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2022 Matte Deep Blue Kymco AK 550
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've never had a bike with heated grips before. I debated getting them for my first Burgman 650 but tried Hippo Hands instead and then went right to heated gloves when those didn't work out.

I do like having heated grips on my AK. Tried them out on my first ride coming from the dealer where I bought it to the motel the first day. Even though the temps were near 50F it was nice to just try them out. I only used them on the lowest setting since they were definitely too warm on my hands even then so a higher setting would be HOT.

With the temps getting below freezing in the last month and a half I've tried the higher settings and at 29F or warmer they work great, even at the low setting. There are 3 settings for these heated grips. But when the temps drop into the low 20sF I tried to use the medium and high settings and discovered a problem. When the ambient air temp is below 28F the heated grips at ANY setting will only work for the first mile or two... if that... and then they shut down. The LED indicator on the left grip shows a fail code with a flashing red light instead of the steady white light that is normal. They work great at near 20F if the AK is just sitting on the center stand in my driveway for a few hours and then I start the engine and turn on the grip heat on high. No failure then. But as soon as I start riding they will fail. When on high they fail in less than a mile at that temp.

I have read about some brands of bikes where this is normal at below freezing ambient temps but those were all more than 10 years old models. I've also read about several other bikes with factory heated grips where this was a problem even more recently, both small and large heavy bikes from major brand names. So it is not a reflection on Kymco since some of those other models/brands are BMW, Harley, BSA, Kawasaki, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, and a few others that I have found so far. Even a few aftermarket heated grips have had this same issue and needed repair. Several of the threads were found on the ADV Rider forum.

I contacted Kymco USA HQ and they told me this is not normal and is a warranty repair issue. So I'll be taking my AK to a nearby dealer next week. We are in the middle of a snow storm now so hope that roads are clear before Tuesday when I plan to go. By "nearby" I mean the nearest Kymco authorized dealer that can do warranty work is 125 miles away. If I cannot ride the AK there I'll be using a U-Haul mc trailer to get it there.

My contact with the Kymco USA HQ was great. I by passed the receptionist and went right to the technical department at the HQ. They were very pleasant and informative and helpful. They even sent me a PDF of the service manual section that deals with the heated grips as well as the corrected heated grips controller part info and verified the dealer for me that I will go to. There is a flash code on the grip LED that I or the dealer will need to try and isolate where the problem exists.

So until I get this fixed I've temporarily connected my heated gloves using the Battery Tender cable connection in the glove box and continue to ride. The AK 550 has otherwise been a great scooter and a lot of fun to ride. It has power when needed like the Burgman 650 has. I can zip up hills at highway speeds with more than enough power left over to pass slower traffic. I've already leaned over in curves at least as much as I did on the Burgman 650 but without scraping anything like I did with the Burgman.

I just wanted to pass on another detail of my experience with my AK 550. I am thinking that the law of averages may have finally caught up to me for going so many years with no significant issues on a bike. My first Burgman 650, which was bought new, had the front wheel bearings blow out before 10K miles. My '98 ST1100 had no significant issues. My CTX1300, also bought new, had the rear brake master cylinder seals leak around 35K miles (don't remember exactly). But otherwise no issues on a bike that were not owner caused so I feel I guess I'm due for something. Better this than the CVT failing on my previous Burgman 650. ;) Not that I was expecting that to happen, but you never know for sure.

I have posted this on the Kymco forum as well as ADV Riders forum and the Maxi Scoots forum since there is a growing number of members on those who own the AK 550. A few of those owners are overseas and have owned theirs for several years now.

Oh, and since I know for certain that the heated grips are supposed to work at any cold temperature I ordered a set of handlebar muffs (like the old Hippo Hands) and will see just how cold those will work for me WITH heated grips. I am thinking that I might not need to mess with the electrical install to add my heated gloves. Having that cable running through the layers in my jacket and out my sleeves was really the only hassle with having heated gloves, sometimes. It was fine when I actually had to plug in the gloves, but when temps were too warm to use them it was easier to leave that cable in my jacket and it just sometimes got in the way.
 

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2022 Matte Deep Blue Kymco AK 550
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
I've been contemplating how to make the heated grips work for me in some of the very cold temps I ride in. Normally I'd need heated gloves at temps down to zeroF and below. But I've really only used the heated grips at near freezing temps with them set to low. They will go 2 more heat settings hotter so I should be able to use just heated grips even at the coldest temps I ride in. The only issue is keeping the tips of my fingers warm as well as the back of my hands. Wind blowing past the grips tends to make my finger tips very cold at the temps and setting I've used so far... down to 28F on low. It's better when I wear my thicker heated gloves but I can tell the finger tips will still get cold when the temp is down another 10, 15, 20 degrees F.

