A’ME Bringing the Heat Again with Heated Road Tape

A road bike fully outfitted with the A'ME heated road grips.

Earlier this year at Sea Otter, Tyler scoped out the new heated Ergo Tri and 1.3 Tri grips that A’ME had on display. While drastically more expensive than your average set of grippers, the special ability to keep your mitts warm will surely rank high among seasoned cold weather riders coming in a close second only to a good pair of winter riding boots.

While at Interbike, A’ME had their heated mountain bike grips on display but also were quietly pushing their newest innovation: heated road tape! I say tape, because it’s not really a grip but keep in mind the actual cork tape isn’t the heating element. The actual heating element wasn’t shown due to A’ME wanting to secure patents before showing it to the public. However, it was described as a long and flat heating element that is flexible and thin enough to hide under bar tape or hoods. The tape is long enough to wrap under a hood and back to the curve in the bar, or wrap the entire top of a road handlebar.

More details to come after the break!

Heated hood with heat back to curve of bar.

While wrapping under the hood does add a little bulk  to the tape job, it wasn’t annoyingly big and when you are wearing gloves in the winter it will be hard to notice. Plus, they flexibility of the heating element will allow you to choose exactly where and how you want to heat your bar which enables you to place the heat directly where you ride the most.

I was able to speak with Bob from A’ME who has done an amazing amount of testing with the heated grips in cold rooms with great results. He really helped illustrate that this is not just a gimmick, but a product that produces real results while riding in the cold. When the temperature starts to dip, our bodies go into self preservation mode directing blood flow to vital organs and away from our extremities. Keeping your hands warm will improve circulation and therefore improve performance and obviously dexterity on cold rides. Not to mention heated grips mean thinner gloves which improves shifting and braking performance.

Honestly to the casual observer, short of the battery pack and connectors, the entire system is completely unassuming. The interesting thing about the road setup is that you still chose your own tape, allowing complete customization. The routing is fairly clean and includes DuxButt (tighter than a..) weather proof connectors which allow you to not carry the battery pack if you choose not to use the heating function for any reason and help to keep the system weather tight. Currently there at two diamond shaped controllers that contain a push button to toggle through the different levels of heat for each side of the handlebar.

All of the wires will plug into this fairly compact Lithium Ion battery which will provide 1.5 to 2 hours of heat depending on the level chosen. Also important to keep in mind is the fact that metal handlebars will only act as heat sinks and therefore carbon bars will provide the best performance for the grips. Pricing and availability is TBD, but keep an eye our at your local retailer or check on the status at A’ME’s website.

Bob's personal bike on display with the Ergo Tri heated grips and two battery packs to effectively double the run time.

Comments

James - 09/28/10 - 12:49pm

Your description is very generous. But this is the worst product ever.

I hope these guys have not sunk too much money in those prototypes.

Zach - 09/28/10 - 4:33pm

James,
I have to ask, have you actually used the product? I know you have not used the road set up, since it is not out yet. What prompts you to say it is a bad product?

Bysickler - 09/28/10 - 8:50pm

Not a new idea, but potentially appealing if the price is right (say, under $40?). I ride year-round in WI, and would consider this if it a) was affordable; b) produced sufficient heat to actually warm the hands (considering you need to wear windproof gloves to keep the tops of your hands warm, and the heat needs to work through the gloves); c) didn’t require me to add 2 lbs more battery weight, because I’m already hauling a biggish battery for the lighting I need; and finally d) if it did run on a battery, give me recharging source options (USB port, 110v plug), give me a full recharge in under 4 hours, and give me at least 2.5 hours of sustained run-time.

In seasons past, my insulated gloves keep my hands comfortable down to about 20 degrees. Below 20, I have to wear a pair of over-sized thin poly shell mittens that I can stuff a pair of those chemical hand warmers ESPECIALLY when the temp dives down to 10 (about $1 per use — I’ll use about 20 of them a season).

I haven’t tried some of the other heated hand products, but the hunting catalogs are filled with them. The gloves that are wired for warmth and run on NiMH 9V batteries are supposed to be pretty nice.

The neoprene shells for straight bars seem to be the best option, and they are going on my shopping list this year. Like my neoprene shoe covers, they cut the wind completely, stay flexible in harsh conditions, and offer pretty decent insulation.

It’s already in the 30′s for my morning commute — tell the patent office to step on it!

James - 09/29/10 - 12:00pm

(1) It won’t work. This system relies on a heating element underneath the bar tape. Heat must pass through two insulating layers in order to reach your hand: the bar tape and your glove (since you need to wear gloves as well because you must protect the top of your hand from the wind). Unless the system is emitting biblical quantities of heat, its effect will be lost to entropy.

(2) This is a solution in need of a problem. The best gloves on the market cost $300 less than this will cost. I have done plenty of riding in sub-freezing conditions. Gloves work fine.

(3) I think long and hard before hanging extraneous junk off my bike. I can tolerate drink bottles, lights and a pump. That is it. But this device necessitates a huge battery and three meters of wires. It is an aesthetic nightmare. Ugly!

The folks behind this device make heated grips for motorcycles. Good on them, motorcycles already have a big battery to power the device, and many motorcyclists can combine the grip warmer with one of those integrated muffs, so you hand is in contact with the warming element. This concept is completely impractical for a bicycle.

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