Gerbing’s Microwire™

Nov 01, 2009 View Comments by

When it was determined that a new generation of heated clothing was needed for the military’s Special-Ops units, the suits with the gold-laden epaulets went straight to the experts: Gerbing’s. These road warriors from the Pacific Northwest have been keeping motorcyclists and outdoorsmen toasty warm for years, but the technology employed was still shy of combat grade. Motorcyclists are notoriously hard on gear, but the rigors of soldiering, especially the demands of the Special-Ops guys, have us beaten by a long shot. So, after studying the Department of Defense contract, which stipulated thinner, lighter, and more resilient heated clothing, Gerbing’s engineers determined that conventional carbon fiber wires were too thick and brittle; and, on the other hand, copper wiring heated too slowly and proved somewhat unreliable under extreme abuse. Extensive drawing board time ensued, and finally the wizards of warmth had even the most pessimistic of Pentagon procurers nodding in approval. And now the brandnew technology Gerbing’s came up with – known as Microwire™ – like so many of the coolest military developments, has made its way into the civilian world. This past February, RoadRUNNER checked out a prototype jacket liner featuring this cutting-edge technology, and the results were outstanding.

A fresh dusting of snow still on the driveway and northern winds shaking ice from the tree limbs, the day was just right for a heated-liner shakedown. And plugging in the liner to the Honda Silver Wing’s standard Gerbing’s controller was all it took to get things rolling. Before the scooter’s wheels had even touched the snow outside the carport, the flow of heat was noticeable, and by the end of the driveway, I had to stop and notch back the dial a bit. The new system heats up as soon as the power hits, and despite the constant rush of frigid freeway air, my core temperature remained warm, almost to the point of sweating. An hour-long, slush-dodging ride wound up being a perfectly comfortable affair. And perhaps most amazingly, the Microwire™-equipped liner isn’t much heavier than a thin windbreaker.

Further study of the unit’s construction reveals how Gerbing’s coaxed so much warmth from such a light, thin garment. As opposed to their arrangement in conventional, single-wire heating units, the “wires” in the Microwire™ system are made from hundreds of minute, bundled stainless-steel strands. Each strand measures only 12 microns, about 1/4 the thickness of a human hair. These super strong bunches are then wrapped in a thin Teflon®-derivative coating. Because the heat radiates from the circumference of so many individual filaments, the warmth manifests almost instantaneously. During research and development, it was also discovered that heat distribution could be “tuned” by varying the number of strands in each wire. And because of the increased ruggedness and flexibility afforded by the stainless-steel material, the wires can be used in a “heating pad” layout, woven together or used in Gerbing’s patented ribbon-matrix format. The possibilities for practical application are nearly limitless. And as it shakes out, the Microwire™-equipped liner is lighter, thinner, more durable, and functions significantly better than previous generations of Gerbing’s offerings. Other Microwire™ garments now available from the company’s line include pant liners, vests, G3 Gloves, Hybrid Gloves, T5 Gloves, NuBuck gloves, glove liners, and insoles. For more about this coolest new trend in keeping warm, check out www.gerbing.com.

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