CDI Unit Introduction
This is the ultimate guide to the modern motorcycle CDI unit. We’ve included a whole host of learning material and educational data, to help get to grips with these apparently plug and play devices.
Thinking of sourcing a new motorcycle CDI unit? Start with the basics. Skip out the waffle. And find out all that you need to know before making your next purchase.
Explanations everyone can understand. Layered into what you need to know. Before building on complexity until you’ve had enough and beyond.
We’ve even stripped down the motorcycle CDI unit to its basic engineering principles. Wrapping up each principle into an everyday system that does exactly what a motorcycle CDI unit needs to do.
Storing power from the engine, ready to generate a spark.
Motorcycle CDI Unit Technical Data
Select a tab below to view detailed, technical data about motorcycle CDI units. If you think we’re missing something get in touch and we can publish it here for everyone to see.
Motorcycle CDI Units Simplified
Most motorcycle CDI units are plug & play devices. But they are not all the same. When sourcing a new regulator rectifier there are two essential things to find out first:
- The number of wires & connector type needed
- The power supply type (AC or DC)
- Desired RPM limit
- Timing advance curve
Motorcycle CDI Wiring Basics
CDI units come in many different formats. The most important thing to remember is that AC input CDI units take their power supply from the engines stator.
Whereas DC input CDI units take their power supply from the motorcycle battery.
CDI Standard Wire Colours
Most OEM’s have adopted subtle variations of Honda’s standard wiring colours from the classic motorcycles of the 1970’s. This is a breakdown of the most commonly used wire colours and what they mean…
Red or Red&Black = AC Power Supply Input
(from the stator to the CDI)
Green = V-
(from the CDI to the engine ground)
Blue or Blue&Yellow or Blue&White = Trigger
(from the pickup coil to the to the CDI)
Yellow = Ignition Coil HV Output
(from the CDI to the ignition coil
Black or Black&White = Kill Switch
(from the CDI to a kill switch)
Of course, not all manufacturers use these same wire colours. Especially in their wiring looms. It is highly advisable to cross reference your bikes wiring manual. Alternatively, talk to your local auto-electrician before starting. However, the majority of aftermarket wired CDI units have adopted these same wire colours.
CDI Standard Pin Layouts
Check out our electrical wiring diagrams for the generic pin layout configuration of each CDI unit connector type.
Some manufacturers may design their own components to their own specifications. Therefore, always check the wiring carefully. It’s always best to trace wires back to their source.
Different Regulator Rectifier Specifications
Although the internal electronics and overall build quality of motorcycle CDI units vary between manufacturers. When sourcing a new CDI unit, it’s important to consider evaluating the following before diving straight in.
Power supply type
A DC CDI unit requires a Direct Current electrical input. This is normally supplied from the motorcycles on board 12 Volt battery.
An AC CDI unit requires an Analog Current electrical input. This is normally supplied from the motorcycles stator coils.
The electronic circuitry of AC and DC input CDI units is very different. DC CDI require many more components, so they are larger in size.
Connecting the wrong supply type to a CDI will cause irreparable damage.
Many motorcycle CDI units have a built in RPM limiter to prevent damage caused by the engine revving to high. It’s important to match this to the motorcycles engine specifications to ensure smooth running and prevent engine damage.
However, there are racing CDI units available on the market that do not have a built in RPM limiter. Use these at your own risk.
Timing advance curve
This is where it gets technical. Timing advance is required in some applications to ensure that the engine runs smooth throughout its rev range.
Our best advice is to check the owner’s manual of the motorcycle engine and reference the ignition specifications.
Getting the dimensions right when buying a new CDI unit will save you whole lot of headache when it comes to installation. Consider these two things:
- The space that’s available
- The type of fitting
- Bolt hole
- Rubber strap
It’s also wise to check the length of cable that’s available on your loom. Just to make sure that it will reach.
Unless you plan on crafting your own electrical connections this can make sourcing a replacement rather problematic.
CDI units are commonly found with one of the following connector types:
6 way 2.8mm connector
3 way and a 4 way 2.8mm connector
(also known as a CG style connector)
2 way and a 4 way 2.3mm connector
(also known as a GY6 style connector)
Most motorcycle connectors have replaceable terminal pins. This means that the pins can be relocated in the connector housing.
So, there’s no need to worry don’t worry about wire positioning in connectors. This can be remedied easily with a sewing needle at home…
- Lightly bend down the latch on the terminal pin to remove it from its connector housing.
- Then, make sure that the latch is still in good condition, before finally clicking it into the location you need.
Motorcycle CDI Diagrams & Schematics
Click on a pane below to find links to our motorcycle regulator rectifier mechanical and electrical diagrams.
CDI unit wiring diagrams
Huge buttons to navigate to Lamberts Bikes motorcycle CDI wiring diagrams. We’ve categorized all our CDI wiring diagrams into AC and DC systems. For more information on the difference between AC and DC supplied systems, check out our CDI unit technical guide “how do CDI units work” (currently under development).
AC CDI Wiring Diagram Links
DC CDI Wiring Diagram Links
CDI unit mechanical drawings
No available content is known to us yet in this category.
Motorcycle CDI unit Guide Links
Tap or click on a button below to navigate to one of our motorbike regulator rectifier and associated parts guides.
Motorcycle CDI Testing
Properly testing a motorcycle CDI requires some technical thinking. Understanding some of the results requires an understanding of some basic engineering principles.
That’s why we’ve created an entire webpage, devoted to giving you the low down on CDI unit testing. Click on the button below to get a thorough understanding of how to test motorcycle CDI units and diagnose faults.
CDI unit Compatibility
Here are a few things to extra points to consider regarding the cross compatibility of motorcycle regulator rectifiers.
AC vs DC
As previously discussed. AC and DC supplied CDI units are not cross compatible. Getting this wrong will damage the CDI and potentially burn the bikes wiring loom.
If in doubt, consult your local auto-electrician.
Old system conversions
It is possible to swap an old points-based ignition system for a modern CDI unit. The key is being able to install a hall sensor in the right place to provide the trigger signal.
It’s not an easy conversion but it has been done, with great success, by a number of bike building experts. You can even buy conversion kits for popular classic bikes.