Date reviewed: October 2018 | Tested by: BikeSocial Test Team | Price: £159.99 (+ £39.99 for controller) | gerbing.co.uk
Gerbing’s 12V heated vest is designed to fit under your existing bike kit without adding too much bulk. It doesn’t have sleeves, but keeps your core warm with heating pads on the chest, back and collar.
A water-repellent Thinsulate soft shell, it has pockets on the inside and outside, with a lifetime warranty on the heating elements. BikeSocial Test Team member Gareth Harford has tried it on his KTM 1190 Super Adventure…
I’ve only ever gone as far a heated grips in the past, but riding in winter with three or four layers on to keep warm can get pretty uncomfortable; Gerbing’s vest made me realise I’ve been missing a trick for all these years…
Being quite long, the vest needs tucking into my Dainese trousers
This heated vest is very well made, but I immediately noticed was how long it is; I’m 5’9”, and this medium fits well around my body, but under a two-piece Dainese Gore-Tex touring suit it becomes a bit more of a breathing-in exercise as I tuck the vest into the trousers so that the Dainese jacket’s zipper will connect to the pants. It also adds bulk by the time my back-protector’s in too.
It may well not be an issue for others, but as with any kit, it’s important that you try it on first, ideally with the gear you’ll be using it with.
The plug that attaches to your battery can be left poking out from under your seat – it has a water-resistant cap
The vest can be operated from either a bike battery or an optional portable lithium-ion battery (£119.99). I’m using the supplied connectors for the bike, which just need screwing under the battery’s terminals. As with other electrical devices, the mini-blade fuse is close to the end of the positive lead, which on the KTM is a bit of a pain due to the position of the battery – the best bet is to tuck it down behind the battery, under the cover.
The connector from the jacket to the bike cable simply plugs straight in and detaches easily if you forget it and walk away (cough).
This is the £59.99 dual controller, which can also be used to set the temperature of other Gerbing accessories
Power and control
I’ve used the vest while riding around North Yorkshire, usually when the temperature’s between 0.5°C and 1.5°C; as it’s supplied, it can be plugged straight into the battery, but it’ll only run at full power… which gets very hot! Buying the £39.99 temperature controller – which gives you three levels of heat – is really a must as I tned to run it at 25% heat most of the time. It’s a shame you have to pay extra for it, especially as it’s included with some of the competitor products. A £59.99 dual controller is also available, which can control heated trousers too, if you have them.
The power connectors exit from the inside bottom left of the vest, meaning I have to direct the wires up from inside my trousers and through the gap in my suit, which is a bit of a faff.
At full power, the vest pulls 4.5A, which should be fine for most bikes, but it’s worth checking that your alternator is up to the job; to test it, put a Volt meter across your battery and measure the output while the bike’s at idle. Then turn the vest on full and see if the voltage drops significantly – if it does, it could be that your battery won’t be fully charged, though if in doubt, check with your dealer.
The Gerbing heated vest works so well at keeping me warm that I now notice how cold my arms are – that’s not to say it’s not ideal for many riders, but do consider what you’ll be wearing it with.
Personally, I’d have preferred the vest to be a bit shorter, with different routing for the cables, but this kit really does make me want to ride all the more in the winter.