Nothing burns like the cold. Warmheartedly in agreement with any well-informed motorcyclist: riders nowadays no longer have to be martyrs astride their steeds in chilly weather. Namely, feeling the cold in the marrow of your bones while the blood sloshes around like mercury—is no longer a scenario we need endure. Favourably, we can simply employ the use of heated clothing that will maintain one’s sanity and thus, complete comfort. All day long if you wish, without batting an eyelid or blowing a fuse. Over the last three years and eight months, I’ve been on the road testing Gerbing’s jacket liner and Vanguard Gloves. I’m no princess but admittedly, I am “nesh”—and fairly petite with fingers like pencils—making me and the extremities susceptible to feeling the cold.
With my curiosity antennae up to determine whether the jacket liner and gloves could respectably hold their own in myriad environments, I concluded my examination through British Columbia’s fall. Over a 55,000-mile assessment on and off road, the elements have had the nonstop pleasure of putting Gerbing through its paces. Testing it through months of wet weather in Patagonia and southeast Alaska’s rainforest; at altitude in the high deserts of Bolivia and over the mountainous regions in Peru; at the height of Alberta’s wintertime; as well as the whipping winds experienced throughout the Americas. Amid temperatures from around 55 to -5 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill on top.
Installation of the jacket liner was simple, and the wiring of the battery harness below the seat was easy to configure with the instructions. Just ensure that the output from your stator can cope when the liner generates its maximum heat at 77 Watts.
Fit, cut and aesthetics
As a slim 5-foot 5 female, the jacket liner in XS gives rise to an American fit on me. Although it is supposed to be worn close to the body, it is quite roomy on the smaller frame. That said, when worn below the motorcycle jacket and over a base layer, as intended, the fit still gives rise to a rapid transfer of bear-hugging heat. The Medium on my partner, Jason, who has a 40-inch chest, fits his physique well and is true to size. My only minor grouse stems from a personal preference, which erred on the previous generation bomber style jacket—a touch smarter and double-duty when you’re off the bike.
Living with the jacket
Gerbing presents the jacket liner as unisex in a broad range of regular and long sizes (XS to 3XL), catering well to both men and women including the taller among us. Whether I’m standing on the foot pegs or sitting, the liner works with the movement of my body. Despite its slightly spacious offering on someone that’s neither big boned or curvaceous, it’s not bulky. Nor does it billow or look like I’ve come dressed in my partner’s riding garb. The jacket’s construction of seams and wind-resistant Ripstop nylon shell are strong, and the elastic cuffs are fitted to achieve a close and comfortable fit around the wrist when worn beneath the riding jacket.
Hot under the collar
Gloriously, there are seven Microwire™-powered heat zones, which when the cold starts to seep through clothes towards bone, come to warm fruition in half a heartbeat. When activated, the well-distributed heat leaves you toasty around the high-profile collar, two portions of the chest, two areas on the sleeves and two regions in the back. What’s more, the heated element is guaranteed for life.
Conveniently, there are multiple options with which the heat can be managed. And not just the heat from the liner but the gloves as well due to the pre-wired connections at the end of the sleeves. Moreover, the liner serves as the “home base” for the pant and sock connections too. A convert for the Dual Wireless Remote (used with the wireless Dual Controller and battery harness), enables me to individually choose my preferred intensity of heat for the liner and, or the gloves, at the turn of two colour-coded knobs on a black unit with gloved fingers. Unusually, clockwise doesn’t close off the heat, anti-clockwise does.
Further, the small cordless unit can adhere to the bike with Velcro pads for example. I situate mine atop of the brake fluid reservoir where it stays securely in position come rain, gusting winds or otherwise. Just be watchful not to knock it off if you tend to plonk your helmet down on the mirror. The dual controller and cables live in the left lower portion of the jacket. Barely noticeable even if you’re wearing a snug fitting motorcycle jacket, the configuration stows away neatly.
Administering the heat couldn’t be simpler. Akin to an Avatar, I become at one with the bike upon plugging in the cable from the bottom of the liner, into the battery harness feeding out underneath the saddle, and away I go. Wonderfully warm before I’ve even kicked the side stand up.
Another option available is to pair the liner with the Dual Bluetooth controller, which boasts a “set it and forget it” feature. Namely, it measures the internal temperatures and adjusts the heat accordingly based on your temperature selection. Whichever controller better suits you, both are sold separately.
The devil is in the detail, which for me, distinguishes a great riding ensemble from a good one. Capable of sending up to 135 degrees Fahrenheit of pure, unalloyed heat to the upper body, “biking bliss” is a weak term when you’re none the wiser to the dominion of winter taking hold on two wheels.
