Heated grips are always the first accessory I fit to a new bike. These Oxford HotGrip Pro Adventures are probably the fifth pair of Oxford grips I’ve installed on my bikes over the last 20 years. I fitted them to my 2022 KTM 1290 Super Adventure in June as a replacement for the standard KTM heated grips and have been using them since...
When it comes to working on bikes I wouldn't say I’m an amateur, but I'm not a professional – more someone who’s prepared to have a go.
As with my previous pairs of Oxford heated grips I had no real issues when installing them to my KTM 1290 Super Adventure beyond finding somewhere to feed the cables to make everything look neat. The supplied instructions were sufficient given the simple wiring loom for the grips.
The loom is Y-shaped and the bottom leg of the Y goes to the battery. I was initially concerned about how I would know which fitting connected to which, but Oxford makes it super-easy with specific 2- and 3-pin fitments so you can’t fit each connector anywhere other than where it should go.
From start to finish the installation took me around four hours, but this included removing a considerable number of fairings from the KTM, fitting and routing the wires, tidying up the wiring with tie wraps and then refitting the fairing.
If you have a naked bike or are less worried about hiding the wiring then you could do it in considerably less time. I didn't need to trim any material from the grip, but the instructions talk you through this process should you need to do that.
I did a dry run to help me work out where I wanted the grips to sit and then moved the handlebars fully to the left and right to ensure there was enough slack in the wiring, otherwise it would impede the steering.
I couldn't get the left grip to sit where I ideally wanted (with the LED light directly facing me) because the heating wire fouled my bike’s cruise control buttons (see photograph in gallery above).
This problem is specific to my model of bike but it might occur with others that have busy switchgear. I got around it by rotating the left switchgear as far forward as I was comfortable with and I can now at least see the LEDs on the grips, even if they're not in the optimum position. Once I was happy with the orientation I then glued the left grip in place.
If you need a video to instruct you on fitting the grips, Oxford has a step-by-step video guide on its site.
The heating ability of these grips is brilliant. They turn on literally at the touch of a button and there’s no unsightly heat controller mounted to my handlebars.
There are three heat settings indicated by the LED light on the grip - red (high, 45°C), white (medium, 40°C) and blue (low, 30°C). I suffer from Raynaud's condition, which means my hands and feet get cold and become numb very easily. Because of this I have these grips switched on virtually all the time, even in summer.
I find having them on the low setting is the perfect way to stop my hands feeling like they might go to sleep. During winter commutes the grips are likely to live on the middle setting, but rarely do I expect to move to red as that setting feels thermonuclear!
The only time I used that setting during this review was after a ride to the coast. Having stopped for a coffee we got a bit cold so for the first 10 miles after getting back on the bike I put them on red.
I was a little surprised when I realised there were only three heat settings on the new grips, whereas the Oxford HotGrips Advanced model I used previously had nine. Having said that I haven't struggled with having only three settings – perhaps I had too much choice before.
Although the instruction manuals of the older HotGrips Advanced do not quote specific temperatures for those, the low setting on the new HotGrips Pro feels comparable to the 30% or 40% setting on the old model and the high setting is comparable to the 100% setting on the previous pair.
The old HotGrips Advanced were controlled purely by the user, so the ability to constantly fine tune them was more valuable. However, the new HotGrips Pro have a thermistor built in, which constantly measures the temperature of the grips to keep them stable. This is really valuable as it means they stay around the same temperature – within their operating range – when riding at 70mph as they do when you’re stopped in traffic. Not only is this more comfortable, but it also avoids the distraction of fiddling to keep them just so.
The original KTM grips on my bike were not warm enough and one of them had failed, but another key reason for fitting these Oxford grips was the convenience of having a button on the left-hand grip.
With new bikes moving toward snazzy TFT screens, manufacturers seem intent on forcing riders to delve through menus to turn on heated grips and seats. This feels unnecessary and potentially unsafe as it requires you to take your eyes off the road. A simple button on the grip would suffice, as you get with these grips.
One other area in which I was pleasantly surprised was the quality of the rubber, which gives a nice tactile feel. Where the material on the Oxford HotGrips Advanced I had before felt cheaper and more shiny/plasticky, this new pair feel pleasant to the touch and they remind me of Renthal grips on a track bike. They are also thick enough to offer a little vibration damping, which further aids my hands in not going to sleep.
I have been pretty impressed with the reduced heat-up time Oxford promises from this set. Although it's been some time since I last used the older HotGrips Advanced, so difficult to draw a direct comparison, I have no complaints at all in the time these take to heat up.
Further to this they still have the battery-saving mode that sees the grips turn off automatically when the engine isn’t running. This is super-handy for forgetful people like me.
I tested this feature using a multimeter and found they drew no measurable current when the bike battery’s voltage dropped through the engine stopping. They really do only power up when the engine starts, so they shouldn’t have any impact on a healthy bike battery.
The new grips are said to be much more hard-wearing than others, partly thanks to their silicone construction, but Oxford does offer replacements if necessary. The left-hand grip has all the electronics in it so costs £125, while the right hand is £65. Oxford tells us that its original test set of Hot Grips Pro still look like knew after more than 50,000 miles of use…
Most waterproof membranes used in motorcycle gloves have microscopic holes that are too small to let water through, but will allow vapour from sweaty hands to pass from the warm environment inside the membrane to the cooler atmosphere outside. Heated grips can warm the moisture that becomes trapped in the glove’s outer, turning it into vapour that can then pass through the pores in the membrane and get to your skin. In Bennetts BikeSocial’s experience it’s only a potential issue for extended rides in particularly bad weather. Still, it’s worth being aware of this possibility. If you have heated grips and suspect your waterproof gloves are failing then you have a choice – warm damp hands or cold dry ones!
Heated grips have been available for motorcycles for many years and there are plenty of options around. Here are some of the best alternatives to the Oxford HotGrips Pro…
If you're like me and hate having an ugly handlebar controller on display then these HotGrip Pro grips are a great option.
It’d be easy to see them as just being much more expensive than Oxford’s HotGrips Advanced, which can be had for as little as £60 at the time of writing. But that would be to miss the much more compact and convenient form, the hard-wearing (though time will tell) silicone construction) and the properly regulated temperature control of the new HotGrip Pros.
The new Oxford HotGrips Pro are very well designed, pretty easy to fit and offer great heat for winter rides or any time you want some warmth in your hands. And the fact that I prefer them over my KTM factory-fitted grips should tell you all you need to know!
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