Thursday, March 8, 2012

Finally Installing Heated Grips Among Other Odds and Ends

Last winter, I wrote about some intended electrical upgrades. Summer arrived before I had the opportunity to install the fog lights or the terminal strips for future electrical upgrades. So, I'm revisiting that project this year. Also, my wonderful, sweet, loving wife bought me a set of Oxfords Heated Grips for Christmas (thank you, honey!) and I am installing them, too. Here's how you do it.

First, remove the bar end weights from the handlebars. Don't pull the screw all the way out -- just loosen it up. Inside the handlebars, there are a series of washers, spacers and rubber bushings. The screw pulls on the rubber bushings, causing them to expand and press against the handlebars, holding them in place. If you pull the screw out of the bar end weights, the bushings will get stuck in the handlebars. It's possible to get it out, but it's not any fun (ask me how I know...).

Here's the entire bar end weight assembly after being removed from the handlebar.

Next, you have to remove the stock grips. This was arguably the hardest part for me. It's not physically difficult to do; I just couldn't bring myself to cut the grips. I found out later that you can use compressed air to blow the grips off. Wish I'd read that before cutting my grips off :rolleyes:

The left side is pretty straightforward. Use some sandpaper to remove the contact cement from the handlebars after removing the grip. The throttle side, however, is a bit more difficult. The Oxfords grips are really stiff, and need the throttle tube to be perfectly smooth. Unfortunately, Suzuki created the throttle tube with flanges at each end to help hold the grip on the throttle tube...

...and ridges along the length of the throttle tube to keep the grip from slipping when you grab a fistful of throttle (not that you or I would ever do anything like that!)

To solve this problem, grab a file and get to work on those ridges and flanges. After getting them reasonably smooth, use some sandpaper to finish the job. Oxfords recommends checking the inside of the grips for flash from the manufacturing process. My right hand grip had some flash in it, but the left side was okay. While I'm not terribly impressed that Oxfords couldn't clean up their grips before shipping them out, it's easy enough to do yourself with a small file. It took me all of maybe two minutes to do.

Before installing the grips, it is critically important to spend a while finding the best mounting orientation. You don't want the power wires to foul your brake, clutch or fairing, so spend a couple of minutes trying different positions on the throttle tube and handlebar. Make sure you take the time to verify that you still have clearance while rotating the throttle. You *DON'T* want to find out that your brake doesn't clear the power wires at highway speeds!

Once you are satisfied with the positioning, use the included high-temp super glue (!) to glue the grips in place. If anyone at Oxfords happens to stumble across this page, super glue, IMHO, is an exceptionally poor choice since you do not get nearly enough time to position the grips before the glue sets. Seriously, was there *nothing* that you could find that was flexible enough and heat resistant enough (high temp silicone, maybe?) for this purpose? </rant> Anyway, back to the install. First, coat the inside of the grip -- NOT the handlebar!!! -- with super glue, then QUICKLY slide the grips on the handlebar or throttle tube. You have to work fast! This stuff sets very, very quickly, and once it grabs, you are DONE. Again, ask me how I know (sigh)

Congratulations! The hard part is done. Now, it is time to install the heat controller. Oxfords had an ingenious solutions for affixing the controller to the somewhat crowded real estate on a motorcycle's handlebars: mount the controller on a metal bracket that is drilled to match the mounting holes on the left-hand rear view mirror on some motorcycles. Simple, right?

Unfortunatley, on V-Stroms -- or at least on my K9 DL650 -- there's a snag. The left-hand rear view mirror mount only has one bolt, but the Oxford bracket requires an upper and lower mounting bolt. It would match the bolts on the right-hand side mount, but the metal bracket is cut to fit on the left hand side only, and honestly, I wouldn't want to let go with my throttle hand to change heat settings anyway. I was able to work around the problem by buying a conduit clamp at Lowe's and mounting the bracket to it. It took a little work with some pliers to match the holes in the clamp to the holes in the bracket, but I finally got them to mate up. Then, I wrapped the clamp in electrical tape (so the metal clamp wouldn't abrade the handlebars), and bolted the bracket to the clamp.

Here's the completed install:

One other problem I ran into: the diagram doesn't show it, but there should be an adhesive pad between the controller and the metal bracket. The bracket and controller are held together by two screws, but the pad acts as a shock absorber so that vibrations in the handlebars don't get transmitted to the electronics in the controller. Of course, I didn't see that until after I had already screwed the controller onto the bracket, requiring me to remove the screws, remove the controller, install the adhesive pad, then reinstall the screws. It's not a big deal, but by this point, the frustration level was mounting.

The only thing left to do at this point is the electrical wiring. However, I'm still working on several facets of that project, so..."To be continued" :)


  1. Thanks Mike, I'm about to buy a pair of these Oxford grips so your discussion on fitting them is very helpful so I know what to expect before I start fitting them. cheers

  2. No problem. Glad the post was helpful, and good luck with your install!