Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cold Weather Gear

It's not as cold as it has been but rather than try to introduce too many new things (sidecar, dark, cold, ice, snow, etc.) at the same time, I'm not using the sidecar rig to commute yet. I still want to get additional practice miles in during daylight hours. In a couple of weeks, sunrise will be before 9 which means that it will start getting light before 8. A bit closer to my normal commute time. I think I'm almost set for these temperatures though. The only areas where I would get cold have been my hands and my face. There are no alternative face shields for my current helmet, an HJC Symax II modular, so I'm looking at my options such as a face mask or a different helmet. The problem I'm having is the face shield needs to be left cracked open all the time due to the visor frosting up.

Last Saturday, I went to Northern Power Sports, a local snow machine/motorcycle/ATV shop where I picked up the screw-in studs, and also picked up a pair of handlebar muffs. These are nylon covered thin foam which slip over the ends of the handlebar grips and controls and are held on with Velcro straps. They are kind of similar to the Hippo Hands that folks rave about but these were about ½ the cost. I think that they are stiff enough to stay open and it's very easy to get your hands in and out as the opening is pretty large. I like that I can still glance down and see the controls. The main concern is whether the wind would push hard enough on them to partially press the clutch or front brake lever while underway. If they do, then I may need to fabricate some sort of support to keep them from touching the levers. They barely fit over the handlebar mounted master cylinder reservoir. Also the bright green Arctic Cat logo doesn't match anything else on the bike.

The wellness program at the university rewards you for getting exercise and proper diet and I've had this gift card (for good behavior) from the program laying around my office for the last 6 months. I finally found something that I wanted to get with it especially since Revzilla finally has free shipping to Alaska. I ordered a pair of Gerbing G3 heated gloves. Last May, after a very cold ride to Anchorage, I had picked up a heated liner and dual controller. These gloves plug right into wiring built into the liner sleeves and the current can be set with the second knob on the controller. The gloves draw 2.2 amps max and when combined with the 6.9 amps max of the jacket liner, this could become a significant percentage of the 23 amps generated by the stock alternator.

I finally dug into the heated grip wiring after finding a wiring diagram on Snowbum's BMW site and discovered that the two wires from the switch to the grip heating elements had come out of a splice located under the speedometer housing. It was a pain to reach the connector and it looked like the splice was there to simplify removing the handlebars for servicing the bearings. It wasn't a factory style connector but had tiny screws clamping of the stripped ends of the wires. But after a lot of fiddling, the anemic heated grips are now working again though the switch only seems to now have two positions instead of the three. So I'm not sure if I lost low or high and a lighted switch would be a great addition.

I'm still trying to decide if I should drill a large opening in the right lower fairing for the front upper sidecar mount. Some BMW purists within our local Airhead group say that I should leave the lower off rather than deface it with a 1¼" hole. I'm inclined to drill the hole as the airflow would be more controlled and the bike wasn't pristine even when I bought it over five years ago.


Erik R said...

I'm interested as to how the bar muffs will work for you. I've thought about a set for use in the late fall. I was worried about them pushing on the lever enough to light the brake light.

I'll be expecting a review!!

Unknown said...


Can you get another lower fairing to drill and keep the original ?

I think Spring is nearly here. Another good weekend coming up for us.

Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

That us what one of them suggested but i couldn't see the logic. To preserve the paint job? The lower had already been modified by the previous owner to make it possible to remove without removing the exhaust pipe. Removing the right lower makes it a bit easier to change the oil filter.

It looks like we may have nice weather this weekend as well but not very "Spring-like" yet.

RichardM said...

I had completely forgot about the existence of the muffs until I saw Chris' last video on So far, I haven't been riding fast enough for it to be an issue but will report on them later.

redlegsrides said...

The grip covers are key for the really cold weather you get up there Richard. If the built-in stiffeners are not stiff enough to keep the wind from pressing on your levers, may I suggest hand guards with the covers over them?

As to the BMW've bolted a non-BMW sidecar onto your Airhead, and they're worried about a small hole in the lower fairing?

As to a face mask, perhaps a ColdAvenger?


Trobairitz said...

I've heard of motorcycle riders using the snowmobile helmets that have the defrost coils in the visors. I wonder if that would work for you for such cold weather riding.

RichardM said...

I wasn't sure that I wanted to deal with trying to find hand guards that would actually fit. The RT fairing provides pretty good protection even four your hands so I'm thinking that I may be alright with the grip covers.

I think I've decided to go ahead and drill the hole with a hole saw. When I re-installed the front subframe, I found a better way for one of the mountings. I think this is how it was designed (no installation instructions).

And thank you for the link to the face mask. I will definitely look into it.

RichardM said...

I was initially trying to avoid having to purchase a new helmet. My existing helmet is now 5 years old and it may be due for replacement anyway. A friend suggested a certain brand of snow machine helmet that works pretty well and vents your breath out of the back, I may look into that but I think, at least for now, the face mask that Dom mentioned may be all I need.