Heated Grips for 2009 ZX-6R

Warning

I am not a mechanic or a representative of Kawasaki or anything else official. This page is only my notes on doing this procedure myself. Although I believe what I have documented here is correct, I make no promises and you do this at your own risk.

Objective

I’ve had heated grips on bikes for many years now, and have come to consider heat a near-necessity — it extends our riding season here by several months. The time to install heated accessories is in summer while the weather is warm, not in the autumn with the snow flying and numb hands.

I’ve come to like the HotGrips product, and usually order them from Aerostich.

They come with a simple two-way switch and a power resistor to give a “full heat / half heat” option. I don’t like that option because the system is still drawing full power from the bike even when on half heat (the other half goes to heating the resistor instead of the grips). Instead, I prefer heat controls that reduce heat by cycling the grips on and off — this gives a true power reduction at lower heat settings.

For this installation, I tried the Heat-Troller control for the first time, as I liked the way the actual controls are very compact and are connected remotely to the control box. (I chose a unit with two controls and wired it to control the handgrips and an accessory jack for my heated vest. You could modify these same instructions for the single-unit controller for grips alone, or vest alone.)

I had already installed a source of ignition-switched 12V power and used that.

Supplies Required

  • Heated Grips
  • Zip ties
  • Variable Heat Controller (Heat-Troller)
  • Epoxy with High Temperature rating
  • Crimp-on lug terminals
  • Black electrical tape
  • Wire suitable for 12 volts at 5 amps (I used 14-gauge lamp cord)

Tools Required

  • Rear stand (recommended)
  • Metric hex wrenches
  • Small slotted screwdriver
  • Wire cutters
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Loctite
  • Coarse sandpaper
  • Sharp knife

Difficulties & Warnings

This is a straight forward procedure. Removing the old handgrips is a little challenging if you are squeamish and don’t want to cut them off. Likewise grinding the little ridge off the throttle tube (see below) is a bit nerve-wracking. So is drilling a hole in an interior panel for a control. In fact, the whole thing is nerve-wracking. Other than that, you need to be comfortable with basic electrical wiring and soldering.

One warning: the heated grips are glued permanently to the handlebars. If you are making extensive track use of your bike, you may need the ability to replace clip-ons, handlebars, grips, etc. You won’t be able to do this without replacing the grips, so this option is probably not for you.

Procedure

I started by pre-wiring the heat controller. If you are not using a variable heat controller, you can skip down to the grips installation.

Most bike maintenance is easier if you support the bike on a swing-arm stand so it is held vertical. This is optional, but a good investment if you plan to do any kind of work on the bike.

Pre-Wiring the Power and Temperature Controllers

I used a “Heat-Troller” from “Warm and Safe” for this installation. They have several product offerings, and I picked the one that has two panel controls and drives two separate outputs. (They advertise this as being for a rider and passenger, but I wanted it to separately control grips and heated vest.)

The panel controls are small knobs with LEDs beside them, while the main electronics are in a module remote from the controls.

The hard part with these jobs is always finding a nice place for the controls. They need to be accessible, protected from the elements, and not ugly. This black panel has a good surface on the inside of the vertical section (not visible here), and there is ample empty space behind it.
I removed that panel by releasing the “quick rivets”.
The “quick rivets” may need some explanation. There is a tiny plug in the centre which you push in with a screwdriver. This releases the rivet and it can be pried out of the hole.

To re-install the rivet, you push the plug back out so it protrudes above the rivet face. Install the rivet in place, then press the centre plug down flush with the face.

When the plug is flush, the rivet is expanded. When it is pushed in beyond the face, or pulled out above the face, the rivet is shrunk and removable.

So, having pushed in the release plunger, I pried the rivets out.
Now, as I lift the panel out, you can see the inside surface where I plan to put the controls.
I marked a vertical line of dots on that surface while it was still installed in the bike so I wouldn’t get confused by the odd shape and forget where I wanted the controls.
Then I drilled holes through the plastic using the template supplied with the controller. Each control gets a hole for the knob and a smaller hole next door for the indicator lamp. I test-fit the knobs and lamps to make sure they fit.
Here is the underside of the panel with the controls installed. Each knob is mounted directly on a small circuit board. I put a thin film of RTV sealant on the solder side of each board for some additional weather protection.
From the front, the knobs and their accompanying LEDs are quite neat.
Mounted back in the bike, you can see how the knobs are concealed inside the cockpit area, reachable with the left hand, but inconspicuous.
I applied power to the system as a quick test, and turned on both controls to see the little LEDs light up. They flash as the power is cycled on and off, to give an indication of the temperature setting. (Steady on is full power, flashing is partial power.)

Now, where to put the control module box? Under the seat there are several likely locations, and my automotive relay for switched 12-volt power is in there too.

I rejected #1 because it would interfere with removing the battery, and #2 because it interfered with re-installing the seat.

#3, outside the frame and below the side cowling, seemed like a good spot.

Here the control module is mounted in place with heavy Velcro tape.
The wires to the control knobs run under the gas tank, through the crack that runs along the left side of the bike when the side cover is removed (the little cover that has to be removed to remove the seat).
Where the wires emerge into the under-seat area, I secured them with a zip tie, coiled the excess, and made everything neat.
I had already installed a 12-volt automotive relay under the seat to provide ignition-switched power. I connected the power lead for the controller to this switched power, and ran one of the outputs back up to the front of the bike, while the other goes to the rear for my heated vest.

Installing the Grips

To install the heated grips, the bar-end weights have to be temporarily removed.

