Some of us older folk may actually remember the days when there really wasn’t that much electrical going on with a bike other than the lights and perhaps a place to plug in the electric vest if you happened to be heading out on a particularly cold day. However, that is no longer the case in the modern era. We’ve all got smartphones and GPS systems and fancy rider-communication systems and all kinds of gear that needs electricity to work.
If you happen to have a newer bike, then those bikes may come with all of the electrical sockets that you could need or want. But if you happen to rock an older bike… well, to say that the bike is likely lacking in electric options is an understatement. In fact, many don’t even sport a place to plug in the ye olde electric vest, let alone the smorgasbord of tech that most of us carry around these days.
Sure, it’s possible to get along without a place to plug in your cell phone on your bike (and we are sure that many of you purposely put your phone firmly in the “off” position when you are riding), the reality is that many of us would benefit from having a place to plug in our devices when we are out and about on the road these days. But what are we with bikes that haven’t been produced in the past five years to do?
The good news is that Powerlet is here to save the day. This company offers a wide range of portable electric sockets that are designed to turn your vintage bike into one fit to power an entire army’s worth of modern devices. They have some offerings that are a simple as bar mounts, and others that attach to various points in the bike’s bodywork. The uses of Powerlet are only limited to your imagination (and the amount of devices you have to plug into your bike, of course).
How Do I Install Powerlet Connectors?
The first decision you need to make when installing a motorcycle Powerlet is how, exactly, you want your Powerlet socket to be powered. The most common way to install a Powerlet is to go with a “constant-on” setup, which is exactly what it sounds like: your Powerlet connectors will always be on. During periods when your bike is in storage for a long period of time (such as over the winter if you live in a cold climate), you can keep your battery in condition by attaching it to a smart charger. Of course, the best solution to keep your battery in top condition is to ride your bike regularly, but many of us live in places where riding the bike year-round is not an option. Sadly.
The main negative to this approach is that if you accidentally leave something attached to the battery when the bike is off (such as the aforementioned electric vest), it’s going to end up sucking your battery dry, which will cause no shortage of problems when you try to turn on the bike the next time you want to ride it.
The other way you can choose how to wire an electrical socket is to make the socket a “switched” socket, meaning that you can turn it on and off at will. The “switched” socket is more complicated to finagle. In this article, we will be focusing on the “always-on” option, as this option is more commonly chosen by do-it-yourselfers.
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide where you will install your Powerlet socket. A popular place is near the passenger peg mount, since this will allow you to easily use a smart charger on the bike as well as have a convenient place to plug your handy-dandy electric vest.
You can choose to use a handlebar-mounted or peg-mounted Powerlet, or you can attach it directly to bodywork. If you’re going for the bodywork mount, you need to make sure that there is ample clearance both above and below the potential mount point for the outlet and all the wiring. If you are doing a body-mount, mark the point of installation with a grease pen, and then use either a Unibit or a hole saw to cut the hole for the mount. If you are using a handlebar/peg mount, loosely attach it to the mount point.
Once you have your hole, you can install the socket by placing the rubber washer and cap on the outside of the plastic, with the thinner aluminum washer and the brass jam nut on the inside, and tightening. You will want to make sure that the wire tail coming out of the socket is going in the direction of the wiring harness.
At this point, you can seal up the jam nut with silicone sealant. Then move the wires so that they are going from the T-connector in the socket to the battery. Then you can zip-tie the wires to the wiring harness to keep everything snug and streamlined-looking. Then you will need to plug the T-connector in and mount the bodywork back to the bike. Finally, put in the fuse and make sure that the red wire connects to the positive battery receptor while the black one is attached to the negative receptor.
Once you have gotten to this point… congratulations, you should have power. The last step is to use a voltmeter to make sure that you have connected the wires to the battery correctly… if you have messed up the connections here, it’s possible that you will destroy anything you plug into your socket, which is not what you want.
And that is how to install electrical socket to a bike. It’s not all that difficult with a little bit of patience. If you’re really nervous, try going for one of the handlebar-mounted or footpeg-mounted options for this rather than drilling into your bodywork. (It’s a bad day when you have to buy new bodywork because you drilled into the wrong place or didn’t account for the amount of space you would require below the socket.)
Most of us will find that our lives are greatly improved by having access to electricity on the road, even if we like to turn off the phone while we’re worshiping the earth on two wheels. Make sure that you’ve got the best motorcycle electrical parts to keep your bike (and your GPS) running at its best.