How to Install a Motorcycle Alarm the Right Way

This article is written for beginners with little electrical experience; however, some knowledge of electricity and mechanics are assumed. This information is provided by West Coast Cycle free of charge and on an “as is” basis, without any representation or warranty to the products being installed. It is your responsibility to insure proper installation. West Coast Cycle assumes no responsibility with regards to the accuracy or currency of this information. Proper installation in every case is and remains the responsibility of the installer.

We think you’ve made a good choice in deciding to use an alarm system to protect your motorcycle, after all, in 2005 over 70,000 motorcycles were stolen. Now the question is: “How in the world am I going to install this – there are so many wires.” What seems like a hard task is actually not too bad; however, you need to have a least some mechanical ability. You will need to know how to test the polarity of a wire using a digital multi-meter. So if you don’t have a clue as to what a multi-meter is, save yourself the headache and take it to a motorcycle shop. Lastly, you will need basic tools to remove some side panels and covers to access the motorcycles wiring.

Gathering Information and Reference Material.

Information is the backbone of your soon to be successful installation. You should gather documents with vehicle specific wiring colors, locations and polarities. These charts are available in a multitude of places, generally free of charge. You can locate this information in the bike’s shop manual, at the dealership of the motorcycle, or possibly online.

Planning the Alarm Install.

Your plan will be the difference between a finished product and a job left for next weekend. A few minutes of planning and prepping will yield at least an hour and a half less install time. It’s not fun, but it needs to be done! Begin by studying your motorcycle’s specific diagram side by side with your bike alarm installation diagram. Identify which features you plan to use on the alarm, not all features are necessary. (e.g., engine immobilizer, remote starting)

Preparing the Wiring.

Before installing, be sure to disconnect the (-) negative terminal of the motorcycle’s battery. This will eliminate the possibility of accidental electrical shorts and/or unnecessary battery drain.

Once you identify which features you will install, eliminate the unused wires, if any, to prevent clutter. It is common practice to twist the wires of a same plug together then secure them to each other with black electrical tape. Do not wrap the entire bundle, as different wires go to different locations. Once you finish wrapping all the harnesses, tape them to each other to create one large pigtail containing all of the used wires. This keeps the wires together, secure and free from frays and obstruction. You will now want to identify the locations of the wires which you will connect to on your bike. Here is a hint: the majority of your wires will run from the ignition of your motorcycle back toward the center of motorcycle where the fuse box is usually located. The easiest way to locate these wires is to open the ignition key switch, and test the wires at this point to verify it is the correct wire. You won’t want to tap into the wire right next to the ignition. Rather, trace the wire back toward the fuse box or center of the bike where it is closer to the mounting location of the alarm system. This way you won’t have to run wires as far. The further you have to run wires the greater chance for something to go wrong.

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Execution: Removing the Panels.

The right tools are the difference between bloody knuckles or no sweat. We suggest you seriously consider the specialty items, as they will be handy in other wiring projects in your future. You will want to begin be removing the panels where your wires are located. Be sure to notate where all clips and screws go, there is nothing worse than leftovers – if you know what we mean.

Wiring the Alarm Unit.

Once the panels are removed, you will want to locate a good spot to mount the main alarm module. The harder to see, the better. This will make it much more difficult for a would-be-thief. You will generally tie strap or adhere (if adhesive pad is provided) the module to a support brace or flat surface. Be sure to mount the unit in a location that is not too close to the engine. As a general rule we suggest at least 12 inches from the engine. Also, if an adhesive strip is provided with your alarm system, be sure to prep the surface with rubbing alcohol or degreaser prior to mounting. One of the best locations to mount the alarm module is beneath the seat of the motorcycle. Another possible location is within the spare tool compartment, if you don’t mind giving this space up.

Next, run the LED display light, siren, and external antenna, if equipped. Be sure to mount your siren in an obscure location also. At this time, everything which will be plugged into the unit should be. Begin by wiring any necessary relays first, if any are necessary. Most motorcycle alarm systems do not require relays; however, remote starting applications will often require relays on motorcycles with electronic fuel ignition. If you don’t have a remote start feature chances are you won’t need any relays. Getting these relays out of the way now will save you from a rat’s nest of wires. After the relays are wired, begin connecting your wires to the proper locations. You may want to read West Coast Cycle’s article on testing wire polarity before making any connections; you can find it at http://www.wcc-tech.com. You should always test wires before you make a connection. Connecting the wires can be done in a number of fashions. You can splice the wires and tape them using electrical tape. You can solder then tape or heat shrink. You can use t-tap connectors, although we personally do not recommend them for long-term use. T-tap connectors work well for preliminary tests of wires, but once you know the alarm system is working correctly, go back and solder the connections. It is completely your preference, but we suggest soldering connections followed by heat shrinking. Just be sure the connection is solid and free of any tension.

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Identifying the correct wires.

If you don’t know the correct wire color to look for, here is how you can determine the correct wire. We also have an article on the technical support page of our website that offers detailed information on using a multi-meter to locate the correct wires.

Most motorcycle alarm systems have 5 basic alarm system wires:

ACC / Interface Wire: The ACC wire of the Installation Harness connects to the IGN / ACC wire in the bike’s ignition key switch harness. The wire you need to find in the bike’s harness should be +12v only when the ignition key is switched to the ON position; and if the ignition key is switched off, this wire should not show any voltage. Two tips: This wire runs from the ignition to the fuse box. If the bike already has a factory immobilizer, you can use the ACC alarm wire to shut off the fuel pump or cut the starter line.

Engine Immobilizer Wires: This common alarm system feature always uses two wires. This feature is like connecting a second kill switch to your motorcycle which is housed in the alarm system module and can be shut of via remote. There are three ways to use this feature; we’ll address the easiest way here. If you want more information on alternative ways to install this feature see the FAQ section of our website. You need to cut the side of the Kill Switch wire that leads back to the main power of the bike. You then connect one end of the cut wire to one of the two immobilizer wires and the other end of the cut wire to the other immobilizer wire. Hint: it does not mater which end is connect to the immobilizer wires, the feature will work either way.

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Power and Ground Wires: We saved the easiest wires for last; we thought you’d appreciate that after all your hard work. All alarm systems have a power and ground wire. It is recommended that you connect the power and ground wires directly to the battery terminals. You may need to purchase wrap-around clamps, terminal taps or extensions for making an easy connection to each battery post. Failure to use the proper connecting method is surefire way to have problems with your alarm system down the road.

Congratulations, your bike is now safer!

Your installation should now be complete. Before putting the panels back on the motorcycle, open your alarm manual. There should be a section which displays the functions of your alarm system; this is great for testing your installation. Go through this process thoroughly. You will want to address any issues immediately. If you are having problems, refer to troubleshooting the troubleshooting section of your alarm system and check all your connections. If not, congratulations!