Testing the Oxford Rainseal Muffs on the Viking Way
Extra protection from the elements or unsightly products for wimps? Alun Davies checks out bar muffs.
In February 2011 I decided to ride to the Elephant Rally, or Elefantentreffen as it’s known throughout Europe, which takes place on a German hillside near the Czech Republic. The rally is held over the last week of January or first week of February each year and the big draw, outside of the intense camaraderie shown by fellow campers, is the masochistic pleasure of riding to the event – always assuming you get major kicks out of frostbitten extremities.
The winter of 2010/11 was one of the coldest on record and the temperature was way below zero when I set out from Stratford upon Avon and didn’t rise above freezing until after I’d arrived back home. That’s over 1,700 miles in sub-zero conditions and I can tell you now it would have been far more excruciating had it not been the first time I’d worn a heated jacket.
Prior to the Elephant Rally, I’d been riding motorcycles for over 35 years and in the process developed a few old school values, one of which was the particularly dumb view that heated jackets were for wimps. Post-Elefantentreffen that view changed into heated jackets are my new best friend.
Over the past few months, I’ve had another Road to Damas-cus moment with bar muff s. Having always considered such attachments to be the preserve of teenagers with floppy hair riding scooters, I’m become a convert and have ditched yet another old school brain dead prejudice.
Even when fitted on a motorcycle with heated grips and wind deflectors bar muffs are a great aid to additional comfort and consequently safety and extra time in the saddle. The downside of fitting a set of bar muffs is that you can’t see the handlebar control buttons and the feeling of having your hands restrained. However, having used the products extensively over the past few months I’ve no doubts that the additional protection and comfort outweigh these perceived disadvantages.
If you’re a year-round biker and have not experienced the benefits of bar muff s it’s time you did. Here’s a round-up of some of the best on the market.
NB: It’s important when choosing and fitting bar muffs that they do not impede the rider’s use of the controls or interfere with the clutch and brake levers.
The Held Handwarmers offer great value and can, at a pinch, be fitted over bars fitted with wind deflectors. It’s worth a fit check on your bike before buying but they were fine on a Ténéré 660 with Touratech deflectors. The outer is waterproof and keeps most of the rain out but the fit is not as good as others so expect to get water creep from the openings. They come fleece lined with reflective patches. Great budget buy.
The BikeIt Thermal Muff s come with a luxurious thermal fleece lining and do a good job at protecting hands from the worst of the elements. They are nice and easy to fit being secured with a simple strap and buckle system. The problem with these muffs is that if you already have wind deflectors fitted then the chances are they’ll not fit – it’s worth a fit test as otherwise, they do the job at a competitive price.
Fitting a set of Rainseal Muff s to a Kawasaki Versys with no wind deflectors or heated grips meant that I was able to ride in comfort for a couple of days in conditions which would otherwise have had me grounded in the nearest hotel warming my hands in front of a log fire. They’ll fit over most wind deflectors, add warmth, keep out the worst of the wet stuff, are well secured and come highly recommended.
The most expensive on the test, the most extensive range of features and the best at keeping your hands warm and dry. The Tucano Urbano handlebar muffs are the Rolls Royce of hand warmers but they will not fit overall wind deflectors so best to check they fit yours before buying. Come with a patented anti-theft fitting system, fur-lined inner and a reinforced leading edge. Excellent quality and performance.