A cool idea for summer riding: Chill Ride vest aims to solve the comfort conundrum

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Even in the temperate climes of the UK every rider’s wardrobe is filled to bursting point with riding gear to cope with the weather conditions we face.

Whether you’re battling to stay warm in winter or keep cool in summer, it’s always a challenge to find just the right combination of layers to retain the perfect temperature without compromising safety.

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It was faced with this very problem that French firm Chill Ride developed a temperature- controlled riding vest that aims to give the same sort of climate-controlled comfort that you might expect in a car. Designed to be worn under leathers, it’s intended to keep you cool in summer – allowing you to ride comfortably without skimping on protective gear – and warm in winter without piling on endless bulky layers.

Riders control the temperature dependant on the conditions

Just as cars use hot water or cold air-conditioning refrigerant to alter the temperature of their cabins, the Chill Ride system either heats or cools fluid to keep you comfortable, pumping it through tubes sewn into the vest to transfer heat to and from your body depending on the conditions.

While the vest is understandably the most tangible part of the system, it’s actually not the main component. It’s quite simply a thin, breathable gilet with flexible hoses woven through it to carry the heating and cooling fluid. As such, it’s intended to be safe in a crash – you wear normal safety gear on top and it has no hard parts that might cause injury.

Most of the important components are mounted on the bike, where the system features a pump to keep the fluid moving, a heater to warm it up in winter and – most visibly – a duo of heat exchangers mounted on the bike’s forks to transfer heat out of the fluid when the system is trying to keep you cool in the same way that your bike’s radiator keeps the engine from overheating.

The whole lot is wired into the bike’s electrics, so there’s no battery to keep charged – although there’s clearly a draw on the electrical system and the company say that it’s only suitable for machines over 500cc.

The firm are currently funding the system’s development via Kickstarter, where the set-up can be ordered for €699 (about £600) instead of the expected RRP of €1190 (around £1020).

However, deliveries aren’t expected to start until June 2022, presuming the firm meets its Kickstarter goal to raise €35,000 for the continued development of the system and the move into the production phase.

Elements of the kit are integrated on the bike

Chill ride explored:

  • Dry-break coupling A dry-break connector means you can unplug without losing fluid. In a crash the coupling comes free by itself
  • Easy controls Once you’re on the bike, you plug in the vest’s hose to the system, set the temperature via simple ‘+’ and ‘-’ buttons and you are ready to go
  • Heat exchangers The most visible part of the system on the bike are two intakes either side of the front wheel. These hold the heat exchangers to cool the liquid in hot weather
  • Warning tones Wired into the bike’s electrical system, the Chill Ride system emits a warning sound when you turn the ignition off, reminding you to unplug the coupling
  • Safe fluid The heating and cooling is done via water with harmless additives to keep it clean. The fluid is stored in a tank on the bike, which can be topped up easily