Auxiliary lighting and KTM hand-warmers for our long-term SM-T

  • WRIST: Marc Cook
  • MSRP (2013): $13,999
  • MILES: 12,389
  • MPG: 37
  • MODS: Denali driving lights, SW-Motech mount, KTM Hard Parts heated grips

While I had the KTM apart for its scheduled maintenance last month, I took the opportunity to install a few accessories that had been languishing on the shelf. First off, I recycled the Denali D2 LED driving lights from Twisted Throttle (twistedthrottle.com; $360) from my last long-termer because, well, I like to be seen in LA traffic. I mounted them using an SW-Motech kit for the SM-T (also from Twisted Throttle; $58) that’s clean and elegant.

Normally, the Denalis have a slightly complicated (but robust) wiring harness that includes a power relay and a module to allow them to run at partial brightness. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of open space at the front of the KTM to house the module and manage the wiring bundle. After testing, I determined that the module was simply sending 12 volts to the lights on the brighter setting, and so I elected to swap connectors around and drive the lights directly from the auxiliary power circuit whose terminals are in the upper half fairing. (There are actually two circuits there; one is switched with the ignition and the other always on. That’s very thoughtful, KTM!) As I discovered on my Honda NC700X last year, the Denalis definitely make me more visible to distracted auto drivers—an important consideration for any daily commuter.

The other mod was fitting a set of KTM Hard Parts heated grips (available through dealers; $100). I’d been meaning to do that for a few weeks but was really glad I did for two trips into Arizona for separate press intros; there, the grips paid for themselves in comfort even though I never used them on the highest setting, which seems strong enough for an Austrian winter. And while the installation was fairly straightforward, I discovered that the supplied handlebar bracket for the controller didn’t fit the SM-T’s bar. So I made my own from a scrap of aluminum and a cushioned clamp. Be aware, though, the LEDs indicating the four heat settings are set into the controller face, meaning they’re impossible to see unless you aim them right at you. I learned that on the first daylight ride. Oh, well.

The Continental TrailAttack2 tires still feel good and are wearing evenly, although the rear is noticeably squared off with about 5,000 miles on it; probably another 1,000 or 1,500 miles to go before it’s done. This set of tires is closer in terms of feel and traction to a sport tire than sport-touring rubber, so I guess it was asking too much for ST-like mileage in return. I would definitely run another set of TrailAttack 2s, but next it’s Michelin’s new Pilot Road 4.

Bright white LEDs make the Katoom stand out in traffic, and heated grips make for warm mitts on cold mornings.