electric

Heated Women's Motorcycle Gear

warmnsafe_womens_heated_jacket_liner_frontgyde_7v_calor_vest After a chilly ride the other day, I thought about what I'm going to do to keep my fingers from freezing to death while out riding. Because at 50F + windchill it feels like 40F; it's COLD! 

So what is the best option for staying warm while riding your motorcycle? Two Words: Heated Gear.

warmnsafe womens heated jacket liner
In 2011, when I was first introduced to the world of Heated Jacket Liners. TOASTY!

You might be debating whether or not to go this route. If you've decided you're going to take the plunge, it's important to know what the best options are for us as women riders. Before I dive into some recommendations, let's review some basics.

How Should My Liners Be Worn?

When it comes to wearing heated gear, keep in mind that heated liners are meant to be worn Underneath. You need to block the wind so that you can actually feel the heat. These also do not offer any type of protection when it comes to abrasion resistance or impact protection. Also, it’s crucial that it fits CLOSE to your body, as fitted as your riding gear. How else are you going to feel all that delicious heat?

However, keep in mind that you must also wear a baselayer because the heating elements are hot so you need to wear a long sleeve shirt of some kind as a barrier between your skin and the gear. Not a heavy sweater or thick fleece jacket, but a breathable winter weight baselayer.  Otherwise you will get burns as you turn up the intensity!

So the order of layers is:

  1. Thermal, winter weight baselayer
  2. Heated Jacket Liner or Pants
  3. Armored Riding Jacket or Pants

7Volt vs. 12Volt

As you start shopping, you will see these terms thrown around on various types of gear. It’s important to know the difference, especially when riding motorcycles. One will work very well for us, the other will not.

7Volt or 7V, refers to Battery Powered Heated Gear. That means there's a little battery in your pocket that allows you to adjust the heat while you're out and about. It lasts anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on how much heat you're using during any given time. I actually have a 7V vest that I bought just for working at the time (3 years ago) because the store I worked at was So cold inside. I tried using it just riding across San Francisco, but it didn't have enough heat no matter what jacket I wore over it. You cannot plug this into your motorcycle's battery to power the vest. And you only have heat squares that cover the upper chest and back. Another reason why this doesn't provide enough heat to your body while riding.

gyde_7v_calor_vestScreen Shot 2015-10-19 at 7.03.00 PM

You will see a ton of 7V(olt) options on the market from many brands including Gyde (formerly Gerbing), VentureHeat and MobileWarming, but these 7V options do NOT provide enough heat to keep you warm at riding speeds. Maybe if you're riding a bicycle, but bump that speed up to 45-55-65-75mph and now that 7V vest can't keep up. And, you don't have heat down your sleeves, back, arms and neck like you do on a 12V jacket.

12Volt or 12V, refers to heated gear that you can plug directly into your bike's battery to provide continuous, intense heat. YES! Now you have more options to stay warm.

warmnsafe_womens_heated_jacket_liner_frontwarmnsafe_womens_heated_pant_linerfirstgear_heated_glove_liners

The reason I would recommend the women’s specific lines is because the fitment can be much better in the shoulders, sleeves, waist and bust. You also don’t have to size up to accommodate your chest/bust fit as you will with mens lines. 

warmnsafe3

Now, let's go over what the options are for 12V gear and the various combinations you can put together to stay warm. I'm going to list the options on WarmnSafe.com's website. Remember that all the women's heated gear offered through FirstGear is a WarmnSafe product. When you buy any of the women's specific heated accessories, you will find both logos on the garments.

12V Options:

1/ Generation 4 Women’s Heated Jacket Liner. $199.99-$239.99 This version uses a new heated material that sounds less bulky and softer overall. I’m very tempted to upgrade to this one because I’m hoping it heats better than the wires do. The wires are large and you can definitely feel them in the Gen 3 Liner. It also has a newer collar and reflective piping on the back, which I’m not sure how you would see since you should be wearing this Underneath your riding jacket. These liners are NOT meant to be worn alone.   The 90Watt generates more heat, and I believe it draws very similar power to the 65Watt. 