They come out with a 6mm hex wrench.

However, they are mounted with Red Loctite, so they are extremely difficult to remove.

I put a long tube (an old piece of aluminum lawn furniture) over the hex wrench for leverage. Then the screw could be backed out easily.
Here’s the bar-end weight, and the Red Loctite visible on the screw. . .

and the bar with the weight removed.

Now we need to get the old grips off.

Having mounted heated grips on several bikes, I always try to get the old grips off without damaging them, but I have not yet been able to do this.
So I give up, and slit the rubber with a sharp knife. . .
then remove the old grip and discard it.
Here is the throttle-side handle with the grip removed. The black plastic throttle-control tube is still on the handlebar. We need to be constantly checking that we have done nothing to interfere with the rotation of this tube.
On the left side, there is no mechanism under the grip, just the steel handlebar tube.

Note that the holes in the heated grips are not the same size, as one must clear the throttle tube.

I test-fit the clutch-side grip to make sure it would go on ok (and to make sure I had the correct one).

Then I tried to test-fit the throttle-side grip, and encountered a problem.

That little ridge at the end of the throttle tube prevented the grip from going on. (The inside of the grip has rigid ribs and can’t be “squeezed over” this ridge like a normal grip can.)

To confirm that it would fit if it weren’t for that ridge, I measured the main body of the tube. . .

and the interior dimension of the new grip.

Yes, it would fit fine if that ridge wasn’t there.

So, off comes the ridge. Unlike the original grips, the heated grips are held in place with epoxy, so this ridge isn’t needed to secure the grip.

I ground it away with a burr mounted in a hand-held drill.

(You could use a Dremel, or even a file, to do this.)

Then sanded it smooth.
Then I used compressed air to ensure that no grit remained, especially under the throttle tube where it might interfere with the throttle motion.

Now I test-fit the throttle-side grip and confirmed that it fits OK.

Next, I determined the best rotation for the grip. You want the wire to be “down” and out of the way, . . .

but to ensure that when the throttle is rotated “on”, the wire does not go around so far as to interfere with the brake lever.

When I found a suitable position I marked it with a small dot so I could install it exactly, without having to do more rotation, once the epoxy was in place.

I rotated the grip on the clutch side to the same position and marked it too.

Next, I roughened the throttle tube and the clutch-side handlebar tube with coarse sandpaper, to give the epoxy a better surface to stick to.

You need to use an epoxy that can stand heat. The HotGrips manufacturer warns against using the “5-minute” epoxy products, as they will break down when heated, and recommends using one of the “slow curing” ones.

You’ll need a lot — a full tube or two. Get extra — you don’t want to run out after you have mixed the hardener in with the resin.

I put several rags on the bike bodywork where any glue might drip, then mixed the epoxy and carefully spread it all over the handlebar tube.

On the throttle side, I took great care to stay away from the edges to ensure no epoxy got under the tube to interfere with its motion.

Then I carefully slid the grip on, using the previously-applied mark to get the rotation right. You want to avoid rotating the grip at this point — you’re trying to create channels in the epoxy that hold the ribs inside the grip, and you don’t want to get any squeeze-out that would cause a mess.

Repeat on both sides.

Now the glue needs to dry.

You could just leave it undisturbed overnight. However, the HotGrips instructions have a good suggestion: temporarily connect the grips to power, through the “half-power” resistor, so they run at low heat.

They suggest running them this way for 45 minutes. The heat will help the glue cure, and also ensure that it is doing the initial curing with the grips and handlebar at the size to which they expand when heated.

So, I used a nearby battery to wire them this way.

After the 45 minutes of heat, and a few more hours of curing, I was ready to re-install the bar-end weights.

The heated grips are very slightly longer than the original grips and the bar-end weight prevented the throttle grip from turning freely. So, I installed a thick washer between the grip and bar, providing about 2mm of extra space, and allowing the throttle to turn freely.

I put a similar spacer on the clutch side just to keep things equal.

I re-installed the bar-end screws with Red Loctite, since I found them that way.

Now we need to connect the power wires.

To leave room for the throttle grip to rotate, we need to create a 2- to 3-inch “loop” of wire.

I created a loop of about the right size and tested the throttle rotation, . . .
then fastened the wire into this position with a black zip-tie around the handlebar tube (between the switch gear and the brake mount).
I did the same on the clutch side (no loop needed), fastened all the wires to the fork tubes with zip ties, and gathered them all into the area where the 12-Volt line from the control box comes out. (In my installation this line ends inside the right side of the cockpit.)
Remembering to leave some slack for the rotation of the handlebars, I twisted the ground-side wire from each grip together, . . .
crimped them into a crimp-on “eye” lug, . . .
and soldered it. I don’t like to rely on crimping alone in bike connections because of the moisture and vibration.
This lug is grounded to a suitable frame screw — in this case, one of the screws holding the ram air duct to the frame.
Then I twisted the positive-side wires from each grip together, soldered them to the 12-volt output wire from the control box (white wire here), and insulated the join with black electrical tape.

Here is the finished installation.

You can just see the wire loop under the throttle-side grip, and you can see the control knobs inside the cockpit on the left.

The upper knob controls the grips, while the lower one controls a connector where I plug in my heated vest.


One Comment

  1. Mr. Hoober Bloob

    Hi Richard, great write up. I am thinking of doing the same to my ST1100 after I upgrade my alternator to the 40 amp model. BTW, you can get those old grips off and on with your compressed air and your blue air nozzle jammed under the rubber with about 70-90psi and it will slide off very easily with a bit of a farting sound.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.