The winter lining in my Richa Textile trousers has been firmly in place since the middle of September, but has been put back in the cupboard this winter after I received the Keis Heated Trousers to review as a Bennetts Rewards member.
I’ve become addicted to the warmth after using them for more than 1,500 miles on my Honda CBR500R, commuting on all manner of roads and at various times of the day and night…
The front of the trousers is a soft-shell fabric that contains the heating elements; Keis calls this construction ‘Micro Alloy-Fibre Technology’, and the heating elements aren’t visible.
The rear half of the trousers is made of an extremely stretchy and soft, thin material that, judging by its elasticity, probably contains Spandex, but it’s not the shiny stuff so preferred by our non-motorised bike colleagues. The groin area has an added reinforcement patch sewn into the lining that adds stability in an area that is, apart from the knees, stretched and subjected to wear and tear more than any other trouser regions. The waistband is encased in soft, ruffled cloth.
There’s a thin sewn-in pocket that’s roomy enough to hold a good length cable for connecting to either a Keis heated jacket, vest or bodywarmer, or straight to the supplied power cable that includes ring connectors for your bike’s battery.
The ends of the legs are tapered and contain soft pouches holding the cables for connecting heated insoles, which, by the way, are a really good addition if you suffer from cold feet, or for the occasions you don’t want to wear chunky winter riding boots. Note though that the controller on these trousers also influences the insoles, so be sure to check the insole review.
The seams are well stitched and the overall impression is of good material and fabrication quality, which I would expect at this price point; so far there’s been no fraying anywhere.
These are soft and very comfortable trousers indeed, slipping easily over my base layer, which I always wear after a bad experience with another brand I had while wearing heated kit directly against my skin. Keis certainly doesn’t recommend it, though on these I haven’t felt the heating elements through the shell fabric while riding, which applies even to the panels covering the knees.
The trousers feel nice and warm and not too bulky underneath my outer textiles as a substitute for the original thermal lining. The fact that the entire rear side of the trousers is made from the stretch material means it will adapt to a wide variety of leg shapes; it’s a snug fit but one that’s very forgiving if you indulge in a three-course meal or are suffering from puffy legs at the end of a working shift spent on your feet.
It also means you don’t have layers of thick material bunching up in the back of your knees, pinching off your blood supply if you ride a sportsbike. The elasticated waistband, wrapped in soft cloth, doesn’t pinch or dig into my waist anywhere, or roll in on itself; it’s able to stretch to accommodate various stages of pregnancy too, if needed!
I don’t feel the seams nor the cloth-covered Velcro flap for the pouch holding the cables at the ankles for connecting heated insoles. The one issue though is that the pouches are rather small, so the cables are a little bunched up and can exert pressure on the ankle region in the boots if not positioned carefully. Also, the connectors can slip past the Velcro and start poking out when walking about without boots but, to be honest, these are minor niggles; I still prefer this kind of fastening to an inner zipper with a poky toggle.
Having said that, there are 15cm outward-facing zippers at the inner leg ends, so it’s easy to get to the cable pouches and to make them easier to slip your feet through. Even here, the material stretches nicely and I haven’t had to use the zippers.
The 20cm-long flap with the integral heat control button is not too obtrusive, though it is rather large and long. However, it can be comfortably tucked into the trousers when not using the heating, or straightened upwards to lie against the torso underneath the bodywarmer or outer jacket. I certainly can’t feel it against my body.
When using the heating, the flap sticks out long enough so the heat control can be operated by lifting up the jacket a bit, but it then sits well-protected under the jacket while riding. So far, it hasn’t got wet when riding in the rain, and I found it to be easily accessible when trying to change the heat setting.
The trousers are available in sizes 2XS to 3XL, but knowing how variable sizing is in the clothes world, Keis has provided a very comprehensive size guide on its website, and offers free returns for purchases, so don’t worry if you get the size wrong.
I think the best way to sum up the effectiveness of the trousers in cold weather is to say that I have yet to need to use the highest heat setting, and I’ve been ‘lucky’ enough to test them in freezing fog and temperatures of -1°C, the latter at 70+mph so it obviously feels a lot colder.
You will feel the heat more in the knees than anywhere else as this is the bit that’s most taught over the legs when riding, but it never gets uncomfortably warm compared to the rest of the legs. As with the Blazewear I reviewed a while back, I miss the heating under the butt cheeks but it seems to be a common theme not to be able to run elements along this area due to the potential pressure applied to the heating elements.
Less noticeable than in the heated gloves but still worth pointing out is the way the heat is distributed; Keis says its heating elements warm up the space in the clothing instead of along wires, which helps retain the heat longer and spreads the warmth evenly across the legs. It works very well – there are no hot or cold zones save the knees, and on a more upright bike this is barely noticeable.
The trousers draw 3.25A so use about 39W from a 12V source either via a Keis jacket, vest or bodywarmer, or the supplied cable for direct connection to the bike battery. I have the securely-capped connector sticking out of the front of my seat. Pro tip: pop the caps off before putting any gloves on. They’re really very well secured.
I’m lucky enough to also have the Keis heated bodywarmer, so have the trousers connected to a socket on the waistline of the vest, while still able to use the control flap to set the temperature for the trousers.
The temperature is adjusted using the controller on the flap
The control button on the flap is set in a sturdy rubber housing. A two-second push will turn the trousers on, starting at the highest temperature setting (red), and subsequent quick pushes will cycle through the different settings with green giving the least amount of heat. Another two-second push will turn the heating off.
The button is easy to operate with thick gloves on, and Keis naturally advises to always pull over when changing the heat settings, but you can manipulate the flap while on the move by feel. I use my left mirror to check that I see the right heat colour. Obviously, I do this at low speed on an empty road!
The Keis heated trousers are, quite simply, great; they’ve become an essential part of my cold-weather riding gear, being comfortable, warm and easy to use.
As someone who’s had a lifelong problem with chronic bladder infections, these trousers are not just a matter of comfort, they’re a necessity below temperatures of 5°C and I’m extremely grateful for them.
The Keis are as effective in temperature as my old Blazewear heated trousers, but the waist cable on these is less prone to damage from bending at the connector, and the heating elements are not as focused on certain skin patches; a vast improvement.
If I hadn’t given my old trousers to my better half, I would buy him a pair of the Keis T102 heated trousers in an instant; they’re well worth the money if you ride all-year-round.