Winter riding anyone? We are lucky in the UK to be able to ride all year around unlike our European friends who park their bikes away for the winter when the snow arrives. I’m sure you’ve heard of the old saying “there’s no such thing as bad weather only unsuitable clothing” and it’s true. Sure, the ride is different when the roads are slippery and covered in autumnal leaves and with the drop in temperature there is risk of black ice but it is even more treacherous if you are cold and not able to think and react as usual.
With the plan of squeezing one last weekend away before the end of 2020 my planning turned to clothing and I realised my old heated jacket, which was too big for me to start with, will not fit under my new textiles. Rather than layering up to the point that I resemble the Michelin man a new heated jacket was on the shopping list.
Having done a bit of research I decided to try the Keis heated vest. Luckily I took advice from a friend that has one and went for the smaller size (I am in between sizes) which was the right thing to do. The vest has stretchy side panels which meant my decision was the right one as it hugs my torso without it being too tight and it stops it being baggy around my waist which is what normally happens with ill fitted clothing.
The first thing I got excited about was, of course, the arrival of the parcel. The jacket was beautifully packed in a sturdy and good looking box with a smaller, matching box that housed the battery pack. Much to my surprise, the battery was fully charged and ready to go from the box. The jacket has an internal pocket for the battery with a smart cut out for the wire to loop through to keep everything tidy. The battery is quite streamlined, it doesn’t protrude much and it isn’t in the way or uncomfortable when out and about and riding the bike.
The left hand pocket has an upside down zip and is housing the controller. At first I thought it was a strange thing to do, but of course, Keis have done their research and I soon realised just how clever the design is. A couple of times over the weekend I’ve forgotten to unzip the pocket and tuck the controller under the jacket for easy access before getting on the bike. With the zip starting to open at the bottom rather than the top it meant I could easily access it with my textile jacket over the top and I didn’t have to stop the bike to switch the vest on.
With temperatures ranging from 3 to 9 degrees Celsius all weekend I’ve had plenty of time to test the heating element of the vest. Unlike my old jacket that had one panel on the lower back and two smaller ones on the chest, this one seems to heat the whole area super quick. I travelled with a backpack which made me feel like I was wearing a warm hug. My whole back was super toasty as was the front of the jacket.
For three days I rode with the heat setting on green – the lowest temperature setting which was more than enough. One evening whilst riding over the Brecon Beacons in thick fog the temperature dropped even further. I switched the jacket to orange – the medium setting and the difference was noticeable instantly. It wouldn’t be a proper test if I hadn’t used the red setting – the highest (hottest) setting, too. That only lasted a few short moments because the heat was too much for me and I had to reduce the level back to green.
Winter rides are shorter because the daylight doesn’t stay much past 4 pm and I was curious to see how long the battery pack would last. I am not keen on wires if I can avoid them and despite the jacket arriving with all the fittings and cables to wire the jacket to the bike’s battery, I opted to only use the rechargeable battery pack. It is worth adding this extra as it makes the jacket much more versatile. I was feeling smug and warm when we stopped at the outdoor cafes for a break and in the indoors ones I always fought for the table near a socket to top up the battery charge.
On the coldest day the battery lasted around 4 hours of non stop heating on the green (lowest) setting. The whole time I never felt the need to have the jacket plugged into the bike as we weren’t riding hours on end with no stopping and the battery pack was more than sufficient. The wiring seems to be of good quality and it certainly gives you confidence that it will last and you don’t have to be too delicate with it so if you prefer this option you won’t be disappointed.
The verdict? How does one even ride in winter without some sort of heated clothing 🙂
I’ve found the vest was a perfect layer without adding the bulk to the arms, and whilst I was worried about that, it turned out it was unnecessary. Having the heated grips on the bike as well seemed to have done the job. I loved the fact that at the end of the weekend when I washed the bike, I kept warm, too. Something I couldn’t have done without the battery pack. I can now see so many more opportunities to wear the vest and stay warm this winter. I would suggest it’s a definite must for an outdoor winter activity, on or off the motorcycle.
First published on Superbike News – https://superbike-news.co.uk/keis-heated-bodywarmer-ladies-b501wrp-review/
The review was published in Motorcycle Sport and Leisure magazine.