The primary solution I've been considering is a pair of handlebar muffs. But I'm cheap. Since I already own the heated gloves I don't want to spend what those cost for the official Hippo Hands which are vastly improved over what they were the last time I tried them, but cost vastly more as well. So far I've tried 2 different thick insulated handlebar muffs from Amazon and both times I found that while they fit on the handle bar/grips just fine I need a third hand to pull on them to get my hand TO the grip. The insulation is just too thick to allow me to simply slip my gloved hands all the way in even if I wear my thinnest summer gloves. I already returned the first pair I attempted and will be returning the second pair right away.

So time to change my thinking and on to something else. I know that Hippo Hands have one type that is basically an open shield that really doesn't fit back along my sleeve very far and is open to the controls. Think of it as more of a hand guard that has more shelter back to the wrist yet stays open. But that one still costs around $110 and I don't think I really need to spend even that. Like I said, I'm cheap. So I was thinking (dangerous as you all know)... why not just a standard hand guard large enough to block the wind but not covering the grips? If my finger tips are the only part of me that gets cold with the heated grips and if it is the wind on my hands that causes that I figure hand guards to block the wind should do the trick. I found some designed for the AK 550, as well as a set for many different bikes/scooters, on AliExpress for around $25 and almost free shipping. The look to be exactly like the Puig hand guards with the very same shape, color shadings, mounting brackets but not the $140 + shipping for the Puig version. They look nice enough to possibly leave on all year. If these don't work for me then I'll just use the heated grips for a little bit below freezing and when it gets really cold I'll plug in the heated gloves... but likely keep the hand guards anyway.
 

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I have a pair of Gerbing heated gloves that plug into my Gerbing heated vest I purchased about 19 years ago. They are pretty bulky so I only wore them in extreme situations. I have heated grips I added on the ST1100 and the VStrom 650 and are really a necessity in the Midwest. Heated grips and heated gloves equal toasty hands traveling around Lake Superior even at 32 degrees. The 99 BMW R1100RT came with factory heated grips.

Let us know what they find out about your gripe.....or grips.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have a pair of Gerbing heated gloves that plug into my Gerbing heated vest I purchased about 19 years ago. They are pretty bulky so I only wore them in extreme situations. I have heated grips I added on the ST1100 and the VStrom 650 and are really a necessity in the Midwest. Heated grips and heated gloves equal toasty hands traveling around Lake Superior even at 32 degrees. The 99 BMW R1100RT came with factory heated grips.

Let us know what they find out about your gripe.....or grips.
That "like" was for your last statement... :ROFLMAO:

The heated gloves I have are also Gerbing. And I bought those in 2007. They are more bulky than any of my other gloves but I can still ride with them any time the temps drop to freezing or below. I never turn up the heat on those more than the lowest setting until the temps get down below around 25F. Otherwise my hands start sweating. They have kept my hands toasty down well below zeroF. I've decided that I want to try to keep those as my backup plan.
 
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When the ambient air temp is below 28F the heated grips at ANY setting will only work for the first mile or two... if that... and then they shut down.
Came on this earlier (Just a boring, wet Sunday here in UK). Might be relevant, not sure. :unsure:
Off the Gerrman AK forum, (nearly) translated. 2017 and 2020 posts.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I have not read about a grounding issue but that could be it... except they work great at any temp above -1C on any setting. Rode several times for 20-30 miles or more using the heated grips with no issues at temps above 0C or slightly warmer no matter what setting I used on the heated grips.

I do have the service manual pdf downloaded from Kymco.at (Austria). They have a lot of Kymco manuals in pdf form in English for a lot of Kymco scooters.
The SM shows the flash code for any faults but I didn't find that info until after I dropped off the scooter at the dealer so didn't take notice of what the flash code was. I THINK it indicated the controller, but not certain and maybe the indication was for the wiring.

As I mentioned in my first post above I did set the scooter out on my driveway at -5C and let it sit there several hours. THEN I started it while it was on the center stand and turned on the heated grips on the high setting and let it idle like that for about 15 minutes. The heated grips worked great during this test. So I really don't think there is any issue with the grip elements. If an issue is with the wiring then it is most likely somewhere under the plastics. But I am leaning toward the grip heat controller being the issue. If the bike is just sitting on the center stand in very cold temps the engine heat will keep everything relatively warm under the plastics, but when moving down the road the cold air is blowing inside the body works and cools everything down to near ambient temps and that is when the fault happens, when ambient temps are below -2C. Only when moving down the road. I've told all this to the dealer so they know the only way to actually see the fault is to go for a ride when the temps are colder as mentioned. The fault will show up within a mile if temps are around -5C or it might go for just less than 2 miles if temps are right at -2C or -3C... maybe. So a long ride is not needed. Happened every time for me doing that.

I didn't try another test. I was thinking I could have set the bike idling on the center stand as before but with a strong fan blowing cold air directly into the front fork tube area to keep engine heat from warming things up. But it would have to be a strong fan or set it really close to the front of the bike right next to the front wheel.
 
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I missed the lower half of one of those pages above.:rolleyes:
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This poster is expressing opinion that ambient temperatures may be a factor.
And, as you say, sitting on your drive is NOT the same as moving. CHILL factor.:)
Good luck anyway.
 
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