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Heated Grips on a Bonneville T100

October 2, 2015

When I make long distance trips by motorcycle, I often leave central Florida just after midnight to avoid heavy traffic and stop-and-go on US 27, the main south to north route out of my area. Often, these trips are in the fall, winter, or early spring. Even in Florida, early morning hours riding through the darkness and mists can be surprisingly chilly. I've also been far away from home and hit cold weather and even snow. I once rode 14 hours one day in temps that probably never topped 45 F. At those times, the things to suffer first and most are my fingers. Even if the rest of your body is warm, cold fingers will require stop after stop to regain enough circulation to grip the bars. I've often been stopped at a traffic light, shifted into neutral, and laid my gloved hands directly on the cylinders to warm them up. I finally wized up and bought a pair of heated grips in hopes of not having to repeat those past experiences.

 

The Heaterz Cruisers Premium Grip set installed on my 2011 Bonneville T100. 

 

It turns out, heated grips are not very expensive, and I am sure the first time I have to switch them on I am not going to regret the $100 I spent on them. I know on many of those cold nights I have kicked myself for not having bought them sooner.

 

Oxford is one of the most common and established brands in heated grips and they make sets for 7/8" and 1" Bars. The T100 has 1" bars. Unfortunately, Oxford for a long time only offered a "Heaterz Cruisers" grips with a cludgy chrome dial power switch (I guess they assume if it's for a cruiser it ought to be chrome) while other models had a nicely made, sealed pusbutton controller with several settings and an auto-off feature. I was about to settle for the chrome dial set when I went online seriously to buy when I saw Oxford now offers a "Premium Cruisers" grip that has the better controller. It was about $10 more than the regular set. I was sold.

 

There are a couple of minor modifications to make these grips work on the T100, which I will explain below.

 

The grips came nicely packaged with easy to read instructions. There is a left grip with attached cable, a right grip with attached cable, the controller with attached double cable on one end and single on the other, and a power cable.

 

The procedure below is much easier to do if you remove the tank, but I suppose one could do it without that step if they had tiny hands or incredible dexterity. Taking the tank off a Bonnie is incredibly simple so I removed mine.

 

All cables are equipped with quick connectors. I did not take any photos of the wiring, but it is so simple it's not really necessary to see how it is done. The two grips plug into the double leads from the controller. (It doesn't matter which one goes where, and you can't get them wrong.) The single lead from the controller plugs into the lead with similar connector on the power cable. This cable has an inline spade-type 5 amp fuse (which can be found at any auto parts store, in case you want to carry a spare) and ends with two ring color-coded ring terminals. These simply attach to the battery positive and negative posts. I wire-tied this to the bundle of wires that ran under the the tank and exited out of the slot just below it in the middle of the frame, where the seat tongue goes. There is room in the slot for the fuse holder, so to get to it, if ever necessary, it is as simple as pulling the seat.

 

There is plenty of wire for all components and the hardest part of the installation is just routing them all under the tank and wire-tieing them all together so it looks good when you are done.

 

On the T100 there is an auxiliary two-lead plug just above the throttle bodies that could be used. This lead is always on. But with so much extra wire and the ring terminals already on the ends it was just easier to connect directly to the battery and leave the auxilary plug for other future uses.

 

The first thing that must be done is getting the old grips off the bar ends. This was pretty easy. I unscrewed the end caps and inserted a small screwdriver between the grip end and the bar. (On the thottle side I did this between the grip and the throttle tube.) Then, using my compressor and its blow tip, I blew air into the resultant gap. I did this all the way around the grip ends and then continued blowing air as I wiggled the grips off.

 

The Oxford grips have a threaded portion on the ends on which you can screw end caps, supplied with the kit. (The kit is supposed to have a set of chrome and a set of "black chrome" caps, but mine had two sets of chrome caps, so I probably got a mispackaged set.) I used the caps, as it was so easy to do, but, if you want to, you can trim the end of the grips where the threading starts and use your stock end caps or aftermarket bar weights. You might have to do this, also, if you have hand guards that mount through the end caps. If you think you may want to use the stock bar ends later, then it is important when you mount the clutch side grip with glue that you do it so that the very start of the threaded section is at or slightly proud of your bar end, so you can cut the end off in place if need be and won't have to remove the glued-on grip.

 

The stock bar ends on the Bonneville T100 can still be used if desired. 

 

The clutch side is easy to recognize, because its inner diameter is smaller than the thottle side, as it only slips over the bare bar, while the throttle grip slides over the wider diameter thottle tube. The clutch grip slides on easily and will move around unless you use the supplied glue. Clean the bar, apply the glue to the bar, then slip the grip onto the bar making sure the end is where you want it and that the protruding cable on the inner end does not interfere with proper operation of the clutch or other controls. I installed mine with the cable protrusion roughly level with the ground. This will let you pull the clutch lever in fully but keep the cable out of the way of your horn/turn signal/brights switches.

 

The throttle side is a bit more work and requires a little modification. I first tried to installed the grip with the supplied throttle tube. It turned out that this tube has a raised portion near at the inner end near the cable connection ring, keeping it from rotating freely on the bar.

 

Above is the throttle tube supplied with the kit. It has a slightly raised area near the end where the cables attach. While the cable ring can rotate freely inside the switch housing, the raised area (arrow) rubs and will not let the throttle rotate freely. You can see where mine got scuffed up when I tried to use it. I used the stock throttle tube with some modifications instead. 

