Winter riding presents the motorcyclist with many challenges. It’s not my first winter, but I’m really annoyed with cold hands. With all the winter gears on, it does the job keeping myself perfectly warm, however after a while riding with my hands getting the first contact with the extreme temperatures and wind, they start to go numb (I’m wearing gloves).
Freezing-cold hands will definitely affect bikers’ sharpness and agility. It’s also not a good idea to wear very thick gloves, as it will be even harder to control. If you’re a winter biker, you’ll definitely appreciate heated grips. It is absolutely worth it, because it works by keeping your palm warm!
What it really does
Heated grips are a treat especially on cold rides. Not only do they make you more comfortable when it’s chilly out there, they also improve safety by keeping your hands warm so it will not get numb easily and be sensitive to the controls.
It’s worth noting that grips will only heat the underside of your hands, where contact is made with the grip itself, so not your fingers where you need to be pulling clutch or brake levers, and not the tops of your hands.
Grips are great by themselves, up to a certain point. Having heated grips on while riding, it is still possible to feel cold around your fingertips, but with its continuously power generated heat source, it is still good to go as long as your hands are not numb.
If temperature drops below freezing, you can also get a pair of heated gloves that heats the back of your hands in combination with the heated grips. In the slightly ‘warmer’ conditions in the winter 40 °F (4°C), my heated grips are enough by themselves.
Heated Grips – Worth it?
Heated grips can definitely be worth every penny especially if you have colder winter months. Although, most of them don’t cost too much to get a pair and it is definitely a useful accessory if you’re a winter biker. If you want to get the most out of them, you can also install hand guards to keep the wind blast off your hands.
Do remember to keep extra attention to the battery. If you usually ride in the city traffic, or only riding for a short distance, you may overtax your alternator if you install heated grips. So, it may not be a good option on smaller motorcycles. Heated grips are more suitable for bikes that have a 12V electrical system and battery.
Some disadvantages, just to let you know
With all the pros you can have in mind, it is still not perfect. It doesn’t mean that I’m not recommending it, but still worth mentioning the notable ones.
#1 – Keep an eye on your battery
If not installed or operated correctly, it may cause extra drain on your battery.
#2 – Electrical shocks (ouch!)
There are some cases where system failure occurs. It is usually caused by over-reliance.
#3 – Additional distraction
Some heated grip comes with warmth level control. Especially when you just got your new heated grips and are not familiar with the controls, adjusting controls can possibly be a distraction while riding.
DIY: Installing Heated Grips
Note: Basic knowledge of vehicle electrics and wiring is needed. If you plan to bring it into your local garage, they’ll probably charge you around 1-2 hours of labour for this install, which could cost around $100/hour.
Installing heated grips is an easy process for most bikes. For me, the hardest parts are taking off your old grips and cable management (hiding wires).
Step #1 – Remove your old grips
This is a pretty straight forward process. On some bikes, the grips can be easily removed. If you’re having trouble removing the current ones, consider cutting them off. Have a WD-40 with you, it’ll make everything easier.
Step #2 – Prepare the handlebars
Clean up the mess, remove all leftover debris on the handlebars with rubbing alcohol. If your throttle tube has a lip, you’ll need a sanding block or file for the next step.
Step #3 – Install new grips
It’s now time to slide in your new grips. Before that, apply some rubbing alcohol onto the bars. This will make it easier to slide in the new grip. Then, slide it in with twisting motion as close to the controls as possible.
If you have extra length, you may need to cut it off, and make sure the grip cables won’t get in the way of your brake lever or clutch.
Step #4 – Connect the cables
Connect everything up and do cable management. You might have to remove some parts of your bike for better access.
Rule of thumb, start by disconnecting the negative terminal to avoid electrical surprises. Then connect the wiring to the positive terminal first, followed by the negative terminal. Double check everything before putting the bike back together.
Step #5 – Test the Heat
Voila! Go for a ride and test the heat. If you’ve installed everything correctly, you should feel the grips warming up almost immediately.
Winter riding is possible with heated grips and some extra layers, as long as there isn’t any snow or ice on the roads. I personally would say having a heated grip on your bike is definitely an elegant solution to the stinging pain and numb frozen hands.