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ADV PreppingHow I Added Heated Gear and Accessories to My Small Dual Sport

How I Added Heated Gear and Accessories to My Small Dual Sport

Squeezing every watt from my XT225 to run a wishlist of electrical upgrades.

Published on 04.11.2017

The Pacific Northwest isn’t known for its balmy heat or high, dry temperatures. Seattle specifically is caught in a “Puget Sound Convergence Zone.” Which means simply: it’s wet and cold most of the year. For those motorcyclists who endure the fickle frigidity of a colder climate like myself and want to ride year round, it can require a lot more gear or a few more gadgets to keep fingers, toes and vitals toasty.

Though masochistic as some of us motorbike enthusiasts are, as age becomes me, I realize how much being cold wastes my precious braaping time. If I’m too frigid to enjoy a ride, then I’m only putting myself through misery for nothing, or so it seems. Instead of enjoying a day in the woodier parts of the Olympic Peninsula, I focus inadvertently on the 50-degree drizzle drenching my bones. Or, flying down the freeway — faster than necessary — half dazed in order to end or ignore my frosty agony.

Recently, I decided to test out a few cold battling instruments to help make trekking in chilly weather a bit more comfortable. I wanted Heated Grips, Heated Vest and Pants, and a USB charger to keep the impermanent bits full of life for my long journeys. But the first obstacle presented itself immediately: how can the meager charging system of my Yamaha XT225 support all those “On” buttons at once? First, I looked for the most efficient versions for my list of accessories that Google could offer.

The Accessories


BikeMaster Heated Grips (37 watts) offer insulation to prevent loss of heat
Heating accessories - Bikemaster Heated Gripsthrough the metal handlebars which means more warmth on lower settings — a trait intended to save on energy consumption. It also claims to bring ‘toasty’ to your fingertips faster and hotter, resisting damage (apparently this is a thing?) in such temperatures on the outside and within. Five levels of temperature on the controller means you get the exact delivery of heat you desire without turning your gloves into a portable sauna.

Venture Heat Motorcycle Heated Vest (47 watts) utilizes four thin and flexible Heated Gear - Venture Heat Heated Motorcycle Vestheating elements running through the vest at the collar, on the back and on each side of the front panels. Heat adjusts to three settings and the controller is designed to flip to your outer layer for easy access while you’re on the move. A long tail cut into the soft, breathable material was a design made for movement and coziness. Though it’s unlikely to be exposed, the shell is also windproof and water-resistant, believe it or not. It’s lined with fleece to up the warmth and cut down the bulk and heats up in under 10 seconds.

Venture Heat Motorcycle Heated Liner Pants (47 watts) have a flexible Heated Gear - Venture Heat Heated Pants Linercontroller placed in such a way that it can be accessed on the outside of your gear. It provides three temperatures to the front of your thighs with two micro-alloy fiber heating panels from the upper to lower leg. The interior is lined with fleece and serves as a comfortable, warm, “performance” under-layer with or without the electric charge. On your opposite end [read: buttocks], the compression material is composed of spandex that wicks away moisture. Both the heated Pant Liner and Vest are powered by your bike’s battery through a “y-splitter” and additional accessories (e.g. heated gloves, heated insoles) can be Daisy Chained to keep external wires to a minimum. To keep you and your outfit from overheating, the gear has a built-in microprocessor which is intended to prevent short-circuiting.

BikeMaster Dual-Port USB Charger (10 watts) keeps your phone, GPS, GoPro, BikeMaster-Dual-Port--USB-Charger-Yamaha-XT225-5Bluetooth Headset or other electronic devices charged on the road. It fits 7/8” handlebars like the XT225’s and also works with 1” oversized bars. It comes with 38 inches of wire and in-line fuse as protection with an additional 12-inch long cable with “Quick Connect” rings for an easy installation directly to the battery. The handlebar mounted charging station itself is water and weather resistant to withstand the elements of your ride – or your driveway – and charging power is shared between the two USB plugs.

The Math

Next I’d have to see if my XT could handle all of my new gadgets and gizmos. My XT’s charging system allots 170 total watts, stock.

170 watts total charging output
-60 watt (Stock Headlight)
-8 watt (Stock Tail light)
-37 watt (Heated Grips)
-47 watt (Heat Heated Vest)
-47 watt (Heat Heated Pants)
-10 watt (Dual-USB charger)

-39 watt deficit

Technically, i would need 209-watts of power, minimum, output to run all my heating accessories on high and charge my phone [read: GPS]. Yet without alteration my comfy winter accessories would push the bike well over its limit, leaving me with a dead battery.

Problem Solving

With the limited alternator output of a small dual sport bike, the XT can’t technically carry the hypothetical weight of all my electronics at once. And on a cold day, I need the heated gear! After the last few years of serious exploration, crash-course dirt education and a growing sentiment, I’m not yet ready to replace my trusty XT, endearingly named R2-D2, with an “adventure” bike that could boast more power. I’m only now comfortable enough with my height (5’1”) and skillset to take on the bigger, bad’er braap-mobiles that would provide the necessary girth to contain such an electric overload. Yet I’ve decided R2 has been far too reliable to trash for the sake of coziness.

