Snug as a Bug

Harley-Davidson Heated Jacket Liner

I gave myself a Christmas present yesterday.

Winter riding is problematic in Utah for a number of reasons, rain, snow and cold. With that said, there are days in the winter months when the roads are dry and the only thing really keeping motorcycles off the road is the cold. If you’re like me, it’s my fingers that start complaining first.

No more.

Let me tell you about Harley’s heated jacket liner and gloves. I gave the gift I gave myself a test run yesterday for about three hours out in the western deserts of Utah along the old Pony Express route. Although it wasn’t really frigid, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s the cumulative effects of 60-70 mph in weather just above freezing that start to wear you down.

After about five minutes (the time it took to remove my seat and install the pigtail to my battery and zip-tie it to the proper exit point—yeah, it was that easy), I was on my way cruising down the west side of Utah Lake heading to Eureka. I’d probably been on the bike for about an hour before I felt the need to flip the switch.

It was like crawling into a warm bed under an electric blanket—and it happened almost instantly.

Harley makes a thermostat that helps regulate the warmth of the jacket/gloves combo, but I just went with the on/off version. They also make some pant liners, which I didn’t get. I had originally gone in thinking all I wanted was the vest, but after three hours in the cold, I couldn’t be happier that I went with the jacket (which looks and wears like what you would expect from a typical soft-shell jacket).

All of the plugs seem to be just about the perfect length. I never felt like they were in the way on or off the bike. Harley recommends you give the pigtail about three inches out from under the seat, which is good advice (the front of the seat, just behind the gas tank seemed to make the most sense). Any longer and I think it would get tangled or otherwise be in the way. The on/off switch is about three or four inches long and connects the pigtail to the jacket. The connections are snug enough that I didn’t worry about them coming undone during the ride, but not so snug that I felt like I had to force anything. When off the bike, there are zip pockets that stow and hide everything from view. To the casual observer, it would be difficult to tell that you were were wearing anything other than a soft-shell under your leather jacket.

Harley-Davidson Heated Gloves

I mentioned that my fingers are always the first to complain—the gloves made all ten digits happy as clams. The technology is Gerbring, but sizing gloves right seems to be a problem for me. Different manufacturers size differently, so I wanted to go into the store, try them on and make sure I had the right fit. If you have better luck with that than I do, you don’t have to get the gear from Harley (but I didn’t notice a huge difference in price and the convenience of trying them on before I paid for the gloves was nice for me).

I was surprised at how quickly everything heated up. Although, in fairness, I didn’t know what to expect. After two more hours with warmth embracing my chest, back, sleeves and fingers—it was getting dark quicker than I really wanted, so I called it a day (the temperature really drops at night and I didn’t want to be on anything that could have been the least bit wet, read icy).

Overall the gear performed exceptionally. I was warm, cozy and riding on a day that I might otherwise be relegated to the garage.

A Couple of Nits

The cords from the gloves to the jacket are a little cumbersome and don’t tuck away as easily as I would like—and the gauntlet cuffs were too small to easily fit over my leather jacket with the liner on underneath. Not a big deal, but I think a bigger (wider) gauntlet would solve both problems. The gloves were too big to zip into the sleeves of my leather jacket and not quite big enough otherwise.

The Gerbring technology warms the glove down every finger, not just the palm and back of the hand, but I did get a hotspot at the heal of my left hand. It was annoying, but not enough to turn the gloves off. It’s probably the way I grip the handlebars, but I’ll experiment with that a little more on my second ride (which will likely be this afternoon).

Any Buyer’s Remorse? Not for an Instant

The thermostat would probably make it easier to manage the heat if you wanted to have a little more control. Depending upon how you plug the jacket in, you can have warmth to the jacket and gloves, just the jacket, or just the gloves (you will have to stop, unzip the jacket and fiddle with some connections to make any changes while riding, but it’s pretty straightforward).

Combined with some Grabber toe-warmers in my boots and some long underwear bottoms under my jeans and chaps, I was warm and comfortable.

If the roads are dry and the sun is shining, I won’t be the least bit hesitant to hit the road.

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