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Get a grip on cold weather riding

By Mark Jags

Heat Demons Grip Warmers



How many times have you gone for a day trip in the spring or fall, and because you’re having such a good time, you forget about heading home until well past sundown? By then the temperature has dropped to “minus comfortable” and you brace yourself for a cold, miserable ride. To say your hands are crucial for a safe ride home is an obvious understatement, so allowing them to get cold and stiff can only make the trip worse. Gloves obviously help, but a set of Heat Demons Grip Warmers is the answer.

With a claimed 20 watts per element, Heat Demons promise maximum comfort in cooler temperatures. As we know, there are other products on the market to keep your hands warm, but with many, you are restricted to a limited number of grip styles. The unique feature about this product is that the heating elements are designed to be inserted inside the handlebars. This way, you can use the grip of your choice.

When my Heat Demons arrived in early December, the 2008 riding season was already history so I would have to wait till spring to try them out. But since I was doing some major handlebar and wiring changes on my 2003 Sportster, the timing was perfect for the installation. The plan was to ditch my old XLX handlebar that served me well for the last few years and swap them out for a nice new set of 12-inch mini apes.

Although I ran my wiring, including the Grip Warmer wires, inside the bars, the typical installation would be to route the power and ground wires alongside the existing handlebar switch harness to an appropriate power and ground source. You still have to drill at least one hole in the handlebar near the left side dimple to allow for the control switch wires, but the kit includes a handy rubber grommet for the drilled hole to prevent any sharp edges from cutting the wires. Nice touch.

Once the heating elements and associated wires are properly positioned inside the handlebar, it’s just a matter of finding appropriate power and ground sources to power the unit up. The installation instructions included with the product walk you through the process step by step, and it’s actually a very simple and straightforward installation.

The one feature that really stands out in terms of design and function is the control switch. The Harley kit includes a replacement clutch perch clamp with the switch built right into it. It looks completely OEM and matches seamlessly with the handlebar switch housing. Very slick!

Since there are four heat settings, you simply push the control button once for each level of heat desired, and an LED display tells you which setting you’re on by the number of LEDs lit. One LED lit for heat setting 1, two LEDs for 2, etc. Another nice feature of the control switch is the dimming function. By pressing and holding the control button for three seconds, you can dim the display for night operation. And if the ambient temperature rises to the point where you don’t need the extra warmth the Heat Demons provide, just cycle through all four LED settings to turn them off.

So how did they work? In a word… superbly. By the time I finished my handlebar swap, it was early April and the salt was mostly gone from the Buffalo roads. But the temperatures were still in the low to mid 40s—a perfect time to try them out. So on a 42-degree Saturday afternoon, I cranked them up to level 4 and headed down the road on the first ride of the year. Even though the rest of me got pretty damn cold, my hands were toasty warm. I’ve used them repeatedly, even in warmer temperatures when it’s hovering between glove/no-glove weather, and since I’m not a fan of wearing leather on my hands while riding, my bare mitts can stay warm when everyone else needs to pull on the gloves. I’ll say it again… nothing but toasty warm.

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