The Five Dollar (or less) Motorcycle Jumper Cable

Maybe it will never happen to you but maybe it will happen to a friend or just someone you see looking helpless in a parking lot. The riders motorcycle battery has gone dead.

If you have five dollars (or less) and a little bit of space in your saddlebag it wouldn't hurt to carry a simple jumper cable like this one. Major tip: Do NOT try to start someone's car using this cable and your motorcycle battery (no matter how pretty she is). You will fry these cables and it won't do your bike battery any good either.

What You'll Need

  • 6 to 7 Feet of 14 gauge Low Voltage Lighting Cable @ 30 cents/foot at Home Depot (get it off the spool rather than buying a big 25 foot bundle). You can also cannibalize a standard 16 gauge extension cord that's probably sitting in a junk drawer at home but when it comes to jumper cables bigger tends to be better and the low voltage wire is very flexible. If you're lucky you'll have a few feet left over from that low voltage lighting project in your yard (or maybe a neighbor will have some) and you'll save a couple of dollars.
  • 2 sets of battery charger or general purpose replacement clamps ($1.32 per set at Wal-Mart usually found on the battery display or any automotive store) see the photo above.
  • 6 inches of 1/2" shrink tubing (suggested but not required)
  • Soldering iron or (better) small gas torch
  • A multimeter or test light



  1. Pull the wires apart on both ends back about 6 inches then strip the ends of your (4) wires back 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch.
  2. If you have some 1/2" shrink tubing slip it over both ends and shrink it just behind where your wire split ends. This will help prevent the wires from pulling apart even further when one of the clamps gets hung up on something.
  3. Slip all of the black and red plastic off of the clamp handles.
  4. Slide either a red or a black plastic tube over one of your wire ends then insert the wire into one of the clamp handles and crimp the end of the handle over the 'insulated' portion of the wire. The insulation is stronger than the wire alone and will put up with more flexing.
  5. Do the same with the other wire (same end of the cable) but the opposite color.
  6. Connect your test light or multimeter (in continuity position) to one of your already in position clamps and test to find the same wire on the other end of the cable. Slip the appropriate (matching) color plastic sleeve over the tested wire and install your clamp. Install the other clamp.
  7. Time to solder your connections. There's no real need to be neat here but get yourself a good solid connection between wire and clamp. Remember "heat the material, not the solder". Do all four, let cool and slip the plastic sleeves over all the clamp handles.
  8. Do one more test for continuity just to be certain you didn't mess up (hey, better now than in the field when somebody might notice the big spark right?)

You're done! Coil up your new tool and keep it coiled with a single zip tie. You can snip the tie off if you need to use the cables but until then it'll keep everything nice and tidy in your kit.

Note: If you want to get fancy (and invest another ten bucks or so) cut your new cable a foot or so behind the clamps at one end. On the long end install a 'male' cigarette lighter power plug. On the short side install a 'female' cigarette lighter socket. Now you have a double duty jumper cable that can be connected to a motorcycle battery with the clamps then plugged into a cars cigarette lighter rather than bothering under the hood if you're jumping the bike from the car. Plug the lighter plug/socket together to have a cable with clamps on both ends for bike to bike connection.


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