Heated Gear and Accessories for Small Bikes

If the XT225 were only my dirt bike, I might forgo the upgrades and generate all my heat from pumping blood in and out of my pounding heart. But since I intend to see the better part of the world aboard my motorbike, I want it to be as “Made for Adventure” as its more beastly brothers and sisters. So again, I faced my dilemma, how to make the best use of D2’s limited power?

I had heard about the LED headlight from Cyclops Adventure Sports that boasted an incredibly bright beam for night riding and, to top it off, would also drop the XT’s electrical draw dramatically. The stock halogen headlight bulb sucks up 60 watts of juice while the Cyclops LED bulb uses only 20 watts.

So if we look at that equation again:

170 watts total charging output
-20 watt (LED headlight)
-8 watt (Stock Tail light)
-37 watt (Heated Grips)
-47 watt (Heat Heated Vest)
-47 watt (Heat Heated Pants)
-10 watt (Dual-USB charger)

+1 watt to spare

The wattage gained from changing the stock H4 Halogen headlight to a Cyclops LED headlight changed my gadget game, plus R2-D2 now has a super bright 3800 lumen light – comparable to Heated Gear - Cyclops LED 3800 lumen H4 headlightan auxiliary light setup – to boot. I’d call that a win/win! If I was really trying to squeeze everything out of the berry, I could have swapped the halogen tail light for an LED unit as well to free up a few more watts but I can save that for another day, if I need it. Even after flipping on the heated grips and plugging in my vest, electro pant liners and my phone into the USB charger, there should be about even draw/output. However, that’s still a bit close for comfort. To err on the safe side, I intend to never charge my phone while using all the heating accessories together on high. That should give me roughly 11 watts to spare.

The Installation

Replacing the stock headlight was the least painful of the busy work. It’s all plug-n-play with no wiring required. Just pop out the old H4 Halogen bulb and screw in the new LED bulb. It’s a tight fit for the additional wires and the large fan but everything goes back together without much trouble. It’s a good idea to get in contact with Cyclops Adventure Sports for bike-specific installation tips.

BikeMaster Dual Port USB Charger

All in all, lining up the cables along the frame running from the battery to the heated vest and pant was a cinch. And you can track down a power lead that works off the ignition behind the headlight to tie in the USB charger and heated grips. Living with a mild case of OCD, I found dressing the cables and connectors was the most satisfying step. I took extra care to make sure the cables were tucked away so as not to get frayed from rubbing or melt against my hard-working engine. Really, what I found most puzzling was trying to afford room on my already cluttered handlebars to attach the USB port. But it all came together, eventually.

The Fit and Function

Truth be told, when it was time to try my heated accessories, the weather took a turn for the beautiful. But I turned on my grips, vest and pants liners to the on position anyway. The pant liners were comfy and often warm enough as a bottom layer without the heat. My electro-vest felt comfortable if not too warm on the front and back, though a little lacking on the sides and the neck. But I still can’t quite justify wearing the vest, or the pants for that matter, without an under (under) layer. Having my main torso “feel the burn” – no political pun intended – was not appealing enough for me.

Heated Gear - Venture Heat Motorcycle Heated Vest

The legs were toasty too, albeit one-sided. Properly padded, the warm layers did exactly what they boasted. Both pieces are flexible, breathable and not too bulky. For those of you who like your clothes form-fitting, this outfit does contour to your body nicely. One thing you have to get used to with the heated gear is the constant attachment to the bike, which isn’t really a problem on the street. BUT! If you’re planning a romp off-road, it’s unlikely you’ll need the heated bits at all (if you’re working hard enough). Just remember to disconnect once you’ve exited the pavement.

I tested running the heated grips, heated vest and pants liners simultaneously and continuously, and so far I haven’t noticed any slow starting afterward. In the end, it seems the math worked in my favor.

The Lessons Learned

Heated Gear - Venture Heat Motorcycle Heated Vest

The LED headlight bulb conversion was crucial in freeing up extra wattage in my XT’s limited charging system. Without the headlight swap, I would not be able to run all my new winter-weather gadgets. Now I never suffer for long before I need, or just want to turn on my heated grips. And I find the convenience of charging my phone a gift from the moto Gods — well worth the installation. Each item did a single job good enough to be useful individually. Used together, the heating accessories have the ability to take you comfortably into colder temperatures than you might ever have dared to ride in. However, as I mentioned before, I will avoid charging anything on the USB outlet while running all the heating accessories together on high. And I may try out an LED tail light bulb next to free up a few more watts. If you ride a bike with a limited charging system like my XT225 (e.g. XR650L, KLR650, DR650, KTM 690 Enduro) and you want or dare I say ‘need’ a winter riding option, you might consider giving one or even all of these items a shot.

