How to Use Spiral Winding to Organize Your Wiring
Are you bothered by cluttered cables in front of the handlebars? Sometimes a rat’s nest of wiring can de-sexy an otherwise beautiful electric bicycle. Let’s look at how a cheap and easy solution can go a long way to cleaning up your bike's appearance.
Spiral wire wrap is, as you might have guessed by the name, a plastic spiral that you use to wrap around wires. It’s used in all sorts of electronics where many wires can start to get tangled and turn into an ugly mess. This normally means computer networks, communication lines and other equipment with cumbersome amounts of wire, but the same spiral wire wrap works equally well on your ebike.
The biggest offender of nasty wiring on an electric bicycle is usually up in front of the handlebars. This is where you’ve probably already got two brake cables and one or two shifter cables. Add to the mix all the wires going to things like throttles, displays, headlights, horns, switches, USB chargers, etc and you can easily have a half dozen or more wires snaking around.
Sure, you could slap a few cable ties on the wires to hold them together, but this has a couple of disadvantages. First of all, cable ties add a lot of stress to wires both by squeezing them in their insulation and by limiting their range of movement. Turning the handlebars while the wires are squeezed tightly to each other and the frame puts undue stress on them. Secondly, a wiring harness covered in cable ties just screams “amateur”.
The solution? Spiral wire wrap.
By wrapping your wires in spiral wire wrap you not only bring your wires together in one package for a nice sleek look but you also allow for a little bit of freedom of movement as well. The individual wires aren’t fixed to each other so they are free to move slightly within the spiral wire wrap and relieve tension.
Depending on the ebike and the circumstances, I often end up using a combination of cable ties and spiral wire wrap. I start by spiral wrapping everything first to ensure my cables are the correct length and everything has enough freedom to move.
Then I lightly connect the spiral-wrapped wire bundles to the frame with cable ties to keep everything tucked up neatly and out of the way.
Unfortunately, spiral wire wrap can be pretty annoying to use, especially when you are working with a long piece. Each turn of the wrap requires you to pull the entire length of the unused wrap around the wires, which can get pretty tiring. One shortcut is to spin the wire wrap onto the wires, which usually works for the first six to twelve inches, depending on how many wires you’re wrapping. In the end though, this is a tedious process but well worth the results.
Spiral wire wrap also comes in pretty much any color which lets you match it to your bike. Heck, you can even find glow-in-the-dark spiral wire wrap! Personally, though, I find the colored varieties can be a bit too showy for me. I almost always stick to plain black wire wrap. It blends in nicely with the black cables and wires and gives the most professional look possible.
You can get a spiral wrap from a number of places. I usually get 8mm spiral wrap from Amazon, where you can pick up a 33 ft roll for less than $10. That’s enough to do a handful of bikes!
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