If you’ve been riding for a few years then undoubtedly you’ll have wasted a lot of money on kit that either doesn’t do what it’s meant to do or that isn’t quite up to the job it was intended for. Claims of ‘100% waterproof’ are quite often misleading at best and complete lies at worst. It’s usually better to speak to other riders to see what kit they use and would recommend, or to look at kit reviews. So here’s a quick look at some of the gear I won’t leave home without this winter, you can be safe in the knowledge that everything has been used thoroughly by us.
Quite often it’ll take a few weeks to try riding kit out to the extreme but on the day these arrived I had 200 miles of the worst torrential rain I’ve ever ridden in, near zero visibility and motorway speeds forced down to 40mph in places. Despite the conditions I arrived warm and as dry as a bone and the only area to suffer leakage was an external pocket, which turned my spending money to pulp. The Adventure range has CE approved armour, ventilation and removable liners, loads of pockets to lose your keys in and it’s stylish too. Since then (two years ago) I have worn it countless times when the weather forecast is grim and it’s never let me down. My most recent wet ride was 260 miles back from Woolacombe in lashing rain, seven hours riding and I was still dry. The Spada Elite WP gloves also come highly recommended, they’re warm enough to use year round, comfortable, have plenty of armour, a visor wipe on the left index finger and they are also 100% waterproof. Whenever friends ask me to recommend some riding kit Spada tops my list, I just wish I was on commission with the British company! The only criticism about the trousers is that they’re far too warm for summer use; you can end up sweating a lot, even with the liners removed but in winter/autumn/spring they’re fantastic and great value.
The vest simply plugs into your bikes battery and with the optional ETR temperature control unit you can select from four heat settings, number three is usually the highest it ever has to go. Without the temp control unit you get a simple on/off switch but the vest gets too hot so it’s worth splashing out a bit extra for the ETR. Since wearing it I’ve found that my fingers stay much warmer, thanks to my core body temperature being raised and warm blood getting pumped to my extremities, also I can get away with just wearing a thermal top rather than a jumper under my jacket. If you’re a year round rider who wants to significantly improve cold weather comfort don’t hesitate to buy one of these.
The Oxford heated vest works in the same way as the Alpinestars one, it even uses the same connections. The Oxford one is a bit thinner but it actually gets hotter than the Alpinestars vest and I prefer it. I rarely have to put it on to the highest setting and on the odd occasions that I have done I’ve been scared I’ll spontaneously combust! A great bit of kit and fantastic value. I run two heated vests on my Vespa GTS during winter, one for rider, the other for pillion and it’s never drained the battery even on regular 250-mile journeys. I usually wear it until the summer months and even then it’ll come out on odd occasions if I’m riding early in a morning or late at night.
These TCX X-Cube boots are perfect for scooter riding. They’re 100% waterproof and warm, look stylish on or off the bike and have built in protection for the malleolus and extra support for the ankle. They also have a lace closure system with Velcro fasteners and cost £109.99. Since getting mine over a year ago they’ve become my first choice for most rides, they’re very comfortable, on or off the bike and keep my feet at a nice temperature (even in winter) and you can walk about in them without looking like you’ve just got off a horse!
Cold Killers are at the forefront of thermal layering, they’re also a British company and their great products are made in the Lake District by people who understand extremes of temperature. The Maxi Neck Tube will stop the wind and rain getting to your neck, it’s also quite long so it’ll add a bit of extra wind protection to your upper chest. I’ve worn this one for five years and it’s still as good as new.
The Sport Top (£49.99) is also highly recommended as an under layer, it’s made from Softshell for a close comfortable fit, it’s thin and light so it can be worn under leather or textiles, I also use mine for winter mountain biking. Cold Killers produce a wide range of products, including balaclavas, gloves and socks so visit their website to check them out.