It’s Winter. All Hail Heated Grips!

In praise of warm hands on cold days.

BMW, R nineT, motorcycle gloves
Thumbs-up for heated grips on cold, wet mornings!Ari Henning

It's not often cold here in Southern California (that's why so many of us moved here, after all), but this past week has been downright chilly and frequently wet. That's fine with me, because my Aerostich Roadcrafter keeps me safe and dry, and the BMW R nineT Scrambler I've been riding has heated grips that keep my paws warm.

If you’re thinking, “Damn, Ari is a wuss,” chill out. I went years without heated grips, including a mid-winter, cross-country, 10,000-mile ride wearing $60 unlined leather gloves. I’ve paid my dues, done my roadside push-ups to stay warm, and earned the comfort offered by electrically enhanced grips. Suffering with cold hands might build character, but having numb, undexterous digits is unsafe. You forfeit control feel, reaction time, and strength due to deadened nerves and reduced blood flow.

BMW, R nineT, motorcycle gloves
The R nineT’s heated-grip button is conveniently located.Ari Henning

Heated grips are subject to the same criticisms as quickshifters and traction control. It’s true, you don’t need warm hands, clutchless full-throttle upshifts, or an electronic safety net to enjoy a motorcycle ride, but if you’re a staunch opponent of any of these things, it’s probably because you haven’t tried them.

If your ride didn't come with heated grips, don't fret. There are plenty of aftermarket options out there that'll push plenty of BTU into your palms. You can slip a $40 set of Heat Demon elements under your existing grips if you want, but I'm not a fan of that style since they tend to make your grips rotate and the heat output is always uneven because the handlebar acts as a heat sink. (The plastic throttle tube acts as an insulator on the right grip). For more warmth, you're better off replacing your grips with integrated units like Oxford's Heaterz grips.

Whatever you decide to do, know that you’re not a wuss for wanting warm hands. Between comfort, safety, and just being able to ride more when it’s cold out, heated grips are a great thing to have.