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Heated Grip Installation

This is a combined post on installing heated grips, including stuff from

Ted Verrill <>, Cissie Myrick <>,
and me, Brian Curry <>,

so they can sing out if I have misquoted or misconstrued, or misstated what they said..

As I noted, the instructions are generic to several models.

Since I got three requests for it, here it is for the entire list and with some additional elaborations. And this was stream of consciousness. I may have forgotten some stuff.

Also, the same grip set and instructions are included for the R bikes so, it is very similar for them too. So, you airheads out there, there are a lot of similarities. The R11s I don’t know.

At 09:58 AM 11/6/98 -0600, you wrote:

> I’m getting ready to install heated grips on my K75 and was wondering if
> any fellow K bike owners have done this and can offer any pointers,
> tips, encountered problems and solutions etc…

First read the provided BMW instructions several times. Figure out what sections are yours. (It is in several languages, including Greek.) Connect the steps with the pictures that are in it. This will help a lot later. BTDT.

Ted Verrill said:

Add to your tools:

  • Rough Grit Sandpaper
  • 3′ length of string with something (like a spare screw) to tie around one end using a figure-8 knot.
  • VERY small, flat-head screwdriver like the one that comes with some tool kits
  • Dielectric grease
  • Leatherman (for cutting off grips, snipping zip-ties, etc.)

Kit Parts to check for

  • 2 grips with wires attached,
  • various screws (2 to anchor the left [grip], the right depends on whether you have a 16 or 8-valve K),
  • a small white “lock block” that the ends of the wires plug into,
  • a switch,
  • a pigtail with three connectors (one for the switch, one for the lockblock holding the grip wires, and one either to the power lead or to a second pigtail that goes from the first pigtail to the power lead.),
  • a bunch of zip-ties, and
  • random other stuff.

When you cut zip-ties, leave them in place to make sure you can replace with new ones in the correct place.  [Brian comments: Some people are more concerned than I about replacing all the TyRaps. ;);)]

Take off the tank first and keep it off, until you are done. You will be having to get under there anyway, and you will be rolling the handlebars down, when you loosen the clamps. And you don’t want to dent the tank when the bars come down.

Ted Verrill adds:

Be careful with the brake master cylinder, wrap it in a towel so it doesn’t leak on the bike.

Also, with the tank off, you know where the wiring is going, and not just “under there”. “Under there” can lead to problems later. And electrical problems can be ugly. A short in the heated grips will blow fuse number 1. When the fuse blows, the instruments die, and the bike will not start, although it will keep running. So, IMO, take the tank off, and know where the wiring is going.

Cissie Myrick said:

We also used it [Brian: Weed wacker thread/cord] to thread under the gas tank, with the grip wires taped to the end. Worked like magic, no need to remove the tank.  [Brian: While it can be done, I don’t like to for the reasons noted above.]

I have heard from Ted Verrill that on the K1100s the fuel lines are way long and you don’t have to take off the tank to get to where the wiring connects. But then, make sure you don’t stretch the heck out of the tank (fuel pump and level sensor) wiring connection.

While the instructions say you may have to drill a hole in the center of the handlebars for the wires to come out, it is very likely you will already have the hole. Look carefully before drilling. Make your life easy. :):)

Do the following before unclamping the handlebars.

You need to take off the right electrical switches (One hard to find Phillips screw on the rear of the switch.) (It only has to be off the mount. No need to cut the TyRaps.) Then it is easy to get the throttle mechanism cover off. (Big Phillips.) Then the stock right throttle grip can be slid off. (The K11s may be a bit different.) Also, you may have to shift the switch mounting and throttle mechanism in or out on the handlebar a bit later on. 4mm Allen needed, for the Allen facing forward.

The left grip, I put a screw driver under the grip (For the “classic” BMW rubber grips) for a bit from the switch end, and then spritz some WD-40 or equivalent under it, and then can twist the grip off. This saves the grip. Cutting it off, does not save it. If you have to give the bike to the insurance company, they will take the stock grips. (They generally don’t give you extra for accessories. BTDT.)

If you have foam grips, the foam is on top of a plastic sleeve. The plastic sleeve is either glued on, or will not twist off. To get them off, I have spritzed the WD-40 between the foam and the sleeve. Then the foam would twist off. Then I sliced the plastic sleeve from the open end towards the closed end, but not all the way, stopping about 1/2″ from the closed end. Then I spritzed it, and twisted it off. This way I was able to reuse it later… The handlebar then had to be cleaned up so the electric grip plastic innard would be able to slide over it.

Ted Verrill says:

When you cut off the left grip, sand down the bar so the grip assembly will slide right [on].  [Brian: As I noted, use caution in “cutting off grips”, but do clean up the handlebar.]

