Cheap DIY CB Radio for a Motorcycle

by Joe Murray

    A professionally installed CB rig for your motorcycle can cost up to a thousand dollars. But if you are handy with tools and just want the basics, you can get away with spending much less. Putting together a motorcycle CB radio set up on a limited budget requires a set of tools found in any do-it-yourselfer’s work room, a few hours of time and a bit of imagination. Decide how much you are willing to spend on your motorcycle CB radio project. Any amount under $70 relegates you to seeking used equipment. For new, in-warranty gear $75 and up is your financial starting point.


    For around $40 you can purchase a Uniden Bearcat PRO505XL CB radio. The unit comes with a microphone and mounting gear designed to attach to a car dashboard or console. You will need to make some modifications to fit it on your bike but it is rated as one of the best basic CBs on the market. For another $20 you can find several CB antennas designed for motorcycles. Check the rear end of your bike to make sure there is a place to attach it before you buy. If you are really looking for a bargain, try your local flea market, but remember there are no guarantees that you will come away with a working unit.


    Most CB mounting brackets are similar to the Bearcat: U-shaped and designed to attach to either side of the radio with two screws. To attach it to your bike find a spot that accommodates the size of the unit (2 inches by 5 inches by 7.5 inches), drill two 1/16-inch holes and use self-tapping screws to secure the bracket to your bike. After mounting the unit to the bracket and attaching the microphone holder, buy a detachable two-conductor plug and socket and splice it into the power cord. Then you can detach the unit: unscrew the two adjustable screws on the side of the radio and unplug the antenna connector and power connection -- all in less than a minute. Connect the radio’s 12-volt power cable to the battery. Use plastic cable ties to secure the antenna wire and the power cable to your bike’s chassis.


    Once you complete the radio installation, plug in the antenna and turn on the CB. Turn the channel indication to 20 and move the antenna around the rear of your motorcycle while watching a Standing Wave Ratio meter indicator. The closest point to a 1:1 ratio meter reading is where you want to mount your antenna. Any reading over 2:1 can permanently damage your CB, so take care where you place it. A SRW meter can be purchased for about 15 to 20 dollars. It is a good investment as you will use it again if you replace or upgrade your antenna, but you might be able to save a few dollars by borrowing one from a friend.


    Consider where you park your motorcycle when you think about the security for your CB. If you leave your cycle in a garage and only use it for weekend trips, you can leave the unit mounted to the chassis. You might consider a canvas cover about 2 feet square with four ties made from old shoelaces to cover the radio when it is parked. Make sure to remove the microphone and stick it in a saddle bag or take it with you when you will be out of sight of your machine. If you park on the street at night, you are better off unhooking the microphone and radio and unscrewing the antenna from its mount and bringing all three inside with you.


    As with any electrically powered device, do not work in or near standing water. If you use a soldering iron to join electrical connections or attach the radio mount, wear eye protection and keep the tip away from eyes and skin. Disconnect your motorcycle battery when installing your CB and connecting the wiring.

    About the Author

    Joe Murray San Francisco, CA, US Joe Murray began writing professionally in 1980. As a technical writer, he authored numerous white papers, journals and articles for publications and websites for Hewlett Packard and Intel. Since retiring, Murray has written several home-exchange travel articles for and CHECtravel, among other outlets. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Santa Clara University. Murray has made more than 50 vacation home exchanges worldwide.

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