Twenty years ago, there wasn't much in the way of electrical stuff to bolt onto your bike. Maybe some hot grips. A sat nav if you were right on the bleeding edge of tech. A charging connector for an early Optimate. That's probably about it though.
Now? You can easily have six or seven things plugged into your battery – a USB connection, Power Commander, quickshifter, hot grips, heated jacket, sat-nav hardwire, maybe some aftermarket LED driving lights, mobile phone connection, intercom, bluetooth, the list goes on. And while you can get away with quite a lot just by using ring connectors onto the battery terminals, it's neither elegant, efficient, or properly safe. A towering pile of wires tapping into the battery positive is a recipe for disaster really – and finding a switched ignition live supply is the devil's own work at times too.
Enter the Rowe Electronics PDM 60. A cunning box of tricks from the USA, that offers a proper solution to these wiring woes. It is, essentially, a waterproof module packed with smart switches, and has full fusing and relay functions built-in. So it connects to your battery, you can attach all your add-on electrical gizmos, and they'll be provided with a safe, protected 12v supply of juice. Best of all, the PDM is actually programmable, via a USB connector, so you can select the characteristics for each output – whether it's always live, whether it stays on for a short period after the ignition turns off, or whether it's on and off immediately when you turn the key.
It has six outputs, and a total draw of 60 amps. There are LED indicators for each circuit, telling you if it's all working, or has tripped the breaker, or there's some other problem. The 'fuse' function is automatic – just turn the ignition off and on to reset the tripped breakers. The unit is also CANBUS compatible, so will work with new bikes and their tricksy witchcraft leccy too.
I've just started looking through all the different options on it, but it looks like a very impressive bit of kit so far (if you're into this sort of thing, which sadly I am). I'll be trying it out on my own personal Burgman 650 I suspect, which already has more shonky bells and whistles bolted on than a James Bond prop vehicle. In the meantime, if you're pulling your hair out about where you're going to connect yet another 12-volt accessory to your creaking electrical infrastructure, give this a look. It's imported into the UK by Nippy Normans (www.nippynormans.com), and while it's not cheap, at £139, it’s much cheaper than an exploded battery, your bike in flames, or a fried wiring harness and fuse box repairs.
More info on the PDM 60 here.