run independently of each other. Use of a Y-splitter cable allows all items to be run simultaneously.

First Impressions

Before connecting anything to power and firing up the heated gear’s circuitry, simply putting on everything reveals the high level of construction and fit. Use of spandex in the pants allows them to form-fit, which better transfers heat to the body. The nylon/polyester jacket has a good fit as a liner, however if you are in between sizes it’s possible the smaller would be more effective in overall heat transfer. Use of polyester and spandex in the sock liners mean they fit snug, and thin enough that very little extra “bulk” is felt inside one’s boots. 

FirstGear Heated Jacket
The heated jacket liner has heating elements on the arms, neck, back, and chest.

Possibly the most impressive part of the ensemble are the Outrider gloves. Bulky winter gloves can sometimes be a pain to get on and off, however excellent fit makes these gloves surprisingly easy to use for such a robust build, and use of touch-screen-compatible materials in the fingertips means you’ll likely not need to remove them as often as gloves lacking this feature. Knuckle flex panels in the thumb and first three fingers, various armor panels, and inclusion of Knox sliders all lend to an overall high-quality feel in these gloves.

FirstGear Heated Gloves
The excellent fit of the Outrider Gloves makes them surprisingly easy to get on and off for a padded winter glove.

After syncing the bluetooth remote switch, the jacket can be powered up and controlled either by the on-board switch or the remote. While both the remote switch and the jacket have three-color LED lights corresponding to the heat settings, one minor point to note is that the colors don’t entirely agree. While High (red) and Low (green) match up respectively on both the remote control and the jacket, medium is represented by a white light on the jacket’s button, and an orange light on the remote switch. It’s significant to mention that the bluetooth connection to the remote switch was retained from the initial pairing, and did not have to be reset over several weeks of testing. 

Bluetooth remote heat controller.
The jacket’s heat settings can be easily controlled from a Bluetooth remote mounted on the handlebar, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road.

How It Performed

Heat is felt almost instantaneously once the jacket is powered up, and in the high setting it is hot! Where the jacket is pressed into the body (by virtue of a backpack, fold in the material of an outer jacket, etc..) the heat sensation is more pronounced. As the jacket shifts while moving around, one can feel heat touching different parts of the body from elements in the chest, back, arms, and collar. Running a smaller size with a tighter fit might allow for a more uniform distribution of heat. 

Activating the gloves results in a less-pronounced but equally effective heat sensation. Perhaps the thicker construction of the gloves compared to the jacket acts as a heat-sink, or simply the fact the hands are more exposed to the wind and the cold than a jacket liner leads to the comparatively lesser heat sensation. The full-gauntlet glove’s heating elements are in the back of the hand and along the back of each finger. A typical problem that occurs when riding in cold weather with heated grips is that the palms of your hands can be burning while the tops can be freezing cold. Running these gloves simultaneously with heated grips creates an ideal microclimate for the entire hand when the surrounding climate is less than ideal. Warmth aside, the fit and construction allows for good grip and feel of the controls for a winter glove, and the aforementioned touch-screen compatibility is a welcome feature.

FirstGear Heated Gear

Spandex positions the heating elements snugly against the front of each leg in the pant liners. Like the jacket, heat is felt almost instantaneously in the pants when power is activated. Like the gloves, the heat sensation is less pronounced in the socks, but an adequately warm climate is created. Given the socks are the only items without independent heat adjustment control, it’s possible a “safer” heat level was designed into them.

Powered By Bike or Portable Battery

A couple motorcycles were involved in testing this electric clothing: a KTM 1090 Adventure R (with aftermarket heated grips installed), and Royal Enfield Himalayan (without heated grips). Aboard the big KTM, firing up all the clothing items and setting everything to broil made a pre-dawn run out to the desert like no other ride I’ve done. Dark skies with rain and temperatures dipping into the high 30’s didn’t reflect the bizarre level of comfort riding through it on such an exposed vehicle. I felt like I was back in my truck with heated seats and cabin climate control. Even in these conditions, the high (red) setting was seldom needed on the jacket or pants – medium was fine. I prefer my hands to be warm, and thankfully the gloves’ independent heat control meant I could have them running on high while the jacket and pants were on lower settings.

