I was offered a set of Ventz to test. I figured what the **** – I’ll give ‘em a shot. They’re a really neat idea to provide ventilation in your jacket, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take off and become pretty popular. They’re one of those things that, once you see them, you wonder why nobody ever thought of this before.
Basically, they’re rubber tubes built in a radius to follow the contour of your forearm, with just enough plastic to maintain rigidity, and a grill to keep bugs from flying up your sleeve.
The idea is to give some ventilation to your arms and torso while wearing a heavy jacket on hot days. I can see how this would be useful in colder climates, where riders tend to only own heavier jackets, but have occasional hot days. I, however, live in the blast furnace otherwise known as Central Texas.
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I got the Ventz in mid September, and wanted to give them a good test. Normally, in September, I’d wear a mesh jacket due to the heat, but I wanted to be thorough, so in spite of the temperature being in the mid 90s, I threw on a denim jacket and went for a quick forty mile ride. It was twenty miles to the next town without the Ventz, pull over, install them, and ride back. This took me through a residential area, some mild traffic, and speed limits from 25 mph to 70 mph, rising and falling going along a semirural highway.
I was pretty warm inside my blue jean jacket, especially at the stop lights. I was looking forward to the Ventz providing some relief on the return trip. They did, to a point. I could feel a difference from the high teens to around 25 mph, then again in the 40-45 mph range. Other than that, honestly, I couldn’t tell a lot of difference. Maybe it was just too hot to make a difference?
I tried again in October. It was cooler – in the high 70s this time, and I was riding farther. I rode through some traffic to get out of town and built up some heat inside my jacket while sitting in traffic. When I stopped for gas, I put in the Ventz. (By the way, if you’re an old guy like me who continues to wear a wristwatch, be warned: the watch will get in the way of getting the Ventz situated, so you may need to remove your watch before “installing” the Ventz). I could tell a bit more of a difference this time, but not much. At least I could feel it more at lower speeds, when you get hotter and need them more.
I hate to sound negative – I’m sure they work well when used in the right context. The website even shows where they did a very scientific study using strategically placed thermometers and recorded the data. I’d be curious to see the same test performed in extreme heat. My own testing may have also been hampered by my bike. I ride a naked liter bike, so my arms are pointed down when my hands are on the bars. Maybe with a cruiser or more of a touring or sport-touring bike, I’d have felt more wind moving up my sleeves.
My final verdict is that if you live in the northern half of the US, or in Canada (or similar latitudes in other regions), they’re priced low enough to be worth giving them a try. If you live in Texas or the Deep South (where you have ridiculously high humidity in addition to the heat), I don’t think they’ll help you much.
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