How to put neon lights on a motorcycle

Written by troy lambert
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How to put neon lights on a motorcycle
Neon light tubes are similar to those used on motorcycles. (neon glow image by Laura Lupton from Fotolia.com)

Enhancing the appearance of a motorcycle with neon lights creates a bold custom appearance. It increases the motorcycle's show quality and value. Installing the lights can be challenging, but it can be accomplished following a few simple steps. Carefully consider where you want to place the neon to avoid breakage and overheating. You can place lights under the tank and above the motor, mounted on the frame or fork tubes, or underneath the motor. Neon lights come in tubes of varying lengths and sizes to meet a variety of needs.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Neon lights
  • Drill
  • Mounting hardware
  • Wiring
  • Switch
  • Electric terminal crimper
  • Wire cutter
  • Wire stripper
  • Electrical tape
  • Zip ties

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Select the location where you want to mount the neon. Do this before you buy, as this will determine the length and quality of the neon you will need. Mounting neon under the tank and above the motor requires heat-resistant neon, but the neon does not need to be as well shielded from breakage. Neon mounted under the motorcycle does not need to be as heat resistant but does need to be shielded from breakage due to road debris. Allow a couple of inches on either end of the neon for mounting hardware and wiring connections.

  2. 2

    Evaluate the electrical system of your motorcycle and be sure that the charging system will handle the needs of the extra lighting. If you have added other extra lighting, make sure that you are still within the rating capacity of your charging system. If not, check with your local shop about an upgrade to a higher amp system before installing the lights.

  3. 3

    Purchase the neon for your project. The most economical way to purchase the lights is in a kit, available from online retailers (see Resources) or your local auto or motorcycle supplies store. Kits include mounting hardware, necessary wiring and a switch. Determine where you want to mount the switch. There are many options, from handlebar-mounted switches to those mounted in side covers or clamped to the frame. Ensure that the kit also includes a fuse or circuit breaker.

  1. 1

    Install the neon in the selected location. If no template is included with the kit, and drilling is required, make your own using a piece of construction paper to mark the placement of the holes. Drill carefully, using the recommended size bit. If unsure, drill a smaller hole that can be enlarged later. If using clamps, carefully place clamps where they will not interfere with moving parts, and install loosely at first. Only tighten them when you are sure the neon is where you want it. Use rags or pads to protect chrome or painted surfaces while drilling or clamping to avoid damaging them. If installing neon under the bike, also install shields to protect tubes from road debris. Shields are often included with kits.

  2. 2

    Install the switch and wiring. Use the crimping and stripping tool to create wiring only as long as you need. If a wiring harness comes with the neon, follow the instructions carefully. Use insulated connections whenever possible, and use electrical tape to cover all exposed terminals. Use zip ties to keep wire inconspicuous and away from moving parts and heat sources. Ensure that any fuses are installed correctly to prevent damage to the lights and/or your electrical system.

  3. 3

    Test lights and ensure that they work properly. Check mounting to make sure lights are secure and do not vibrate loose while the bike is running. Ensure headlights and other lights do not dim when neon is turned on. This could mean that the charging system is overloaded, or that there is a short in the new wiring. Ensure all wiring is secure and that the switch operates properly.

Tips and warnings

  • Avoid connecting neon lights directly to the battery without a fuse in the system. This can cause the tubes to blow, which is very costly. Always use caution when dealing with electrical systems.
  • Most neon is labelled for show use only. Check local and state laws before driving with neon illuminated, as it may be regulated where you live. Wear safety glasses when dealing with neon lights. Should the lights accidentally shatter, serious damage to the eyes can occur. Wear gloves when possible. This keeps the oil from your fingers off of bulbs, and shields your hands in case of breakage.

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