The Dennis Kirk Blog
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It almost hurts to write this, but fall is right around the corner. The days of comfortable riding temps are numbered for us northern riders as the mercury continues to drop. But, on the other hand, hopping on your bike in the fall can be some of the best riding with the backroads becoming a collage of reds and oranges. The trick to really enjoying a fall ride is to stay warm and comfortable as the seasons change.
Getting insulated gear is a great start, but sometimes it’s just not enough. Heated seats are a great way to add some warmth, but they’re not for everyone, especially with the price tags that they can carry. Plus, not everyone wants to change the seat that they have on their bike. It can take a while to find that perfect seat to match your style and comfort desire.
If you happen to love the way your seat feels and looks, don’t worry. For a fraction of the price of a heated seat, you can install an aftermarket heating system into your own seat to get the warmth that you need. Aftermarket brands like Saddlemen, Pro Pad and Moose offer kits that allow you to place a heating element inside your seat and hook it up to the bike’s electrical system.
These kits include the carbon fiber heating element, an on/off switch and all of the required electrical wires and connectors. Everything you need to get the job done is included.
Because the heating elements are so thin, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference in comfort once the kit is installed (of course the “princess and the pea” types might be able to feel a slight difference). Proficiency in the installation process is the key to success in order to get a seamless feel. If you have ever re-skinned a seat and were proud of the results, you should be able to get your heating system in place with no issues.
The actual installation process can be done in an afternoon and starts off by removing the seat from the bike and then removing the seat cover. Be careful while removing the cover because you will be reusing it. A glued on cover can be tricky, so take your time.
With the cover off, you can then find the ideal place to mount the on/off switch on the left side of the foam. You will need to carve out enough foam for the switch and wiring to be mounted flush. To do this use a small serrated hand saw. After that, you will need to drill a hole in the seat pan for the wiring to pass through and also a hole in the foam for the element wiring to reach the switch.
Once you have the seat foam prepped, you can place the heating element where you’re most likely to be sitting and then continue the install per the kit’s instructions. With the wiring and element in place, you can reinstall the seat cover. In order to get even and safe heat transfer, you should have a thin layer of foam between the cover and heating element. Many covers already come backed with foam, but if yours does not, be sure to add a layer.
The next step is to prep the seat cover for the switch. You’ll want to be precise when cutting the hole in the cover for the switch, so use a sharp. Remember measure twice, cut once. After you have the switch in place, you can then reinstall the seat cover and then the whole seat back on to the bike.
Wiring the heating system to your bike should come fairly easy to anyone who has installed any other electrical accessories. You can either wire it straight to the battery or splice it into a wire that is powered when the ignition is on. Follow the kit’s instructions and the wiring chart in your bike’s manual to get the job done.
Keeping your backside warm during these impending cooler months will make fall rides a lot more tolerable and immensely enjoyable. Aftermarket heating systems are a nice option to get the warmth you need without the cost of a new heated seat.
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