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Rats Nest 101: A Tech’s Guide to Accent Lights
October 26, 2017
Rats Nest 101: A Tech’s Guide to Accent Lights
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There’s no doubt that Accent Lighting is huge in the aftermarket LED industry. With so many types and brands on the market, the choices seem overwhelming. Then, there’s the dreaded install – mounting LED strips, running wire – it’s enough to intimidate even the biggest and baddest bikers!

You Get What You Pay For

When shopping around and comparing your LED choices, it can often be comparing apples to oranges. Consider the size of the LED chip typically noted as a 5050, 3528, 3014, or 3020. These numbers indicate the millimeter length and width of each LED chip. Custom Dynamics® MagicFLEX2® and Magical Wizards™ are 5050 LEDs which have 3 individual diodes per LED chip providing maximum light output and 120 degree viewing angle.

Compare the number of LEDs within each strip. Two manufacturers can have the same length strip but one offer less LEDs than the other. A longer strip does not necessarily mean more LEDs or a brighter light.

Always ask about product warranty when making a purchase so you know what you are getting into. Custom Dynamics® offers a Lifetime Warranty with all LED products so you can ride carefree.

Another important consideration is the circuitry of the lighting product and how they receive power. “Plug and Play” is a term commonly thrown around in the parts and accessories world insinuating an effortless install. While “Plug and Play” installation is great for turn signals, electrical modules, and other auxiliary lighting; it can be disastrous when installing accent lighting.

First, since all the light strips daisy chain together each light is dependent on the light in sequence before it to receive power. So think of these as the old-school holiday lights – when one goes out, they all go out!

You also cannot cut back or trim any of the wiring on plug and play accent lights. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but what it leaves you with is a LOT of extra wire. In our experience, under your seat can start looking more like a rats nest than a motorcycle.

The Nest

 

Having excess wire under your seat is never a good thing. The installation is not only messy but problematic. When it comes to having your bike serviced this extra wire is in the way for mechanics and technicians to do their job. Something as simple as replacing your battery is going to take much longer and the likelihood of  your accent lights getting broken or damaged in the process is considerably high.

 

 

With an install like this, should you experience LED failure or have trouble getting the lights to operate properly troubleshooting is nearly impossible. While the “Plug and Play” installation sounds great, you have to keep in mind that each connector can also be a possible failure point in your lighting system. The excess wire under the seat leaves you with a tangled mess to sort through before identifying the culprit.

Tech Approved

Avoid a rats nest under your own seat by making smart choices when purchasing and installing your own accent lights. Custom Dynamics® accent lighting strips come with 48″ color coded wire leads. Once the lighting has been placed on the bike, secure and route all wires to underneath the seat. Leave about six inches for a service lead and cut back excess wire.

 

 

Custom Dynamics® technicians also recommend using Cage Clamp® Connectors for a quick and easy way to wire your lights! Each Cage Clamp® acts as a weatherproof terminal block with levers that allow you to secure all wiring. These allow for future serviceability should you decide to add more lights or require any troubleshooting.

 

 

After you have the lights all wired up the service lead can be tucked away leaving complete access to stock harness connectors, ECM, and the battery. This leaves your wiring clean and manageable. Installations can be customized to a particular bike, without extra wire everywhere.

 

 

Installing Accent Lights on a full bike can take between 1-2 hours (depending on the product and installer). We’ve put together a helpful Installation Video to walk you through the placement and wiring of Custom Dynamics® MagicFLEX2® single-color accent lights.

Take it from the professionals, Plug and Play Accent Lighting isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Save yourself a headache and do it right the first time!

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