By February 9, 2010

Tourmaster Synergy heated motorcycle glove review

The more reviews I’ve written for Gibberish, the longer I’ve taken to waiting before issuing an opinion. Sometimes I label early write-ups as “first impressions” and leave the review for later days. In the case of the Synergy heated motorcycle gloves by Tourmaster, I waited almost sixteen months to write this up.

I try to ride my motorcycle to work as often as possible. I commuted on a motorcycle for almost eight straight months in 2009. There are two things that can disrupt your average motorcyclist: cold and rain. I tried a variety of insulated waterproof gloves but most weren’t up for the task of commuting at highway speeds. Gloves that kept my hands warm were often so bulky I had a hard time articulating the clutch and front brake levers. All waterproof gloves I tried lost most of their insulating properties once the non-waterproof outer layer became saturated with water.

I tried just about everything before turning to electric heated gloves. I had handguards on my Yamaha FZ6 and BMW R1150R. I had heated grips on the FZ6, R1150R, and BMW K1200LTE. I even have thin silk glove liners to help retain my body heat. If you’re on the bike at 25°F ambient and ride 70MPH that’s 2°F adjusted for wind chill. My commute is at least 40 minutes each way. I needed something else to keep my hands warm, so I turned to the Synergy electric heated gloves made by Tourmaster.

http://gallery.drfaulken.com/d/8405-2/tourmaster+synergy+gloves.jpg

The Tourmaster Synergy heated clothing system

A lot has been written about the Synergy line since I purchased my gloves in 2008. The short story is that motorcyclists love the heated jacket and vest, like the heated pants, and like the way that the Synergy garments can connect to each other so that one controller can adjust the temperature of every garment. Opinions were mixed about the reliability of the controllers (something that appeared to be fixed by the time I got mine in October 2008) and the performance of the gloves.

The Synergy glove controller is on the right wrist, inside a plastic pocket with a clear face. You can manipulate the two buttons pretty easily with gloves on. A green button cycles through the heat settings, and a red button turns to gloves off. There are three status LEDs for each heat

Armor and protection

The Synergy gloves have your pretty standard (by now) armored knuckles and padded fingers. There is extra material on the palm, and the full-length gauntlets offer some abrasion protection for your wrists. I have not crash tested these gloves, but they seem sturdy. The seams are still in good shape after a season and a half of riding.

Heat performance

Some riders complained the Synergy gloves barely put out any perceived warmth, even when set to “high.” I totally agree with this sentiment. The gloves have three variable temperatures, and I have never used anything lower than high. Tourmaster should have just redesigned the glove with an on/off switch.

Where I disagree with some of the Internet write-ups is if the heat output level is acceptable at all. I have ridden down to the aforementioned 25°F ambient with the gloves on, and found that only the tips of my thumb and pinky got cold. Without the Tourmaster Synergy gloves I would have the same feeling at about 35°F. It appears that when stacked with heated grips and silk glove liners, the Synergy gloves are good for another 10 degrees of riding safety.

Safety. That’s the operative word here, and is distinctly different from comfort. When your fingers get really cold you lose the dexterity necessary to smoothly operate the throttle, front brake, and clutch. That smoothness might make the difference between a rider gliding to a stop or grabbing too much front brake and taking a spill. “Safe” helps you stave off frostbite. “Comfort” makes you forget you are riding in below-freezing temperatures.

The Synergy gloves aren’t warm enough to transport me to the idyllic riding temperatures of the spring and early fall, but they are warm enough to allow me to ride deeper into the winter season. I stop riding at about 25 here in Virginia mostly because it rains so much I don’t want to risk riding on ice or snow. However, my fingers could probably snuggle inside the Tourmasters safely for another five degrees ambient or so.

Rain performance

I have worn the Synergy gloves in the rain a few times, but nothing torrential. The gloves seem to do fine at keeping mild rainstorms out, and my hands have remained warm. It is important to note that I won’t ride in the rain below 35°F ambient in case there’s a freeze, so I am not challenging the gloves very much.

Summary

Aside from the pants, the gloves are the most expensive piece of heated apparel in the Synergy lineup. You can find the gloves at about $150 at several places on the Internet, including Iron Pony and Amazon. That’s pricey, but not as expensive as some non-heated alternatives out there.

However, $150USD isn’t cheap either, and I would feel a lot better about my purchase if the gloves put out some more heat. If the price was $100 or if the gloves current “high” setting was more like “medium” I would make these a strong recommend.

As-is, I can only give the Tourmaster Synergy electric heated gloves a base recommended.

Related posts:

Posted in: motorcycling, review

7 Comments on "Tourmaster Synergy heated motorcycle glove review"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Gremlin says:

    Do you own the synergy jacket? I’ve been looking for a trusted review of it.

  2. drfaulken says:

    I bought a Synergy jacket at about the same time as the gloves, and never took it out of the packaging. My Rev’It Cayenne Pro jacket has kept my core warm enough to never need it.

