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    • Over at I commented on a post about your favorite things to take on an adventure trip. One of the things the author of the thread (Egle) commented on was a heated vest. She had tried layering and it did not work. The heated vest did.

      The other thing I learned from the conversation is that pillion riders generally get colder than the rider. I had not previously considered that, thinking they might get as cold but not colder. My assumption was that they are semi protected by the rider. However, because I do not ride as a pillion it turns out my assumptions are not quitre on the mark!

      This brief conversation piqued my interest as my wife rides with me as pillion. Early this spring we did a ride and it was chilly. We layered up but she got cold and commented afterwards she would not ride with me again if the temperature was not above 15 degrees C.

      So that has me thinking. I don't ride as a pillion so I need to learn more about what it means to ride long days as a pillion. How do I care for my pillion rider? Do woman generally speaking feel the cold more than men. What differences in gear should I actively consider and discuss with my wife to make her pillion riding experience enjoyable and fun?

    • It's simple she needs heated grips, oxford make a set that fit over rider grips with velcro.

      I have a set on my bike that are positioned on the pillion grab handles the off /on switch is also on the grab handles and she can control them herself, she often gets cold before me. So being able to control them herself is important.

      If your grab handles are thin you may need to bulk them up to handlebar grip size.

      Her other trick for winter come from your home (NZ) possum skin boot inserts.

      We often ride below 10 degC that and thin layers silk and fine marino under her bike jacket, make for a happy pillion.

    • The trick with the grips to connect them into a circuit that shuts down when you turn the ignition off, that way you will not drain the battery and the pillion does not have to remember to turn them off.

      The tail light wire is a good spot in relation to the pillion seat.

      My wife has done over half a million kms on the back in in the past 16 years, in OZ, South America, Southern Africa and many trips to NZ. This would not have been possible if she did not ride in winter.

      It's a joy to be able to share our trips and love of motorcycling, her comfort is equally important. Good comfortable motorcycle safety gear goes a long way.

    • We both tried heated vests and hated the connectivity issues, the newer ones work on lithium batteries but they run out of steam at the end of the day when you need the heat the most.

    • Not to come across as condescending - consider taking her along only when the weather and her ride is enjoyable. Over time I came to realize not everyone is addicted to hard core riding as some of us are... That said, with cold weather, I found some very thin, down filled garment that packs the size of a fist, adds little to no bulk but if layered with wind protection (and perhaps in addition to electric heated gear); it became my main solution. I am able to ride most days at temps near 45 F without electric liner, just the down jacket layered over a silk and another synthetic pull over, under my Roadcrafter one piece suit. This largely varies also on a person's condition, tired, etc..

    • I'd never recommend anything other than a heated jacket.

      Core temperature is what you're trying to maintain on the body. If your pillion is exposed to the cold, having that heated layer will help her stay warm.

      Now, what she doesn't appreciate is the layering that needs to be done. Baselayer, pants, overpants can be daunting, particularly when a bio-break is needed. Same issues above the waist...a lot of layers to maneuver, adjust, and get right.

      My pillion is good down to about (40°F/~5°C) for short durations - an hour or so. At 50°F/10°C, she's a lot more comfortable.

    • Hi MrKiwi,

      how awesome that you're so attentive to your pillion! Women do get cold quicker than men, here's why:

      As an ex-pillion rider (Paul and I did some 30,000km around Europe on his Super Tenere a while back), here's my experience:

      - I ALWAYS got colder wayyyy before Paul did. Layers, however many, however great quality, just didn't do the trick. I cold colder quicker because women have a lower core temperature and usually, slower metabolism, plus as a pillion, you're not really doing much while the rider is, you know, riding. Depending on the size of your windshield, it's possible that you're more protected from the wind too.

      - this continued even when we got back to two bikes. Riding Labrador and Newfoundland in Canada, or on off the road, Paul was always quite comfortable with just a base layer and a thin merino layer whereas I was always freezing even with five layers on. So, I got the First Gear Heated Jacket - and never looked back since. I have been wearing it for two years now, no issues. Heat can be regulated, so you can have it on "slightly warm" through to "blistering hot" (always make sure you're wearing something with a higher collar underneath, the collar can feel like it's burning).

      - consider increasing your stops. Even if it's just for five minutes, to walk around a little or grab a coffee (especially grab a coffee!:) ) Getting off the bike and walking or getting a hot drink more often can make a very big difference. Again remember, riding a bike as a pillion is very different: you're not moving much, not putting your foot down at stops, not concentrating as much on the road, not as much in tune with traffic, environment, surroundings, etc - your sole job, basically, is not to interfere with the rider, and that puts a different kind of demand on the pillion.

      - food! Lots of good, hot food:) I always, always got hungry before Paul did (and I have heard other pillions report the same) and it really sucked because most of the time, I was both hungry and cold at the same time. Not a pleasant situation at all! Always have a nice hot meal before leaving and make sure your pillion isn't getting hungry on the road. If she is, grab a hot drink AND a nice hot snack at stops.

      - do you have intercom? Talking while riding can be a great boost for morale, unless of course you both prefer your own quiet helmet zen.

      - what are your destinations? If your pillion rides with you because she enjoys seeing new places and learning about new things more than the riding itself, can you make your routes more varied, visit places that are more interesting to her, or stop at her favorite coffee shops or bookstores or countryside locations?

    • Thanks for that feedback, some really great stuff in there. We do have intercoms. I prefer silence but Antonia wants to talk. So intercom it is. I now prefer to always have intercom on when she rides with me, which enables me to check on her comfort, warn her about upcoming bumpy bits and to talk about what we are seeing.

      I'm going to check out the heated jacket.

    • We were the opposite, I wanted silence/music/read my Kindle, Paul wanted to talk:)

      Maybe switch it up once in a while? I LOVE listening to music while riding.

    • I'll toss one more thought onto the pile of things to consider...

      Unless your rides with a pillion are fairly short duration, I'd recommend not getting the style of gear that requires an external battery to use. Being able to plug-in on the motorcycle (if it has the capacity to do so...) makes life so much easier.

      We've got a couple of different vendors here in North America that sell gear for this purpose; a quick look show there's different vendors in NZ to choose from.

      Luck to you (both!) on getting her comfortable!

    • we had bmw branded vests (30 years ago) and they didn’t put out enough heat. We switched to gerbings and now I have another brand. I find heated jacket liner, heated glove liners, and heated socks and I can ride in any cold.