I was supplied an EXO2 stormrider jacket www.exo2.co.uk . This is a sleeveless jacket, best described as a zip up body warmer, about the same thickness as a thick fleece and of comparable weight. The fabric has the look and feel of a windproof garment. The heating elements are fitted internally both back and front. There are two side pockets and a smaller chest pocket, all have zips which are sturdy and operate well as is the main zip. In the right side pocket is the exit point for the cables, this one was supplied with an optional on off switch and a cable to connect to the battery. From the jacket is a cable with a jack plug on it, there is enough cable to allow connection to any point in or around the tank or seat. This can either be plugged directly into the lead from the battery or into the on/off switch which in turn plugs into the lead. An instruction leaflet was also supplied. There is the option to have a control unit to vary the power to the jacket giving different heat stages along with a battery pack and charger. The battery pack plugs into the wall and allows heat to be generated in the lower back are when not plugged into the bike.
A 2000 Suzuki TL1000R used as a winter bike for work and training. It is slightly unusual in that the battery lays on it’s side half way down the left side fairing. Most bikes have an upright battery under the seat or in the tail unit.
Connecting to the bike
The twin core cable has an inline fuse and the instructions clearly explain that the one with the fuse on it fits to the positive terminal. There are several schools of thought about how to connect accessories to bikes, these include direct connections or bus (multi) connector units. My preferred method is to disconnect the battery entirely starting with the negative terminal and connect directly. That way the frame is no longer part of the circuit. The cable was ready fitted with ring connectors so it was simply a case of using the bolt taken from the terminal passing it through the connector and reattaching it to the captive nut held in the terminal. I prefer to reconnect in the order of removal, negative first. This went well until I knocked out the captive nut and had to retrieve it from the belly pan. One way to avoid this is to put a tiny drop of superglue on the nut when you first fit it. Some accessories are better fitted to an ignition live so they are turned off along with the bike, heated grips are the best example. I have decided not to do this as the jacket will be unplugged when I get off.
The cable is thin and the jack connector is small enough to pass it where you want to with minimal panel removal, in my case it easily fitted between the frame and fairing to allow it to be routed to the left side of the tank where it was held under the strap for the tank cover. The only thing to consider is where you want the jack so you can access it easily to plug the jacket in.
Time to give it a try.
The battery voltage with the ignition off was 12.9v. The jacket was plugged in and switched on resulting in a voltage drop to 12.4v. Not much compared to other accessories. It was left plugged in with the bike off for 10 minutes while laying on the tank. This is the time recommended in the instructions to gain most benefit from it. The air temperature was 4 degrees. After 10 minutes it was warm to the touch and a thermometer left inside recorded 38 degrees! Having been in a cold garage for an hour I was glad to put it on, it was noticeably warm especially with just a T-shirt underneath. The jacket was left on for a further hour without the bike running, it has overheat protection so would not get too hot, the object was to test the battery drain. It had dropped to 12.3v and the bike started with no noticeable difference from normal.
Your brain is only able to process a certain amount of information. High on this list are survival strategies such as I need food, I feel Ill or in this case I am cold. Your subconscious brain diverts more of your thought energy to the fact that you are cold. This reduces the amount of brain power to process non primitive information such as, is that car going to turn, what is the speed limit, is that diesel or water or has Nanny Maud in her Micra seen me.
You are not designed to ride a bike so need to switch off primitive functions by removing the threats, staying warm. This means the concentration levels available on a warm day will still be available to you in the cold.
On road trial
I have tested this kit in temperatures ranging from 2-9 degrees. I have followed the recommended method by wearing it close to the skin with just a t-shirt underneath. In some case I have worn a thin fleece over it to see what the effect was. The coat in all cases is my usual Spada textile jacket with the liner fitted.
Air temperature 4 degrees, dry and clear. I travelled to and from work on this occasion. A 25 mile journey which takes about 40 minutes. The jacket was worn with a t-shirt underneath and left on for the entire journey. It heated up quickly and kept me very warm. On arrival I didn’t have the usual cold to the bones feeling.
A ride out to a bike shop 40 miles away. The air temperature was 9 degrees and a fleece was worn over the heated jacket. It was turned on when I left home but turned off after about 15 minutes as I was getting too hot. I turned it back on for about 15 minutes, it heated me up nicely so was turned off again.
Conditions were similar to trail 1 except that it was raining and I was wearing a fleece over the jacket. The effect was the same as the first trial.
I intend to disconnect the jacket from the battery on my bike and fit an accessory plug to it. That way I will be able to use it on a work BMW under leathers. I am certain the benefits will be huge considering that I am on the bike for most of the day.
I have owned a heated vest before which was of little use so I was sceptical. I was proved wrong! The jacket turns even the coldest day into a ridable one. It is well made, east to fit and does exactly what it claims to. It retails at £179.99 which compared to the price of other good quality bike kit is reasonable. There are other options available from the EXO range including gloves, insoles and other jackets. If you use a bike through the colder months for anything but short journeys this is for you. There are clear safety benefits available because as your wellbeing improves so does your concentration levels. The only criticism is that it causes sweaty arm pits, but a small price to pay and proves that it does its job.
Review by Grant Thomas