VFR Budget Build, Part 4: BikeMaster Heated Grips
Cold fingers suck. This is one universal notion when it comes to riding motorcycles in colder weather.
Unless you’ve dished out some serious coin, winter motorcycle gloves can get bulky. There’s also heated gloves, but wiring can get uncomfortable, and on low-budget models comfort can be an issue.
This leaves one solution – heated grips. Selections range from pricey OEM grips (on select models) to grips with only an on/off switch, meaning extreme heat or nothing.
BikeMaster has the solution – the Bike Master Heated Grips. The grips are offered in a universal design, fitting either 1” or 7/8” handlebars, and arrive with a five-level temperature controller.
And for the do-it-yourselfer, installation is simple. The grips each have connectors that connect into the main harness. This main harness has a connection for the temperature controller, and ground and positive leads. The set also arrives with a tube of glue for grip installation, though I only needed it on my throttle tube.
I installed the BikeMaster Heated Grips on my 1998 Honda VFR late last fall, and have since tested them throughout the fall, winter and spring months here in Northeast Pennsylvania.
The grips – 7/8” for my VFR with HeliBars – are part of my “budget build,” and carrying a price at just under $60, they are the most optimal choice to keep the hands warm while not slimming out the wallet.
BikeMaster Heated Grips – Easy Installation
Installation is simple. My older grips had over 20K on them, so I removed them with a razor. If you plan on saving the old grips, lift up the inside-end of the grip with a screwdriver, and use compressed air to break the glue. Next, thoroughly clean the left handlebar and throttle tube.
The BikeMaster left grip didn’t need glue. It won’t slip on, so the best solution is rubbing alcohol. Some people put rubbing alcohol in a spray container, but you can simply pour a bit into the grip and quickly slip the grip on. The alcohol dries quickly, and the grip will remain in position. Remember to place the wires at the 6 o’clock on the left grip so they are out of the way when riding.
Unlike the left grip, the throttle one needed glue. First, use lightweight sandpaper and lightly scrape the tube to provide a bit of roughness. Then, use about a half tube of the provided glue, spreading it thin and evenly on the throttle tube.
Next, slide the grip on and position it. My optimal place for the wiring was near the 7 o’clock position. This allows for wide-open throttle without binding. Make sure to check this before installing the glue, though the 7 o’clock position will be optimal for most bikes. I allowed the glue to dry for 24 hours.
As for wiring, I spliced into my rear brake-light switch for power, and installed the ground wire to rear seat latch after sanding down some of the paint for 100-percent ground contact.
When running the wires, double check that there is no binding when fully turning the handlebars to the left or right. And for routing the wires, zip ties work best.
Next, I installed the temperature switch. It arrives with a bracket that you can either screw the switch directly to, or use Velcro. I attached the bracket to the inside of my left HeliBar for ease of use with my non-throttle hand.
BikeMaster Heated Grips – Tested from 60-degrees and Below
The Heated Grips feel a bit larger in diameter over the stock grips, and a bit harder, but I adapted to this feeling within a few miles.
As stated, I installed the Bike Master Heated Grips late last fall. I used them throughout winter and spring, which allowed me to test in a variety of conditions, from 60 degrees (F) to temps in the single digits.
The grips provide a heat output of about 140 degrees on setting one to about 190 degrees on setting five. Each setting in between is evenly gaped.
In single-digit temperatures, I used the grips on setting five. And with a mid-weight glove, such as the Klim Element, my fingers remained warm. At highway speeds, though, the coldness did set in. A set of hand guards would be the perfect solution, and prevent the direct air from hitting the hands.
Those conditions are obviously extreme. Where most will use the gloves, on colder nights and temps in the 30s to 40s, the first-through third settings are all that’s needed.
The controller also remembers the setting. When turning on the Bike Master Heated Grips after starting the bike, the controller will be at the same level as the previous setting.
Since installing the heated grips, I’ve piloted my VFR about 10,000, using the grips almost every mile. Although exposed to rain and snow, the grips didn’t malfunction, and show no signs of wear.
For the four-season motorcyclists, the Bike Master Heated Grips provides that extra comfort needed when the temps get cold. And because they arrive with a temperature controller, there’s no longer a need to pack more than one glove. Simply set the temp and ride.
The only qualm I had with the grips? Not installing them in the earlier stages of my VFR budget build.
For additional information, log onto BikeMaster.
About the VFR Budget Build
I purchased the 1998 Honda VFR for $2300, which was by far the best deal I’ve ever received on a motorcycle. The bike had 14K on it, and the seller had it listed for $3800 on Craigslist as a “beginner’s sportbike,” obviously not knowing what kind of sport-touring machine he had.
When I first laid eyes on it in his warm basement, I couldn’t believe the shape it was in. I knew this was the perfect platform for my budget sport-tourer build, one that I can mod to match the performance/comfort of a newer sport touring bike that costs quadruple the original asking price of my Viffer.
Plus, it was a fifth generation model, which has the mechanical cam gear that gave the V4 that muscular sound. And of course, I had to get it a bit cheaper, finally snagging it for $2,300.
VFR Budget Builder Tally:
- 1998 Honda VFR Purchase Price: $2300
- Sargent Seat: $410
- HeliBars: $279
- Givi Monokey Setup: $1150
- Bike Master Heated Grips: $59.95
Total Investment: $4198.95