I want a louder horn

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That little "beep, beep" of the OEM horn, IF heard by anyone, only makes them look around for a clown car. Since you're not in a clown car, and you want people to acknowledge your presence, a better horn is in order.

Aftermarket horn

You can get a LOUD FIAMM horn for about $15 at a regular car-parts store (e.g. O'Reilly, Advance Auto Parts, etc.) Places on eBay have them, as well as JC Whitney, ridesafer.com, and Amazon.

Get the low-tone; The 125 dB AM80 is popular, as is the 132 dB Freeway Blaster. They're way louder, and are a bolt-in replacement for the stock horn. Point the bell of the trumpet down so it doesn't collect water, and cover your ears before you test it in an enclosed space. Even with it pointing down, it is loud and can be heard by cars and other motorcycles easily.

If you look at the catalog you might be overwhelmed by the amount of choices FIAMM offers. So don't look at the catalog. It's generally the same product in different packaging to meet the needs of the retailer. Here are your criteria:

  • Is it a 12 volt horn? The vast majority that you can just go and pick out will be, since most cars were switched over from 6v around 1955. "12v" may or may not be indicated on the package, but the AM80S horn (#72012) has this stamped by the terminals. Look.
  • Size/ability to mount on your bike. This is determined by your ability to make it fit where you want it to. The stock location will work most of the time. Hold it up to the spot that you are planning to mount it and see what happens.
  • Does it actually function? Is it loud enough to hear, and do you like the sound?
  • Avoid the FIAMM piezoelectric horn (looks like the stock one, or a small speaker). They're smaller, and look like they'd fit better, but they're not as loud. Get one of the trumpet (snail shell)-shaped ones instead.

The low-tone horn is still relatively high-toned. It cuts through noise quite well. The difference is that when people hear a deep horn, they get more of that instinctive "Oh crap, what's going to smoosh me?" feeling. You want them to have the feeling that they're impinging on your space. It seems to produce a more pronounced effect than the high-tone horn. When you hear that low-tone horn, you look around for the big Cadillac that's about to turn your car into junkyard art.

It's a direct replacement. No relay is necessary, but it is recommended (see below). It includes a bracket for mounting. You can either remove the nut holding the horn to the bracket and retain the stock bracket, or remove the one bolt holding the bracket to the bike and use the new bracket instead. Just try and see; the brackets are very similar. Installation time is estimated at "120 seconds".

Notes on the horn

  • The horn on the EX250 is "always hot" (meaning it always has 12V supplied). The horn button actually grounds it, completing the circuit and making the horn sound.
  • The EX250 frame is grounded. So, if the horn body is connected to its terminals, you need to isolate the horn body. This is one reason why the stock horn is mounted on a rubber insulator. With the stock wiring and horn, the rubber insulator is absolutely necessary. Otherwise, the frame would complete the circuit to the horn body, rather than the horn switch. Replacement horns will usually work without the rubber insulator, usually because their voice coils are isolated from their bodies another way.
  • In the event of a fault in the wiring, the horn is most likely to fail ON, not OFF. This is most likely a safety feature.

The top picture shows the stock horn on a naked bike. The bottom picture shows the new horn installed on a bike with a fairing.

FIAMM Horn.jpg

Installation

The installation is very straightforward:

Remove the OEM horn by removing the two power connectors from the horn, then removing the nut at the top of the horn bracket.

IMG 1889.jpg IMG 1888.jpg

OEM horn removed:

5x7syns.jpg

Here's a picture of the top of the replacement horn, a Fiamm Freeway Blaster, and one of the underside:

Horn1890.jpg IMG 1891.jpg

To install the new horn, start off by loose fitting it, with the wiring reattached, so you can figure out the best angle. Make sure that the mouth of the horn is pointing downwards, so as not to collect water, and that the existing wiring is not stretched. Most aftermarket horns will say something to the effect that they are "polarity-free", meaning that it doesn't matter which of the two horn wires you hook to which terminal. Check the instructions for your particular model.

Secure the bolt to the bracket, then tighten the bracket to the bike.

Here's how it looks after installation:

IMG 1895.jpg IMG 1899.jpg

Before & after sound links

FIAMM Freeway Blaster 1

FIAMM Freeway Blaster 2

Using a relay to power your horn

To provide the most power, and thus get the most noise, you can wire a relay to power your horn. This isn't necessary, but it is a good idea. The OEM harness runs the horn power through a mile of wiring and a dozen different connections until it gets to the horn switch. There are lots of places for voltage drop. With a relay, you use the OEM wiring to power the relay and then put in new wiring for the horn. The relay uses a small amount of power (the original switch circuit) to turn on and off a bigger amount of power (the new heavier wire) to the horn. This is true for bigger headlights or any other higher-current-draw accessories you want to add to your motorcycle.

