AWB’s – How To Keep Your Hands Warm: Oxford Hot Hands Kit

AWB’s – How To Keep Your Hands Warm: Oxford Hot Hands Kit

For the last 5 or 6 years y commute on the bike has only been around 10 minutes long, and so a decent pair of Winter gloves or even my Summer gloves with windproof (Cold Killers) inserts has been plenty to cope.

I have Polish ancestry, and could sunbathe in a meat locker quite happily, which helps, too.

Lately my commute has changed into a long hard slog into Birmingham City Centre, and with the temperatures dropping rapidly, my fingers are suffering.

I did a 7am blast to Mallory Park in freezing fog where I was getting seriously worried I’d got my fingers frost-bitten, they were so cold!  I pulled over and warmed my numb fingers on my exhaust at one point…

I forget the exact figures, but riding a bike at 40 mph the wind-chill takes the temps hitting your mitts down 20 degrees centigrade, or something daft.  This means that anything under 5 degrees feels like you’re trying to ram ice cubes into the cold dead eyes of a Polar bear with bare naked hands.

When I was a motorcycle courier I fought against this by fitting a set of heated grips – and it was awesome!  I rode in my Summer gloves most of the time.

WTF was I doing suffering from frostbite when I actually had a brand spanking new Oxford Hot Hands kit that had been sat in a box for 6 years?!?

I found them out and went off to fit them.

You can pick up the Oxford Hot Hands set for probably £10 these days.  I paid £15 around 6 years ago, and as I knew these worked, I haven’t tried any others and can’t recommend them.

Basically, all you have to do is wrap the hand grips around your bars using the velcro, route the wiring from those to your on/off switch, and then route more wiring from the switch to your battery terminals.  You can simply screw the attachments into the existing terminals in seconds, or wire it directly into a live feed wire.  The advantage of the latter option is that you can’t leave them switched on accidentally, as they won’t work when your ignition is switched off.

I took the easiest option, and had them fitted in around 20 mins time – which mostly consisted of cable-tying the excess wires and routing it beneath part of the fairing.

They don’t come on at a great temperature, but build up very strongly if you keep your hands around them.  If you take a hand off they cool pretty fast, but soon get you snuggly warm again.

They get HOT.

I’d forgotten just how good they are!

The tips of your thumbs can still get cold, but I used to get around this by tucking them under the palms of my hands – great on motorways but not so easy hooning around in the city.  The heat they kick out to the rest of your hands means you’re unlikely to worry about this anyway.

Oh, and I’m talking about wearing my SUMMER Halo race gloves, here.  With vents and stuff.  COmbine them with full Winter gloves and you should be fine.

The reason I don’t is that they do have a down-side.  Two, actually.  The first is that if you park up and haven’t hard-wired them, then it is possible some Tit could switch them on and kill your battery. (or you can forget to switch them off)

They are quite thin, but still more bulky than the handlebar grips you’re used to.  This makes your hands ache a little.  I’m sure you get used to it after a while, but this is the main reason I’m still trying to stick to the thinnest gloves that I can for that extra feel.

And it really is that cheap and simple!

Anyone can fit them, and if you’re still riding about with cold hands, you’re an idiot!

Go buy some today and tell me they’re not great!

Winter Riding – How To Survive & Stay Warm

Winter Riding – How To Survive & Stay Warm

I’m not sure I like the idea of muffs (err…  😕 ) like many Winter riders suggest.  I prefer having my hands free to bat away stray squirrels and gesticulate at Audi drivers and stuff.

I have Polish ancestry, and would happily live in a fridge, so it doesn’t seem to affect me the same as most.  Either that or it’s because I’ve ridden bloody stupid sportsbikes through the snow and ice and THAT was enough to keep me pretty warm… Anyway, here’s what my 12 Winters on bikes and 2 as a courier have taught me:

Something for your neck is ESSENTIAL.  The one time you forget your neck warmer, The Forces That Be will wait until your throat is so painfully frozen you can’t even close your jaw properly, and then… THEN, your helmet strap will -ing whip you in across the throat like some hungry housewife who speed-read the 50 Shades Of Grey trilogy whilst fantasizing about Indiana Jones. 

This tiny little strap will never do this for any amount of Summer riding – just when you decide you’re going to nip down to Tescos for a baguette on your lunch break.

I bought a Buff polar fleecy thing when I first started biking, and to be honest have never wanted for anything more.  It’s perfect.  Well, apart from the fact I picked the one with the logo all over it – which, when viewed from two steps back from the shop display, suddenly looks like tiger stripe print.  Seriously, why would I buy a tiger stripe print neck warmer?  Stop asking me why I did!  It’s a Buff LOGO.

You’re screwed for your helmet.  The visor will mist up despite spending £400 on the latest de-mist-o-prene coating, and you could tape all the vents closed and then stuff them full of thermite and somehow freezing cold gayness will still pass directly through your skull.

What you can do is buy a Foggy facemask.  This directs your shivering breath out of your helmet as opposed to onto your visor.  I wear mine all year round.  It’s uncomfortable at first until you get it adjusted right, but then so is riding into a snowplough because you can’t see.

If it’s snowing, enjoy it.  It’s like being in Star Wars!  Warp speed!  Hell Yeah!  And then it all builds up on your visor… which is why I think muffs are a Bad Idea…

In fact most gloves are crap when it gets really cold.  Your best bet is warming the buggers up before you get out, and hope they stay a bit warm before you get frostbite.

I can’t really recommend any Winter gloves.  I found wearing my regular Summer gloves (tape over the vents, if they get too bad) with some Cold Killers windproof gloves underneath did the job.  Rubber gloves will allegedly save you if you get caught out – I tried this once and have to say it didn’t seem to help.  You can call into any petrol station and get a free pair from near the diesel pumps, though.

If you’re doing long distances the ONLY thing I found that worked was a set of Oxford Hot Hands heated grips.  You wire it in (easy) and wrap them around your hand grips, and they work perfectly.  You may find you need to tuck your thumbs under your palms for a few mins to get them up to temperature, but other then that you can happily wear your Summer gloves with them.

I wear my Summer race leathers (Halo Oracle) as much as I can through Winter.  Remember thin layers are the best for staying warm, so get 3 t-shirts on under them and it will do the job!  I’d also recommend (again) Cold Killers thermal long sleeve windproof top thingy.  I also have a synthetic Lookwell Goldline jacket with removable thermal liner that’s excellent, although loosing its waterproofing after 12 years.  With that and the windproof top I’ve pounded out thousands of motorway miles – I’ve actually got off the bike before and been able to pull off a complete layer of ice from my front.  It kept me fine for all day long Winter riding at high speeds.

I have no miracle cures for the lower half!  I just wear my regular Summer leathers and am fine.  I did have the Lookwell trousers to go with the jacket, but a wet road, RGV250R and a flatbed truck did for them years ago.  They had a thermal lining, but even then I never actually used it.

And it’s the same for my feet – Sidi Vertigo Corsa race boots.  I’ll probably close the vents, if I remember.  I wear normal socks, but again if you get cold feet I’d advise doubling up rather than one thick pair.

Other than that the main thing I’d say is to get a bike with a fairing!  I have no idea why the ‘ideal’ commuter bike is seen as an upright bike with no fairing?!  Are you mad?  Sportsbikes have a fairing, naturally tuck you in out of the wind, and get your adrenaline singing nicely, as mentioned earlier! 

Whatever you’re riding this Winter, though – keep it safe and do whatever you need to keep yourself warm!