Mounting Stebel Magnum Horns on the Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS
by Rick and "Burn" for webBikeWorld.com
Most motorcycles come with a ridiculously lame kid's toy sounding horn and the new Suzuki V-Strom 1000 ABS is no different.
The big V-Strom was fitted with a single disk type horn with that familiar "meeeep" sound that gets nothing but laughs on the road.
I wanted to put a note of authority in the big bike's lungs that would demand respect if and when the time arrived to wake up some texting driver.
We have published plenty of motorcycle horn reviews on webBikeWorld and there's not much new to report in this arena.
Unfortunately, after much finagling, I couldn't get the big Nautilus to fit under the V-Strom's "beak", so it was time for...Plan B.
I still had the high/low tone pair of Stebel Magnum trumpet horns available in their original packaging, used for another previous webBikeWorld review and it looked like they would fit the V-Strom.
The Stebel Magnum horns were reviewed on webBikeWorld back in 2008 and, believe it or not, I still had that pair in the original packaging, just waiting for their moment to arrive. At the time of the review, our conclusion was "With a sound tone that is similar to the Fiamm Freeway Blasters, the Stebel Magnum horns have slightly less volume but also offer an authoritative tone."
The Stebel Magnum horns are still readily available. It's classified by Stebel as an automotive and motorcycle electromagnetic horn and it's available as either a high or low tone or as a pair. Stebel says that the Magnum as the "high power" version of the Stebel TM80 series automotive horn and they also say that the Magnum is suitable for motorcycle use.
Apparently Stebel no longer lists the decibel ratings for their horns, which is probably a good thing, because the dB ratings for horns are pretty much rubbish. We took a bunch of dB horn readings back in 2008 and the results from several popular motorcycle horns are included in the webBikeWorld Motorcycle Horn Comparison Review.
In that 2008 review, we wrote that the Stebel Magnum horns have a slightly higher pitch than the Fiamm Freeway Blasters. The high/low pair of Stebel Magnum horns have claimed 500 Hz and 410 Hz frequencies, compared to the Freeway Blaster horns at 485 Hz and 405 Hz.
The factory also claimed 115 dB for the Stebel Magnum horns at that time, but we measured only 81.9 dB at 2 feet away, a difference of -33.1 dB. This is more of a reflection of the inflated dB claims used by the horn manufacturers than it is on the horns, just as an example.
In all other respects, the Stebel Magnum horns are pretty much standard "trumpet" style automotive/motorcycle horns and they are very similar in appearance and function to the Fiamm Freeway Blaster horns (review). The Freeway Blaster horns could easily be used for an alternative installation, following the same guidelines as below.
The Stebel Magnum horns are available in the Motorcycle Horns section of the webBikeWorld Amazon.com store for about $38.00 the pair.
You'll also need a dual horn wiring harness. I have a V-Strom owner's manual on order so I don't currently have a wiring diagram and can't tell if the horn is on a relay or not (I doubt it), so a wiring harness is the way to go; the dual horns need their own relay and a direct connection to the battery ensures they'll have all the juice they need when you touch them off.
You can fabricate your own wiring harness with relay, but I don't have the time or motivation. Horn wiring harnesses used to be fairly readily available but they're a bit more difficult to find lately. I bought a dual horn wiring harness (here) at Cycle Terminal for $39.99. It's a very nicely made, heavy-duty kit, complete with relay, fuses and cable ties.
I spent a couple of hours trying to fabricate some type of bracket that would hold the big Stebel Nautilus horn under the beak of the V-Strom. I wanted the horn installation to look as "clean" as possible; I realize some owners mount the Nautilus on the crash bars on the side of the bike, but I didn't want to do it that way.
With more time -- and patience -- I might be able to figure something out, but I just couldn't get the Nautilus to fit without interfering with the forks as the front wheel is turned.
Fitting the Stebel Magnum horns, however, was easy. I had a piece of perforated steel strapping that I've used for other motorcycle projects, so I cut a section of that (see photo below) and attached the two Magnum horns using their built-in screws. I then used the center bolt that holds the stock horn under the beak to fix the center of my new bracket on the bike.
Be careful to mount the horns so they don't interfere with the forks when the wheel is turned and also mount the trumpet so that water will drain correctly.
Next, I followed the instructions in the V-Strom owner's manual to raise the fuel tank so I could run the horn wiring harness back to the battery. Cycle Terminal sells three different lengths (30", 44" and 60"). I bought the shorter length and it worked, but the 44" probably would have been better. They will also make custom lengths and the horn leads and/or switch leads can be different.
All you need is the four horn leads running up front to the horns. Two wires connect to the each of the horn terminals (two on each horn for a total of four) and two wires connect to the existing wiring that runs from the Suzuki's wiring harness to the stock horn. Those wires intercept the horn signal when the horn button is pressed and send it back through the relay and then to the new horns.
Connect the power to a switched lead on the bike and connect the ground and you're ready to go. I had installed an Eastern Beaver "3 Circuit Solution" on the V-Strom; it helps avoid multiple connections on the battery terminals. Connect it to the battery and it has its own relay and fuse and then 3 different circuits that are used to connect accessories to its wiring, rather than to the battery itself.
Here's an .mp3 sound file (1:21) comparing the stock Suzuki horn with each of the single tone Stebel Magnum horns, then with both Stebel Magnum horns mounted in the dual configuration. The recording doesn't correctly illustrate the real "presence" of the horns and in reality, the dual Stebel Magnums have an excellent sound and they're nice and loud using the Suzuki's beak as a reflector.
The stock horn on the V-Strom is a wimp, there's no two ways about it. Fortunately, it's easy enough to replace. You could even remove the stock horn and use a single Stebel Magnum or Freeway Blaster or other horn without a relay and you'd at least have a better and louder sound.
The hardest part about mounting the dual horns on the new V-Strom is raising the fuel tank and the only extra part you'll need (besides the wiring harness) is the perforated bracket material, which can be found at most any hardware store. It's definitely worth the time and effort to make this upgrade.