Stuff you'll need

All the components for this project are available at Wal-Mart/Radio Shack/Autozone-ish stores. Take the fuse out of the holder and don't connect anything to the battery until everything is in place.

  • A 30 amp, four-pin relay. Numbers on the relay pins should be 30, 85, 86, and 87. Bosch, Omron, and Hella are all good quality.
Relay posts.jpg
  • An inline fuse holder and 10 amp fuse.
Fuse holder-3.jpg
  • Several feet of flexible stranded copper wire. 14 gauge is generally recommended. Positive/hot/+ is usually red. Use a different color for ground (negative). Always use stranded wire in auto/moto applications. Pictures show stranded (left) and solid (right) wire.
Stranded wire.JPG Solid wire 2.JPG
  • Crimp connectors
Crimp connectors.jpg
Heat shrink tubing.jpg Heat shrink.jpg
Or the kind of connectors that already have heat shrink on them.
Heat shrink crimp.jpg

Directions

First, study the schematic. This may be all the directions some people need.

15x18-fileicon-pdf.pngAftermarket Horn Schematic Info_circle.gif

Next, wire up the relay. Do this before you install it, so you don't have to take stuff apart if it doesn't work.

  • The main power comes from the battery, through the new in-line fuse holder, to the #30 pin on the relay. Obviously, the fuse holder wire isn't long enough to reach, so crimp in a longer wire. Always keep the unfused portion of a wire as short as possible, so try to hook the fuse holder directly to the battery, then run the longer wire to the relay (after the fuse).
  • The original Black/White horn wire gets connected to relay post #86.
  • The other original horn wire (Brown/White) connects to terminal #85.
  • Run a new wire from pin #87 to one terminal on the new horn. This is the new power wire. Most aftermarket horns will say something to the effect that they are "polarity-free", meaning that it doesn't matter which terminal you use for power or ground. Check the instructions for your particular model.
  • Run a wire from the other terminal on the new horn to an established ground or back to the negative battery terminal.
  • You will need female connectors on the ends of the wires that go to the horn, but you've probably figured that out by now.
  • You can mount the relay to the bracket above the horn (or anywhere else it will fit) with double-sided foam tape.

How this works

The pair 85-86 are the trigger. When a circuit is made through this pair, via the horn switch, a switch on the pair 30-87 is toggled from open to closed. When this switch is closed, 30-87 are connected; this connects the battery to the new horn, and we get sound.

Using a Stebel air horn

This is not a complete how-to; rather, an informal guide, with diagrams, and pictures and comments from the owners.

There is a wiring kit available, if you want to go that route, but you should be OK without it. The hardest part is going to be finding a place to mount it.

Classic model

Diagram: File:Stebel Horn Schematic.pdf

The Stebel Nautilus Compact is a 12VDC electro-pneumatic horn drawing 18amps. Finding an area to install the horn on the Ninja 250 is somewhat problematic. For this installation, I chose the area alongside the left-hand cylinder, underneath the cowling, as this allows the horn to be mounted out of sight, remain reasonably well protected from the weather, and allow the blast of sound to escape with minimal interference. I designed a simple bracket that attaches to the left-hand ignition coil mounting bolts. Here are some photos of the bracket and Stebel installed on the Ninja 250.

File:Stebel Bracket Layout.pdf

Stebel Install 011.jpg Stebel Install 014.jpg Stebel Install 008.jpg

Electric power is supplied via a new circuit from the battery, with a 20amp fuse and 12VDC relay. the relay coil is triggered by the original horn switch and wiring harness. This is the same as for the replacement horns described above.

668263.jpg Stebel Install 004.jpg

Stebel Install 006-2.jpg 667988.jpg


J model

Bring on the Noise... 139dB worth please.

I installed the Stebel Nautilus Compact on the '08 250. I left the stock horn wired in place, and you can just blip the horn button and get the standard "meep, meep". Handy for beeping at pedestrians without giving them a heart attack. But if you lay on the button, the air compressor spools up and the full force of the horn comes out.

I decided the best mounting location was on the right side, hanging off the lower radiator mount.

Horn 1.jpg

This is from the top. You can see the L bracket I used. It came with another horn kit sometime in the past. You can make or find one yourself.

Horn 2.jpg

In the interest of running as little wiring as possible, I mounted the relay directly above the new horn, using a factory threaded, but unused, mounting point. I pulled the leads for the stock horn through the center hole and to the relay. Power runs along the factory wiring harness and directly to the battery (for now). I'm going to put in a fused aux. harness. Power and negative leads for both horns share connectors. You can see the ground in the picture.

Horn 3.jpg

Showing wires to the stock horn.

Horn 4.jpg

And again, new wires to stock horn.

Horn 5.jpg

Overview of the area... relay up top, horn down below. Wiring is loose, but tucked behind the right side coil.

Horn 6.jpg

Google video... Forgive the bad radio station in the background. We only have 2; country and one hit wonders