Heated grips, are they just for old people on tourers/commuters?

I’ve been motorcycling for 32 years, with only a few short gaps. Generally, I motorcycle all year round, though currently through choice rather than necessity. Yet, in 32 years I’ve never had heated grips………why?

Originally, I felt such niceties were for “slow old tourers” and “couriers” and took away from the true motorcycling experience. They were also pretty bulky and inconsistent in their heat between left grip and right, throttle, grip. I once tried heated gloves but they felt big and bulky and just detracted from the feel required to enjoy a Supermoto on the mud covered back roads of rural Suffolk……though I admit they did keep my hands lovely and warm!! On one of our European trips a friend was on a KTM 1290 SuperDuke GT which had heated grips and heated seat. We frequently swapped bikes on our trip and I got to test the heating on a chilly and slightly damp mountain pass. I was impressed…..but still felt I was somehow cheating.

Fast forward a few years and I had my new Duke 890R come with heated grips. They are small, thin and don’t detract from the riding experience in the slightest. However…..the Duke is not my ‘all weather’ ride….that job comes to my 2009 KTM 990 SMR, a bike I have owned since new.

With the second COVID-19 lockdown upon us, I was keen to support my local bike shop with business so asked them to fit heated grips for me. I cannot comment on how to fit them (see https://www.oxfordproducts.com/motorcycle/downloads/guidance_and_instructions/ for guidance) but thought I would give the Oxford Heated Grips a review. Most importantly, they don’t look too bad. The part where the wiring comes out of the grips is quite well concealed on the bars, especially given I also have brush guards fitted. The ‘intelligent heat controller’ is quite large and is more function over design, but feels well made, though the writing next to each LED (for 30%, 40%, 50%, 75% and 100% heat) is hard to read but the coloured LED’s make this pretty intuitive in general use. The supplied bracket works well for mounting the controller to the bars.

Turning on and off is simple; just touch the + button and the grips turn on at their lowest setting. Use the + and – buttons to increase and decrease heat as required. The Oxford hotgrips include a Battery Saving Mode which recognizes if the battery voltage falls too low, or it’s high enough but unusually quiet (e.g. the engine is not running). In these conditions the controller stops powering the grips in order to save battery. This is particularly handy if the hotgrips are connected directly to the battery as it saves you having to remember to turn them off. In my case, they are wired to an auxiliary connector that is only live when the bike is on; but still handy to have the extra protection of the battery state.

Now, heated grips wouldn’t be much good if they don’t warm your hands. We haven’t had any major cold weather, the coolest morning ride was 3-4 degrees C, and with the Oxford grips set to 50% my hands, still in summer gloves, were toasty warm. My commute that morning was only 5 miles and mainly on 30mph roads, I suspect that at higher speeds the wind chill would require higher temperatures. And herein lies the fundamental issue with heated grips…..they only heat the palms of your hand where the main cold is coming to the outside of your hand from the air. As mentioned, I have brush guards on my bike which deflect some of the air. Without these I am not convinced that heated grips alone are enough to keep hands toasty, but far better than not having them at all.

For more details on the Oxford Hotgrips, models and pricing, head over to https://store.via-moto.co.uk/collections/handlebar-accessories/heated.

Accessories 2 Heated Grips 1 Reviews 1

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