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Oxford Hot Hands Heated Motorcycle Grips Review

Heated Motorcycle Grips

Oxford Hot Hands Heated Grips Review

by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com

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Also: Oxford HotGrips (Heaterz) Review

Summary

Oxford Hot Hands heated grips are easy to install.

They work well, providing lots of heat.

There is no thermostat included, so they must be switched on and off to control heat.

Hot Hands draw 18 Watts each at maximum power.

The grips are slightly bulky and too much wire means that more time must be spent figuring out a way to secure the wire than actually installing the grips.

Introduction

I knew that one of these days it would happen. We've been through one of the warmest winters on record so far this year, with temperatures reaching into the 70's (F) just last week.

I knew that sooner or later we'd get hit with our annual winter gift from Canada, the Artic air mass. Cold weather doesn't get any easier to deal with, and I vowed to ride all winter this year, so I had my strategy all mapped out.

First it would be a heated jacket (see the webBikeworld Gerbing's heated jacket liner review), then heated grips. Heated grips are one of those things that once you've tried them...well, you'll always want them.

But I ran into an interesting problem - remember the one that goes something like "when the sun is shining, there's no need to fix the roof, and when it's raining, I can't go out and fix it anyway"?

It was too warm to think about heated grips, so I never bothered to install them. But all of a sudden I woke up one day to find a thin layer of snow and a thermometer that never got above the 20 degree F mark (-6 C).

Call me a wuss, but 20 degrees (actually 18 by time I started the installation) is way too cold to be messing around in the garage trying to work on a motorcycle. But, I had the urge to ride, 20 degrees or no, so I broke out the big kerosene heater and fired it up out in the garage.

It took a while to warm things up enough so my fingers wouldn't stick to the metal. By the way, it isn't a very good idea to go from dead cold to 65 degrees in a garage full of vehicles, because condensation will form over the bikes, in the fuel tanks and everywhere else. Eventually it will dissipate if it stays warm for a long enough period.

Choosing Heated Grips

There are many different types of heated grips available, but after thinking it over, I decided I wanted something that would be very easy to remove so that I could, if I desired, mount them on another motorcycle. I also wanted something that would be easy to remove them once the weather turns warm.

That ruled out a complete grip replacement and it also ruled out the heated elements that can be mounted underneath the bike's normal grips.

The Oxford Hot Hands seemed like just the ticket: they're very easy to remove and the wiring harness has 3 different quick-disconnects at various points along the way, which make very quick work of removing them while still allowing the wiring to stay in place but hidden from view.

So the Hot Hands seemed to be just what I was looking for. I'm a fan of Oxford products anyway (see the wBWreview of a complete set of Oxford soft luggage), and the kicker was that the local motorcycle shop had them on sale, from a whopping $99.00 (way overpriced compared to the normal 39.99=$74.00 in the UK) marked down to a more reasonable $60.00.

Heated motorcycle grips have their pros and cons; some riders are biased towards heated gloves as the method of choice for maintaining warm hands. One of the cons is that heated grips can heat the palm of your hand and at the same time the back of your hand can be pretty cold. But I just like the feeling of gripping the warm handlebars and feeling the heat seep through my gloves.

Installing the Oxford Hot Hands

One of the really nice features of the Oxford Hot Hands is that they're easy to install. The downside is that they are almost too temporary - I found that I had to cobble things together to get it all looking good, as we shall see. But at 18 degrees F, I didn't have much time (or patience) to make things look nice and pretty.

The problem is that Oxford provides almost too much wire. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The Hot Hands heated motorcycle grips consist of two sleeves that wrap around the outside of the motorcycle's normal grips and secure with Velcro. The normal grips on my bike are about 35 mm (1-3/8") in diameter at the largest part (towards the outside of the grip).

Oxford Hot Hands heated motorcycle grips
Hot Hands grip showing inside surface (lower left); cable ties; main wiring harness quick disconnect (white) and the rear section of the wiring harness that connects to the motorcycle battery.
Heated motorcycle grips mounted on motorcycle
Left handlebar showing extra wiring wrapped around the handlebar riser.
Right side grip
Right handlebar showing wire bundle secured to handlebar.

The Hot Hands fabric is about 5 mm (.19") thick, so after the Hot Hands are tightly wrapped around the motorcycle's normal grips (recommended by Oxford), the total diameter increases to about 46 mm (1.820").

