Review: Gerbing 12V heated jacket

Layer after layer after layer. That’s how I rode through the winter. A three-layered Rev’it Sand 2 jacket and underneath that: a thermal liner (borrowed from my IXS summer jacket), a thick fleece jacket and my regular clothes (t-shirt and sweater). The Rev’it pants (also three layers) kept my legs warm enough but at times my upperbody was awfully cold, even under those seven layers.

Still, a warm (or in this case: cold) feeling on your bike depends on more than just your suit.

The heat factors on a motorcycle:

1. The weather
The temperature plays a big role of course. But 6°C for example doesn’t always feel the same. A charming sun or a rain shower can increase or reduce the feeling a few degrees. The same applies to a warm breeze versus a chilly north wind.

2. The motorcycle
Heated grips and even heated seats can be found on more and more bikes, but the model itself also has an influence. For example, behind an RT’s fairing and windshield you catch less wind than on a Monster, something that certainly affects comfort on longer journeys.

3. The ride
A sporty ride on winding roads, constantly moving your whole body, or two hours on the highway with just your eyes peeking in the mirrors and your thumb operating the turn signals now and then? The type of ride too makes a big difference.

4. The gear
And of course your clothing plays an important part. A three-layered suit is warmer than a light summer jacket, winter gloves are warmer than summer gloves, and so on.

In short: a lot of factors influence the warmth during rides. Though long winter trips are mainly a matter of strong character. Yet I prefer to arrive nearly frozen than taking the car and lengthen my daily commutes with 30 minutes. But temperatures around 0°C were the limit.

Heated clothing

With heated clothing, winter rides become less a matter of strong character. I already had a pair of heated gloves, the type that’s powered with rechargable batteries. I’m not entirely satisfied by them because they only break the cold if you go on long rides and don’t want to run out of juice.

Another option is heated clothing you connect to your bike’s battery, which offers more warmth than gear with rechargeable batteries. Past winter I tested Gerbing’s heated 12V inner jacket. The summary: I don’t think I’ll ever do another winter without it. But I guess you want me to elaborate a bit. Here we go:

First, how does a heated jacket work? You can compare it to an electric blanket in the form of a jacket. Heating wire, 0,3 mm thick, runs through the entire jacket, which you don’t feel when wearing it. Even the ends of the sleeves and the (high!) collar are heated.

The jacket has connection plugs to which you can hook up extra gear like Gerbing heated gloves, pants or socks. That way you have just one single cable to plug in to connect all your heated gear with the battery. All connection plugs are neatly tucked away behind zippers: the gloves’ connections plugs on the sleeves, the other plugs on the inside of the jacket.

You wear this jacket underneath your motorcycle jacket. So I can leave that thermal liner of my three-layered jacket at home, and the same goes for that fleece and the extra thermal liner.

With the jacket comes a battery cable, which you need to connect to the battery. This takes 10 minutes max.

First connect the battery cable to the battery.

Then lead the cable to a spot where you’ll want to plug in the jacket (which will be close to the seat).

That’s it. Plug in the jacket’s cable to this battery cable and off you go.

Instead of using the battery cable you can also connect the jacket via an accessory plug in the 12V socket, at least if your motorcycle has one and if you’re not already using that socket to power your GPS. In any case Gerbing recommends using the battery cable which guarantees the most reliable connection.

Hot, hotter, hottest

If you wonder if connecting all these cables before you can start riding isn’t too much a hassle, the answer is short. No. It takes a few seconds to plug in but putting on an extra inner jacket and fleece also takes some time.

Good to know: if you plug in the jacket directly to the battery cable, you’ll get 100% of the heat. Believe me: that’s hot. Gerbing offers a controller as an accessory. Be sure to get one when you buy a jacket, it’s simply indispensable. With the controller you can set the temperature: red is 100%, orange 75%, green 50% and blinking green is 25%. The controller also allows to turn off the heating completely.

You connect the controller to the jacket and you can leave it there all the time. When you hop on your bike you just plug in the controller’s cable to the battery cable and you’re good to go. Too hot or too cold while you’re riding? Just press the button. Heaven!

I find the controller so essential that I wonder why it’s not a standard feature of the jacket. Without it you can only use the heated jacket when it’s freezing cold. With the controller you can use the jacket a lot more, for example when it’s just a bit chilly.

The warmth of the jacket radiates to your hands, head and butt, so you can handle quite some cold. But there are limits. My coldest ride this winter was at -5.5 °C (no pic but it did happen). With the controller set on red my torso didn’t feel cold for one moment but my hands and feet got painly cold after one hour on the highway. So the limit is set by the rest of your gear: how well does it withstand the cold? And of course another limit is the road situation: I’m not sure everybody wants to ride on snowy or icy roads.

With this Gerbing jacket I’ll never run out of battery power as I do with my heated gloves. If I forget to charge their batteries, the next cold ride will be hell. Completely different story with the jacket.

So no cons? Not really, but I do have some suggestions to make the jacket even better than it already is:

– The collar is really high which makes it comfortably warm. But it’s higher than my motorcycle jacket’s collar so if it’s raining the collar of the Gerbing jacket gets wet. A water repellent collar would be good.
– The cables of the controller are quite long. You can stash away one part in your jacket but at the other end of the controller the cable just hangs there (see 2nd pic of the article). Gerbing should find a better way.
– Maybe there are other ways to control the temperature? After a while you get used to the controller dangling from your jacket but a controller on the handlebars would be more easy.

Conclusion

I’m sure everyone who rides through the winter will love this Gerbing 12V heated jacket. Even if you’re not a winter rider but you do some early spring or late autumn rides and get chilly sometimes, the jacket offers a lot of comfort. It fits will, gets warm fast and with the controller it’s easy to get the temperature right. It even looks good enough to just wear as a casual jacket. So if it wasn’t clear already: great product!

Prices: € 219 euro for the jacket, € 49 euro for the controller.

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