File this one under First World Problems. How could something so simple be so complicated?
In this day and age, most adventure bikes need to wired to power various gizmos and gadgets. The list starts with something simple like a smart phone, get’s a little more complicated with possibly a dedicated GPS unit, and ends up being complicated when you get to the whole heated clothing thing.
Right off the bat I added a RAM mount on my handlebars for my phone. I turn on bluetooth and can answer calls using my Sena SMH10R or listen to a great Dead show on my playlist. It’s awesome as long as it has battery, and that’s never as long as I would like it to be.
The answer is to provide a way to plug in the phone while it’s being used.
Here is where it gets tough.
When you are looking at adding a simple power supply there are quite a few choices to be made.
- Do you go with a standard cigarette lighter style? This means also having an adapter to plug into it. That might be a dedicated adapter for your cell phone or one of the newer styles that have USB ports in them.
- Do you go the powerlet style? Powerlets are much better connections but they are just like a cigarette style in that to use it, you’ll need to plug an adapter into it.
- Do you go with one of the new outlet styles that skip the cigarette adapter and go straight to USB?
A cig lighter gives you the widest variety of choices as to what you plug into it.
A powerlet is probably the best built thing out there but you’ll always need to use powerlet adapters or powerlet connectors to use it
Since most charging systems now use a USB this made the most sense for me as to what I am going to use it for (Phone, GoPro, etc).
I found the perfect unit on eBay. It was a combo – cig lighter and USB. It was compact, cheap, combined the best of both worlds and so I bought it.
When it got here it turned out to be one of the cheapest things around. The clamp that attached around the handlebar was a thin piece of cheap plastic. The clamp mounted to the unit with a very small (and plastic) sliding quick disconnect thing. There was no way I was going to mount this on my bike.
I went back to searching the internet, searching the local stores, asking my friends what they have and use.
Sticking with my original plan I found a high quality unit with dual USB and metal clamp from BurnsMoto. When the unit arrived it was everything I wanted. Almost. The clamp will work for a 7/8 only. Mine are tapered which means the unit can only clamp near the end of my bars and not in the middle where I really wanted. Oh well. I’ll make my own mount later. I had a few short USB charging cords for the phone so that worked well.
The next challenge was finding the right place to wire it in. I pulled off my center section between the tanks and although there’s a fuse box I didn’t want to just hack into a few wires. There has to be a better way, right? I asked Tomm where he tapped in and he said somewhere in the right side fairing, but he wasn’t sure. I then asked the forum in ADVRider and the internet gave me the right answer.
I had an answer in minutes!
And even better, a picture a little bit later.
With the knowledge I needed I pulled off my right side fairing (5 bolts). The top three are easy to get to, the bottom two sit right behind the Hepco crash bars. By using a hex key with a short end I was able to get in there and get to the bolts without removing the crash bars.
Once loose, you need to remove the gas tank vent hose at the top of the fairing. This allowed the fairing to move forward and out of the way a little.
Next I saw two of the mentioned connectors. Testing them with a multimeter I found out that one was ground and the other was “Always On”. These were not what I was looking for. 🙁
I wanted / needed the unit to be switched on only when the key was on because it has a small led light that is lit when it has power. You can’t have a drain like that on the battery while it’s sitting.
Digging a little deeper into the harness I saw that someone had zip tied another set of connectors way back. I cut the zip and tested them and found that these were the right ones (ACC2).
I mounted the unit on my handlebars, routed the cable where it need to, made sure there was no binding, cut to length, attached a couple of spades at the end, added a little electrical tape for good measure and closed it all back up!
Now I can ride indefinitely and without worrying about killing my cell phone battery.
NEXT UP: Wiring the bike for other stuff – Heated clothing for both rider and passenger, and adding a battery tender connection.
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