Saturday, November 24, 2012

My New and Scary Electric Vest

This morning I woke up to a layer of ice and snow on the ground, and on the car.  The summer is over.

My latest motorcycling purchase is a new vest to replace my  5 year old electric vest, which just suffered a partial failure.  By 2:00 PM Friday afternoon, it was windy, cold, dark, and threatening rain. Perfect conditions for a test ride with the new electric vest which I got at Royal Distributing for $159.99.  It is an "+Venture 12v Heated Vest Light" in XL size.

My new vest has carbon fiber mat heating elements rather than copper wire heating elements.  The new pad is supposedly more rugged, and many of my vest failures have been caused by breaking the thin heating wires.  Also, the carbon pad is supposed to be more energy efficient, and I can feel heat quickly, 3 seconds from turning on the vest.  The old vest took maybe 15-25 seconds before I would feel heat, if it ever did come on.

I am not one of those "early adopters" of new technology, and I was not really ready for the major technological revolution I got with this new type of electric vest.  According to my research, these new vests use carbon fiber heating elements that give off far-infrared radiation that penetrates your body up to three inches.  Whew! Far-infrared is the infrared band that is right next to microwaves.  Apparently far-infrared heating has become very popular in saunas in the last ten years, gradually replacing the traditional hot rocks and water.  There are claims that far-infrared is good for your health.  Although I did see a warning in the Royal Distributing catalog, that "Heated apparel not recommended for diabetes."  Some questions come to mind.  Do I have diabetes, or more importantly, does this heater cause diabetes? I looked on the Internet and found another interpretation.  There are hundreds of claims that far-infrared helps cure diabetes, so in that light we could interpret the warning as "These heated vests are not intended to cure diabetes". With all these scary changes, no wonder I could not find out any real information about these vests before I started getting serious with Google.

So to summarize, these new vests are a couple of wavelengths away from being microwave ovens, and furthermore are not guaranteed to cure diabetes.  The heater element is a thin flexible mat with wires attached. There are four heat settings on the power switch, so far I have tested "Full" "Defrost" and "Popcorn" (I had to come up with the names myself for the power levels, they are represented only by different coloured LED lights on the panel).

Heated clothing is starting to be used more widely than ever before.  Mark's has a battery powered heated jacket. Apparently the military is getting in on the act too, to extend their fighting season.   Quiksilver has battery heated vests to go under wetsuits for diving or surfing in cold weather.

If you have the right equipment and use it properly, you can extend your season no matter what your choice of activity may be. Although I am not able to extend my riding season very much because often when the weather is cold, there is also ice or salt on the road.  But still, I can't go back to riding without electric vests in cold weather.  When one heated vest expires, I will replace it.

Some people have extended the riding season to extremes. See these videos to know what I mean.

Picture: From this web page;start=10


  1. My 'cold weather riding' solution has been to simply mothball my bikes ... not all of us hew to the standard of having to get the bike out on the road every month of the year ... LOL!

    Interesting stuff ... 'micro fibres' instead of those resistance wires in conventional heated vests. However, I was somewhat taken aback by the reviewers numbers in that article: 'The [...] vest only draws 3.0 - 3.5 AMPS providing 48 Watts (48W) of power for heating. This is relevant as commonly, heated vests are around 52 AMPS to 90 AMPS or more.' Surely that can't be true ... 90 amps?! Perhaps 90 watts, but surely 90 amps would require a heck of a thick cable!

    And I was also confused by (in her 'Conclusion') that these vests were intended to be used with a '12 -13.8 VCD (Vapour Crystal Distillation), motorcycle battery' ... So, how much is it going to cost you to upgrade your Kawi's battery to VCD?! ... LOL!

    1. How we got VCD Batteries, according to Sherlock Holmes.

      The original spec was (I guess) 12 V DC, but in the Chinese to English translation got flipped to VCD. Seeing the VCD, the author for the Motress website went to ALLACRONYMS.COM to look up VCD, where the top acronym happens to be "Vapour Compression Distillation". Then one more typo (similar to AMPS/WATTS) changed Compression to Crystal. Mystery solved.