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Info on heated vest - very general for rookie


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I've never used a heated vest, but the older I get it's starting to sound more attractive. However, I need to find a "primer" or a summary or how they work, etc. I know next to nothing about them. My 06 RT has the BMW outlets so I believe the bike is configured for them as far as a power source.


I'm not interested in specific brands, etc yet, just want to get an overall feeling for how they work, etc. So, if you have a good link or want to type out a page of info I'm all ears..er, EYES! :Cool:



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I purchased a used 05 RT in the spring, one of the extras was a heated vest. I have been riding for 35 years and had never used one. About a month ago I had ride that I would be on the road for 1.5 hours at 40 degree weather, so I thought I would try it out.


The unit I have just has an on\off switch, the vest basically acts like an electric blanket. You wear it over your shirt and it keeps your body core nice and warm, which in turn makes your whole body feel warmer.


I love the vest and use it every time I go out now. One thing I would look for, is a unit with a thermostat control which would be better than an all or nothing of the on\off switch.


Buy one, it makes your late season riding much more enjoyable especially if you have the heated seat as well.



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Never thought I wanted one till I ran across a sale of the BMW brand vest.

Bought two, one for me and another for wife. Turned out to be one of the most comforting things we have added to the bike. You can start out in the morning when it is coolish and as the day progresses turn it off, then take it off.


I like to wear mine over my first layer, often a capilene t-shirt from Patagonia. Then the vest then the jacket with or without the liner. Snug as a bug.


Heated jacket sounds good too but for us the vest is plenty.

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Heated clothing makes riding in cold weather enjoyable instead of bearable, plain and simple. The only downside is that once you use it you'll never want to ride without it.




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I bought a heated liner last year. I commute about 35 miles each way until the weather brings snow and/or ice. The main reason I tried the heated liner was to reduce bulk. Prior to the heated liner I was using the Darien with liner (not heated).


The result, I think the heated liner is the way to go. The heated liner under the Darien with adjustable heat control make the commute very comfortable.


One bit of advice is the vest, although I would recommend the liner with sleeves, should fit right. It should be comfortable, but not too loose.

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"Would suggest you consider a jacket not a vest...."


+1 on this advice. You don't want your arms hanging out in the wind freezing. I see you are in Tn. where it can get pretty cold. I have had my Gerbings jacket for about 2 years now and it is pure bliss when it is cool out.

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I think you can run them from the BMW outlet, but we have ours wired directly off of the battery. The manufacturer sells three types of thermostatic controls each equipped for different mounting/use options. They wire to the battery and have their own fuse in line.


We chose the simplest option: A fused wire leads to a plug. This is installed on the bike and routed with cable ties. On our persons we carry the controller with matching plugs. The controller rides in a pocket, or can be velcroed to something. The advantages of this type of unit are that, since the fused wire is cheap and you can get several of them, the controller and jacket can be used on multiple bikes, simple installation, no mods to the bike, and no Canbus limitations.


Other options involve a permanently mounted controller. You typically would need to drill something on the bike. Maybe slightly slicker, and slightly more convenient to use, but to me not worth the hassle.



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I've got a Widder vest with a BMW-style plug. I just plug it directly into the accessory socket and it works like a charm. Mine has a simple on/off switch; I've never felt the need for a thermostat control, nor a jacket liner with sleeves (I was worried about it being too bulky through the arms under my jacket, though I've never actually tried one). I believe something like a Gerbings jacket liner would have to be wired to the battery, as it draws too much for the accessory socket and the bike would shut off the circuit.

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................ I believe something like a Gerbings jacket liner would have to be wired to the battery, as it draws too much for the accessory socket and the bike would shut off the circuit.


I wired directly to the battery with a fused SAE plug which is handy for other stuff like a battery charger (see pic) but a friend with a 12 RT uses his accessory plug with no problem...

If you consider a jacket, Gerbings has a wide combination range of sizes of chest size and arm length so you can get well fitted...As mentioned above, get a good fit so it works well under a jacket no matter what you get...Also recommend the thermostat controller....Worth the cost...


