In the past few days I indulged in Bernie Sanders’ mittens pictures (in my defense they are everywhere) and while shopping online for motorcycle parts, Google promptly showed me handlebar muffs ads. I suppose the algorithm works like this: mittens + motorcycles accessories = handlebar muffs. Once again Google is smarter than me and knows I can resist everything except temptation, as a result I bought a pair just out of curiosity. To be clear, I haven’t been brainwashed into this, there must be some sort of purpose in products that trigger my interest -and credit card- and it has to be related to my business or passions, this to explain why I’ll never buy a Tamagotchi. No offense meant, it’s just that I grew up so utterly pragmatic that I’m closer to screwdrivers (or mittens) rather than electronic eggs that cannot be scrambled.
As a designer I had doubts concerning muffs, I thought these voluminous things attached to a motorcycle weren’t exactly a flawless project. My questions were: is it possible to ride a motorcycle at highway speed during mild winter while keeping hands warm? Is it difficult to handle a heavy tourer bike with hands hidden in those dark holes? The not so obvious answers are yes to the first and no to the second.
Now, I know when someone from Anchorage meets someone from Tampa there could be misunderstanding about what winter means, let’s say so far I tested them riding at 40-45°F and they worked fine, it is very unlikely that I will test them during a snowstorm in Siberia but you can try them on a snowmobile and share your thoughts.
Before switching on the beast, find the right settings for your riding position until you feel comfortable, safe and not clumsy in traffic, there is some work to be done in the garage at the beginning. It took some time to me because at first I felt my forearms were forced in a non ergonomic Playmobil-people-like posture, but once I tuned them finely I discovered the great pleasure of a Mediterranean winter ride with warm fingers and when I say ‘warm’ I don’t mean bearable temperature, I mean good-peripheral-circulation warm.
Few last considerations at this point:
1. Decent quality gloves are always mandatory for bikers no matter the season: up with safety, down with arthritis.
2. Renowned brands products are to be preferred to super cheap ones (duh!). Handlebar muffs must be thick and structured, we don’t want two sad bags flapping and wrapping dangerously around brake/clutch levers. Probably urban commuters can take the risk settling with discount items to save a couple of bucks but I wouldn’t recommend it to those who frequently cover long distances at high speed: nobody wants a piece of your bike landing on his windshield.
3. Muffs are not 100% windproof and definitely not waterproof (no one’s perfect) so when you’re ready to click ‘purchase’ make some room for compromise, I’m sure that if you’re 40 something like me you already know a lot about compromising in life.
4. Exercising regularly helps a lot the cardiovascular system so if your fingers easily look like frozen sardines get off the couch and workout before blaming muffs.