You should see two holes 180 degrees apart. This means your handlebars are pre-drilled and you don’t have to. :):) If you don’t see them try sliding the left switch assembly inwards to find them before drilling your own. (There are instructions on where and the size, in the BMW instructions.) These holes are not threaded. Start the self taping screws in them, and “tap” the holes while they are easy to get to. Take out the screws after you are done. (I use a Sharpie marker to make the flat tops of the screws black and less conspicuous when I finally install them.)

Clean the area, where the throttle grip goes. Then use a light thin grease on the area. I used the #10 spline lube stuff. (Have to use that BIG tube up somewhere.) This is also a good time to check the condition of the throttle gear lube, and put some more there if need be. (I did not take off the front master brake cylinder.)

I spritzed Armorall or the equivalent inside the handlebars and onto wires before I threaded them into the bars.

Both electric grips have a plastic sleeve on their interior. The wires are strain relieved, and connected at the far interior end.

I threaded a stiff wire through the handlebars from the center out to the edge. (14-18 gauge is about right.) I gently twisted the stiff wire around the grip wires and then electrical taped the grip wires to the stiff wire. You want to protect the free ends, they are delicate and at the same time make it easier to get the wires out through the center hole. Also, don’t get the tape too thick, (a big fat wad) because it has to go through the hole in the center of the handlebars. Then pull the wire towards the center and feed the grip wire in at the same time. BE GENTLE! If you break the wires you will be unhappy, very unhappy. The first side goes through without a problem. The second side basically the same. But getting the second wire out of the center hole is a bear. There is already a wire in the way from the first grip as you try to work the second grip wire out the center hole. Be patient. Think calm thoughts. You may have to do it a few times. Once you get the both electric grip wire ends out, you are home free.

Cissie Myrick said:

When we installed my heated grips, we used a length of weed-trimmer line. It’s flexible enough to turn the bends in the bars, but firm enough that it can be “pushed” a little without bending back on itself.  [Brian: A good method IMO.]

Ted Verrill said:

When feeding the wires through the bar, use the string with a screw attached (with gravity’s help) to feed from the center hole out to the bar end. Make sure you remember to go through [connect to] the grip assembly’s [wiring] first when pulling the wires back through (Doh!)

I gently feed the grip wire in, and pull them out at the center. The left grip is located by the screws that go into the holes that you threaded. If it will not go on far enough that the holes line up, the wire is pinched. (Don’t hurt it!!!) Pull it off a bit, and pull the wire from the center hole a bit harder as you push the grip on. When they line up, put the screws in. Now you can snug the left electrical switch up against the grip. Don’t pull the wires from the grip tight. Give them some room to move. On the right grip, you don’t want it so far in, that it drags on the handlebar end. (The grip will not want to turn if you put it too far on.) I push it in all the way, and then pull it back 1/16-1/8″. Then I move the right switch/brake cylinder towards it. (If you have a throttle drag screw take it out of the housing. It will make this easier.) Being a bit far to the outside is not as bad as dragging on the inside as long as you do not take it to extremes. Lock the switch/cylinder down. You may have to tug the electrical switch and its cabling out a bit to get it on the housing. Make sure the alignment lines on the grip and the throttle mechanism line up and then put on the throttle mechanism cover. Check the grip will rotate freely. If not, adjust switch/brake cylinder position until it does, or find the problem and correct it. Again, you don’t want the wires to be pinched or pulled.

Now route the wires down between the pod mounting bracket and the steering head, and then back between the left frame members and the steering head, and then you are where the heated grip connection to the main wiring harness goes. Using a Sharpie marker, I marked the side of the connection harness plug that had the black wires on that side. Then I did the same on the free shell. Then I put the grip black wires in on that side of the shell. (Color coding makes everything consistent, and plugging together later easier. :):) )

Ted Verrill said:

Use the little screwdriver to *slightly* ease open the ends of the 4 spade slides at the end of the grip wires before inserting them into the block connector. If you don’t, they will just pop right out of the block when you try to plug it into the pigtail. They might do this anyway, so you may have to use that little screwdriver to “push” them back into the connected block and onto the spade connectors in the pigtail switch.  [Brian: The “spades” have little retainers sticking out slightly on their back that are supposed to catch on a shoulder of the block connector. So, be sure to put them in with the proper orientation. Get out a magnifying glass and look closely to see how they should be oriented. If you don’t put them in correctly, the retainer will not have a shelf to catch on, and they will not stay in, as Ted notes.]

Some electrical data here. On a K75, each grip had a resistance of 7-8 ohms. If you are higher than this, it sounds like you pinched and cut a wire somewhere. This is not a good thing. If it opens you will loose heat in that grip. 🙁 If it is cut and shorts to the handlebar, you will blow a fuse. :(:(

The connection harness has a two connection end to the bike main wiring harness, a four connection end to the grip wires, and a three connection end to switch. The red wire on the three connection end is a resistance wire that reduces the current to the grips for the low heat. It gets hot. The insulation shrinks. The, then exposed, wire can short out. (You loose your instruments and ability to start the bike then. :(:( ) So, wrap some electrical tape around that connector and the wires for 2-3 inches. The tape will not shrink back and you will be OK. :):)

The existing dummy switch in the handlebar pad can be pried or pushed out. Then thread the switch wire down through it, and push the switch into the pad. (Armorall, or equivalent is good here.) Route the wire over the handlebar, between the pod mounting bracket and the steering head, and along the grip wires to the same area.