Equipped with a high profile collar, the liner feels sublime around my neck particularly as the collar on my motorcycle jacket is shorter. I also appreciate the drop tail back for better coverage while in the saddle. Held in equally high regard is the presence of the YKK zippers; all of which are easy to open, placed between anti-snag fabric making them quick to open and close. I’ve also come to rely on the low profile elasticated cuffs, preventing the admittance of any rude rushes of air charging up the sleeves on a cool day. Finally, the Taffeta lining adds further comfort whether the heat is in supply or not.
Men’s Vanguard gloves
The installation of the gloves couldn’t be simpler, whether you opt to plug them straight into the jacket liner, or the temperature controller with the Y harness (sold separately). Flexibly, you could adopt both systems, giving you the choice to use the gloves without having to wear the liner. The gloves generate their maximum heat at 13 Watts each.
Designed for over-cuff use with a full-length gauntlet and constructed from premium Aniline cowhide leather, the Vanguard gloves offer all the mindful and high-quality features we’ve come to expect from winter gloves. Starting with the Superfabric® reinforcements on the palm and edges, as well as “floating” TPU leather covered knuckle protection for ease of movement with the handlebar grips. A reassuring level of safety meets comfort where the gloves are insulated with 150 grams of Thinsulate™. Additionally, it is securely stitched in to prevent it unfurling on the outside upon removal, and likewise making them easy to don, even if your hands are damp.
Equipped with AQUATEX™ keeps the gloves breathable in a broad range of temperatures and water resistant. Having worn them in a deluge of rain in North Vancouver’s rain shadow, and all day in Juneau’s rainforest drizzle, incredibly, I experienced no ingress of water.
Possessing a 7-inch hand circumference, the Small gloves—for those with 8-8.5-inches—are a tad on the generous side. Available up to 3XL, I’d say the gloves in the sizing available are true to size. Like the jacket liner, the same Microwire™ technology features throughout, including the supply of heat to the front and back of the hand, to the tip of every digit. Heaven-sent compared to heated grips, which fail to keep any more than my palms warm. Undeniably, motorcycling with frozen cold fingers is dangerous over long periods; to my mind, the gloves meet a safety requirement as much as represent a necessity.
Further features erring on the considerate include a pre-curved rider-friendly shape, foregoing any break in period. Gel pads at the palm and pinky offer increased protection in the event of a fall, and the Touchscreen index finger facilitates ultimate convenience when operating the GPS in freezing weather for instance. Two adjustable Velcro closures make for optimal fitment around the wrist and arm, and I appreciate the extra coverage from the longer gauntlet and utilize it as an entry assist feature. As well, there’s a clip to keep them secure when not in use.
My only minor grumble is as a female rider wearing men’s gloves (offering increased protection over the women’s counterpart), they start at size Small. Size XS in a unisex range would constitute a Cinderella fit. Although I’d much rather have warm hands with full dexterity in biting temperatures, even if there is a little surplus space in the tip of each finger. As heated gloves go, they protect and consistently perform against the elements. And foremost, they have revolutionized cold weather riding.
Incontestably, the jacket liner and the gloves are built for the long haul. The Vanguard gloves especially possess an endless supply of ruggedness. No longer desperate to avoid the frigid tedium of winter as the major organs of the upper torso, hands and fingers, all benefit from the soothing and adjustable warmth of the heating elements. All of which are backed with a limited lifetime warranty. Versatile, the liner is proficient in supplying anything from a trickle of warmth to take the edge off a brisk day, through to a continued surge of gratifying heat when it’s beyond bracing. No more unwanted shivers passing up my spine, it’s unbelievably satisfying when temperatures dip below mild.
Fabric and technology savvy, the two pieces articulate well on the bike, no matter what your biking style, riding discipline or surroundings. Without a moment’s notice, both step up when the weather changes: keeping me happy and warm in exposed conditions. Thoughtful components on each garment really showcase the engineering and experience that have gone into them; there’s no restriction of movement, the jacket and gloves stay functional at all times.
Having lived in the liner and gloves on and off for almost four years, both continue to offer daylong comfort in the saddle and out for that matter. As interconnected heating systems go, the Gerbing ensemble represents as sound of an investment as one can make. Unabashedly, they have become my preferred choice and doubtless will be for many years to come.
- Adjustable heat to the major organs of the upper body, plus every digit and the hand—front and back.
- Rapid transfer of heat.
- Comfortable American fit.
- Lifetime warranty on the heating elements.
- Rugged materials and construction throughout.
- Good articulation on the motorcycle.
- XS is unavailable in the gloves.