 

I removed the supplied tube and reused the stock throttle tube, instead. This tube has four tabs located radially around the inner end of the tube, which the stock grips sit over. These have to be trimmed off for the Oxford grips to slide all the way on. An Exacto-knife easily trims these flush with the barrel of the tube. Just be careful to not cut into the tube or the cable ring. There are also some very small tabs on the outer end which probably would not have to be trimmed flush, but to make things easier I just trimmed those, too. (The stock grips, if you ever decide to reuse them, will still work with the tube modified this way, so there's no worry about "ruining" the tube.) The Oxford grip will now slide onto the stock throttle tube, but this side is much more tight than the clutch side. It is tight enough that you might be tempted to not use glue at all on this side, but I thought the same until I had to move the bike, pushing it uphill, when the grip slid, which I had put on without glue.

 

I would recommend deciding on the grip position, making sure it doesn't interfere with the brake lever or starter/kill switches, before mounting it. If you slide it on for a test fit wihtout the glue, it will be difficult (but not impossible) to remove or rotate. Try to decide before you put it on how it should be positioned, then apply the glue to the tube, and install it all in one step, making sure not to push the grip on so hard it rubs against the switch housing. On this end you don't have to worry about the grip end in case you want to trim it later, as the whole bar switch/throttle assembly can be moved away or toward the bar end. Again, I found the cable protrusion about level with the ground or slightly pointed down will get it out of the way of the start switch. The brake lever does not need to come all the way back to the bar like the clutch lever, so you have more leeway on this side, and you can rotate the protrusion more towards the front of the grip if you like.

 

Once the grips were installed I turned to mounting the control module. The kits comes with a handy bar mounting bracket that can simply be attached directly to any free and straight section of the bars. On my Bonnie, however, I have an LED switch mounted on the left switch housing, a windshield mount on the bar, and between the bar riser mounts I have a GPS mount and a double USB outlet. (If you don't have anything between the bar riser mounts on your bike this would probably make a handy place for the switch.) Space was limited on mine, especially on the left, where I wanted to mount the module so I could operate it with my free hand.

 

Here you can see the protrusion where the cable attaches to the grips. On the brake side you don't have to pull the lever all the way to the bar, so when the throttle is rolled on, the protrusion can be in this area. (I've rolled the grip to the full throttle position in this photo, and you can see it does not contact the brake lever when applied.) On the clutch side, however, the lever must be able to be pulled all the way to the bar without interference. Keep this in mind when mounting the grips with the glue.

 

Luckily, the kit also comes with a bent metal bracket that can be used to mount the contoller, which is drilled to mount to the switch housing screws. The kit comes with two small spacers, or bushings (and longer mounting screws to replace the stock switch housing screws), which for some bikes, I guess, is adequate to stand-off the bracket when mounted on the lever or switch housing mounts. On the Bonnie, however, The switch housing is too wide and these bushings will not work. They do not extend far enough out so that the bracket will miss the face of the switch mount. I went to our local hardware store to look for some tubing of the appropriate inner diameter so I could cut two new "stand-offs" in the required length for the Bonnie's switch housing. I did not find any tubing where I went (but this would still work fine) so I looked around the specialty screw and odds-and-ends bins and found bronze bushings in the diameter I needed. They were a bit long than necessary, but they cut easily with a plumber's pipe cutter so I could make them the length I needed. I also needed longer mounting screws to accommodate the longer bushings—I recommend stainless steel. I attached the weatherproof control module unit to the bracket using the tiny self-tapping screws provided, slipping the rubber vibration reduction pad supplied between the bracket and module, then slipped the new screws through the bracket, the bushings on the screws, and then screwed the switch housing mounting bracket back together with the module bracket attached. (The lower bracket screw I used to relocate my push button LED switch.)

 

Above you can see one of the bronze bushings I used to keep the control module bracket clear or the switch bracket while still using the existing switch housing mounting arrangment.

 

All that was left to do was to tidy up the wiring and test the grips. With everything checking out and the grips toasty warm I turned off the grips, installed the tank, and put the seat back on.

 

The "intelligent" controller on the Premium grip set. (My LED light switch is shown mounted to the lower bracket screw.)

 

Here's why the "Premium" grips are worth the ten dollars extra: With the standard set, if you hardwire the grips directly to the battery (or that auxiliary plug under the tank) and you forget to turn off the grips when you turn off the bike, your battery can go dead, and we all know the new Bonnies are no longer equipped with a handy kickstarter. The premium set comes with an "intelligent" controller. If you forget to turn the grips off and the controller notices there is no longer any electrical "noise" (which is usually there when the bike is running) it will turn itself off in a couple of minutes, before any harm can be done. It waits a couple of minutes so if you just turn the bike off for a moment and then restart it, you do not have to reset the system. (You can disable this auto shutdown if you like.) I have auxiliary lighting and a charging port already wired into the ignition switch's ON position and did not relish tearing all that back apart to attach the new grips in an already crowded connection; the intelligent controller allowed me to simply atach the unti to the battery and be done with it.

 

We are yet to get really cold weather here (It's early October as I write this.) but I did take the grips for a test run when I had to deliver something to my daughter at her school a few miles away. The grips warmed up in a couple miles and were actually hot through my summer gloves on the highest setting. I have no doubt they will keep my fingers toasty on those upcoming cold winter rides. The grips go up to 122 degrees F in five increments from 30% to 100%.

 

UPDATE: I left central Florida for Leeds, Alabama, and the Barber Vintage Festival just after I installed these. I left at one am, expecting it to not get too cold, so I wore my perforated gloves—big mistake. In a couple hours my hands were getting cold so I turned on the grips. I started on 30% and never went above 75%, most of the time using the 50% setting. The grips worked as advertised and kept my digits working and feeling good inspite of the many hours of darkness and chill I rode through (the sun did not get above the horizon until I was across the Alabama border). I highly recommend them.

 

 

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October 26, 2018

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