Motorsports Network
Product Evaluation

Electric Riding Gear: Widder

System II Vest
ArmChaps
Widder Ventura II Lectric-Vest
Widder Lectric-Chaps
Widder Lectric-Gloves
Widder Thermostat


New - Widder System II Vest
We can't ever figure out where companies who make electric heated clothing come up with the names of their products. Simplicity isn't the name of the game here. Widder's new vest is sold with and without a collar. The vest without a collar is named the System I Vest. When you add the collar, it's called the System II vest. Both are made to work with or without the companies new heated Arm Chaps. We were fortunate to evaluate the vest with collar, as we simply have no need for a heated riding vest without a collar.

The new System II vest looks good to be sure. The outer shell is made of coated 600 denier polyester, so it has the look and feel of a durable fine-weave (light weight) Cordura. Inside you'll find a soft and smooth 70 denier taffeta lining. There are two handy external heated handwarmer pockets but no internal pocket.

The tall heated collar is lined with a soft suede type material, so you won't feel cold nylon against your skin when you put the vest on. The quality YKK plastic zipper has a two-way slider, so you can adjust the fit any way you like. The back of the shoulder area features snaps nicely hidden behind a Velcro closing flap for use with the companies new Arm Chaps. The vests construction appears to be first rate in every way.

Optional glove power cord for
System I & II vests.

The plug-in for the vest is just inside the waist area and heavily reinforced to resist damage when you forget to unplug before walking away from your bike. This system is secure but hard to get at - especially when out on a dark road. Once you're plugged in and the juice is applied, the System II vest provides excellent and well placed heat.

Quality materials, a great fit and look, and excellent heating make the System II vest a winner. It's our current top pick for a heated vest without sleeves.

Draw:  33-48 Watts
Suggested Retail Price: $ 148.97 (with switch & battery cord)
Sizes: (36-56)
* add $12.00 for size 56

Widder: System II Vest US - Suggested Retail $ 148.97
(with switch & battery cord)
  Ratings:  Poor Fair Good V/Good Excellent
Comfort                 9  
Fit                 9  
Heat Effectiveness                 9  
Quality of materials                 9.5  
Sizing                 9  
Workmanship                 9.5  
Overall Rating                 9  

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Widder ArmChaps
We rarely ride in cold conditions without heated clothing. And when we venture out, we almost always wear something with heated sleeves. This is why we were so happy to see Widder finally address this area of the market. But they did so in their own innovative way, and in a direction that at first left us with a bit of skepticism.

The Widder Arm Chaps are just what their name implies, chaps for your arms. These easily snap onto the companies System I and System II vests - no additional electric hookup is needed. The electric current needed to power the chaps actually passes through the snaps! Another nice feature is that the chaps provide a built-in cord for powering the companies exceptional electric gloves. The glove plug ends conveniently push into small pockets when not in use.

The chaps are held in place at the shoulders by the snaps and a surrounding Velcro patch. They sleeves attach to your arms by way of two elastic Velcro straps, so you must either attach two Velcro adjustable straps per arm or slide your arms through the straps - a bit of a hassle.

Our concerns about the chaps related to how well they would heat your arms compared to vests with traditional heated sleeves. Furthermore, when we wore the chaps they rested towards the bottom of our arms when riding, not on top where wind can actually push the warm sleeves against your skin for better heating.

Upon testing the new chaps, we found that most of our concerns were unfounded. We were surprised at how effective the partial sleeves were at heating. In some situations they heated as well as full heated sleeves, in extreme conditions they did not.

In general conditions, like commuting, the sleeves work as well as anything. And don't forget, they can be removed or added as you wish. They also stow easily as they are light in weight and collapse to a small size, perfect for storage in a tank or tail bag. 

It's in more extreme conditions that the Widder Arm Chaps didn't completely measure up to fully heated sleeves. Don't forget that a vest with full sleeves acts as another layer of insulation under your riding jacket - even when the heat is turned off. This means that part of your arm, the area the wind is more apt to push against, has one less layer of insulation with the Arm Chaps. This can be felt when riding with the electrics turned off as well as in extreme conditions with the power at full on.

It comes down to personal preference. If you are wearing a tight riding jacket or racing suit, the Widder system will fit underneath the jacket a bit more easily and with less bunching. If you want detachable heated sleeves, the Widder system is the clear and only choice we are aware of.

If you want the easiest garment to put on, a vest with heated sleeves is easier and at times more comfortable. If you will be in extreme conditions, you'll also be better served by a full sleeve vest.

The Widder system is unique to be sure, and it heats just fine in most conditions. If you want to use the company's wonderful heated gloves without a separate wiring harness, it's the only way to go. 

Widder: ArmChaps US - Suggested Retail $ 74.99
(with switch & battery cord)
  Ratings:  Poor Fair Good V/Good Excellent
Comfort             7      
Fit               8    
Heat Effectiveness               8    
Quality of materials                 9  
Sizing                 N/A  
Workmanship                 9.5  
Overall Rating               8.5    

Top Of Page | Summary Chart | Heat-Troller | Gerbing's | Home


Widder Ventura II Lectric-Vest
The Ventura II vest by Widder is an attractive and very functional piece. It's cut slim and extra long with raised sides for a better fit when seated (if you are portly order a size larger). There's a tall and very comfortable heated collar, cavernous hand warmer pockets, and a high quality YKK zipper with a two-way slider.

The vests outer shell is constructed of 200 denier Oxford weave nylon and backed with a comfortable 70 denier nylon taffeta interior. The vests insulation is thin, but first rate Thinsulate™. One of the distinct advantages of the materials used is they are very lightweight and packable. It stows away in less space than other electric garments and is a bit easier to fit under tight leather jackets.

