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Custom Grip Heater Wraps


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I have been riding year-'round since the late 60s, and I have never had grip heaters or used electric clothing. As I get older, however, I am finding that the painful fingers when the temperatures drop below 30 are less acceptable, so this year, I started experimenting with grip heaters on the RSV.

 

I really like the stock grips on QuickSilver, so I didn't want to just replace them with heated grips; that left either wrap-around heater covers or the under-grip heat strips. I first ordered a set of Oxford HotHands wrap-arounds. These are specifically labeled for use ONLY on 1 7/8" bars, as they will make the grips too large when put over grips on 1" bars. I decided to ignore this and try them anyway since I have very large hands. Turns out, we are both right. The HotHands are quite thick, and when put over the RSV grips, they feel overly large. I was easily able to get used to them, but most people probably wouldn't. In addition, the HotHands only have one temperature - High! To modulate the heat, the only choice is to turn them off and on periodically.

 

My next try was to order a heated grip kit designed to install underneath existing grips. These consist of self-stick mylar sheets with heating elements bonded to the surface. The ones I ordered use a dropping resistor and two position switch to provide low and high heat options. More on the resistor later. Before I tried installing the heater kit as it was designed, I wanted to try and make my own set of grip wraps that could be removed easily when not needed.

 

First, I chose to use buckskin, since I had it available and I thought the deer skin grips would be comfortable and functional. Although the buckskin worked very nice, I think rubberized nylon or canvas would have been a better choice. With the leather, I am concerned about the long-term effects of water, and when washing the bike I have been either wrapping the grips in plastic or removing them. Here's a picture of the heat strips and Velcro on the buckskin:

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Important: If you are going to make a set of wrap-around heaters like this, you need to be careful to get the kind of elements with the SAME amount of heat on BOTH. Many sets made for motorcycles have one that heats a lot more to compensate for the damping effect of the cold metal bar directly against it on the left side.

 

The dropping resistor is a bit of a problem - these get HOT when the grips are on low, hot enough to burn your fingers. There is at least one other brand of grip heater kit available that uses two separate heating circuits instead of the resistor, and I would use those in the future instead of the more common type with the resistor. I used some plastic wire wrap to hold the excess wire and the resistor (it came all soldered together), and then just stuck the wire assembly down behind the throttle cables and the fairing. (note - after using these for a year, just having the resistor and wires stuffed between the throttle cables and the fairing as shown in the picture has worked perfectly - the heat from the resistor has not damaged anything.)

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Finally, I just wrapped the wires from the grips once around the existing bar wire bundle and routed the wires from the left grip and the power plug through more of the plastic wire wrap across the front of the handlebars. The tach mount made a convenient place to mount the switch. I am currently powering these from the power plug in the fairing, but will permanently wire the switch next time I split the fairing.

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I am quite happy with this solution and think this is what I will stay with!

Goose

 

UPDATE - one year later:

I have used these grip heaters for two winters now, and I love them. In November we took a weeks ride up to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and the weather for three days all the way there was low 30s and solid rain. Of course, the buckskin grip heaters got soaked, but that just made them work even better, as the water absorbed the heat and kept my hands "steamy" warm. Even when my winter gloves got so wet that just making a fist would cause water to stream out of them, these grip heaters were too warm to leave on Hi very long. After the grip heaters dried out, they are still in perfect shape. One of the things I like most about them is that I only have to have them on the grips when really needed. Here is an updated picture of the dash and location of the switch between the tach and the right handle bar.

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Edited by Freebird
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