If you were an eagle-eyed viewer of this year’s Tokyo Olympics, then you may have noticed something a little familiar when it came to Team GB’s swimming squad.
When our athletes lined up poolside ahead of races, they were clad in a familiar motorcycling brand, Gerbing. The swimming team had struck a deal with the heated gear supplier for 40 specially-made jackets, designed to keep the team toasty and warm as they waited in the wings.
But, what does that have to do with biking? Well, it turns out there’s quite a bit of crossover. While there aren’t too many similarities between your average biker and a professional athlete, (I’d shudder to think what a sports nutritionist would make of my diet plan) we both want to be operating at 100% when we’re ‘in the zone’.
And, while heated motorcycling gear undoubtedly makes riding in colder weather more comfortable, the effect it has on our bodies can make your time in the saddle safer too. Here’s why.
Can riding in heated motorcycling gear make winter biking safer?
First up, let’s clarify what heated motorcycling gear is. It’s biking clothing that uses an internal heating element to warm up riders while on the go, either by running off an independent battery pack, or through a wiring harness that’s connected directly to your motorcycle battery.
Gear ranges from heated gloves, jackets, and trousers, all the way through to heated boot liners. And wearing it makes riding safer for a number of reasons.
When you’re cold, your body works overtime to warm you up. Shivering can burn 400 calories an hour, causing fatigue in the long-run and impeding your ability to actually concentrate on the task at hand (i.e riding a bike).
Indeed, multiple scientific studies have shown that reaction times are directly impacted, and worsened, by wind chill and the cold. So, even if you think you’re able to tough it out during your winter ride, it’s likely that you’re putting yourself at risk.
On top of that, the colder we get, the more we tend to try and hunker down and preserve what little warmth we have left. That can lead to us missing those little looks that keep us safe, like shoulder checks. It doesn’t make us bad riders, but no one operates at their peak when they’re freezing.
Our Olympic swimmers were using heated gear to stay warm and loose between races, preventing the risk of injury and ensuring they were able to push their bodies to the limit when the starter pistol went. In the saddle, it works in a similar way.
Heated gear keeps us and our muscles warm and loose, allowing us to respond quickly should we need to when riding while keeping complete control over our bikes.
Think back to a time when your hands have got so cold you couldn’t feel your fingers, and you’ll remember how tricky even the most basic tasks were, like undoing your jacket when you got home. Now imagine trying an emergency stop in the same conditions.
But, are there any other options? The most popular alternative way of staying warm in the saddle is layering up with a combination of base layers and down mid-layers.
The downside of this approach is twofold; firstly, the cost of technical base layers and down jackets can end up being as expensive as simply investing in heated gear to start off with, and secondly the added bulk can reduce your flexibility in the saddle, inadvertently creating the same issues that being too cold can bring.
Once again, heated gear starts to look like the most sensible, and safest, solution.
Time to invest in some heated gear?
So, with all that in mind, and winter fast approaching, perhaps it’s time to go and invest in some heated motorcycling gear. And, just like those Olympic swimmers, we’re big fans of Gerbing for its motorcycling range, which you can discover on its website today.
Not only will it make life in the saddle a lot more comfortable, it could well keep you safer.