  • 65watt; XS-XL $199.99 This version is probably being discontinued as Large is no longer available. You do save $40, however.
  • 90watt; XS-2XL; TALL SIZES available! $239.99. This is such a great option for those of you who need longer sleeves and torsos.

warmnsafe_womens_heated_jacket_liner_back warmnsafe_womens_heated_jacket_liner_front

2/  Generation 3 Women’s Heated Jacket Liner $199.99, XS-2XL I'm wearing this one in the picture above, and it's also the one that's sold through the brand FirstGear. No difference from the one sold on WarmnSafe's website, just comes with a FirstGear logo. If you're already considering spending $200 on a heated jacket, you may as well spend a few dollars more and get the Generation 4 model above. This one is still offered in 65W and 90W options, however Tall sizes are not available. Read my full review here.

3/ FirstGear Heated Pant Liners. There are two options for the pant liners as well!

  • Gen4 Heated Pants Liner: XS-XL, $199.99; I’ve seen this one in person and it fits like a legging. Not as thin of course, but thin enough to wear under your riding pants. I was impressed by how well they fit. They seem true to fit.  “Heated zones cover thigh and knee and upper butt“

warmnsafe_womens_heated_pant_liner

  • Generation Windblock Heated Pant Liners: XS-XL; $239.99 Looks like the Windblock version has a couple key differences:
    • NEW WindBlock Pants Liner! Front Panel Made From Stretch Gelanots to Block the Wind.
    • NEW Run the Pants and Socks together or on Separate Heat-trollers
    • I can't tell any differences aesthetically, they look the same on the outside and the fit appears to be the same as well.

4/ Warmnsafe Women's Heated Gloves.  $129.99, S-L I’m pretty sure these gloves run loose. If you need XS, I would recommend the Heated Glove Liners instead. I personally prefer riding gloves that offer more protection such as palm sliders and hard knuckles, so for me, these don’t work. But if you’re searching for a toasty glove to ride in, you’ll probably love these.

warmnsafe_rider_classic_style_womens_heated_gloves

5/ Firstgear Heated Glove Liners, Unisex XS-2XL; $79.95. These are the ones I want! These liners should be thin enough to wear under your gloves. If you have the jacket, then all you have to do is plug each glove into the cable on each wrist. Atomic Skin also offers liners, but you cannot plug them into another brand's heated jacket.  

 

firstgear_heated_glove_liners

warmnsafe wrist zippers

So there you have it, all the heated stuff, all the time. Stay warm, everyone.

Time to go ride!

Isle of Man TT aka Two Wheel Insanity

If you've never heard of the Isle of Man TT, it's an incredible exhibition of horsepower, wheelies, endurance, people you can barely understand and SPEED! Everything from electric motorcycles to sidecars to good ole' sportbikes.

iomtt 2014

May 24th - June 6th, IOMTT 2014. 

IOMTT on Facebook

What I find incredible about IOMTT is the fact that these people are going 100-200mph on an Island. A very very small island.  That means they have to avoid people, cement walls, driveways, buildings!

Hopefully you get the Velocity channel in your cable lineup. If not, then you're missing out on some two wheel insanity. It's the only channel as far as I know to watch any of the qualifying / race results here.

Betty the Brammo, My Love Story

brammo enertia electric motorcycle san francisco

Last summer, I was asked to consider applying for a Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle to ride in and around San Francisco. I'd never ridden one and I had no idea what I was in for. Let's just say, it's been one of the greatest two wheel loves of my life. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm still wholly devoted to my Suzuki SV650S. When it comes to touring, hitting the twisties or long weekend rides she's still my girl. 

But, there's something so easy, so fun and so carefree about taking Betty around the city. If you live in a big metropolitan, urban playground then taking a lightweight (324lbs) bike like Betty is a no brainer. Every 5 seconds is another stop sign or traffic light. Average speeds are 25-35mph, maybe 45 on major thoroughfares. 90 degree angles meet you at every turn and traffic backs up within seconds when you least expect it.

