Review: Keis X20 Hi-Powered Heated Bodywarmer - £139.99

One man's mission to stay warm this winter

KEIS rhymes with ice, which is exactly how I felt commuting last winter.

There's nothing worse than being cold on a bike... except falling off a bike... or speeding face first into a bee with an open visor. I've managed to overcome the latter problems but staying warm has been a 17 year Odyssey.

Every winter I promise myself I'm going to finally keep myself toasty. It's been a long, cold journey. Heated grips were my first breakthrough and I owned four bikes before I afforded myself that luxury but now they're obligatory. But what good are hot hands when the rest of your body is like a block of ice. It's like buying a turkey at Christmas and just defrosting its legs.

My dad reckons I've got 'nesh flanks' - he's northern and half the time I don't know what he's talking about. Apparently it means I'm a wimp in the cold.

This year I took the plunge and experimented with a Keis heated bodywarmer. Of course it turns out to be one of the warmest Decembers since records began. Not to worry, I didn't have to wait long for the temperatures to drop and I've worn the X20 all throughout January.

Fitting the Keis to my bike was a doddle – it just clips onto the battery. The connecting  wire is long and it's easy to navigate a convenient route from the battery to the saddle. It's a five minute job even for an inexperienced spanner-man – just take care to fit the correct fuse.

The Keis comes with a power controller which lets you choose different heat settings, it plugs neatly into a pocket in the bodywarmer. I've given up on it for now because I always ride on the full power setting but perhaps by March or April I'll find it useful. The heat controller (worth £30) now comes bundled with every non-sale jacket or bodywarmer.

I recommend you buy a size smaller than you would ordinarily wear. For example I was wearing a small and it fitted me like a medium. Also, it's most effective to wear the bodywarmer over your t-shirt but under your jumper - this way you get the most benefit from its warmth.

One of the things I hate most is wearing five layers of clothing under my bike jacket. It's uncomfortable and restricts movement on the bike. The bodywarmer is lightweight and easy to store when you're off the bike. The material is soft and rolls up compactly into a rucksack or pannier.

Keeping the core warm has a significant effect on the rest of the body. I'm tall and pumping the blood to the extremities is no cakewalk. In consequence my toes are cold and chillblained. Wearing a bodywarmer goes a long way in keeping my feet warm, but I still need a thick pair of socks. Keis also sell heated insoles which can be run from connecting wires to the bodywarmer.

The X20 has heat panels around the kidneys and chest but my favourite feature is the panel at the back of the neck. The bodywarmer's collar rides up high on the nape of the neck and in a sports bike crouch this exposed area can often open the door to an uncomfortable draught down the back of a jacket. Not only does the bodywarmer seal the gap but it also keeps my neck toasty.

I think it would be good if Keis designed a small stick-on plastic clip where you could fix the loose wire when you're not on the bike. I tend to stuff mine under the seat but it's not ideal and will cause wear over time.

I commute all year with a round trip of 60 miles. Mornings in particular are so much better with the X20. When I roll into central London after 25 miles down the A1 I'm still warm and alert. It makes commuting in the winter safer.

At £140 the X20 isn't cheap but it seems well made (I'll report back on how it stands up after a full winter of use). Buying an X20 bodywarmer might also mean you don't need to buy a heavy duty winter jacket – particularly for riders who are not commuting in the very worst weather. For example, I've worn the bodywarmer on chilly but not freezing days under a leather jacket and still been warm.

Tested: Keis X20 Hi-Powered Heated Bodywarmer

Price: £139.99

Colours: Black

Contact: Keis

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