Turn a Winter Ride into a Ride in the Park
Regardless of whether you’re hoping to simply take the chill out of a cool evening ride or extend your riding season, heated gear can keep you in the saddle longer. The HeatUp Vest, part of the BMW Functional clothing line, can help you do both.
Constructed of an insulating polyester material and lined with fleece, the thin vest is also breathable, moisture-wicking and windproof yet fits easily beneath a rider’s jacket without adding excessive bulk. Shivers stand no chance as wonderful and welcome warmth is delivered through five heating elements covering the chest, back and kidney area. Other nice design features include a high collar, a slightly longer back and a zipper that angles to the right to avoid irritating the throat area.
The powerful heating elements are thin without the feeling of being wrapped in Christmas lights that my previous heated gear had. Only the lead running from a pocket on the lower right side of the vest reveals its purpose and the vest is stylish enough to be worn off the bike by tucking the lead into its zippered pocket.
Connecting the vest to the bike is simple. Plug the three-foot coiled connection cable into your onboard power socket and connect the lead running from the vest into the socket at the end of the cable. With this setup the vest heats at full power. To allow for three levels of heat adjustability, connect an optional controller between the connection cable and the vest. Connecting a Y-cable to the power cable allows a rider to operate two vests, with each able to run without a heat controller, with a single controller operating both vests equally, or with dual controllers allowing rider and passenger the opportunity to control heat individually.
The thermometer on my instrument cluster read 28 degrees when I fired up my GS. Wearing an insulating base layer, I hardly noticed the vest beneath my StreetGuard 3 jacket with its insulating liner. The bulkiness of my previous heated jacket wasn’t there, and I enjoyed not feeling like the Michelin Man. Sure, it wasn’t the middle of summer, but I could ride.
After powering up the vest, I immediately set the controller to its highest position and within seconds felt the heat it provided. By the time I put on my helmet and gloves, I was actually uncomfortably warm. After resetting the controller to a much more tolerable medium setting, I rode off.
Cloudy Illinois skies blocked any radiational heat the sun might have provided, and for the first 30 minutes of my ride, I stuck to quiet country roads. Other than my “wrong-season” gloves allowing my fingertips to feel the cold and the area around my pinlock visor needing more anti-fog spray, I was riding comfortably. It was time to raise the ante.
After bumping the heat controller to the high position, I jumped on I-57, headed north and soon settled into a cruising speed of 70 mph. With a full tank of gas and no destination in mind, my limiting factor would be my comfort. With the temperature bouncing between 29 and 31 degrees, cold fingers forced me off the Interstate about 30 miles up the road. Had I been wearing better gloves, I might still be riding. While a fear of ice keeps my bike in the garage when the mercury drops below freezing, knowing how well the HeatUp vest performed on this day, I know anything above 40 is going to be a ride in the park.
The BMW HeatUp vest is available is sizes from XS to XXXL and carries an MSRP of $249 with the controller selling for $69. For more information, visit your local BMW dealer.