Brammo Enertia San Francisco Electric Motorcycles 

I've always ridden in a more forward riding position. My SV definitely has a pretty aggressive one. It's been 9 years since I rode a scooter almost every day, and a fully upright riding position. Between my hip / groin aches from my last accident and my worn out rotator cuff, it feels great to sit up straight with my pegs a little lower than what I'm used to. It's also convinced me that a small street legal dirtbike or supermoto are the best options for riding around the city. It's also fully convinced me that these style of motorcycles are the Best Beginner Bikes! They dramatically increase your self confidence level with their ease of maneuverability, lightweight-ness and familiar riding position. I strongly urge you to consider something with a fully upright riding position as your first bike. Your self confidence will skyrocket and your learning curve will diminish with every corner that you ride ever so perfectly. 

What Ifs

In the beginning I was worried about the usual thoughts that run through one's mind when considering an electric motorcycle or scooter. What about the silence? Won't it be more dangerous? And one of the most difficult issues a motorcyclist may contend with when it comes to a scooter. Fully automatic?! No clutch? No shifting? Won't it be less fun? What about the hills? I live in San Francisco! Well, needless to say, I got over it in a day or two, and I simply don't give a sh*t about the rest because it's IT'S SO DAMN FUN

You don't care that you don't need to pull in your clutch to stop (especially in traffic). I can't tell you how awesome it is to use one hand and barely touch the throttle as I creep through traffic one foot at a time. If you've ever ridden a scooter, you know there's a delay with the throttle and micro managing your speed without putting your feet down can be difficult and annoying through traffic. 

And, with a motorcycle, your clutch hand gets tired pretty quickly trying to manage how far out you can let it go before you need to give it more gas and back and forth and back and forth. It's just one less thing to worry about. It's so freeing to just accelerate and brake, especially with so many stop signs, pedestrians, bicycles and more to think about going from point A to point B. I still think riding a fuel based motorcycle around SF is also the way to go (vs. cars/buses/bicycles) but it's really nice to ride something so light and easy. 

Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle San Francisco Scuderia West

And what about these hills anyway? Not a problem. Betty can run up the hills just as easily as my motorcycle. No, not every block in San Francisco is like this one (California @ Powell). Actually, most hills are fairly tame, but even with hills like these, it hasn't changed my ability to ride up and down them as quickly as I please. And if you live in SF, you rarely ride these routes anyway. It's just not my route of choice, even in a car when it comes to going downtown. 

Brammo enertia san francisco electric motorcycle san francisco

I've never struggled going up a hill in my beautiful city. If anything, she's really punchy halfway up. The only hard part is starting off. There is a slight delay but not long enough to matter. Pretty soon I'm almost at the top of the next one to care. Staying ahead of traffic is easy, especially at 30-40 mph. And it's far easier to stop at the top of a really really steep hill like Gough Street between Jackson and Washington.  brammo san francisco electric motorcycle

Since there's no 4 gallon gas tank to balance when coming to a stop, you don't have to worry about braking to hard or leaning forward to counter gravity pulling you backwards. 

I've also never had a bike with such great braking power. The Enertia is equipped with hydraulic front and rear brakes by Brembo. They stop on a dime and I barely have to squeeze the front to give me what I need. I feel like I can stop instantly and with very little effort. 

So what's the downside then?

Well, the one question everyone asks most often is about the range. Is 42 miles enough? Is it really 42? The answers are Yes and No. If you don't live in San Francisco or another large urban city where everything you need is within 50 square miles, then you don't know how close everything is and how much range you really do need. 

I live in a neighborhood where everything I need is within a 4-5 block radius. However, riding to another neighborhood, even across town is within 7 square miles. So realistically speaking, the range is more like 27-28. As we are a hilly city, even cars lose about 10mpg from their listed mileage. Too many hills and too much stopping and starting. It's also a little more fun to open the throttle a bit more than you need to, know what I mean? :)  It also depends on the route I take. If I start my house in the Outer Sunset to the Mission, I could take the fun route with more hills and twisties. But that uses up about 30% of my juice one way. But if I take the commuter, less hilly route I only use 15% one way. So it totally depends on you. 

Brammo Enertia Range Dashboard Digital

As far as recharging, I plug in to recharge as soon as I get home from work for the most part. But I've been experimenting lately with range so I only plug in every couple of days. I still have plenty of juice for another round trip to and from work. But just to make sure I have all the power I need I plug in.