FirstGear Heated Clothing
If the portable battery runs out of juice during your trip, you can recharge it via your bike’s USB power port using an adapter cable.

Depending on which items of clothing are fired up, and what heat settings are selected, the portable lithium-ion battery can be used to power everything for several hours – or potentially all day depending on settings or whether just one or two items are in use. Once the battery is depleted, it can be recharged with the included wall charger. Or if you are on the road, the heated clothing can be run off the bike’s power with a battery lead while you recharge the portable battery through a USB power port (requires an adapter cable). Running the jacket and gloves with vehicle power results in identical levels of heat as when using portable battery power. 

When all clothing items are running together, while connected to the portable battery, noticeably lower heat levels at each setting can be felt in certain items. This was also true when running the gear on the Himalayan. Compared to the KTM, the Enfield’s less-powerful charging system seemed to struggle a bit with powering all the heated gear simultaneously. With only 221 watts coming out of its alternator, after using roughly 86 watts of power to run the bike itself, the Royal Enfield is left with around 135 watts to spare. All of the heated gear running simultaneously sucks up nearly 103 watts of that surplus between the jacket (42 watts), pants (38 watts), gloves (14.4 watts), and socks (8.2 watts). The numbers technically work, but with margin for power consumption variance of just under 33 watts. 

FirstGear Heated Motorcycle Gear
The heated gear may also be powered off the bike if the portable battery runs low. An SAE to Coax adapter cable allowed us to plug into our battery tender lead.

On the other hand, when running all of the FirstGear heated gear, plus heated grips, and charging the portable battery as well as a cellphone, the KTM’s 450-watt stator output didn’t seem to struggle. It’s also worth noting the jacket and gloves performed equally well when running them together on either bike.

Once the riding day (or night) is done, the ability to power up heated clothing with a portable battery really shines. Rather than needing to layer up at a cold campsite, one simply pushes a button (or buttons) and dials in their own level of comfort. Uses quickly expand beyond the adventure realm as well. While a mid-day break stop on a cold high mountaintop is an obvious place heated gear would be beneficial, rather than turn on the heat in my office, I typed up this review in the cold pre-dawn hours wearing motorcycle gear with little glowing buttons. Product testing never felt so nice.

Who It Is For

FirstGear’s new heated motorcycle gear is ideal for anyone who rides in a country that has a winter, which is most riders. While the most common use of this electric clothing would be in an adventure touring context, connecting it to the portable lithium-ion battery means running the heated gear in a dual sport or even dirt bike context is possible.

Our Verdict

FirstGear heated motorcycle gear test.

Addition of heated clothing to the adventure touring realm is a luxury which fast becomes part of one’s standard kit. Given these items can work well as liners either with or without power means the user might well end up running them in lieu of stock liners all the time. Why be tough when you can be warm. Maybe not the best ad slogan.

What We Liked 

  • Great fit and construction.
  • Independent heat control settings for different areas.
  • High heat levels for colder weather.
  • Keep the heat going once you’re off the bike.

What Could Be Improved

  • Squeegee on the left index finger could be positioned better.
  • No manual included for lithium-ion battery.

Shopping Options:

JacketPantGlovesSocks

Photos by Jon Beck and Rob Dabney

Author: Jon Beck

Jon Beck is fulfilling a dream of never figuring out what to be when he grows up. Racing mountain bikes, competitive surfing, and touring as a musician are somehow part of what led Jon to travel through over 40 countries so far as an adventure motorcycle photographer, journalist, and guide. From precision riding for cameras in Hollywood, to refilling a fountain pen for travel stories, Jon brings a rare blend of experience to the table. While he seems happiest when lost in a desert someplace, deadlines are met most of the time.

Author: Jon Beck
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