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Deek, I have the BMW vest, (bought used in this site's classified section) which has a cool little bitty roundel on it somewhere. Plugs directly into the acc outlet. Has low and high settings.


My wife has a heated jacket, with a variable thermostat. Brand is 'Warm and Safe Heated Gear.' I have it plugged into a fused power strip.


Either will help a lot; if I had it to do over again, I'd buy a jacket with a thermostat. The BMW vest settings are sometimes too-hot/cold, and I find myself looking down at the controller instead of at the road.


We run both at once, never a problem

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Deek, just got back from the Death Valley Pre-MLK ride yesterday. I had never used heated clothing, but knew it would be cold going o=n the route I was taking, so bought a Gerbering and the controller. I plug into the accessory socket on my 2001 RT. The only thing I can say is WOW! You can't believe the smile you will get when you begin to feel this warmth slowly envelope you. At one point going over a pass there was snow and slush on the road, but I never felt anything but warm and toasty. I wore it under my stitch and found that even my hands stayed warm even when mu=y gloves soaked through in rain. Couldn't believe it. Great product and I know it will significantly extend the riding season for me.

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I am a satisfied heated gear wearer. I have a jacket liner, gloves and comfort socks :grin: (gloves and socks purchased after my heated grips died on our trip last winter).


On our ride back from Phoenix in March, it was chilly and snowy. I was toasty warm in my gear and, the most amazing thing, when we stopped for gas and the gear shut down, it felt like getting out of the car to gas up.


My heated gear has not failed me yet, but I always carry sufficient warm liners and layers "just in case."

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..just want to get an overall feeling for how they work, etc...


They work wonderfully. I love my Gerbings heated jacket liner. I really hate being cold during a ride, but never am if I have my Gerbing's. As a result, I ride all year. Highly recommended.



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I've got a Widder vest and simple on/off switch. I also have a Warm n' Safe liner with a heat controller "thermostat". Hands down the liner is far superior. The vest will leave your arms cold, even with "chaps" for the Widder.

I'd like to sell the Widder and get another Warm n' Safe for our 2 up riding.

Guess who gets stuck with the vest when we go riding :/


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It's the wrong time of the year,but keep an eye on the classifieds here and on www.ibmwr.org,the BMWMOA website and your local Craigslist.

Used gear will show up in these places a good prices.

Best time to shop for heated gear is in the summer.



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The key to staying warm in colde weather is l;ayering along with a heated vest/jacket. If you are able to keep your torso warm, it will help keep the rest of your body warm as well, for various physiologic reasons.

I like the heated jacket liner from gerbing with a controller to adjust how hot the liner gets. Ive tried aerostich, which most of my gear is, widder, and gerbings and found the gerbing jacket liner to provide the most heat, for me. Hook it directly to the battery rather than an accesory port

For layering, it depends on how cold it is out:

First layer is thermal underwear like underarmour that the athletes wear, (available at most sports stores in various thicknesses for different temps) not just regular cotton thermals. The underarmour type wicks perspiration away from your skin so u dont geel clammy if u begin to sweat, and u can sweat even when its cold. The regular thermals just get wet, and then the wet layer next to your skin makes it harder to stay warm. Second layer is your street clothes

Third layer would be your heated gear.

Fourth is your riding jacket.

If its really cold, like here in central Il in January, Ill add a fleece layer instead of my street clothes, and sometimes a windblocking layer over my heated gear, but I can stay nice and warm down into the teens. I dont like the full heated jacket because it limits my layering options. I have aerostichs windblocking fleece jacket that is both a wind blocker and fleece layer in one and it is really warm and blocks the wind nicely but doesnt heat up as much as the gerbings does, so I wear the jacket liner under my aerostich when its really cold, even though my aerostich fleece jacket is heated as well.

Most newer bikes with a 400 watt alternator have enough power to run a vest or jacket liner. You can run just the vest / liner thru the accesory port if it has less than a 5 amp draw, but more than that pops the fuse in the outlet, which is why I wired mine directly to the battery and have the plug come out right in front of my seat so its easily accesible. You can also use this plug to put your bike's battery on a trickle charger in the winter as well You can run a full heated jacket liner and pants liner with a 500 watt alternator like most newer BMW 1200 series have, depending on other electrical farkles. My gold wing will run heated jacket liner, pants liner, socks, and heated gloves that all connect together. It really helps to extend my riding season. The right kind of clothing, instead of just jeans and a jacket, can really make a difference in your comfort under adverse weather conditions.