The one thing that does make things easier but does slow down the charge time (4 hours til full) is that you only need a standard 3 prong house outlet to recharge. The cord stashes easily under the seat and as long as you can find a 3 prong outlet (which exists pretty much everywhere),  you can recharge if you run out. 

I take Betty pretty much everywhere I can. I am lucky enough to have a car and motorcycle so if I do need to haul a lot of groceries or supplies I can use one of those if need be. I usually wear a Timbuk2 with me but it would be nice if I could add a top box or tailbag. Unfortunately since it's a one person vehicle there's no rear seat or option to add a tailbag. 

Givi does offer hard side cases which are mounted low, beneath the seat. Certainly adding those would remove the need to wear a messenger bag for storage. The stock seat is pretty comfy but you can add a plush, suede seat for $200  

As of 1/1/3013, all electric motorcycles and cars are subject to a 10% Federal Tax Credit, as well as a CA Tax Rebate (up to $2500). These two incentives make the Brammo a little easier to handle in terms of price. http://www.brammo.com/incentives/

As of 2/1/2013, the 2012 Enertia is on sale at Scuderia for $5400 before rebates. 

Electric Cars and Motorcycles

Would you drive in one of these? 

Photo Courtesy of the New York Times Online.

I dunno. I disagree with the it's safer than a motorcycle argument. I'm not sure I want to be crushed in small steel box. 

I'll take riding with Betty any day over something like that. But as a car person, someone may like that more than a regular car. 

Brammo Enertia San Francisco Electric Motorcycles

(Above: Betty on the Embarcadero SF)

 

National Plug In Day, San Francisco 2012

Brammo Enertia Electric Motorcycle San Francisco Scuderia West

(riding up California Street towards Powell Street)

Today I rode out to Crissy Field on my Brammo with Crystal and Don from Scuderia West, as well as a few other Brammo riders to make a presence at the National Plug In Day event hosted by Nissan. It's always great telling people how much fun it is to ride one around the City. 

 

National Plug In Day, September 23, 2012

Brammo Enertia San Francisco Electric Motorcycles

"San Francisco's Plug In Day will once again be held at Crissy Field, part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, at site of the EV Charging Station, the most beautiful charging location in the world. With the backdrop of the San Francisco Bay and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, we aim to have the largest assemblage of plug-in cars, motorcycles and their owners ever anywhere!" National Plug In Day Website.

All I could find as far as an agenda that day was this post on the PlugInDay website. 

It's my first time going to one of these events, and I'm really excited. I'll be there with fellow Enertia riders. From what I can tell, there will be every/any kind of electric vehicle on display along with owners and others who will be able to answer all your questions. 

Event Location - Crissy Field

Event Time - 8:30am - 4:30pm

PlugInDay.org

What's it Like to Ride an Electric Motorcycle?

Brammo Motorcycles San Francisco New Used

One word. FUN. SO much FUN.

 

Meet Betty.

Recently, I took home this sexy Brammo courtesy of Scuderia West and Brammo to share my experiences riding the Enertia around San Francisco. As a city resident and worker in SF, it's the perfect option. I could say the same about a little DRZ400, they're both light and nimble and super easy to ride (Betty is fully automatic, however). The one thing that sets them apart is this whole electricity thing, which I find to be really convenient.

Less stops at the pump! I can fill up so to speak, in my little garage. My SV is feeling neglected, as the only time I've taken her out for a spin was on Sunday when my husband and I rode up to the Marshall store and back.  Since then, it's been me and Betty. 60 miles down, many more to go! 

I'll be sad to see her go when our time together is up (as this is just a temporary loaner), but I know this much is true; that I foresee a supermoto or sexy naked streetfighter in my future. I've never ridden a bike like this before, I'm having so much damn fun.  I think I'm sold on the supermoto riding position and hope to find something in the future that meets my city livin', vertical height and long distance traveling needs. We'll see.

If you're wondering what I'm wearing while on the Brammo, it's the same gear that I wear on my SV (ATGATT with my Arai, Sidis, REVIT jacket, pants and Racer gloves). Nothing has changed in that sense. 

Follow me on facebooktwitter, or instagram (gearchic), as that's where I'll be posting photos of our dates.  If you see me around SF, please feel free to introduce yourself to Betty. She loves meeting new people!