Connect to the switch. Connect to the grips.

Ted Verrill said:

Use dielectric grease on ALL connections.  [Brian: I don’t think this is critical. I took a set of grips out that had been in service for 8 years. The connections were in good condition, with no corrosion. They are well protected under the tank. (At least on my RT model.) If any thing, I might use some Anti-sieze to keep the air away, and be slightly connective at the same time, and being careful to keep it from tracking between connectors.]

You can do some resistance checks now. The resistance wire that is connected in series with the grips on low, has a resistance of 1.5 ohms. The white connector and wiring harness parallels the grip resistances, so the “two grip” resistance is 3.5-4 ohms. So with the switch on high, you should see 3.5-4 ohms where the grip harness connects to the main wiring harness. With the switch on low, you should see 5-5.5 ohms at the main wiring harness connection. The resistance of the grips to ground should be very high, like infinite. From this you have a good expectation, that your grips will work properly when actually connected.

Measurements on one of my bikes found that on high, the grips pulled 3 Amps and on low they pulled 2 Amps. From this it appears that the low heat is about one half the high heat. Also, the resistance wire in the electric grip wiring harness is dissipating about 6 Watts in about 6 inches. That is why the insulation gets soft and then shrinks.

Connect to the main harness. Smush the wiring down so it does not push hard against the tank. (Why you want to be able to see where the wiring goes.)

Ted Verrill said:

The power lead is WELL HIDDEN under the main harness running up the left hand (clutch) side of the frame. Make sure you look for this little sucker, the lead is only about 1/2″ long sprouting from the harness, is often underneath the harness, and terminates in a 2-prong plastic connector.

Turn on the ignition, and put the switch on high. Check the grips get warm, and no smoke escapes. You are in fine shape. Put on any TyRaps you want to hold the wires bundled to the others.

Ted Verrill said:

Make sure to re-ziptie everything back into place – they give you a bunch to use, use ’em all ;-)Make sure to hook back up the gas lines before flipping on the ignition to make sure they are working properly (doh!)  [Brian: Unless you are really fast, or are in a real enclosed space, and gas spillage vapors should have dissipated by now. So there should not be too much of a hazard if you don’t reconnect the gas lines. At least I lived to tell about it.]

Turn everything off and put the handlebars back, and position them, and then put the tank back on.

There is a black wire, they give you. It seems to be for the R bikes. But I have seen it used on the K’s. It was run from the ground connection on the frame backbone, to the battery ground connection on the trans. Mine seems to work fine without it, but I will put it in next time I get a chance. The frame backbone ground connection has a LOT of wires going to it. Make sure you get them all back under the bolt. Also, I put some Anti-sieze on the ring terminals for connection insurance.

That is it. Hope this helps. Let us know how you made out.

Ted Verrill said:

Enjoy WARM hands :)))   [Brian: And THAT IS THE TRUTH!!]

After following these instructions, Joe Denton <> sent the following on Tue, 28 Dec 1999 01:42:38 -0500. [Brian: It adds stuff that I was unaware of:]

When installing heated grips on a bike with bar end weights you need:

Heated grips designed to accommodate bar end weights. Duh, and the bar end weight mounting anchor is different than for non heated grip bar end weight anchor. They are different in that there is a cutout and hole for the wires to go through in the process of passing from the heated grip to the wiring connector under the tank.

                |           cutout
                                               | <- hole

There is a installation sequence too.

As noted the wires must go through the cutout and hole on the way to the connector. So, thread the wire from the grips through them first. When you are ready to thread the wire through the handlebars do it with a weight/grip unit/assembly. Get the wire to the center of the handlebars and out the hole there. Then install the bar end weight anchors and grips. Be VERY CAREFUL to not cut the wires or pinch them. Installing the anchors after you get the wires threaded is not possible.

Related material … see: Heated Grips and Bar End Weights

Another method to thread the wires through the bars

Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 09:34:20 -0600
From: Cuno Walters <>

I had success with leading the heated handlebar grip wires by use of a vacuum cleaner.

  • Switch on the vacuum cleaner.
  • Hold the vacuum cleaner hose near one end of the handlebar and feed a small rope thru the hole in the middle of the handle bar.
  • It will get sucked to the end of the handle bar.
  • Feed the rope thru the bar end weights.
  • Tie the grip wires to the rope and pull it back guiding the electrical wires inside the handle bar.

With a small effort the wire will appear at the hole in the middle of the handle bar.

Heated grip installation took me 20 minites…

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