Harley-Davidson High Tail Colorblocked Hi-Vis Rain Suit and Heated Dual-Source 12V Jacket Liner
At the recent Motor Company release of the 2015 line of parts, accessories and motor clothing, attendees were given the new Harley-Davidson Men’s Heated Dual-Source 12V Jacket Liner (MSRP $295) and Harley-Davidson High Tail Colorblocked Hi-Vis Rain Suit (MSRP $195) for testing.
This was perfect timing as the weather out west turned distinctly eastern. We received lots of cold and a smattering of rain. This helped to avoid testing the rain suit in our local carwash, and the heated jacket liner in the walk-in freezer at our supermarket.
Let’s start with the Men’s Heated Dual-Source 12V Jacket Liner. The jacket is medium weight and ought to fit under most of your winter outfits. Fit and finish is typically Harley perfect and the garment is well thought out. It has two hand-warmer pockets and an inner battery pocket.
There are zipper-hidden plugs at the end of each sleeve for Harley’s optional gloves, which we did not test but wished we had. The controller and cable is built into a hook-and-loop fastened flap at the front-bottom-left that stays up when not in use and hangs down when needed.
Included with the jacket is a fused wiring kit to connect the jacket to the battery on your bike. Once done you are set and, unlike some brands, there is no extra controller to buy. The controller allows low, medium and high temperatures as well as off and it glows green, yellow or red to tell the rider, at a glance, whether the vest is on and at what temperature.
I installed the connection kit on our test bike and that took five minutes but, later, I was reminded of a lesson I had learned once before but had obviously forgotten. Test your work upon completion. Since this was such a simple installation, I thought, why bother to test it? Well, when the gang met the next day and everybody plugged in for a run over the high mountain passes, my vest didn’t work. No power. Since we were leaving immediately, there was no time to figure out the problem.
I would have frozen were it not for the miracle of lithium-ion batteries. Since this is a dual-source jacket, Harley had thoughtfully included their Heated Jacket/Pant 12V charger kit (MSRP $99). I plugged the jacket into this pocket-sized, 5.2 amp powerhouse, slipped the battery into a zippered pocket designed for this and, you can be sure, the smile returned to my face. H-D estimates 1-3 hours of power depending on whether you select low, medium or high temperature.
I did not conduct a scientific test but I got about six hours of power from the battery by keeping the controller on the low setting, turning it off at rest stops and plugging the battery into the wall charger during our 45 minute lunch stop.
The next morning I had time to debug my problem and found that even though the manufacturer included a bag of spare fuses in the kit, none were actually installed in the fuse receptacle on the power lead. It really was my fault for not checking and the problem was solved in 5 minutes, but it was a good reminder to test, test, test.
I had never given any thought to battery power for a jacket. The lightweight lithium-ion batteries are powerful and open a new world for heated gear by freeing users from their bikes. I have used the battery to power the jacket while standing around at a coffee stop while the other riders were a bit cold. I can also ride a loaner or friend’s bike and not worry whether they have a compatible plug for me to tap.
Another nice feature is that the sleeves end in a thumb-loop that helps keep them down and in position. You may choose not to use these by passing your hand through the wide opening. Either way, they keep the wind out of your sleeves.
If you ride in cold weather, and do not have heated gear, why are you torturing yourself? Keeping the core warm is the primary directive in the winter. Riding cold can be dangerous. Get some heat and put a smile on your face.
The High Tail Colorblocked Hi-Vis Rain Suit is constructed of ripstop nylon and is a very nice piece. It is mainly black in color with accents in silver and orange, has lots of reflective inserts, and is emblazoned with the Motor Company logo. It’s a two-piece ensemble and, for me, it fits well and is true to size.
The jacket has a hood built in to the collar and it can be worn under one’s helmet. There is a storm flap over the main zipper that seals with hook and loop. There are two hand-warmer pockets, elastic cuffs and a bungee cord-adjustable hem.
The trousers have removable suspenders, generous leg zippers to knee height, mesh lining and stirrups to keep them in place. They feature heat-resistant shields in the right places and an elasticized waist. Included is a storage bag that keeps the entire package relatively small and packable.
The gear is waterproof, windproof and breathable. Their literature discusses breathability and rate it at 3 grams per square meter per 24 hours but they do not identify what fabric is used. Riding in heavy rain on both side roads and the freeway did not phase the suit one bit. I was bone dry after several hours and comfortable along the way. Breathability was acceptable. It got a bit muggy in the suit but, hey, it was pouring.
I often say, “I will ride in the rain but never leave in the rain.” This suit allows this kind of thinking. I carry it often and hope I need it rarely.
For additional information, visit Harley-Davidson.