Motorcycle wiring seems to be every new motorcycle builder's worst nightmare. We believe in empowering builders around the world to take matters into their own hands when wiring up their bike so we've put together a list of some of the best solutions in the industry for switch and lighting control when wiring up your next custom motorcycle build. We produce the Black Box to handle all your motorcycle wiring, but we also believe in doing your research, it's a big part of any decent bike build.

When choosing a motorcycle control system, three major considerations stand out:

  • Compatibility and Integration: Make sure the system matches your motorcycle's specifications, including the electrical system's voltage and compatibility with existing components. The right fit simplifies installation and avoids the need for extensive modifications.
  • Functionality and Features: Look for systems that offer the functionalities you need, such as Bluetooth connectivity, LED support, or integrated control features. Consider what's essential for your build, whether it's advanced technology like app integration for diagnostics and keyless operation or basic control of lights and signals.
  • Ease of Installation and Reliability: A control system that's easy to install and configure can save time and frustration. Reliability is critical; choose systems known for durability and resistance to harsh conditions. Check for waterproofing, shock resistance, and temperature tolerance, ensuring the system can withstand the rigors of the road.
  • Cost: Sometimes the most expensive feature rich unit isn't the best option when you're on a budget.

Bear in mind there may be others out there, let us know if we've missed any! Let's get into it.

The R21 Electrical Hub:

Is a comprehensive wiring solution for BMW Airhead motorcycles, designed to link all the motorcycle's electrical components. It facilitates custom builds by allowing the use of original BMW factory control switches on models pre-1990, eliminating the need for modifying the original wire harness. The hub is equipped with an 8-bit AVR® enhanced RISC architecture microcontroller, solid-state MOSFET power, and features like onboard auto reset smart E-fuse, AC runaway & 3000volt surge protection. It's compatible with various factory key and handlebar switch sets, supports LED lights, and offers features like soft start headlight and automated flash-to-pass. The R21 simplifies the wiring process, requiring no special tools beyond basic electrical ones, and is designed to be shock and water-proof.

Pros:

  • Compatibility: Supports original BMW factory control switches for models pre-1990, facilitating custom builds without needing extensive modifications.
  • Ease of Installation: Simplifies the wiring process with comprehensive support and an easy-to-follow installation guide.
  • Feature-Rich: Equipped with modern electrical features like solid-state MOSFET power, auto reset smart E-fuse, and supports LED lights, enhancing functionality and versatility.

Cons:

  • Model Limitation: Specifically designed for BMW Airhead models between 1970 - 1990, limiting its application to these motorcycles.
  • Price: At $299.00, it may be considered an investment, especially for hobbyists or those on a tight budget.
  • Technology Adaptation: While it offers modern electrical features, the lack of connectivity options like Bluetooth for mobile devices may be seen as a drawback for some users looking for more tech-integrated solutions.

For more details, you can visit EuroMotoElectrics.

The mo.unit blue:

Is a control unit designed for motorcycles, offering both traditional and Bluetooth-enabled functionalities. It serves as the heart of the bike's electrical system, capable of replacing the fuse box and integrating an alarm system among other features. With Bluetooth® LE, it pairs with the "mo.ride" app, enabling features like keyless-go, diagnostics, and ride logging. It allows for significant wiring simplification and customization, supporting up to 12 inputs and 10 outputs.

Pros:

  • Highly Integrated: Combines numerous control and security features into one compact device.
  • Bluetooth Connectivity: Offers advanced functions through a smartphone app, including keyless go, diagnostics, and maintenance reminders.
  • Easy to follow instructions: Being as prolific as it is, the M-unit has a lot of good tech support around it, due to its numerous features it can be very complex for novice bike builders.

Cons:

  • Complicated: It has all the bells and whistles, but do you really need it? The M-unit is a great bit of tech, but a lot of riders will be paying for functionality they dont need. This adds to the complexity of both installation and set up. 
  • Price: At $399, it may be a considerable investment for some riders.
  • Compatibility: While versatile, checking compatibility with specific motorcycle models and setups is essential.
  • Tech Savviness Required: The advanced features and app connectivity might require a certain level of comfort with technology not all riders possess.

For further details, you can explore more on motogadget's website.

