One of the problems with touring is that there never seems to be enough room to pack everything. Cold-weather clothing is usually bulky and presents a storage problem when not in use. Our favorite method of solving this problem–and of staying warm during wintry rides–is electric clothing.
Tour Master has introduced its new Synergy line of electric clothing, and last winter I tested the Synergy Electrically Heated Vest Liner with Collar and the Synergy Pant Liner. Both are plain, black items made of a ripstop nylon shell with a soft taffeta lining and 100 grams of Polyester fill insulation.
Installation of the wiring harness is simple: expose your bike’s battery, remove the two 10mm bolts attaching the leads to the battery terminals and secure the eyes of the wiring harness underneath (the fused lead goes to the positive terminal), then reinstall the bolts. Route the battery harness wire so it pokes out near the seat.
The vest has a front main zipper and two zippered handwarmer pockets. Elasticized stretch panels on each side help it accommodate whatever you wear underneath; I suggest a heavy shirt to spread the heat. The controller box hangs off the bottom of the vest on the left side and offers Hi, Medium and Lo settings along with On/Set and Off/Reset buttons. Once you’ve started your bike plug the garment wire into the battery wiring harness, push the On/Set button on the convenient controller box and you’re in business.
One problem with some electric garments is that if the wires are improperly placed, heating will be uneven. The Synergy’s innovation is that its garments contain lightweight, flexible carbon fiber heating elements designed to provide consistent, even heat. Turn on the garments and within 30 seconds you begin to feel heat, and within a couple minutes you can be toasty. It delivers an oozing, insistent overall heat that’s free of hot spots or unevenness, and that should provide plenty of heat for most sane riding situations. The selected setting is indicated by a glowing LED.
The Synergy Pant Liner is a set of nylon chaps that fasten around the waist with a belt, then secure behind the thighs and calves with hook-and-loop. Get the paired connectors, with two garment plugs and a single plug for the battery connector, and both garments will heat together off one controller, though each item comes with its own controller. As with the vest the heat here is also abundant, immediate, and each of the three settings offers a discernibly different and usable heat level for the garments. Our general opinion is that electric clothing is an indispensible part of riding in the fringe seasons, and the Synergy system works well.
The Synergy heated garments are designed to be worn over a layer of clothing, with a layer of riding gear over them. For the Pant Liner I suggest long underwear, or jeans with a suitable overpant. Nylon does not breathe well and can begin to feel clammy if you set the heat too high and don’t wear a sufficient layer under them. These Synergy garments are also machine washable. We noted that even in the Off setting the garments still heated a little; if that’s a bother, simply unplug them.
The Tour Master Synergy Vest Liner with Collar is $124.99 and the Pant Liner is $139.99, including thermostat controller. Other Synergy heated products we did not test include the Jacket Liner (with sleeves; $179.99), basic Vest Liner (no collar; $119.99) and Leather Gloves ($139.99). They can be worn individually or connected to other Synergy garments.
For more information see your Tour Master dealer or visit www.tourmaster.com