Friday, December 16, 2011

Dressing for Cold Weather Riding -- Take Three

Quite a while back, I posted a couple of articles about cold weather riding.  If you missed them, you can find them under Dressing for Cold Weather Riding, and Dressing for Cold Weather Riding - Take Two

I still use those techniques for keeping warm when it is crispy cold outside, varying the number and weight of the layers as the temperatures warm.   In summer, I am down to an armored leather suit, back protector, gloves, helmet, and boots.  I never wear anything less when riding, 'cause my skin and bones are too valuable for me to risk.  I feel very uncomfortable if I mount the beast wearing anything less, and I cringe when I see others riding with little or no protection. 

In fact, I once had occasion to move my bike while at work one day so some maintenance work could be done where it had been parked.  I decided to move it to the other side of the plant -- less than a tenth of a mile -- so I wore only my helmet, but no other protective gear.  I could not believe how vulnerable and shaky I felt knowing that if I hit a pebble and dumped it, I would probably be hurt.  I certainly do not ride recklessly, but I feel much more confident if I am wearing the right gear. 

Does anyone else feel that way? 

Anyway, back to the cold weather topic.  
Found on AdV Rider Forum

I was recently browsing on e-Bay, and entered in "Hippo Hands", since that is one of the things I already have to keep my tender little hands warm when it is cold.  They, along with my heated grips, make for a comfortable combination all the way down into the low thirties. 

A few items came up including a pair of Ducks Unlimited hand warmers.  The price was only $1.00 with a $5.00 shipping charge.  Cheap enough to suit me, so I bid a few dollars.  Low and behold, I won the auction.  When they arrived, they looked much smaller than my Hippo Hands, so I was concerned that they would fit over the bars and controls.  They are constructed of Nylon with a smooth liner separated from the exterior shell by foam insulation. 

Remember that I installed a couple of metal angle brackets covered with foam pipe insulation to hold the hand warmers away from the levers while underway.
Nevertheless, with some fiddling, I fitted them over everything, and they seemed fine. 

Here is a picture of them on the bike:

And, here is a picture of the Hippo Hands: 

And the view from the saddle:

The Hippo Hands:

The Hippo hands are certainly more substantial, and are larger, covering more of your arm.  The Ducks Unlimited version looks more at home on a sporty bike though, I think. 

Once I had the Ducks installed, I backed the bike into the garage for a later test ride.  When that day arrived, I dressed as I have described (taking several minutes of time to get everything on and properly adjusted), went out to the bike...and it would not start.

Now what?  It was fine before. 

It occurred to be that the last thing I had done was install the hand warmers.  Maybe I had dislodged the wiring to the engine cutoff switch.  Well, I removed the right had muff and looked at everything wiring related, but I could find nothing.  Steamed, I shed my gear, and was ready to tear into the wiring and fuses, when I finally came to my senses. 

The engine cutoff switch was set to the off position!

I infrequently use the switch, so it did not occur to me that I might have actuated it when I was working on the muff installation.  So, I reinstall everything, get dressed yet again, and finally get rolling. 

[So, how do they work, Bucky?]

At temperatures of around 38 degrees, the Ducks Unlimited muffs keep most of the wind off my gloved hands, but there is somewhat more draft because of the looser fit around my sleeves, and because of a looser fit around the handlebars. 

When the heat from the grips was fully available, my hands were reasonably comfortable, certainly much better than being unprotected.

As the air temperature warmed to the upper fifties over the course of the day, my hands stayed comfortable and my dexterity remained very good. Even in the fifties, they were not too hot.

The openings of the Ducks stay open when your hands are not inside so you can easily get your hand back into them either when stopped or when moving. 

Certainly a good purchase, and useful.  The old Hippo Hands function a bit better, but the look of the Ducks Unlimited suits the sporty motorcycle better. 

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