Let There Be Light

A burn out light bulb made me think about the lights on my KLR. There are two main points when lights and the electric system coming into the subject.

Saving energy for other devices and see and be seen better.

Practically the electric system of every vehicle consist of three main parts.

  1. A generator
  2. A storage device (battery)
  3. A control system to provide consistent voltage for the system

To minimise the use of electricity is a generally good idea. Lights and gadgets can run longer when the engine is not running and more gadget can be powered. I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of replacing the headlights with LED bars or such to save energy yet. Fortunately the KLR charging system is providing plenty of power in the stock setup.

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I first changed the headlights. The daytime/running light has been replaced with a Narva Plus 50 Longer Life and the high beam with a Narva Plus 100. Amazing results! Much better visibility during daytime and after dark with the high beam on, the whole countryside looks like being lit up.

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At the same time, I need to mention, as the brightness increases the lifespan of the bulb is shortens. The stock headlight bulb lasted for two years and the Narva +50 Longer Life could take the beating on the gravel roads for one year only. There is no problem with the Narva Plus 100, but thanks to the stronger daytime light, I don’t use the high beam that much anymore.

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I could lay my hands on a Philips X-tremeVision LED tail/break light during the Christmas Holidays. The main problem with the cheap Chinese made retrofit LED lights is the heat. Those lights can become very hot and cause some damage to the mirror or the housing of the bulb. There is no such problem with the Philips LED. At first look it is evident, the engineers at Philips put a really good effort into the development and design into this LED bulb. The massive design and the large heat sinks will make sure, your motorcycle will not melt. As I mentioned it is a retrofit LED light, so you can just pop-out the old incandescent bulb and pop-in the Philips.

According to my limited testing, the running/tail light is almost twice as bright than the stock, while the break light is 1.5 times brighter than the original. Is the mission completed? I am not 100 percent happy. While both state of the tail/brake light are significantly brighter, the difference between the running light and the brake light is not keeping up with the increased power of the running light. But there is nothing to worry. My KLR just passed the WoF this week with flying colours, and the inspector assured me not just everything are within the legal limits but definitely bright and safe.

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Next round of the revamp of the lighting would be the indicators, but I did not get into this trouble.

The indicator flasher unit is sensitive to the resistance of the light bulbs and changing the lights to LED means, you need to change the flasher unit as well. It is further complicated on the KLR, because the resistance of the indicator light bulbs are counted in into the indicator feedback light operation as well.

The LED bulbs are passing through not just too much current, but can operate on a way less power. It means, the original idea to separate the two indicator circuit with the help of the resistance of the light bulbs is eliminated, and does not matter which direction do you indicating, all four indicator will flash. You will need to fit two diodes into the wiring to make sure, stray electricity does not go into the wrong direction. This is way too much hacking for me, and decided to leave the indicators alone for now.

The below diagram suggest a solution to this four ways indicator light problem.

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