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I've never used a heated vest, but the older I get it's starting to sound more attractive. However, I need to find a "primer" or a summary or how they work, etc. I know next to nothing about them. My 06 RT has the BMW outlets so I believe the bike is configured for them as far as a power source.


I'm not interested in specific brands, etc yet, just want to get an overall feeling for how they work, etc. So, if you have a good link or want to type out a page of info I'm all ears..er, EYES! :Cool:





Deek, I see you are asking how a heated vest works..


They work just like an electric blanket.. There are resistor wires running through the vest at specific areas that turn vehicle electrical current into resisted heat.. That current can be controlled either with a simple off-on switch or a resistor type controller,, or the best way is a pulse width modulated pulse controller that sort of pulses the power to the heating element wires (the more power pulses the hotter it gets.. One of big advantages of the pulse width type controller is it has off cycles so basically uses less power from your charging system when turned down to a lower heat setting & gives nice even heating..


I have used heated vests for years from the early Widders to the modern Gerbings.. I presently have a Gerbings heated vest & heated jacket liner (with collar) & much prefer the vest to the jacket liner as I don’t have to bulk up my arm area & hinder precise bike control..


Personally I like the vest better than the jacket or jacket liner as it is easier to layer up without bulking up the arm area but that is just a personal thing.. A vest also uses less battery power so works good on my older bikes with a marginal charging system..


For a vest to work correctly it should not be against bare skin so a person needs to wear a thin light under garment (personally I use a cotton long sleeve Tee shirt) but about any light thin under garment will work.. Then to get max heating & even heat distribution you need to wear a heat trapping shirt, long john top, or sweater over the vest to keep the heat the vest generates in & next to your body.. The better that outer garment traps in the heat the better the vest will work.. In my case I like a high tec poly propylene turtle neck pull over that seals at the neck area.. If it is really cold I might wear a military type wool sweater over the vest.. The vest must be held in fairly close to the undergarment for it to transfer heat correctly..


The heated vest works so good I don’t even use the jacket liner in my winter riding coat..


I regularly ride in 15°f /20°f ambient temps with occasional rides down to 0°f .. As long as the air is not real damp I am very comfortable with just a heated vest & maybe heated gloves if on a bike with no hand protection.. If the air is real damp then it is difficult to keep my feet & fingers warm & to keep my helmet from fogging & icing up..


I regularly do 2-3 hours at 20°f or lower without stopping if it is a nice but cold day.. I do stop more often if high humidity or high winds with the cold damp temps.. Night riding in the sub 10°f range is a real challenge to keep the extremities warm especially my toes so on those unusual days I place one of those chemical toe warmers in each boot between the sock layers (seems to work pretty good for 6-7 hours of foot heat)


Living in Michigan I get a chance every year to perfect my winter riding gear.. One thing I have found is IF you can keep your core body temperature up it is much easier to keep the extremities warm.. In my case it is my toes that are the most difficult to keep warm on long distance high speed trips up to northern Michigan..


You can easily use a heated vest on the newer BMW can-bus systems & even use heated gloves with the vest.. A heated jacket or jacket liner will also work but just-work if the heat is turned up to max.. On my new BMW can-bus a heated jacket with heated gloves will shut it down after a while if both are set to the high setting (will work OK if the pulse width controls are set to a lower setting though)..


If using a heated jacket or liner & heated gloves it would probably be best to wire the factory power outlet to direct battery power & by-pass the can-bus controlled power outlet..






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Great source of info and I appreciate all the typing you guys are doing! Sounds like the vest will work our best for me. I rarely ride when it's less than 45° here near Memphis.


Very good information on how to connect the heated clothing and especially layering. It'd probably take me 10 tries before I figured out the technique on my own.


My bike has the heated grips but not seat. I think that will work well with the vest. My legs and feet have never gotten cold, and my butt seems to do okay also.

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