The reasons for a cigarette accessory outlet are many. You may need
to recharge your cell phone, perhaps hook up a radar detector for the day, maybe
play a CD or radio while having a picnic somewhere. Regardless of
the reasons this mod can be quite handy and is easy to do. It also costs
about $10 in total which isn't too expensive.
There must be dozens of ways to rig up a cigarette lighter adaptor on your
bike. These pictures show my first attempt. There are a few things I wish I had
done differently, but on the whole I'm satisfied.
The photos as you see them here are reduced to a 160x120 pixel format.
larger picture you see when you click on one of these is in a 640x480 pixel
format. All of the photos were originally taken in an even larger format
(1280x960 pixels). I reduced them to conserve space and download time,
even though the clarity may have suffered because of it.
The obvious thing to get first is the cigarette lighter adaptor you
want to use. I bought this one at Radio Shack for about $8. It has an
On/Off switch and a built-in fuse. Unfortunately, these cool features
are incorporated into the half that you don't use....
Before you buy your quick connect terminals, you may want to
decide how long you want the adaptor cord to be and cut it. Then you can
take the adaptor to the hardware store and compare it with wires of
known gauges. You need to know the right size so you can buy...
...matching quick connect terminals. I spent a little extra
and got the kind that fully enclose the connection.
While you're buying, pick up an inline fuse. You're going to be
hooking the adaptor directly to the battery, so you want to protect the
equipment that you plug into it and also protect against shorting.
Install on the positive wire. I found this one in my toolbox.
have bought it at an auto parts store somewhere along the line.
They are also available at Radio Shack.
One last part to buy. I wanted to use wire with red insulation for
the positive battery terminal connection, and one with black insulation
for the ground connection. I bought the red wire by the foot from a
spool at the hardware store. I think I got 18 gauge wire.
I also made
sure to get quick connect terminals to fit this wire size.
You pretty much need to look at the larger image to see the wire
I'm talking about. Sorry I didn't take a separate picture before
Here is how I connected the red wire to the battery. I threaded it
through the "hood" that protects the positive terminal from
accidental short circuits. Then I secured it with the same bolt that
holds the battery cable in place.
The black wire needs to be connected to the negative terminal of
the battery. Since the bike has a "negative ground", just
about every piece of metal on the bike is connected to the negative
terminal via the frame. So I decided to use the strip of metal that the
seat lock release is mounted on.
After scraping a tiny spot of paint away I tested for 12 volts
with a voltmeter. The test was successful, so I got out my tap and die
set and made a threaded hole to match a small bolt that I had laying
If you don't have a tap and die set you can just drill a regular
hole and use a nut on the underside. I went this route because I wanted
to make sure I had a good electrical connection to the metal.
OK. Before you hook everything up you need to put some thought into
how you're going to keep the connections straight. In my case all of the
quick connect terminals were the same color, but I needed to make
sure I could always hook up positive to positive and negative to
For this “first attempt” I cut the ends of the adaptor wires
at different lengths. I could also have used some red nail polish or
something to indicate the positive wire.
I thought about using a male connector on one end and a female
connector on the other, but I decided against it. The wires that go to
the battery would have needed the same mix of connectors, and I didn't
want someone to accidentally fit them together and blow the fuse.
Speaking of positive and negative connectors, you need to know
which is which! This is a direct current (DC) contraption you're
assembling here, and the + and - stuff matters! If you hook it up wrong,
you may have to kiss your charger/phone/other device goodbye....
I took my voltmeter out to the car and tested its cigarette
lighter to see whether the “can” or the “contact point” at the
bottom was positive. Then I used the meter to find out which wire was
connected to the matching part on the adaptor.
Once I knew which wire was which, I used a zip tie to bind the red
and black wires tightly together. In my case, the positive wire on the
adaptor was shorter than the negative wire, so I made the positive wire
to the battery stick out more than the ground wire. ( Here you can
finally see how I mounted the black wire....)
Time to connect it all up. Tweak the wire lengths if you need to,
so there's no undue strain on the connections.
One more deep breath... OK, maybe one more... Now plug in
your precious electronic device and hope for the best.
This is kinda how I envision using the adaptor “on the road”.
Of course everything should be tucked away in the saddlebags--out of the
wind--but what kind of a photo would that make?
This is another one that needs to be viewed in the larger format.
Sorry folks--I'll try to do this in the daylight next time....
One final touch. I attached a leftover quick connect
terminal under the seat to cap the positive wire when it's not in use.
Anything to avoid an accidental short circuit! You could install two of
them if you wanted to keep water and dirt away from both wires....
Do you like the “safety wire”? I pulled it out of a discarded
Now you are ready to take a trip across the country
or just down to the local Blockbuster video!
What do I wish I had done differently?
Put the fuse in the red (positive) wire instead
of the black one. The way I have it hooked up, the red wire
constitutes an un-fused hot wire. If it touches any part of the frame, some
wire somewhere is going to melt. If the black wire touches anything, nothing
will happen. So why did I do it this way? No excuse; I guess I was too lazy
to paint the whole black wire and fuse holder red. They probably sell them
that way (red) at Checker, but I must have been in too much of a hurry to
check 'er. (Ha, ha.)
I can't think of anything else at the moment.
Comments? Questions? Send them to the email address at the top of the page.