Written by: Biker Chad
Part 3: Ordering, First Impressions, and use of the Tour Master Synergy Line
In my research, I had constructed a list of options that I wanted in my heated gear:
- Carbon fiber conductors to make the garment safe to operate in wet conditions, resist flex failure, and disperse heat without “hot spots.”
- To be powered by my bike’s electric system (not batteries) so the garment can produce enough heat to keep me warm at highway speeds. I also did not wish to waste money on replacing batteries that would die in a few hours of use.
- The option to add heated gloves and socks by plugging them into the jacket and pants liners.
- Heat controlled by a thermostat with variable settings so I did not have to turn them on and off to regulate my comfort level while driving my bike.
- A reasonable price because I do not have money to burn.
I decided that Tour Master’s Synergy heated clothing offered all I wanted. I then decided on a full jacket liner rather than a vest to keep my arms warm.
My first impressions of the garments were that they were lightweight and good quality. The stitching was nicely done and the seams felt strong. The carbon fiber conductors were extremely flexible and light and I could barely feel them while wearing the clothing. The wires and plugs used to connect the garments were well insulated, and felt thick and sturdy.
Both the jacket and the pants liner came with their own independent controllers. They jacket and pants liner can also be linked together and run from one controller with the additional purchase of a “Y” connector.
The jacket has a zippered pocket on each sleeve containing a wire to allow gloves to be added and run by the jacket’s controller. Each jacket sleeve has a thick, soft cloth and elastic band on the wrist portion to keep cold wind from coming up the sleeve. The jacket has a zippered outside pocket on each side, and the front zipper goes up high enough, allowing the neck portion to close just tight enough to keep the cold wind out. The controller for the jacket plugs into the lower left-hand side, so if need be, you can adjust the settings without taking your hand off the throttle.
The pants liner is more like chaps than actual pants. The crotch area is open, and so are the backs of the knees. The pants liner uses a combination of Velcro and elastic to keep them tight around the waist and legs. The pants also have small pockets at the ankles to allow for heated socks to be plugged in and run by the pants controller. A Velcro/elastic strap is provided to secure the controller to your leg, but I did not use it because the controller has a clip on the back that I just attached to my chaps or pants pocket.
To power my heated gear I had to wire the supplied plugs to my motorcycle. Tour Master provides a fuse holder that can be wired to your battery, but I wired the plugs to the add-on accessory fuse block that I previously installed onto my bike. This keeps my battery terminals neat and less cluttered. I left approximate 6” of wire for my power lead exposed on the left side of my bike under my front seat and secured it with a zip strip. Installation took me about 15-20 minutes and was very easy.
First impressions are all great, but this gear needed to do more than just look good, it had to work! I needed to ride to Florida to work the October bike rally and then on to Virginia before returning to Wisconsin in early November. This trip would be almost four thousand miles total and would be my test of Tour Master's heated gear.
The thermometer outside my window read 49 degrees Fahrenheit when I left home. You should not have the heated clothing in direct contact with your skin, so I first put on long underwear on my legs, then the Tour Master pants liner, then a loose pair of blue jeans and then my leather chaps. I then wore a long underwear shirt, a T-shirt, my heated jacket liner, then my leather jacket. I hopped on my loaded bike and hit the road. Once I got up to highway speeds, I turned on my heated gear using the controller. The Tour Master controller has 3 settings, they are: Low, Med, and High. I started out using Low for a bit. The heat could be felt almost instantly and on the low setting, my clothes had that “fresh-out-of-the-warm-dryer” feeling. I then increased the setting to medium and was completely warm even at speeds well above the posted limit of 65 mph.
When I did not need the gear turned on to keep me warm, I would shut it off. In ambient temps of 60-70 degrees with the gear turned off, I did not get too warm. If I needed to cool off, I just removed my chaps and opened my jacket slightly. The coldest temps I rode in on this trip were around the high 30s. I was always warm with the setting at medium. I did use the high setting a few times, but I soon got too warm and turned it down to medium again.
The Tour Master heated gear did not restrict any of my movement; my arms and legs were able to bend and stayed comfortable while I walked around at fuel and food stops and the crotchless pants liner design made sense at restroom stops. The only thing I did not like was I kept forgetting to unplug the power feed from my bike when I got off to fuel up, but that was my fault.
Tour Master Synergy heated clothing performed above my expectations. I had no problems in the rain and I have never been more comfortable while riding in cold weather. This gear gets a definite 5 out of 5 stars! I recommend Tour Master Synergy to anyone looking for great performing, high-quality affordable heated gear. I will soon be adding a set of Tour Master heated gloves and socks next as I am sure they will perform as great and compliment the jacket and pants liner.
–Ride smart, Biker Chad.