The plug for the vest is hidden, like the Eclipse vest, but easier to use. Once plugged in and fired up, the Ventura II puts out excellent and well placed heat. This vest rates a definite A.

Widder: Ventura II Vest US - Suggested Retail $ 128.97
(with switch & battery cord)
  Ratings:  Poor Fair Good V/Good Excellent
Comfort                 9  
Fit                 9  
Heat Effectiveness               8    
Quality of materials                 9  
Sizing                 9  
Workmanship                 9  
Overall Rating                 9  

Top Of Page | Summary Chart | Heat-Troller | Gerbing's | Home


Widder Lectric-Chaps
Widder's Lectric-Chaps are constructed of the same quality materials as used in the Ventura II vest, including its Thinsulate™ insulation. Hookup is by way of the chaps cord which splits to a Y. One side connects to the Widder vest, the other to your power source. No additional plug is required.

These chaps are cut long which helps when your knees are bent while seated on a bike, or when you choose to place them down into your boots. When the power's applied, you'll get excellent heat which is evenly and well placed.

The most notable aspects of the Widder chaps is their attachment system and overall light weight. They attach to your legs by way of twelve separate narrow elastic straps with Velcro closures. While functional, these straps become a pain to attach and detach. Finding and lining up the small tabs gets old, and when you want to exit you must find and pull off twelve separate leg straps. Inconvenient as it is, this attachment system has a benefit when it comes to packing them into small spaces or wearing them under your jeans for maximum heat. 

Widder Lectric-Chaps put out excellent heat and win the stuff-it-in-the-tankbag award.

Widder: Lectric-Chaps US - Suggested Retail $ 98.50
(no power cord)
  Ratings:  Poor Fair Good V/Good Excellent
Comfort             7      
Ease of use         5          
Fit               8    
Heat Effectiveness               8    
Quality of materials                 9  
Sizing                 9  
Workmanship                 9  
Overall Rating               7    

Top Of Page | Summary Chart | Heat-Troller | Gerbing's | Home


New - Widder Lectric-Gloves
Sometimes you come across a product that works so well you have to test it again and again to make sure your initial observations were correct. This was the case with Widder's Lectric-Glove.

The first thing you'll notice about these gloves is that they are lightweight, roomy and very comfortable. This comfort is inherent from the gloves more affordable nylon and leather construction.

This mostly nylon glove features leather fingers and palm, a large functional gauntlet with a Velcro adjustment strap, and a second top wrist strap to secure the glove to your hand. The glove is constructed using pre-curved boxed fingers for comfort and easier bending of the fingers. The design is effective while still providing for an exceptional feel of the controls.

The first surprise this glove provides is that it's extremely warm without turning on the juice. As warm, in fact, as some thick snowmobile gloves that provide little feel of the controls. The reason for this great warmth is that the glove features a full wrap design which means the Thinsulate insulation is placed on all four sides of the fingers, not just the top and bottom as with most gloves.

One of the great advantages of the Lectric-Gloves, other than the obvious, is they can be worn in quite cold temperatures without being turned on - thus reducing the power drain on your electrical system. When you finally turn the power on you'll get another surprise. The gloves don't get hot! Instead, and to their credit, they provide a steady and somewhat low level of heat which allows you to leave them on all day. There are no hotspots forcing you turn them off to keep from burning a portion of your hand. We agree with Widders' design choices - these gloves are great.

The only negative we can find with the glove is that you still need to run wires through your jacket to use them, unless you're wearing Widder's new Arm Chaps. It's a bit of a hassle but a necessary one. The best way we found is to thread the wires between your jacket and it's removable liner (if possible). This holds them in place and makes them less noticeable than when they're placed next to your skin. 

We first tested Widder's impressive gloves a season or so ago. The only difference we can find with the new gloves we received is a suede rain wipe placed atop each glove. This means the glove still offers the same great comfort, warmth and heating as before. Were glad Widder didn't mess with a good thing. As we stated the first time around, you won't find a better electric glove anywhere!

Draw:  20 Watts
Suggested Retail Price: $ 92.98
Suggested Retail Price: $ 105.97 (with wire harness & battery cord)
Sizes: (XXS-XL)

Widder: Lectric-Gloves US - Suggested Retail $ 92.98
(with harness for use with vest)
  Ratings:  Poor Fair Good V/Good Excellent
Comfort                 9.5  
Fit                 9  
Heat Effectiveness                   10
Quality of materials               8    
Sizing                 9  
Workmanship                 9  
Overall Rating                   10

Top Of Page | Summary Chart | Heat-Troller | Gerbing's | Home


Widder Thermostat
Widder's new miniature thermostat definitely wins the "Honey I shrunk the thermostat" award. It's uses a patented Cmos circuitry which allows it to provide constant heat rather than fluctuating heat from turning on and off. By providing a constant and lower flow of electricity, when it's not on a high setting, the unit is said to draw less overall power at any given time.

Another feature we really like is that the round adjustment knob has a true off position - when it's off you know it. It still needs detents so you can count the number of clicks your adjusting in. The problem, like with other units, is where to place it when in use. Widder chooses to mount the unit with Velcro, but that just doesn't work for us. We taped the unit to our tankbag handle in a position making it easy to use. Because of it's size, it is the only unit we'd consider letting dangle in the wind but this could scratch your bike. If it were placed in a padded cover this might be a possibility.

Overall, this unit worked very well and wins the size award hands down. Now can anyone tell us what Cmos circuitry means?

Suggested Retail Price:  $ 69.99 (with straight cord)
Suggested Retail Price:  $ 79.99 (with coiled cord)

Top Of Page | Summary Chart | Heat-Troller | Gerbing's | Home

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