The midwest has finally realized it’s fall! Time to break out my sweater cache, my disdainful sneer at all things pumpkin spice, and this fancy heated jacket liner I bought at a warehouse sale back in the heat of summer.
We had a few lovely riding days – jacket and jeans, comfortable at speed and not too warm at stops – but as the highs are now in the low 60s, I decided it was time to try the thing out.
On the advice of the customer service at Warm ‘n’ Safe Heated Gear, I picked up the 3rd generation women’s heated liner and a heat controller module thingie. I’d originally had my eye on a different jacket that was on clearance, but when I emailed asking about how I would hook up that jacket to my Vespa, the customer service rep advised this more-expensive one instead, because it pulls less electricity and would therefore be less drain on my smallish battery. Sounds like an upsell – but he offered to price match the more expensive one with the deeply-discounted one I inquired about, so you can bet I jumped right on that and am now a Warm ‘n’ Safe customer forever and ever.
As with any tinkering I do on the parts that make the bike go and stop, I was a little nervous about hooking the thing up, because who wants to inadvertently screw up the battery? But it was silly – the install was SO simple, no splicing and wondering what goes where. If you can see the color red and use a handheld Phillips screwdriver, you can hook one of these up to your Vespa.
- Remove four Phillips-head screws from battery cover on floorboard; remove cover and set aside
- Identify red and black wires coming from the battery terminals and heading for the engine compartment. Mine already had some extra wires thanks to the battery tender hookup, so I removed those.
- Loosen the bolts on the battery terminals and hook up the wires for the heat controller – red to red, black to black.
- Now, before you go to the trouble of running things up through the engine compartment and getting that just right, put on your jacket and hook everything up. Turn the bike to accessory and click on the heat. If it works, you’re in good shape and can proceed. If not, check that your wires are on the right terminals and fastened securely – no wiggle room. If it still doesn’t turn on, call the people who sold you the thing, ’cause I got nothing.
- Remove the pet carrier. Unhook your gear from the cables and thread the cables up through the engine compartment towards the front of the seat. On my GT200 there is a nice hole there, well away from the part of the engine that gets really hot, so I used it as a route to get the cable up and hold it away from the heat.
- This is so cool – I was worried about how I’d lead the cable out of the engine compartment without smashing it with the seat, but there’s an easy way to avoid that. You can run the cable out to the right or left side of the seat and allow it to move freely by using some gaps Vespa kindly build in between the pet carrier, the seat, and the chassis.
- Replace battery cover. All done!
Obviously with a different scooter you’ll have to do your own modifications, but the point is that it’s NOT HARD and you really can’t break your battery doing this (unless you mix up your colors, in which case you are on your own, buddy). This installation, using just the cables that came with the heat controller and the jacket, gives me plenty of wiggle room with the cable length. I didn’t need to purchase any extenders or adapters. If I hop off the bike before unplugging, I won’t yank the whole thing over.
I discovered another nifty thing – if I am not wearing my heated gear and don’t want the cable dangling loose on the outside of the bike OR flopping about the engine compartment, I can tuck it inside the rain cover storage and that keeps it safely out of the way.
So now it’s about 60 degrees and overcast, and I can ride toasty warm. The size XS liner I purchased fits nice and snug under my XS Corazzo 5.0, but it’s also just a nice-looking piece of stuff that can be worn on its own. One of the reasons I stuck with a clearance 5.0 instead of upgrading to the new 6.0 that comes with a snuggly warm zip out liner is because I thought I might just get a heated liner anyway. As it turns out, I paid less for these two pieces together than I would have for the 6.0 (thanks, eBay and Warm ‘n’ Safe!). This model is waterproof (which is awesome because my Corazzo is only water-resistant) and has some reflective bits, so it can work well as a standalone jacket depending on the weather.
Now I’m thinking about heated gloves or grips, or just getting some cozy riding mittens and seeing how I do with that. Biltwell Bantams aren’t going to keep my fingers warm at speed much longer, and my husband and I have an anniversary ride planned for early November so I do need to figure something out. My conversation with the guy at Warm ‘n’ Safe got me thinking that I should do some research into how much accessory electricity I should be able expect from my battery, without compromising the power of the scooter. There are also battery-powered options for gloves I am considering.
Heated gear can be a great investment for significantly extending your riding season – cool air in your face to keep you awake, and warm coziness in your jacket to keep you comfortable. And with that said, I think it’s time for a ride.