You’ve heard it all before: The reason your hands get cold on a ride is that your body is cutting off the flow of blood to the extremities in an effort to keep your core warm. Still, despite your best efforts to wear warm enough gear, your hands get cold. Or maybe you live in a climate that has fairly dramatic temperature swings between day and night, making it a choice between sweating during the day or shivering at night. Long before the first wind-stopping bib was sold, riders resorted to newspaper stuffed inside their jackets to block the air flowing past their zipper. Now, with the Aerostich Kanetsu Electric Warmbib, the benefit of radiant, electric heat has been added to the windproof, fleece-lined bib.
I bought my first electric vest way back in 1989 when my cross-country odyssey entered into the winter months, and I’ve been a fan of electric gear ever since. The problem with electric vests (and even more so with electric jackets) is that they’re a little too bulky to conveniently carry in a tank bag or backpack. If worn during the day, even unplugged, they could also be a little too hot. So, I started using a bib during the transitional weather here in SoCal. Bibs fold up nice and compactly while providing almost enough insulation to use until the temperatures really drops, requiring an electric vest.
I was grateful to have the heated Warmbib during the recent FJ–09 intro to combat the cold and damp conditions. And, after several more days of riding with it, I think I’ve found the ultimate item in heated gear for my riding environment.
For most of my time using the Warmbib, I’ve left it unplugged, and it’s been just as effective as the bib I previously carried. However, the construction of the collar sets it apart from the other bibs I’ve owned. Where traditionally the collar had Velcro pads on either the rear or the side of the bib, the Aerostich approach is to have the collar wrap all the way around the neck and attach to a velcro strip that runs diagonally from clavicle to sternum. The beauty of this design is that the fastener does not add as much thickness around the neck as the other methods.
When riding a cruiser, having the fasteners on the back of my neck isn’t a problem, but some bibs – particularly when I’m wearing extra layers of clothing – have fasteners that are thick enough to interfere with the base of my helmet when in more of a sport-riding crouch. Fasteners on the side of the neck sometimes bind when checking my blind spot. The Warmbib’s fastener is able to create a tight seal without either issue.
Shipping in a regular (up to 5-ft. 9 in.) and tall (5-ft. 10 in. and up) sizes, the Warmbib gets its windproof properties from black GORE-TEX Windstopper fabric, while the liner is constructed out of warm, soft micro-fleece. The Warmbib uses a SAE plug to attach to a coiled, lighted switch cord with your choice of connection options for your bike: SAE, QuiConnect, and BMW. Each wiring option comes with all of the parts required to connect the Warmbib to the battery. A cigarette lighter adapter is also included.
Not surprisingly, the fit of the regular-size Warmbib was a little bit small for my 5-ft.-11-in. frame (as the product description would lead one to expect), but I received it as a gift. The unique neck closure seals tightly with no binding. When powered on, the Warmbib gave just about the perfect amount of warmth for riding in wet weather in the mid–50s. Had the weather been colder, I would have placed the Warmbib between my outer shirt and T-shirt then put a sweater over it.
The area of warmth provided by the bib is exactly what I need for the environment I ride in where, in most situations, an electric vest is overkill. With the Warmbib’s wind-blocking capability combined with the warmth of the radiant heat, my body was able to keep its core temperature quite comfortable. Since the coiled cable has a convenient clip to hold the switch in an easy-to-grasp location on my jacket, I was able to cycle the bib on and off via the pushbutton as my needs required.
A feature that sets the Aerostich Warmbib apart from other bibs – both heated and not – is the built-in zippered pocket for storing the bib and its cable when not in use. Although getting the bib to pack neatly into the pocket requires a little practice, the unit compresses to a 7 x 5.5 x 2.5 in. pouch that can be easily stored when not in use. Previously, I’ve used my own stuff pouch (ironically also from Aerostich) to store a bib in transit.
Priced at $97, the Aeorstich Kanetsu Electric Warmbib comes in at the high end of the price scale for bibs. That said, the refinement which it exhibits warrants the premium. You won’t be disappointed in your purchase. Visit aerostich.com for more information.