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qwerty123
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Lighting upgrade: my experience
07/24/17 at 01:21:54
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Since I've done a near-total lighting revamp, I thought I'd share my reasoning and process in case it's helpful to others.

My goals were twofold: increase safety and decrease energy usage (I'm on the stock charging system).

To that end, I've made some changes; moving from front of the bike to back:
1) The bike came with a 100/80 watt halogen H4 bulb, I put that back to 60/55 (allegedly high output) due to concerns for the wiring harness. After seeing many deer at night on my cross-country ride, and the 100/80 having been in there with no problems for some time, I'm considering putting it back. I did consider an LED H4 upgrade, but the ones that appear to conform to the H4 beam pattern (e.g. these) are still really expensive. I also run a headlight modulator (sidebar: I really like these), but the only modulator that works with LEDs that I could find is from Kisan and that would be an additional $115 or so on top of the $200+ for a good LED H4 upgrade. Maybe some time in the future.

2) Fit 1157 (dual-filament) sockets to front turn signals and insert bright LED 1157 bulbs (these in amber). When wired to the power for the headlight as well as to the usual turn signal wires, I now have front amber running lights. However, with this setup the running lights don't go off when the turn signal goes on, which would be ideal. I think I can implement that with a couple relays, but I haven't gotten around to it.

3) Install some LED auxiliary "driving" lights (why are they called "driving" lights? Aren't all the lights on the bike for driving?) on the cylinder protection bars. These aren't too bright, and are more for being seen than seeing--the thought is they'll create a triangle of lights visible from afar. The moving triangle of lights lets the human brain model speed and direction much more accurately, so other drivers (at night) will be more able to judge where you are and guess where you'll be. Since they're wired directly to the battery, they can be on when the bike is off--very useful for setting up camp as the sun is going down  Grin

I'm considering plunking down a few more dollars to get some considerably brighter ones, perhaps a spot for the left side and a flood for the right, given my recent deer encounters  Shocked

4) Amidships I installed a small prototype auxiliary dash made of aluminum that holds the switch for the aux lights, a volt meter (wired to the stock volt meter connector behind the instruments), and a DPST switch that connects up both turn signal circuits at the same time, for hazard lights. It's bolted to the bike via the handlebar clamp. This could be improved by rigging up something to allow the hazards to remain on even if the bike is off (I think Motobins has a kit that works the same way the stock BMW kit did).

5) At the rear I've installed the Custom Dynamics "Universal Smart Triple Play" box o' magic, which allows you to use stock 1156 rear turn signal lights as running lights, turn signals, and brake lights--provided you run red lenses, which are currently available via ebay for a modest cost. The thing has a bunch of settings, but I've got mine set to use the turn signals as solid brake lights, and to do very quick set of flashes (more like a flicker almost), then solid for some three seconds, then repeat in the center brake light. The idea here is to provide some visual stimulation for those coming up on you as you're stopped at a light last in line.

Center brake light for me is the Motorrad Elektrik LED unit "Beacon 2", turn signals have Superbrightleds 1156 units as above, but in red. The Motorrad Elektrik unit has a hidden advantage in that it frees up a lot of space in the taillight housing--space I used to mount the Smart Triple Play thinger. I mounted this and the headlight modulator the same way: clean the surfaces, put a big glob of hot melt adhesive on both the curved surface of the inside of the housing and on an appropriately sized piece of flat, thin plastic or metal, glue the flat piece to the inside of the housing so now you have a flat surface to mount to in there, then use 3M Dual Lock or Velcro or something to stick the magic boxes on.

Presto: more visibility, less current draw. Hope someone finds this helpful.

Matt

P.S.: I'm realizing now I don't have any good pictures of the dash (or anything else). If anyone's interested let me know and I'll try to snap some.

  

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Justin B.
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Re: Lighting upgrade: my experience
Reply #1 - 07/24/17 at 16:29:40
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It would have been illuminating (pun intended) to have before and after current readings...

I experimented with HID in my '95 R100RT and was very surprised at the result.
  

Justin B.

2004 BMW R1150RT
1981 R100RT - Summer bike, NEKKID!!!
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qwerty123
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I Love YaBB 2!

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Re: Lighting upgrade: my experience
Reply #2 - 07/24/17 at 18:29:24
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Indeed, it would've been! I didn't think of it, but if we wanted to get some idea we could test a stock system and I can provide readings from my bike. Could do via voltage drop to stock plug, I guess?
  
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