Battery powered Jett vest makes for warm rides!
Jett vests make you look years younger!
Here is what you get - the vest, controller, and charger - battery, too.
The temperatures here in Michigan as I write this review are not the kind that makes you think of putting on a battery powered Jett heated vest. However, since I know my fellow MOA members are the type of people who love to plan ahead, let me offer you my impressions of the Jett vest because colder weather is coming.
First a bit of background and explanation if I may. While my 2004 Rockster SE has a very nice place to plug in electric clothing, I never wanted to get a plug-in vest or jacket liner even though I ride all 12 months of the year (yup, I am a Rounder). The Rockster is my main bike, but when the temps are in the teens and there is snow in the air, I usually make my commute on my “winter bike”, which is a 1982 Yamaha 550XT. I did not want to spend the weeks of late fall and early winter in electrified comfort on the Rockster only to forsake warmth in order to ride the XT.
Jett Vest to the rescue! The Jett vest is powered by four 3.7 volt lithium-polymer batteries wired in series to produce 14.8 volts (30 Watts). There is a temperature control setting for low, medium, and high output with an easy to read colored light which indicates the setting with green, orange, and red respectively.
I had the vest shipped to me at work near the end of last November, charged it up that afternoon and rode home with it under my Olympia Phantom suit on the low setting. Oh man, heat is a good thing – now I understand why all the riders I know with electrics swear by them. When I stretched my arms out to grab the bars it brought the vest taut across my back and it felt wonderful. I left the vest on and took the dog for a walk. I was very comfortable and was figuring the outside temperature to be in the upper 40’s or maybe low 50’s. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was just 37.
A couple of days later it was colder so I put the setting on “high” before I left the house. Whoa Nelly – too hot for me. By the time I got in to the store it was way too warm for me in my suit, even though the temp was near freezing. Rob Vassallo from Jett answered some questions I had in an e-mail and he advised me that the high setting is used by most people just to warm the vest up quicker and he told me that I would probably find the medium setting much more to my liking. Rob was on the money with that advice.
He also explained why Jett only puts heating elements in the back of the vest. There are some studies that indicate that heat on the body near the heart area can cause problems like fainting, so the people at Jett avoid it altogether. It is their contention that by heating the spinal column the vest warms the entire body and after using the Jett for several months I have to agree. I always noticed the warmth on my back, but my front side almost never felt cold. I expected to notice a big difference between my front and back since I ride naked bikes, but that was not my experience at all. As time went by I was riding in the 20’s and teens and fell in love with the Jett.
You probably want to know about battery life. The longest that I used the vest continually was for 4 hours last winter. That included a 50 mile joy ride, some walking, and working in the yard. That is another great plus for a battery operated vest for me, not only can I wear it on my 25 year old dual sport, but it came in really handy for working out in the garage, on dog walks, and while shoveling snow. Rob explained that the longer I use the batteries, the longer they will hold a charge and he told me that people have gotten up to 8 hours of use from a charge on the low and medium settings.
Remember I mentioned that I live in Michigan? Well, we had a long, cold wait for spring this year and the last time I wore my Jett vest was in May. I certainly got a lot of use out of it last winter and look forward to putting it to work for me again this winter. The coldest temperature in which I rode to work was 6 degrees. The vest did a good job, my problem that morning was how fast my breath froze on the visor of my helmet – but that is another subject for another day.
My only (minor) complaint with the Jett was the positioning on the batteries. They sit in an inside pocket down a little in front slightly above belt level. On two occasions I managed to turn off the unit because I disconnected the hook-up. There is a simple fix for that and I plan on sewing a new inside pocket before the weather gets cold again. I believe that Jett is also addressing this problem in their newer models. The many days of riding warm and the convenience of battery power far outweighed the fact that I managed to turn the thing off a couple of times. The Jett and I got a good thing going. The people at WebBikeWorld.com voted the Jett vest the Product of the Year in 2006 and I have to agree with their assessment.
Another cool thing about this hot vest is the “Far Infrared Technology” responsible for warming your back. Don’t ask me to explain how it works, just be assured that it does. There is a helpful PDF file on the Jett website that explains it for those of you who need to know more.
You can learn more about the Jett vest and order them at their website: http://www.jett.us.com/ . The vest comes with a battery, charger, and the switch – everything to warm up on those chilly rides. Jett warranties the switch/controller, the heating element, and the charger for one year. The Jett sells for approximately $175 US and that includes shipping.
Riding with a Jett vest is like putting air conditioning in your home. Once you experience it, then you would not want to do without it.