I used a two-handed technique to install the Hot Hands, holding one side of the Velcro with one hand tightly against the grip while wrapping the over grip around as tight as I could get it.

The inner side of the Hot Hands material is coated with a rubber-like liner to prevent the over grip from slipping. There's also a wire that is fed out from underneath the grip towards the center of the handlebars.

These wires (one on each Hot Hand) terminate in a quick disconnect and is plugged to the its mate on the wiring harness on the switch.

Now about that wire:  Oxford supplies lots of it with the Hot Hands kit. There's 9.5" of the stuff coming out of the grips. There's an extra 38" that leads from the switch to the quick disconnect that the grips plug in to. Then another 70" from the switch back to the terminals that are fastened to the battery.

Since the Hot Hands heated grips do not have a thermostat, the switch is used rather frequently to turn the grips on and off to control the heat output.

Thus, the switch really must be located on the handlebar, rather than in a remote location. Oxford specifically warns against splicing the wire, so unless you're willing to void the warranty, it will be necessary to find a way to store all of the extra.

I ended up stowing the extra wire using two different methods for illustration purposes for this article. On the right, I simply looped the wire in a circle and fastened it to the handlebar with a cable tie.

I wound the wire on the left side around the riser under the handlebar, then used a cable tie to fasten the loose end to the handlebar. This, I think, is the preferred solution, because the wire is virtually hidden from view.

When the weather warms up, I'll go back over everything and try and tidy it up. Except, when the weather's warmer, I won't need the heated grips anyway...

It took only about 10 minutes or less to get the grips all mounted up and the wire stowed at least well enough that it's out of the way. I used a cable tie (Oxford provides 5 with the package) to secure the switch to the handlebar.

It doesn't have to be super-tight, which is a good thing, because it's impossible to get it very snug with only one cable tie. The underside of the switch and the handlebar conspire with a loss of friction, and the result is that the switch will moved around a bit on the handlebar. When I tidy things up, I'll probably put a section of old rubber inner tube underneath the switch to add some grip.

All that was left was to run the hefty wire harness back to the battery. I lifted the fuel tank and secured the cable to the bike's spine with some long cable ties I had in the toolbox. The Hot Hands wiring harness has some nice, big terminals installed on the ends of the power and ground leads, so it was an easy matter to attach them to the battery and I was in business.

Switch mounted on handlebar. Approximately the highest temperature reached with the heated motorcycle grips.

There's also a 3 Amp inline fuse on the red (power) lead. Oxford says that the grips only draw 1.3 Amps each, and only 18 Watts each at full power. This isn't very much of a load, so they should work on just about any motorcycle, even those with weak alternators.

I didn't have the time, and it was too cold to mess with it, but the power lead can be attached to a switched ignition power source, and the grips will automatically shut off when the bike's ignition is turned off.

The switch has an LED light to indicate that the grips are on (another reason to mount the switch on the handlebars, rather than in a remote location), so I don't think this is a big problem.

The results? I started up the bike and after it was idling normally (not easy in 18 degree weather!) I turned on the heated grips. I could immediately feel them starting to get warm, and about 3 minutes later they were very toasty indeed.

I grabbed my TempGun infrared thermometer (review) and you can see the result in the photo. This photo was taken about 4 minutes after the grips were turned on. The grips stay right around the 124 degree F. mark when they're turned on, which is plenty warm - almost too warm - for cold hands.

I got dressed that day in my extreme winter gear and went back out and took the bike out for a spin. The heated grips work very well - better, I think, than the original equipment heated grips on the last BMW I rode.

The Hot Hands are just that - hot - and I had to turn the switch off and on a couple of times during the ride. That's one of the drawbacks of this design, but probably adding a thermostat would also add cost and complexity.

Conclusion

The Oxford Hot Hands heated motorcycle grips meet all of my expectations and are just what I was looking for. They're easy to install, easy to remove when they're no longer needed and they keep my hands very warm. They do add a little bulk to the normal hand grip, but it really isn't that noticeable, and it offers a little bit of padding anyway.

These have to be one of the quickest and easiest solutions around if you're looking for a set of heated grips for your motorcycle. By the way, they also carry a 2 year guarantee.

wBW Review: Oxford Hot Hands Heated Motorcycle Grips
Manufacturer: Oxford Products List Price (2005): Approx. $60.00.
Colors: Black. Made In: China
Review Date: January 2005

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