All winter days are not filled with snow-covered roads. On most winter days, the roads are clear in many parts of the country. Cold temperatures are what keep many riders off the roads during this season. Electric riding gear can help you conquer the cold and extend your riding season.
There are two important concepts you must address before adding any electrical accessories to your motorcycle—electrical safety and power consumption.
Motorcycles pack a lot of functions into a small package, and the electrical components are no exception. Motorcycle electrical components and their wiring need to survive vibration and the elements, which in winter includes corrosion-forming road salt.
Before beginning to add electric riding gear, start with an electrical checkup. A preliminary safety inspection should include:
- Is the electrical system in good working order?
- Is the charging system output at factory specifications?
- Is the battery new or in good shape?
Power consumption—how much gear can your motorcycle support?
Without getting into a detailed technical discussion of motorcycle electronics, here’s an overview to get you started on the process of considering adding electric riding gear to your motorcycle.
- How much power does your motorcycle produce?
Your motorcycle has a maximum charging system output measured in watts at specified RPM. You can find this specification in the factory service manual, online, or at your dealer. We’ll call this “max power.”
- How much power does your motorcycle already use?
You’ll need to determine how much power your motorcycle uses while you ride. To do this, list the watts used by all stock electrical components, plus any accessories you have already added.
Electric components fall into two categories—constant-use items such as the ignition and headlight, and intermittent-use items such as the horn and turn signals. Total both categories together. We’ll call this “existing load.”
- How much power do you have available?
Subtract the existing load from the max power amount.
An example: Max power 600 watts - existing load 400 watts = 200 watts available.
With this example, you have 200 watts for electric riding gear operating at its highest level of heating. To allow a safe margin, leave some power to charge the battery. It would be wise to use 10–15 percent less than max power since your motorcycle does not always run at peak RPM and power output.
- Hooking it all up
If you’re using more than one item of electric riding gear, the simplest setup uses components that plug into each other and use one single connection to the motorcycle.
Making a good connection
Here we come full circle to safety in installing your electrical connection. Please do the following:
- Use proper gauge wire—heavy enough to more than handle the electrical load
- Use a fused connection—see our blog post on fuses
- Use enough power cable to allow rider movement without entangling running gear
Till next time, ride warm and safe!