    I wound up selling it almost a year and a half later on eBay. 🙂

  3. Cap'n says:

    I’ve got these gloves AND the synergy jacket, so I can help with that request.

    Me: Short, lightweight, been riding 6 years, put on about 10k miles a year commuting to work daily for all but winter on an FZ6 with no hand guards or heated grips.

    I bought this setup about a year ago, so I’ve had early Spring and all of Fall ’09 to try it all out. Just like Falken, I too found the gloves to be pretty mild in their specific output. The jacket, however, is very different. My normal setup is to use the jacket liner (I bought the full sleeve version, not just the vest style) anytime it gets below 60 or so under a synthetic riding jacket. If I don’t find it to be cold enough to bother, I don’t plug in / turn on. If I do get chilly and want it, it’s incredibly fast and easy to plug the jacket in. I ride with the controller clipped into the back left pocket of my jeans, and I can feel the buttons easily through my gloves… it’s easy to memorize which button is which and use it without looking. So there are, then, 3 scenarios in which I find myself using that jacket liner:

    A. By itself under a real jacket but not turned on
    B. By itself under a real jacket and plugged in / turned on
    C. In combination with the heated gloves, all turned on

    My thoughts on each of those 3:

    A: Works as well or better than the Tourmaster jacket liner that came with my jacket, and looks “decent” according to my wife when I wear it by itself off the bike, which (believe me) she would not say about the liner that came with the outter jacket. So I pretty much never use the stock liner anymore for any reason. This one’s longer overall and has elastic around a taller collar… win/win/win.

    B: This is 80% of my use, and I should explain why. I don’t love the feel of those heated gloves, and I don’t love the time and trouble it takes to hook them into the jacket liner sleeve connections. And as it turns out, this liner puts out so much heat that the blood in my arms effectively goes down into my hands cooking-oil-hot, which means I wear 1 shade lighter gloves for the day than I would’ve without the heated vest. Again, win/win. So I can run this setup in the morning when it’s in the low 50’s or better… put the vest on medium (run “hot” at your own peril, like getting drunk in a hot tub), put on your summer gloves, and while your hands may be a tiny bit chilly, they’re perfectly responsive. And in the meantime, you get that good Summertime quality of feel from lighter gloves, instead of the heavier feeling of winter-weight gloves (heated or no). The net result is that unless it’s in the 40’s, I don’t bother with the heated gloves. The vest has elastic panels vertically going down from your armpits, which help a lot in keeping the vest near your skin, which is KEY. I have sewn some of the slack out of my outter jacket sleeves, which means with this heated liner in, the arm heat elements are tight against my arms, so I feel it there the most. Even if I hadn’t, though, that jacket could cook a potato on High – you will not lack for warmth. I usually cycle between Low and Off.

    C: Everything On. To do this, you need to plug the glove leads into the sleeve leads, and that gets a little bit tricky because once you’re done you need to snug everything back together (gauntlets) and get on the bike, so you have to do it last, standing by the bike, outside where it’s cold. Also it means all of it runs on 1 controller, and as I’ve said, you ain’t running that jacket liner on Hot, brother. Not for more than about 5 minutes, unless you wanna have an out-of-body experience. So the gloves never get a chance to hit their pitiful high… they just help a little bit on the arm-blood-radiator thing the vest has going on. All in all, when it’s really cold out and you wanna ride, this is the warmest setup for sure. But the work it takes to plug in and smooth down takes some of the joy out of it, and the gloves’ output is so mismatched to the jacket that you wonder if anyone ever really product tested them together.

    Result: The jacket liner is the star here. It will spoil you rotten in about 1 week. I found myself plugging it in at temps I used to find perfectly warm for all-day riding. I would replace it if it were stolen.

  4. Jon Palmer says:

    I ride in New England so it can get very cold early. I have tried a variety of gloves and nothing was able to keep my hands warm. I finally pulled the trigger and made the investment on Firstgear Carbon Heated Gloves and the Firstgear 90 watt heated jacket liner. The gloves connect to the jacket through the sleeves, and the jacket connects to the heat controller, which connects to the bike battery. The controller can be set from off to 10 or any range in between, and when they are set to 10, even when it is below freezing my hands are sweaty. This gear works great and I’d highly recommend it to for riding in the cold season. I even wear it sometimes on summer mornings just for the comfort factor. I only wish they made heated socks…

  5. Michael Schultz says:

    “handguards on my Yamaha FZ6” I’ve been wanting to install handguards on my 2004 FZ6. I tried some PowerMadd’s, but they contacted the fairing too much. What kind did you use?

  6. drfaulken says:

    Hi Michael,

    I used V Strom handguards and modified them to fit. The V Strom guards have a “C” shape where the bar ends go. You will have to remove material from that area to fit on the FZ6.

    I wound up taking mine off for the season because they wouldn’t allow the front brake lever to fully snap back into position. I was going to revisit the mod this riding season, but I wound up getting an FJR and selling my FZ6.

  7. r6andmonstercrasher says:

    Can anyone tell me if the Synergy Jacket Liner has the heating elements in the arms?

    Thanks,

    Fred