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  • Bob LoCicero

Time for Winter Motorcycle Riding Gloves

Extend your motorcycle season without suffering

Cold weather motorcycle riding gloves
Cold weather riding gloves

I stopped on the side of the road, fingers splitting in cold pain and grabbed my hot exhaust pipe with work glove covered hands. It was a short relief.

I made it to work that morning, but so began my quest for the perfect cold weather motorcycle gloves. I read every cold-weather motorcycle glove review I could find and I learned that California doesn't have cold weather. In Vermont, a September morning commute at 35 to 40 degrees is necessary and common to capture a perfect, sunny, 70 degree fall ride home.

I kept looking and found there are three approaches to keeping your hands warm during a cold weather ride: winter gloves; heated hand grips; and heated gloves.

Winter Riding Gloves

Modern winter motorcycle gloves are gauntlet-style and pre-curved for better grip. Typically, they combine leather and textiles for wind and abrasion protection. The insulating layer is Thinsulate or similar material that provides warmth without feel reducing thickness. Often there is a "waterproof" layer.

Gloves in this style offer dexterity similar to summer riding gloves and maintain a good feel of the handlebars. For riders with good finger circulation and "warm" hands, winter riding gloves are sufficient for cold morning and late season riding.

When temperatures dip below 45 degrees, winter gloves begin to lose their effectiveness. For riders with truly cold hands, winter riding gloves are good until the mid to upper forty degree range. Heated hand grips can supplement gloves and extend the range of winter gloves.

Heated Grips

There are two styles of heated hand grips: complete grip replacements and heated elements that are installed under your existing grips.

The heated element approach requires removal and reinstallation your existing grips. This approach is usually less expensive than a grip replacement and retains the original look and feel of your current grips.

The easiest approach to removing your grips for reinstallation is to use a compressor to force the grips off. Roll back the inside edge of the grip to get the compressor tip under the grip. Blow compressed air under the grip until the grip begins to float and then work it off. Spray WD-40 under the grip to loosen the adhesive, if needed.

The second approach to retrofitting with heated grips is a full grip replacement. Heated replacement grips work somewhat better then heater elements under regular grips and the installation is slightly less complicated. On the down side, some heated replacement grips are hard rubber and do not have the same feel as standard grips.

Heated Gloves

My favorite approach to the cold hand problem is heated gloves. Heated gloves are easily moved between motorcycles, do not change your grips during warm weather riding and offer dead-simple installation. For me, this is also the warmest solution.

Heated gloves are electric blankets for your hands. The glove liner is powered and provides a soft warm heat to your hands. Look for a pair with an external control to adjust the heat level.

The installation consists of attaching the power wire to the battery and running the wire to an accessible point on your motorcycle. A cord is run from the gloves, up your jacket sleeve and down the inside of your jacket to a plug. The plug is attached to a wire that runs to your battery. To wear your electric gloves, you pull them on, plug in and go. Unplugging before dismounting is highly recommended.

One of these solutions should work for you and keep you riding past leaf-peeping and on into stick-season.


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