Heated Motorcycle Gear for Steet and Off-Road

By: On: December 31st, 20081 Comment »Updated: October 14, 2012

Heat Demons Power Demon ControllerHeated motorcycle gear can make riding your street bike much more enjoyable and also can allow you to travel more miles without stopping.  More heated riding clothes and accessories are on the market now as technology improves and as motorcycle manufacturers produce bikes that are more compatible with heated motorcycle gear.   Some motorcycles, especially the touring and sport touring models, come with a 12 volt accessory outlet or multiple outlets. The alternators in newer motorcycles are often larger than in the past so that they can handle today’s electronic gadgets such as GPS systems, cell phone chargers, ipods, and heated motorcycle gear. Motorcycle Information investigated the most popular heated motorcycle gear to give you the info.

Probably the most popular of all heated motorcycle gear are heated grips. Even if your body is completely warm and comfortable, your ride will not be much fun if  your hands are freezing.  Cold hands can be a safety problem too if you lose feeling for the brake and clutch levers, and if you have to ride with one hand for a long time when conditions are not good for doing that.

Motorcycle riders all should know to wear gloves, but it is easy to be caught in colder temperatures than your gloves are good for. You’ll be wishing for a pair of heated grips when your finger are hurting.  Riding a motorcycle with thick gloves usually doesn’t work since you can’t properly feel the grips, levers and switches. While your hands might be warmer, you’re control is reduced and so is your safety and the safety of others around you.

heated grips for HarleyBefore buying any heated motorcycle gear, including heated grips, always check to see how much electricity it will consume. It is very important to appreciate that your motorcycle’s electrical system has limited capability.  If you run multiple types of heated motorcycle gear all at once, especially on the hottest settings, you’ll likely end up with a drained battery, dull lights, and an unhappy riding experience.  It’s a good idea to own a motorcycle battery maintainer to keep your battery topped off if your charging system or battery is somewhat borderline at keeping up with all the extras.

Some heated motorcycle gear is offered in high-Watt or low-Watt versions.  For example, heated jacket liners from FirstGear, available now at Motorcycle Superstore, are offered in either 65 Watt or 90 Watt versions.  Lower Watt versions are a better choice for motorcycles that don’t have high output alternators.  Some motorcycles have very strong charging systems, especially the bigger touring and sport touring models, but you still need to make sure yours can handle the extra electrical load.motorcycle grip heaters

Heated grips are something that can be fitted to just about any motorcycle, but you need to know how to choose ones that are right for you and your motorcycle. To choose, measure the diameter your handlebars.  Research which type of heated grips are best for you in terms of installation, fit and convenience.  Not all heated grips are the same!  There are at least 3 types of kits available for putting heated grips on motorcycles.

One type, such as the Heat Demons from Symtec Inc., uses heaters that fit right inside your handle bars and can often be used with your existing grips. Using the Power Demon handle-bar mounted thumb switch controller is the way to go because it looks as good as any high-end factory installed accessory switch. they won’t mechanically interfere with your throttle or grips and make for a clean, professional looking installation.

Heat Demons require a few small holes to be drilled into the handle bars for routing of cables,  The are activated via a chrome or black controller mounted next to your existing switches and have a led indicator to show what setting they are at.  You will need to use some epoxy that comes with the kit to glue your left grip onto the handle bar with because the internal heater will tend to cause your rubber grip to become more flexible and loose.  Heat Demons heated grips are rated at 20 Watts per side, or 40 Watts total.  Cost of a Heat Demons kit is about $130 and they are available for Harley-Davidson and Metric motorcycles.

Another type of heated grips has thin flexible grip heaters that wrap around the outside of handlebar and throttle assembly.  These grip heaters sometimes have a self-adhesive backing to stick them in place.  You’ll also need to use an epoxy to glue your grips over the grip heaters for the same reasons mentioned above.  You’ll also need to make sure your throttle will still operate freely and that the heater wire for the throttle grip heater won’t interfere with throttle movement.  Enduro Engineering sells a grip heater kit for about $30 if you are an ice road biker looking for a low-cost solution.

A third type of heated grips kit actually replaces your standard grips with special heated ones.  These are probably the easiest and most convenient to install.  You just remove your old grips, using compressed air helps to get them off, and then install your new heated grips.  The style and quality of heated grips varies widely, and can include chrome trim, like Harley-Davidson offers, or they can just be a simple black grip.  Some of this type of heated grips are available in closed-end or open-end, depending if your motorcycle has bar end weights or not.  You can also get Hot Grips heated grips for all types of motorcycles for about $70 and they claim to be the “world’s first and best” heated grips.  Thee good thing is that they draw 15 Watts total on their low setting and 30 Watts total on high – not bad at all.

All of these heated grips involve routing of cables and some level of skill to install.  It is usually best to have a professional install your heated grips because if your grips are not on right, you could have trouble with the throttle sticking or perhaps worse.  A good set of heated grips will include an adjustable thermostat and some type of indicators to show you if they are on and what setting they are at.

Tourmaster Synergy Heated Clothing Ratings

Another very popular type of heated motorcycle gear is the heated motorcycle vest. A heated vest is worn as a liner inside your jacket.  Some heated vests have collars and some don’t.  The best thing about using a heated vest is that it helps keep up your core temperature and that can actually make your whole body feel warmer.  As with all heated motorcycle gear, a heated vest will have a rating for how many watts and amps it uses.  Keep track of all these electrical ratings because they do add up fast.  An example chart of ratings for Tourmaster Synergy heated motorcycle gear is shown within this article.

Heated vests or jackets, heated pants and heated gloves, can all usually plug into each other if they are all the same brand.  Heated jackets will often have small connectors at the wrists to plug in heated gloves.  Heated pants liners will usually plug into your heated jacket at the base of the jacket to another small connector.

Each rider can use their own temperature controller for heated gear, such as a Heat-Troller. You can get a Heat-Troller with dual control knobs for running two different things, such as heated gloves and a heated vest, so you can adjust temperatures for each independently.  You can also get a Heat-Troller that has just one control knob.  A temperature controller like a Heat-Troller can cost just as much as a heated vest or other heated motorcycle gear costs.  These controllers are sold at a variety of motorcycle gear and accessory stores such as Motorcycle Superstore.

How much does most heated motorcycle gear cost?  Prices vary widely depending on brand, quality, etc.  Motorcycle Information researched prices from a wide variety of online stores.  Plan on spending $70 to $120 for a controller, between $100 to $200 for a heated vest liner, about $200 for a heated motorcycle jacket liner, and about $150 for heated pants liner.

As a reminder, riding two-up with both riders using heated motorcycle gear can cause a huge drain on your electrical system, so add up those ratings and compare to your motorcycle’s specifications.

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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1 Response

  1. The cost of the clothing liners mentioned here all seem very reasonable to me. Glad you included that little ditty about the two up with both riders plugged in. Thanks.