It’s one of the motorcycling world’s most heated debates! Which work better - heated grips or heated gloves? Heated insoles or heated socks?
It’s a nice problem to have – how do you choose between heated grips and heated gloves, heated insoles and heated socks? Keeping your hands and feet snug and warm on the bike is crucial to enjoyable and safe winter riding, allowing you to focus on the road and react quickly when you need to. While motorcycle kit technology is constantly moving on apace, there are some fundamental differences between these products and the way they work that will help you figure out what to buy. Here’s how to get a handle on the different options:
Round one: heated grips versus heated gloves
Heated grips are easy and convenient. Think of them as a bit like a heated seat. They’re attached to your bike, rather than you. They come in a variety of lengths to suit different styles of bike (sports, adventure, touring, retro). You don’t have to deal with a Y-lead or a harness. You don’t have to plan ahead. Once on, the palm of your hand and your fingers, where they touch the grips, will be kept warm. Heated grips are useful for shortish journeys in temperatures that aren’t super cold. But, on chilly days, after a while, the top of your hands, your thumbs and fingertips will cool as the oncoming wind pummels them. You end up curling your thumbs and fingertips around the grips to warm them, meaning it's awkward to grab the levers or the front brake. This is a dangerous way to ride. Over distance, they simply don't work well enough. The ease of heated grips, while appealing, can't compensate for this safety issue.
By contrast, good quality heated gloves will create a barrier of warmth outside the hand and fingers, keeping your hands snug all over, leaving you free to hold the handlebars in the most natural and comfortable way and to enjoy the ride.
So, we've established that heated gloves are superior in warmth and safety to heated grips, but which type to choose?
Heated gloves fall into two categories: bike-powered (wired) and battery-powered. Which you buy will depend on what kind of rider you are.
1. Gloves that are wired up to your bike's battery.
The creme de la creme of heated gloves! Optimal for warmth and safety, in the coldest of weather, over the longest distances. Connect them up and don't give them another thought. Are you out riding all day? A pro biker? These are the gloves for you.
2 Gloves that are powered by rechargeable batteries.
If you have a short commute, or are a bit of a hobby rider, these could suit you well. These gloves combine the all-round warmth of heated gloves with the ease of grips but they work best for quick hops or riding to work, since you’ll need to charge them regularly (although it’s possible to get up to eight hours of heat from one charge, depending on the battery kit you get). If you take this option, you can buy a dual charger relatively cheaply for £13 – if you’re commuting, buy two and keep one for your workplace, so that you can keep the batteries charged up all the time.
Hybrid heated gloves (ie those that can run off the bike battery or rechargeables) are the best of both worlds, giving you the flexibility to embark on long journeys in freezing temperatures, safe in the knowledge that you have ultimate warmth combined with a reliable source of power.
Round two: heated inner soles versus heated socks
Cold feet are miserable at any time, and no more so than when on the bike. Keeping your feet warm should be a priority for winter riding. The heated options are inner soles or socks. Insoles will warm the sole of your foot and underneath your toes, while good quality socks will heat all the way round your foot and toes. The former might well be enough to keep your feet cosy but, in really cold weather, and for long journeys, you will really feel the benefit of socks containing heating elements on both the top and the bottom of the foot. Simply, you will never have to worry about any part of your feet getting cold.
The winners: Heated gloves and heated socks. Here are our picks:
Gerbing XRL heated motorcycle glove – market leader Gerbing’s top-of-the-range gloves, with a specially designed pocket to house the rechargeable batteries. Hybrid – so can also be hooked up to the bike battery.
Gerbing 12V heated socks – Gerbing’s heated socks can be powered by connecting them to the plugs in the Gerbing heated trouser liner or jacket or wiring them up to the bike battery.