If biking isn't cool enough already, here comes M-Clima biker air-con featured image

If biking isn't cool enough already, here comes M-Clima biker air-con

4 Dec 2018
Air conditioning for motorcyclists is just a step away from reality

Rukka have unveiled a new climate-control vest that will cool us down at the height of summer – as well as warming us up when the temperature plummets in winter.

The pioneering clothing firm are expected to introduce the new cooling and heating vest to their range in the summer of 2019.

The M-Clima system has been pioneered by Spanish company MAT Group, who recently unveiled the waterproof leather Rukka is using in a new-for-2019 suit.

M-Clima combines technology similar to that used in some current heated clothing with a new air-circulation method to give an all-in-one climate management vest.

A waist-mounted blower forces air to travel around the M-Clima vest, which then flows next to the rider’s skin to cool them down as they ride.

The blower, developed specifically for the vest, shifts seven litres of cooling air per second, which travels around the vest at a speed of five metres per second.

It draws power from the bike’s battery so it’ll keep you cool for as long as you’re riding, and there’s the option to power the unit from a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that gives two hours of additional off-bike cooling time.

M-Clima has conducted testing that shows the cooling function can lower skin temperatures by up to 7°C in riders riding hard in events like off-road enduros and reduce them by 3°C in normal use.

Cutting perspiration makes for a more comfortable environment, and M-Clima tests suggests riders in competition could benefit from a reduction in heart rate of around 10bpm, which would give them an advantage in events.

The heating system, which is incorporated into the same vest as the cooling system and will also take its power from the bike’s battery, uses silicone semi-conductive panels that heat up to 46°C.

That’s around 10°C above core human body temperature and is enough to warm up the torso – the theory then being that the core doesn’t need to rob heat from ‘expendable’ extremities to protect itself.

Semi-conductive silicone panels are already in use in some other heated garments and the benefit is that they’re flexible, washable and resistant to cracks and breakages. There are no heating wires, so there’s no chance of overheating in certain spots.

M-Clima’s heating system can only be run from the bike battery, not from the rechargeable lithium-ion unit that can run the cooling set-up.

The heating system draws 3A from the battery, three times the cooling system’s draw, and the battery would have to be excessively large to give a worthwhile lifespan.

The whole system can be controlled by the rider as they move, with a remote control unit like a car keyfob that can be attached to the zip puller on a jacket.

SBS Mag had a quick demo of the M-Clima vest during autumn show season and the amount of cooling air it flows is impressive, while the heating is on par with the current market leaders.

There are only two drawbacks that we can see at this early stage.

The first is the size of the blower unit, which attaches at the hip. The system’s developers have worked hard to keep the size down, but it is still quite sizeable (roughly the size of a tin of baked beans) and that will put some riders off. Others may be concerned about the effects of falling directly on to the unit, though it is backed by D3O armour to absorb energy in an impact.

The second drawback is likely to surround cost. Technology like this doesn’t come cheap and the system’s developers have been canvassing opinion over the likely value riders would place on a climate-control vest.

We’ll see what the result of that work is when Rukka introduce the technology to their customers – and announce the price – in the summer of 2019.