Do You Need Heated Grips For Motorcycle Touring? Hell Yeah!

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On a bright and warm summer’s day in July, my examiner handed me my certificate and full bike license at the test centre.

I’d done all my lessons in the warmer months and passed my test in the summer. So for me, riding motorcycles was synonymous with sunshine and glorious weather.

I bought my first big bike and traveled everywhere on it. I had the visor up, the drop-down visor down, and my mesh Furygan jacket letting the breeze cool my skin.

So you can imagine the surprise I had when I went out one November morning and saw frost!

Shit. Now what?

Of course, I rode my bike regardless. And for the first time in my life, my hands were so cold that I couldn’t wait to get back home.

This was my introduction into what I now know is a common problem amongst bikers!

After getting caught in snow and ice, I knew I needed heated grips for motorcycle touring!

The Issue Of Safety

But it wasn’t just the blatant (and painful) realisation that it was cold.

It was the realisation that this was frigging dangerous.

I honestly couldn’t feel my fingers. My hands were numb. My fingers were deprived of all sensation. And I had to really concentrate to get my digits to work the front brake and the clutch.

As a new rider, I had enough to contend with without having to look down at my own hands in an attempt to consciously instill dexterity.

And it was at this moment that I made the connection between being cold, and being dangerous.

bmw gs in snow heated grips for motorcycle touring
Heated grips for motorcycle touring are for safety as well as comfort (image via Alpine Roads)

So, How Do You Keep Your Hands Warm On A Motorcycle?

There are a few answers to this and a quick Google search will open up a plethora of ideas for you to explore.

Basic motorcycle gloves will go some way to protecting your hands from the cold. In fact, we dedicated an entire post to some of the best winter motorcycle gloves.

If you want to take it a step further, you can buy heated gloves.

But heated grips are the most common solution to cold hands. And that’s what we’re going to look at today.

Heated grips are the most common cure for cold hands

Are Heated Grips For Motorcycle Touring Worth It?

In a word, yes!

I don’t know many all-weather riders who choose not to install heated motorcycle grips. Some splash out on premium grips, whilst others choose budget ones to use occasionally when the weather turns.

And there’s no right or wrong answer – choose the right grips for you and your circumstances.

Personally, I get cold easily and I often use them in summer as well as winter. Up in the Pyrenees, Jack Frost gets more than a little nippy even on milder days!

Even the expensive ones are cheap in the grand scheme of things. And if you came to me and asked “if you can only install ONE thing on your bike, what would it be?”

“Heated grips!” would be my resounding answer every day of the week.

So with this in mind, if you’re looking for heated motorcycle grips but aren’t sure where to start, I’ve included a list below.

Related: Motorcycle Touring Comfort: Our Top 9 (Practical) Tips

honda-oem-heated-grips heated grips for motorcycle touring
I personally find heated grips to be of benefit all year round

OnTour Heated Grips, £40

If you want a budget set of heated grips to fit to your touring motorcycle, you’d be hard-pressed to find any better than these from OnTour.

Granted, the materials aren’t premium and they won’t last forever. But for half the price of more premium products, they do a great job.

The grips are easy to fit and come open-ended to ensure easy fitting to all bikes. As with most grips, they can be connected to the ignition for power. And there is a controller that can be mounted to the bars or fairing.

There is a large on/off switch which keeps things simple whilst riding. And there is also an electronic temperature control so you can vary the heat as you ride.

OnTour heated grips for motorcycle touring

Koso Apollo Motorcycle Touring Heated Grips, £52

If your bike has a 12 V electrical system and a battery capacity of 6 Ah or higher, these heated grips by Koso are a fantastic choice in the low to midrange price category.

These heated grips are easy to install on your touring motorcycle and come with 5 heat settings that you can change on the fly.

One of the things we like about the Koso grips is that the switch is integrated within the grip. And this means no unsightly control box sticking up from your handlebars!

There is also an automatic cut-off if voltage falls below 11.5 V.

koso-apollo-grips heated grips for motorcycle touring
Koso Apollo heated grips

Daytona Motorcycle Touring Heated Grips, £65

When my dad told me he’d fitted a set of these Daytona grips, I must confess to being a little apprehensive.

You just don’t see them all that often, but I found they worked well!

They’re noticeably warmer than any other motorcycle touring heated grips I’ve tested – even at the lowest setting.

The grips come with a mountable switch that controls the 4 heat settings. The switch also houses a colour-coded LED that changes colour depending on your heat setting.

Finally, the heat control unit remembers your previous setting. And the thicker grips are comfortable to ride with over long distances.

I was really impressed with the Daytona heated grips for motorcycle touring

Oxford Premium Heated Grips For Motorcycle Touring, £80

So now we’re getting onto the more ‘premium’ grips by Oxford.

If you’re new to riding, you’ll find that almost everybody uses Oxford grips. That’s not to say other heated grips for motorcycle touring are crap – far from it. Oxford’s are just the ones that everybody knows.

They’re also available for different styles of bikes. So you can get the Premium grips for touring bikes, adventure bikes, sports bikes, and retro bikes.

They’re ergonomic design gives a better riding experience. And they all do a great job of soaking up vibrations. Oxford has put a lot of thought into the grip patterns to enhance grip and comfort.

