Adding Power outlets to the bike


Spent a little bit of time looking into communications and power solutions for the bike. To me, an integrated solution is the only real way to go. That means that the GPS, mobile phone, UHF radio and iPod would all need to get to the helmet’s speakers (or the rider’s earphones) in some order of priority, and the rider’s microphone would need to get to the mobile phone, the UHF radio and the helmet or bike-mounted camera recorder. Sounds tricky, but it seems that it can be done. I’ll cover that in more detail another time.

The next issue is how to power it all. Ideally everything would be rechargeable, but would power or charge from the bike’s electrics. The KLR (and bikes of its size) can power high intensity driving lights at a pinch, so a collection of small gadgets shouldn’t be too much of a strain. Still, it will be important to fuse things properly, so that one mishap doesn’t wipe out the whole bike.

How to mount and store things will also be a challenge. Some devices aren’t waterproof, dust-proof or shock-proof, so they can’t afford to be mounted on the handlebars. Besides, some of them won’t need to be accessed while riding. At this point it looks as though a GPS would be the only thing that needs to be on the handlebars of the bike. Everything else can be stored in a tank bag.

Power distribution
There’s a number of 3rd party fuse boxes on the market. One great resource (for research, and probably for buying), is Eastern Beaver, a site which specialises in motorbike electricals. There are a number of fusebox options, but this one can be easily mounted and is reasonably well protected. My only concern is that the contacts are simple spade connectors, rather than screw-in wires.

What I’m not sure of yet is whether I’ll even need something this elaborate on the bike. Since most powered items will be in the tank bag, I might only need a couple of inline fuses on the bike, and the rest can go in the bag itself.

Power outlets
It appears that there are two main classes of power connection for a bike. The first is the cigarette lighter connection. The limitation of these is that they are a little large, and there aren’t as many options for rugged, waterproof sockets. The advantage of these though is that any device that needs a custom power adapter – to alter voltage, for instance – can connect directly to the socket.

The other option is commonly referred to as the BMW outlet, presumably introduced or made famous by BMW motorcycles at some point. These are smaller and better looking, and there are more mounting options available, but devices with power adapters will need to be modified to use them. Since most of my gadgets will be in the tank bag, these are still the preferred option for me.

Of the available BMW-style outlets, I’m most impressed with the Powerlet Powerbar Plus. This block will clamp on to most standard handbars, and the wiring trails out the bottom of the unit into the body of the bike. A RAM Mount ball can also be fitted to the other half of the unit, making it a mounting bracket for the device that it is powering. Sockets mounted flush to the bodywork are significantly cheaper, but since I need 2 sockets at the front, and I want one of them to power and mount the GPS, I might as well make both of them the same and not have to drill into the fairing.

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