Constructed of premium top grade cowhide, the gloves were noticeably supple and soft to the touch right out of the package. Their long list of features include: double-stitching throughout, breathable and water-resistant liners, a face shield squeegee sewn on the left index finger to wipe away rain, and special form-fitting construction to allow for full heat coverage. They also boast molded carbon fiber in the knuckle and wrist bone areas for added protection. Finally, the gauntlet-length gloves are held securely in place on the hands via both wrist and cuff straps.
Powerlet is best known for their power ports for small vehicles, i.e. motorcycles and ATVs. These outlets provide riders with the ability to utilize small appliances such as cell phones and GPS units while riding without requiring that the rider dismantle the bike to access the battery every time they wish to plug or unplug the appliance. Unfortunately (especially in light of the gloves' $169 price tag), they do not come with one of the company's power outlets—that unit must be purchased separately. There are three outlets to choose from. The first consists of a harness ($8) that connects to the battery via two O-ring connectors. A Y cable ($15) connects the harness to the gloves. The system provides heat to the gloves but does not allow the user to increase or decrease the heat; effectively running the system on high all the time.
The second system, the one being reviewed, attaches to battery and runs into the Powerlet Performance Controller ($70). This allows users to control how much heat is being applied to the gloves and limits the draw of electricity on the bike. The third system is the same as above except the Powerlet Performance Controller plugs into BMW-specific outlets and retails for $80. Plugging directly into BMW-styled sockets, there is no need to attach the harness to the battery.
The Powerlet Performance Controller has a knob to control the flow of power and determine the heat output to the gloves. An L.E.D. blinks slowly when the unit is on and more rapidly when it is placed on "High". According to the Powerlet, each glove consumes 13 watts of power during operation.
Installing the unit requires accessing the battery, which will vary from bike to bike. On my 2001 Suzuki SV650, the whole process took 30 minutes, but most of that was spent fishing the cord through tight places as it traveled from the front to the back of the bike. And because of suspension modifications I had previously implemented, the battery was relocated towards the rear of the bike and the Performance Controller's cable would not reach all the way up to the triple tree where I had originally intended to mount the unit. As a result, I used a hook and loop (provided) to secure the unit to a forward part of the frame, and added a zip tie (not provided) for piece of mind. Conversely, the wires going from the gloves to the temperature control unit were too long, which required that the excess be tucked into the tankbag. Naturally, out of sight meant out of mind, so the predictable result was that I left the unit on more than once. Luckily, this situation never led to a dead battery but it certainly illustrates the importance of mounting the unit near the ignition switch or in another easily visible location.
Installation out of the way, we come to the question: do the ProForm gloves work? Answer? You bet. The gloves apply heat to the top of the fingers, which indirectly heat the palms. Small adjustments to the controller translated into noticeable differences in warmth as my hands acclimated to warmer temperatures. While riding in 20-degree weather, I was covered in multiple layers of thermals, sweaters, and scarves, all of which worked to varying degrees. However, my hands stayed warm thanks to Powerlet’s ProForm gloves.
Powerlet calls the gloves “water resistance.” During a 60-minute ride through a Seattle downpour, the gloves began to take on water and the Porelle liner became soaked. I had the unit on high, both to maintain hand movement as well as in a futile attempt to bake off the water. Although the gloves eventually became drenched, so did my best raingear. After a ride over a mountain pass that included snow tracers whizzing past my helmet, I arrived east of Seattle with a frozen body—but merely damp hands. This makes it hard to fault the gloves—especially since they are only advertised as being water resistant. Considering how small the gloves pack up (both take up less space than a single winter glove), waterproof covers might be a good idea for those who ride a lot in the wet.
In the end, are the Powerlet ProForm gloves worth their hefty price tag? I say, "Yes." I used to feel that being uncomfortable while riding in inclement weather was an important part of the overall motorcycling experience. But as I ride more and more, the simple conveniences of warm hands or proper raingear allow me to ride safer as I focus my attention on the road instead of the cold or wet. Knowing that at least your hands will be warm might make the difference between whether or not you go for that needed ride on a sub-40 degree day. Simply put, the Powerlet ProForm gloves were a godsend in 20-degree weather and they would make a great gift for the year-round rider or for someone who has a motorcycle and somewhere to be on Christmas.
Gloves range in sizes from Small to XXLarge and can be purchased from Powerlet’s website at www.powerletproducts.com/
Battery and Y harnesses $23
Powerlet Performance Controller $70
BMW Powerlet Performance Controller $80