The Eastern Beaver PC-8R PDM:

Is a versatile power distribution module (PDM) and fuse box designed for motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, and camping trailers. It offers six switched and two battery direct fused connections with a total capacity of 40 amps. The PC-8R is aimed at simplifying the power management of accessories, featuring eight outputs (with two unswitched circuits), eight ground outputs, and a built-in spare fuse holder.

Pros:

  • Comprehensive Power Management: Provides multiple switched and direct connections, allowing for organized accessory power distribution.
  • Easy to Install: Designed for simple installation with a robust and splash-proof construction, making it suitable for a variety of small vehicles.
  • High Reliability: With no capacitors or sensitive electronics, it offers high reliability and long-term durability.

Cons:

  • Limited Switched Circuits: With six switched circuits, some users may need additional capacity for all their accessories.
  • Functionality: this won;t control your motorcycles specific functions and only serves as a fuse box replacement
  • Physical Size: May be too bulky for very compact vehicle setups, requiring thoughtful placement.
  • Cost: Starting at $85 for the fuse panel alone, the total cost can increase with additional required wiring kits, making it a notable investment.

For a more detailed look, visit Eastern Beaver's PC-8R PDM page.

The 5x4 Switch Control Module:

From Exile Cycles is a compact device designed to simplify handlebar controls for custom motorcycle projects. It allows four momentary buttons to control five basic motorcycle functions: turn signals, horn, high/low beam, and starter. This module is especially designed for custom Harley-Davidson models from 1996 to 2013 but can be adapted for other setups. It's notable for its ease of installation, with plug'n'play versions available for specific Harley models.

Pros:

  • Compact Design: Its small size makes it easy to conceal within the motorcycle's bodywork.
  • Simplified Controls: Reduces clutter on the handlebars by using fewer buttons for multiple functions.
  • Custom Compatibility: Offers plug'n'play versions for Harley-Davidson models, simplifying installation.

Cons:

  • Limited to Momentary Buttons: Requires the use of momentary buttons, which may not suit all preferences or existing setups.
  • Custom Specificity: Primarily designed for custom Harley-Davidson models 1996 - 2013, which may limit its use for other motorcycle brands.
  • Price: At $229.99, it's a considered purchase, especially for a single component of a larger custom project.

For more details, visit Exile Cycles.

The ST-Net Electrical Switch Interface:

Is a versatile device designed to integrate various handlebar switches into your powersports project. It supports both stock and aftermarket switches, offering adaptability for momentary or latching inputs. The device is robust, resistant to vibration, water, and temperature extremes, making it suitable for a wide range of vehicles including dirt bikes, motorcycles, and four-wheelers. It features 8-bit microcontrollers, solid-state MOSFET power, and supports LED button lighting without extra connections.

Pros:

  • Versatility: Adapts both stock and aftermarket switches, supporting a range of vehicle types.
  • Durability: Built to withstand vibration, water, and extreme temperatures.
  • Integrated LED Support: Facilitates LED button lighting without needing extra wiring.

Cons:

  • Compatibility: May require checking for specific switch compatibility.
  • Installation Complexity: Could be challenging for those without electrical experience.
  • Cost: As with specialized equipment, the price might be a consideration for hobbyists.

For more information, please visit EuroMotoElectrics.

The Black Box V3:

By Purpose Built Moto is a compact electronics control module designed for simplifying motorcycle wiring, especially for lighting. It supports both 6V and 12V systems and offers functionalities like high and low beam control through a single momentary switch, turn signals with auto time-out, integrated kill switch, and hazard light function. It is designed for easy installation and is compatible with LED and incandescent lighting without needing resistors.

Pros:

  • Compact and Versatile: Small enough for discreet placement, suitable for any 6v or 12v system.
  • Simplified Wiring: Streamlines the control of lighting and other functions, making custom builds cleaner and more straightforward.
  • Enhanced Safety Features: Auto-cancelling turn signals improve visibility and safety.

Cons:

  • Limited to Lighting Control: Primarily focused on lighting and basic control
  • Price: At $150, it's a focused investment for specific wiring solutions.
  • DIY Requirement: Installation ease varies by user willingness and expirence

More information is available on Purpose Built Moto.

Choosing the right unit for your build may not always be the easiest choice, hopefully this simplifies it for you.

Make sure to check out our black box and switch kit!

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