Tested by: John Milbank¦£149.99¦www.keisapparel.co.uk¦01256 704909
If you can only afford one piece of heated kit, make it a jacket – keeping your core warm is the most valuable defence against feeling the cold when riding. But if you can manage it, heated trousers really do add a new dimension to the luxury, and Keis’ X2i pants work brilliantly.
Made of the same soft-shell fabric at the front as the X25 jacket, with a good quality chunky zip fly and stretchy, almost velour material for the rear, they fit very well under bike trousers, without adding too much bulk. The heating elements are only on the front, but as you’re sitting down on the bike, the heat feels more even, and certainly gives great comfort.
At full power, the warmth comes through incredibly quickly, and once you’re used to it, you tend to notice the unheated areas, like the bum, rather than the heated ones. Certain leg positions, particularly on cramped sports bikes, push the material tighter and allow you to feel more heat, but it’s still a very comfortable feeling on any bike, and an element on the bum would likely be too much due to the pressure as you sit on it. I have a heated seat on the KTM, but it’s so slow to pass the heat through that it’s not something I’d consider an essential.
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I only use full power when the temperature gets down to zero, but the built-in controller is very easy to use, mounted cleverly on a flap of fabric that loops out over your riding kit. My Halvarssons gear is zipped most of the way around, but the controller isn’t fouled by this. As with the jacket, the position is easy to reach, but difficult to see when you’re wearing a lid. The switch has a bright tri-colour LED built in, and with the heat so instantly noticeable, it’s not a problem to work out what setting you’re on.
The specifications claim a current draw of 3.25A, which is in line with the 2.9A I recorded at 12V (this current draw will increase slightly with the bike supplying 13.5V-14.1V). A wiring harness is supplied to connect these directly to the battery, but it’s likely that most users will also have a jacket or vest, so will plug the trousers into the socket on there. There’s also a pair of cables on the bottom of the legs (that bypass the controller), to plug the X300 heated insoles into.
My only criticism of the trousers is that I put a small hole in the stretchy fabric at the bottom of one leg. The material snagged on my socks after a long ride, and I managed to put my thumbnail through it. This was nowhere near an element, and it darned no problem (thanks Mum!). I’ve not been able to do it again, even trying now as I write this. I’d not want to see the material any thicker, as it’d spoil the fit under my bike gear, so I’m just taking more care when pulling them off now.
Maybe not as essential as a heated jacket, but still very much recommended… winter is a lot more fun now.