Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fiamm Freeway Blaster Horn Installation & Review

Alternate Title: Torch’s First V-Star Mod/Upgrade

Before I started using my ’03 Yamaha V-Star 1100, I wanted to give her a good "T-CLOCS" inspection. I learned about the "T-Clocks" pre-ride checklist when I took the Motorcycle Safety Foundations Basic Riders Course. You can download your own "T-CLOCS" checklist to print and use here.

"T-CLOCS" Stands for:

T-Tires & Wheels

While performing this inspection I noticed what I feel is a shocking omission on the MSF’s pre-ride inspection list. I could not find the horn listed anywhere. I even used the PDF file document search and it came up empty, so I knew it was not just my oversight. If you use their list I suggest adding, "Horn if equipped," under the lighting or control section.

So, I performed my "T-CLOCS" pre-ride inspection and hit the horn button. Mistress, (my nickname for the motorcycle,) let out a soft, timid "meep" sound. I laughed out loud. Then I remembered a real humorous thread on the V-Star 1100 Riders Forum about the 1100’s apathetic Original Equipment Model horn. Someone on the forum actually coined the sound that the OEM horn makes on a V-Star as "meep". I did not think much more about it at the time.

After commuting to work for a couple of weeks in stop and go D/FW traffic, I had to opportunity to use the horn. It was the classic cage changing into my lane without looking. For those who do not know, a cage was a vehicle driving on four or more wheels. I hit the horn button on this big, bad, Yamaha, V-Star, 1100cc monster of a bike I was riding and it responded with the anemic "meep" sound. I’m not sure the sound was even audible over all the traffic noise. I could sense the other drivers around me laughing. I knew then it was time to change out the OEM horn. It had, in fact, become the first thing that I wanted to change on the bike.

Not long after that I found myself in the local Pep Boys Auto store looking at replacement horns. I saw the Fiamm Freeway Blasters and grabbed a Low Note Horn. I figured the low note would give a larger sound, which was definitely what I wanted. I got home and read the simplistic directions. I also referenced the V-Star 1100 Riders Knowledge Base in the Horn section. It appeared that it was pretty much plug-n-play. Always remember, appearances can be deceiving. Your mileage may very, as they say.

I went to the garage and started the install. The first thing was to remove the pathetic OEM horn. It had only one bolt attaching it to the upper frame between the down tubes. Once unbolted, I pulled the electrical connector off the OEM horn and it was now off the bike. That part was easy enough.

I then compared the two horns. There were a couple differences. One was that the Fiamm Freeway Blaster wiring connectors were a lot farther apart than the OEM horn connector. I thought about this dilemma and decided I could do one of two things. I could cut the OEM plastic connector in half down the middle, or fabricate a jumper harness using spade lugs and wire. I reached for my favorite knife clipped in my left front pocket and carefully cut the wiring connector in two. My favorite knife was a Kershaw Leek Speed-Safe Assisted Opening Knife my wife had given to me for Christmas. I figured it would be less obtrusive than reaching into my right front pocket and pulling out my Kel-Tec P3AT .380 and just blasting the connector.

The second difference is that the Freeway Blaster horn is larger that the OEM horn. I held the Fiamm supplied bracket up to the bike mounting spot and noted that it was too short. Then I noticed the bracket on the OEM still attached to it. So, I removed the OEM bracket from the OEM horn and held it up with the Fiamm Horn to the V-Star. The bracket went the wrong way and the horn would not fit properly. I scratched my head, flipped the OEM bracket upside down and held the Fiamm horn back up to the bike. It looked like it would work.

I attached the OEM horn bracket upside down on the Freeway Blaster. Then I attached it to the bike, bending the bracket slightly to position it correctly. I hooked up the electrical connectors I previously had set free to the new horn. I turned the key on and hit the horn button. Now it sounded like a real horn with a much deeper sound. It was not supper loud, but was definitely louder than the OEM. You can hear a sound clip at the Fiamm website here.

I noticed that the Fiamm horn protrudes out farther than the OEM. I had read of people installing horns on motorcycles and not allowing for the fender travel. This would lead to the fender hitting the horn and damaging the paint or fender. So, as a precaution, I made one more modification to the Freeway Blaster. I took a hacksaw to the front plastic portion of the horn that sticks out and lopped it off. Now I was done.

As far as a review the Fiamm Freeway Blaster Low Note Horn works as advertised. I’ve had it on for a year now and works when called upon. Eventually I want to also install an air horn on my Mistress. Torch gives the Fiamm Freeway Blaster a MMM rating of 8 on a scale of 1-10.

Ride on,
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