General Installation: Tips & Tricks for Installing Your New Toy’s
You bought new parts for your motorcycle (hooray!) but you aren’t sure where to start with the install. We get it, not everyone is a mechanically inclined installation master, so the thought of installing new accessories (even the dreaded electrical components) can be a bit daunting. Most of us, however, do like to travel on our motorcycles so knowing the basics of how to work on your bike are important and could get you out of a tricky situation down the road. So how do you go from a complete mechanical newb to an informed and capable fixer-of-most? Do lots of reading, start slow, and follow this 10 step guide for installing your new motorcycle accessories!
Step 1: Initial assessment
Before ordering parts for your motorcycle, do a little bit of research. Online forums are great to get user information, but don’t spend too much time dwelling over the little details of what some people say. Remember, some folks just like to complain and you never know how skilled they are in the shop to begin with. After researching your options, order the parts you need. This is also a good time to order any tools you maybe don’t have. Do you have a torque wrench, loctite, a saw or drill if necessary? More on this later…
Still not sure what parts to order? Call our Gear Scouts at 855-255-5550 to get a one-on-one parts consultation!
Once your parts arrive, open up the box and check all the components. Make sure all hardware is included and nothing is missing or damaged. Take this time to read through the entire installation guide, so you know what each step will entail. Is it a bolt on accessory? Will you need to modify things on the bike to make it work via drilling or cutting?
Step 2. Gather your tools
Next you need to gather all the tools for the job. Keep them in one place in the garage, like a workbench, to keep things organized. Try to use the tools from your bike’s tool kit first. Using the tools from your bikes kit will ensure you are comfortable using those tools out on the road. As you work on your bike with the tool kit you will also find any tools you might need to add to the kit so you can service the machine while away from home.
Gather any specialty tools like a drill, torque wrench, loctite, air compressor, and power cords now. You will also want to have some shop rags and nitrile gloves on hand. Wearing gloves keep your hands clean and avoids skin contact with oils and other chemicals you might come into contact with.
The torque wrench is not an option, but a requirement. If you do not own a torque wrench, you need to purchase one before attempting to do your own motorcycle work. Why? Well, a torque wrench measures the tension applied to the bolts on your bike. Using a torque wrench when finishing an install job ensures your bolts are tightened just so. Too tight or too loose can have catastrophic effects and could cause major problems and failures down the road. Also keep in mind that if parts are not torqued properly, it will void all warranties. Torque specs are included for all bolts and are listed in the installation guide. Your motorcycle service manual will tell you the torque specs for remaining bolts on the machine as well.
Computers are also tools these days, and if you are installing a Denali CANsmart then you will need this on hand too. It might also be a good idea to download an electronic copy of your motorcycles service manual, in case you need to reference anything. You can easily share the electronic service manual to your mobile devices as well, so you have it on all your travels.
Step 3: Prepare your work space
You want to start with a nice clean work space. A clear workbench is great for organizing all the parts, hardware, and tools so they don’t get mixed up. Be sure to sweep the area under the bike so spotting dropped parts is a bit easier. If you have a lift or stand, now is the time to get your bike on it. Do you have enough room to move around the bike as you work?
Step 4: Do a mock-up
Now we start getting hands on. Begin by checking your bike for any accessories that might interfere with the product you are installing. Check to make sure wires will be long enough to route without issue. Make sure that when parts are held in place, they do not affect the steering range of motion, if applicable. This is a good time to do a bench test of electrical parts, before you get them installed.
Step 5: Mechanical Parts
Begin by disassembling the needed parts on the motorcycle. Most of the time this involves removing the seat and fairings. Remove any other items that must be gone in order to install the new part. If you have questions regarding the disassembling of your motorcycle, consult your service manual (laptop on your workbench, remember?).
Now begin following the installation instructions for the product you are working with. Be sure to assemble all bolts loosely until everything is in place, then tighten it down. If you install each bolt completely without starting them all first, you will find the holes will not line up.
Be sure to use the correct type of loctite when called for, and ALWAYS torque to the proper setting for each bolt.
Step 6: Electrical Parts
When routing wires, be sure to keep them away from direct heat sources. Following the stock wiring harness routing is best if there is enough room. Be sure your fuses are positioned so they are easy to access in the event they need changed (add a few spares to your tool kit).
It is a good idea to avoid stacking lots of accessories on the battery terminals. If you have multiple accessories installed on your bike, a power distribution module is recommended.
Most of our Denali Electronics products are plug-n-play, but there are some applications that require you to connect to pre-existing wires on the motorcycle. When required, Posi-tap connectors are included in the kit – they are the easiest way to perform this connection. Another option is to strip, splice, and solder the wires together in a more permanent fashion. We suggest practicing this on spare wire a few times before attempting on your motorcycle, if you decide this is what you want to do.
Step 7: Double check and test prior to reassembly
Before reassembling the entire bike, test the product to be sure it is working. You don’t want to button it back up if there is an issue that needs addressing. If you run into any problems at this step, just give us a call and our technicians can walk you through troubleshooting any issue you are experiencing.
Step 8: Reassemble and test again
Reassemble the motorcycle. Be sure to use loctite where necessary and always torque your bolts. After assembly, test the products one more time. Make sure all moving parts have full range of motion and that nothing is rubbing or hitting where it shouldn’t. Be sure your electrical components are functioning properly.
Step 9: Clean up
Clean up your work space and put away any special tools you used. Check the ground and workbench for any leftover parts you may want to save. Never leave your torque wrench set, and be sure to dispose of any fluids properly by taking them to be recycled.
Step 10: Test ride
Now it’s time for the fun part… Go ride!
During your initial 1,000 mi be sure to keep an eye on the parts you installed. Make sure everything is working as intended and double check that the bolts you torqued have remained at the proper setting – adjust if needed.
If you have any questions regarding the installation of your new parts, feel free to call us at 855-255-5550 and speak to on of our Gear Scout Technicians!