There’s nothing more annoying than your phone running out of juice mid-journey, especially if you’re relying on it for music, important calls or worst of all – directions.
Using a USB charger powered either from your bike’s battery or its own power source is a great way of making sure your phone won’t ever die on you mid-ride, no matter how far from home you are.
It’s a low-cost, low-effort mod you can make to your bike that’s infinitely useful.
So how different can motorcycle USB chargers really be, and what should you be looking out for?
Read on to find out…
Installing a USB charger
If you’re installing one, you’ll want to put it near your phone’s mount.
Depending on your bike and the charger you buy, you’ll usually be able to stick it on the fairing near your instrument clusters, or on the handlebar itself.
For instructions on how to fit the charger see this article on Instructables.
There are usually three types of chargers:
- DIN, which can fit into an existing port on your bike (like a car ‘cigarette lighter’ charger)
- SAE types which require connection to your battery via an SAE lead
- Ones which connect directly to your battery
If you have the latter, after you’ve picked its position it’s a matter of running the wire from your charger, tying the cables to the pathway as neatly as possible and connecting to the battery. Now, when your engine is on your USB ports will be ready to power any devices you may need.
Happily, this is another motorcycle accessory that’s easy and inexpensive to buy and fit yourself – you don’t need to spend more than around £30 at the absolute maximum for something that’s really handy.
What can they be used for?
Most people will probably use their USB charger to keep a mobile phone running, but they do have other key uses like:
- Sat Nav/dedicated GPS devices
- A dedicated music player
- To power a handlebar-mounted camera
- Running lights mounted on a windscreen
Best Motorcycle USB Chargers Reviewed
These are our top six chargers to suit every rider.
Ultimateaddons Dual USB Charger
Perfect if you need to charge more than one device, Ultimateaddon’s effort is robust and unobtrusive, and will look the part on almost any bike. Attaches via cigarette lighter (DIN).
- Excellent rain seal
- Super easy to install
- Somewhat bulky
Interphone 12V 2 USB Moto Adapter
If your bike doesn’t have a DIN adapter, this will do a very similar job. Note, it costs more, but works just as well.
- Comes with a properly weatherproof cover
- Easy to install
- Will only fit bikes with round bars – unless you Velcro it on
- Comes with arguably too much wire which you’ll have to stow
OXFORD 5V Motorcycle Dual Socket
Another straightforward charger which will get the job done with minimum fuss, and also has a really good waterproof cover to protect you from showers.
- Good waterproofing
- Two USB ports
- Easy to mount on panels or handlebars
- Cables could be longer
- Always-on LED can drain battery unless you connect an inline switch
TecMate OptiMate Dual USB Charger
It’s chunky and not stylish, but the fast-charge will get your gadgets singing in no time at all, and is an easy-install if your bike has a DIN socket.
- 3300mA fast charge means even the biggest batteries can get back to life as fast as possible
- Has an auto-off feature that shuts down automatically after three hours, if you forget to switch it off after leaving the bike.
- It’s a fairly ugly block, so may not be great if aesthetics are important
- The two USB ports are at 90 degree angles to each other, which looks odd
MICTUNING 5V Waterproof USB Port with Inline Fuse
A more streamlined option that will get power to your bike with minimal fuss, with two different connection options.
- Very cheap
- Has a complete waterproofing system
- Has a flimsy feel
- Might not last more than a season of hard weather
- Only one socket
Motorcycle Electric 5V USB Charger with Switch
Some chargers can drain your battery while you’re not using them – that won’t be a problem with this, which has a handy switch to stop over-charging your devices.
- Switch so you know if it’s powered or not
- Indicator light tells you if it’s on
- Included cable is a little on the short side
- Only one USB port
BlueFire Motorcycle Cigarette Lighter Socket
Now this really does do it all – it has USB outputs, a cigarette lighter, a voltmeter, lights, AND an on/off switch.
- Has all the functions you could ever want
- Really thought-through waterproofing system
- Because of all the functionality, it’s massive and not very sleek
- Handlebar fixing bracket isn’t universal
Recommended Reading: Motorcycle Gear Hub