- Category: Motorcycling
I'm in Minnesota, and I really, really like riding my Ninja. I ride until the snow flies in November most years, and I'm out again in March as soon as the roads are ice-free. Temperatures on my morning commute are often down to about 20 degrees Farenheit, which is pretty brutal at 70 mph. Some sort of heat for my hands is a necessity.
Here's how I installed the Symtec grip heat kit, which is the same kit I used on the Bandit. It's an inexpensive but very effective solution to my need. I bought both times from California Sport Touring. As of this writing the kits are selling for $37 plus $7 shipping. They include a nice round high/low rocker switch which fits beautifully in the dash, and the heating elements are balanced to account for the plastic throttle tube's insulating characteristic.
- Small black cable ties
- 16-18 AWG stranded wire
- Bullet and female spade connectors
- Hair spray
- Wood block
- 1-3 beers, ideally a nice ale or wheat style
- #2 and #3 Phillips screwdrivers
- Air compressor/nozzle (pic)
- Standard Vice Grip
- Utility knife
- Dremel with very small rotary rasp
- Electric drill
- 13/16" (or 3/4") spade-type drill bit
Installing the Heat Elements
Start by using the #3 Phillips to remove the bar ends. The bolts are stuck pretty well with thread compound, so I put the Vice Grip on the handle of my screwdriver (protect the handle with a rag). Keep the screwdriver in line with the bolt and press firmly on the end while you crank on the VIce Grip.
Next, use the air nozzle to loosen and remove the grip by puffing air under it from the end. With a nozzle like mine the grip expands nicely and you can easily slip it off the bar. Crack a beer here and take a few swigs while contemplating the zen of motorcycle maintenance. Set the beer safely aside to avoid catastrophe.
The Ninja has switch housings that have some room inside to hide our heat element wires. Using the #2 Phillips, remove the two screws holding the cover of the clutch side switch housing. The photos below show how I aligned the wires with the housing and passed it through. I removed the adhesive backing to help hold the element in place during positioning.
As you can see, I used the Dremel to create a slot for the wire on the grip side. I also applied a small amount of grease to the wire where it passes over the turn signal switch actuator to prevent chafing. These photos show the slot and the switch housing with the wire in place and the cover reinstalled.
Wrap the heat element around the grip and press it firmly in place. Now spray some hairspray through the grip from the flanged end, moistening the entire inner surface. Wipe any drips and slide the grip over the bar and heat element. Once it's in position, a few puffs under the grip with the air nozzle help it dry quickly. By your ride the next morning it'll be nicely set. Reinstall the bar end.
Route the wire through the chromed stays and use small black cable ties where desired to secure the wire to the bundle. Use gentle bends and move the steering through its entire range of travel to check for binding or pulling. Lay the wire tail aside where it won't get pinched and move on to the throttle side.
Remove the bar end and grip as before. There are small positioning flanges on both ends of the throttle tube which make grip removal a little more difficult on this side, but with some patience it comes off fairly easily as well.
On this side we can't run the wire directly into the housing because the throttle control is in the way. Instead we'll loop the cable under the throttle mechanism and run it up through the kill switch housing. The photo below shows how I elongated an existing notch to make room for the wire and how the wire routes through the housing. I also notched the inboard positioning flange to allow the wire to pass through. The notch is at about the 5 o'clock position when viewing from the bar end.
Remove the adhesive backing and position the heat element on the grip. Press it onto the throttle tube, then install grip as before, using hairspray as a lubricant and adhesive. Reinstall the bar end. The photos below show how the wire is routed, including a loop that allows for free throttle action without pulling or chafing.
Route the wire through the chrome stay and secure with cable ties. Finish off the first of your beers at this point, then decide whether cracking a second one will impair your ability to create suitable holes in your motorcycle. Proceed with caution.
Installing and Wiring the Switch
I decided to mount my switch in the triangular panel to the left of the guages. There are several places where it could be installed, but make sure you have plenty of space behind for the switch and the wire connectors.
Remove the 4 allen screws securing the dash panel, then pop out the panel. Mark with a pencil where you'd like the switch centered, and look things over to make sure there's clearance, and that you'll be able to conveniently reach the switch with your left hand while riding.
The dash plastic is very soft and mars easily. It may be wise to apply masking tape to the areas around the switch location. Using a sharp spade bit, carefully drill the 13/16" hole for the switch. You may also use a 3/4" bit and enlarge the hole slighly with the rotary rasp. High-speed steel bits are not recommended, though you could probably sandwich the dash panel between blocks of wood and make them work. However you approach it, make sure the parts are secure and stable while you work. A misstep here could ruin your day.
Clean the hole of burrs and slightly insert the switch. You'll notice a spline on one side that prevents it from sliding all the way in. At this point you probably want to temporarily replace the dash panel and hop on the bike. Rotate the switch to the correct orientation, then pull the panel out again. Using a sharp utility knife, gently notch the edge of the switch hole for the spline, then install the switch. Set the panel aside.
There's a set of accessory power plugs laying in the cavity inside the left body fairing. It's fused from the factory at 2A and switched with the ignition. The fuse is located under the seat. You'll need to replace it with one rated at 5A. The wire appears to be adequate to safely handle the 3A that the heaters draw, plus any other light load you draw with a GPS unit, etc.
I had already put bullet connectors on my GPS and connected to these accessory plugs, so I needed to build a harness to allow multiple connections. You can see what I came up with in the photo at right. It's sized to let my existing GPS wiring plug in as it had with the stock connectors, and to reach the switch in the location I installed it.
I looped the heat element wires over near the accessory plug in the left fairing pocket, then up behind the dash frame tubing. Use cable ties to create smooth bends and minimize both movement and chafing from steering action. The photo at left shows the position that the wires are situated in and the connectors I installed. I prefer to double the wires and use single, insulated connectors than what came with the kit.
Once all wires are in place and secured, connect the switch (note that high/low are inverted--the white high-power wires go on the bottom terminal) and reinstall the dash panel with the 4 screws.
There it is. Finish off that second (or third) beer and admire your work. Don't go riding just yet. You've been drinking. But definately fire the Ninja up and test the grips out. If it's warm out it takes a minute or so to notice the heat. When it's colder, the heat comes through quicker it seems.