These Premium heated grips come with a control switch to vary the 5 available heat settings. And all the necessary mounts, looms, and glue to install the grips are included in the box.

There is also a battery saving mode and the grips draw less than 4A so are easy on your battery.

oxford-premium-grips heated grips for motorcycle touring
Oxford Premium heated grips

Oxford Advanced Heated Grips For Motorcycle Touring, £90

The Advanced series of Oxford grips are the most expensive in the range.

As with the Premium series above, you can buy them in a range of sizes to fit your choice of bike.

Similar to the Premium grip series, the Advanced grips come with ergonomically designed surfaces, optimal grip patterns, and robust tread.

The intelligent control interface is perfect for controlling the Advanced series 9 heat settings. They also have a heat memory setting to remember your preferences, and they feature a weatherproof setup.

Like all motorcycle touring heated grips from Oxford, those in the Advanced series come with the necessary brackets, mounts, wiring looms, and glue for quick installation.

Oxford Advanced heated grips for motorcycle touring

Oxford Heated Grips: Premium vs Advanced

This question comes up a lot so I thought I’d write an extra paragraph!

The Premium and Advanced series of grips are practically the same. They feature the same robust materials but differ slightly in the design.

The Premium series has 5 heat settings where the Advanced series has 9 heat settings.

The Advanced series also features a newer control interface.

Grips in the Advanced series are marketed as weatherproof, whereas grips in the Premium series are not.

That said, I’ve ridden with a whole manner of Oxford grips – and none of them have ever let water in.

Finally, there is also a difference in the warranty. Oxford Premium grips come with the standard 3-month warranty. The Advanced grips come with a 12-month warranty.

oxford-premium-vs-advanced heated grips for motorcycle touring
Grip design and dimensions is largely the difference between the two

Oxford Heated Grips: Touring vs Sport

There isn’t really much between the bike-specific grips.

For example, all of the features on the Advanced or Premium models for a Touring bike, are the same as on the models that are specific to Sportsbikes and Adventure bike.

However, the grip patterns do differ slightly.

The grips on the sportsbike versions are thinner and more aggressive. The grip patterns on the touring and adventure versions are thicker to absorb vibrations.

The adventure-specific grips are thicker and longer than both the sportsbike-specific and touring-specific models.

However, if you prefer the adventure-specific grips and want to put them on your sportsbike, there’s nothing to stop you from cutting down the length so they fit.

But be aware that if you start cutting down the grips and find they do not fit, I doubt Oxford will refund you. So be sure the width is right before you buy!

Be sure to find the correct size and dimensions for your bike

What Are The Best Heated Grips For Motorcycle Touring?

Oddly enough, if I had to choose one set of heated grips, I wouldn’t choose any of the above!

My first choice would be OEM heated grips that have a design specifically for my bike.

In my experience, OEM grips have a neater fit and work comfortably as part of the bike.

They are, however, overly expensive. And I would never walk into a manufacturer dealership and pay £300 for a set of motorcycle touring heated grips (plus fitting.)

If you can get some as part of a package deal on a new bike (or pre-installed on a used bike), then go for it.

But if I was buying aftermarket ones, I’d personally go for the Daytona’s.

suzuki-heated-grips heated grips for motorcycle touring
OEM heated grips are my preference for motorcycle touring! Image: Suzuki

How Do You Put Heated Grips On A Motorcycle?

Fitting heated grips to your touring motorcycle is an easy job. Just follow these steps!

  1. Check you have all the necessary tools as stated in the instructions.
  2. Make sure you know which grip belongs to the throttle side and clutch side! The thicker of the two grips is for the THROTTLE side.
  3. Remove the bar ends and the current grips (ideally without slicing them off – although you may have to.) Take care on the throttle side not to damage the throttle casing underneath. Then remove any residue of glue/dirt left on the handles.
  4. With the bars clean, apply the glue to one of the handles (a metal screwdriver usually makes for a neater job.)
  5. Open the grip and insert it over the handle being careful not to crease the grip. Creasing it could damage the metal elements inside.
  6. Once the grip is butted to the end of the bar, repeat on the other side.
  7. Your grips may or may not come opened ended. If they are open-ended, simply screw on your bar ends. If they don’t, slice the end of the rubber off with a Stanley knife or a hacksaw.
  8. Mount the control switch to a convenient position (usually the clutch side) and tidy up any cables with cable ties.
  9. Find your bike’s battery, and route the wires to it (you may need to remove the tank.) Ensure you connect the grips to the correct polarities as per the instructions.
  10. Re-fit the tank.
  11. Neatly tuck away all wires and cable tie where necessary.
  12. If you are unsure, have your mechanic fit them for you!
Installing grips is a job you can easily do at home

Heated Grips For Motorcycle Touring: Conclusion

Depending on where you live and ride, heated grips are essential for most riders.

If you ride year-round or like to ride in the mountains, motorcycle touring with heated grips will not only keep you comfortable when the temperature drops, but also keep you safe.

For the sake of £40-£90, fitting heated grips is a no-brainer!

As a bonus, they are easy enough to fit yourself. So grab a beer next time the sun is out, and spend a Saturday afternoon carefully wiring your nice new grips to your bike!

If you enjoyed this post and want more motorcycle touring posts, check these out!


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