Photos by Justin W. Coffey

Author: Kyra Sacdalan

Kyra is a freelance journalist and author, as well as the co-creator of WESTx1000 a multimedia company that creates content for the adventure community. Conceived in a coin-op laundry room in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, what started as an excuse to ride dirt bikes in Baja has become a portal into the lives of two authors, photographers and cultural anthropologists. Whether they’re documenting the infamous Baja 1000 off-road race, crossing the country on a pair of Indian Scouts, investigating Japan’s eclectic motorcycle culture, or riding their dual-sports from Barstow to Vegas, the idea stays the same…

Author: Kyra Sacdalan

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14 thoughts on “How I Added Heated Gear and Accessories to My Small Dual Sport

    • You’re very welcome! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. That’s really appreciated. And good luck with your DR. My husband has a DR650 and a DRZ which he’s outfitted for adventure.

  1. Switch your tail light to a LED as well, and any dash backlighting if it uses bulbs. has a huge selection. You can do turn signals as well, but they typically aren’t on very long and you need to add a resistor otherwise they flash too quickly. Went down the LED road with both my KLR and WR250R.

    • Great idea! I’ll admit, I’ve been too lazy as of late because we’ve been spending a lot of time in warm to hot climates. So my winter bits have been get dusty. That said, LED lights all-around are a good idea to save energy and money.

  2. The problem with extra power consumption is not when the battery is new and the weather is warm. Once your battery is two years old and the weather is freezing, you may have trouble starting the bike in the morning. Hopefully you are not 400 miles from home in the middle of nowhere. Carrying a small jump starter can help and can also be used to charge the electronics. I have heated grips on my KTM 1190R and heated gloves for my Harley but have stopped using them. I use flannel shirts and warm underwear as well as my leather jacket and pants and feel fine,

  3. Thank you for sharing with us your modifications to your bike. Does the XT have a place where you can add a kick starter back up? If so, you can use that and really save the wear on your battery. Just my $0.02. Thanks again!

  4. The one item missing in your addition of comfort accessories to your dual sport is a device to monitor the charge level of your battery. Your math looks good but it has to be considered that all the reported manufacturer power ratings are a general range when new but there may be some variance +/- on individual items do to manufacturing process. This most importantly includes your alternator it is possible that with age and use its output drops from the assumed 170W to 165W a small change but enough cause problems on a lengthy trip. In my opinion the ultimate comfort item to add would be a simple digital voltmeter to mount near your console that will display the level of charge of your battery. Say when you start your ride the voltage is 12.6V as you ride it gets colder so you flip on the hand warmers and plug in the heart gear. You now feel happy and warm, but you notice after another few miles that the voltage readout has dropped to 12.4V you know immediately that you are drawing more power than your little dual sport charging system can deliver allowing you to cycle off select items well before you unsuspectingly stop and realize you have serious situation. Your goal was to add comfort so you could better enjoy your surroundings; the comfort of peace of mind will help you achieve that goal.

    • ^ +1. This is an important tip. You should have a voltmeter installed, wired right to the battery with a switch on it. That way, the meter will tell you what is up with the battery, and it’s charging system. You have to know and understand what the meter is telling you. If it reads 12.1 V, then you’re at the max drain of current, and likely pulling more current (wattage) than the system can supply. (ie: You’re likely drawing down the battery…) If it reads 13.1 V, then it’s charging the battery and supplying whatever you have connected too. If it reads 14.1, you’re at the max charging state of the battery, and maybe a bit too much for the battery depending on the type of battery installed (ie: Consider turning on some more lights).

      So, it’s a good idea to have a meter attached.

    • OK, one more tip. This describes an advanced mod, and you really have to want to keep the cycle to do this one. Have a shop install a series regulator for you, in place of the sunt type regulator the cycle has now. This mod will insure that all available current will be supplied to the loads in the system, rather than shunting the excess (if any) as heat, back into the system (into the oil, via the excess current being shunted back into the stator, yep that’s how they work). It’s expensive, about $50 for a used part (buy / use one from eBay, from a Honda CBR600RR), andinstallation costs (about 2 hrs plus sundries parts: connectors, wires, lugs etc).

      Worth it? It was to me, on a DRZ400.

    • Doug forgot to mention that the motor RPM’s speed is also a factor in how much current is being generated when the motor is running. Low RPMs (ie: idling at a stop light, or standing warmup time, or talking to someone with motor idling, or low gear / low speed work in dirt conditions) will not have the generator outputting that 165-175 watts. It will be more like 100 watts, at idle. Oops! Your battery died while you were not riding hard!

      So, there are a lot of things to understand even with an unsophisticated system like this one. I personally like an electrical system, and it supports that “magic button” (the electric starter).

  5. Hi: I believe I can add something of value to this thread. The LED light you’ve chosen has a fan in it, for cooling the LED. The fan is not durable, it will fail at an inopportune moment. There are however, LEDs that offer cooling with no fan. They use a metal “petal” ribbon in the back. You spread the petal around the light fixture at installation. It’s solid state, nothing (no moving parts) to break. Its a better choice. See eBay for good choices of this type, and be choosy about the LED variety being offered in the assembly.

  6. I know this post has been around awhile, but appreciate it! Just bought a used XT250 and was curious if my Kanetsu vest was going to kill it. Thanks-

    • Hey that’s awesome! I’m still riding my ol’ XT225, but I’ve been ready to upgrade to a 250 for a while 😉

      Happy riding!


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