Headlight Low Beam Too Dim on 99 1100GS

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by ChadHahn, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. def

    def Ginger th wonder dog

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    Years ago, while attending ASU, (circa 1961...Frank Kush was ASU football coach) I was returning from Tucson to Tempe when my 1960 Triumph TR6C headlight bulb decided it had had enough. I rode for miles without anything but starlight...not something I recommend. However in those days, there was little traffic and few Arizona Highway Patrol so, I made it back to campus without incident.

    Fast forward...the current BMW motorcycle electrical system is very reliable and night time riding should not be a crap shoot like those days of Joe Lucas electrics and British motorcycles with positive ground systems.

    Either carry spare lamps or convert your headlight to HID and never have a headlamp burnout again. Don't forget the tail lamp...go LED and never be without rear end lighting again in your lifetime.
    #21
  2. CanadianGS

    CanadianGS GS'n

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    #22
  3. def

    def Ginger th wonder dog

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    Changing headlamps from incandescent to HID is likely one of the best modifications you can perform on your motorcycle. Doing so provides better daytime conspicuity (primary reason to change) and improves night time riding safety by providing much more light at longer distances.

    Beware, if you go this route, there are several things to take into account;

    1- Your state's safety inspection may flag an HID installation and not pass your vehicle.

    2- You may make the wrong choice of HID lamp color and give up additional illumination (Lumens, the measure of the amount of light output of the bulb) while also creating dangerous glare for oncoming drivers.

    3- You may create additional load for the headlamp wiring on your motorcycle and cause wiring failure if not properly installed.

    4- You headlamp optics may not properly focus the light from the HID lamp and cause light scatter and poor down road light focus.

    The older GS asymmetric headlight design with the projector low beam headlamp design is ideal for HID conversion because it employs a projector lens and utilizes a mask cutoff to control light scatter and blinding of oncoming drivers.

    Some things to consider;

    1- HIDs generate less heat and so preserve the headlight housing.
    2- HIDs require an ancillary ballast which must be mounted on the motorcycle.
    3- At cold strike, the HID system may consume upwards of 20 amps of current momentarily which exceeds the capacity of the wiring.
    4- Some vintage BMW headlight circuits are not fused and so, a relay is needed to eliminate overloading the headlight circuit.
    5- HIDs with a lamp color of 4300K provide ~2.5X greater Lumens that the OE headlamp.
    6- HIDs with a lamp color greater than 6000K (color toward the blue, UV spectrum) provide less than the OE lamp Lumens and are objectionable to oncoming drivers and are easily spotted by LEOs. The human eye does not see UV light so keep your headlamp color in the visible spectrum.
    7- The 4300K lamp color is the same used on automobiles with OE HID headlamp systems. This lamp color was chosen because it provides the most visible light in the spectrum which is most visible to the human eye and creates improved daytime conspicuity. Remember, most everything we see is the result of light reflected off the object of interest. Therefore, the more light provided for reflecting off the target image (Bambi, street signs, rocks in the road, pot holes) results in our increased ability to discern the target image at a longer distance.
    8- Light (lumens) diminishes by the square of the distance. Also, since nighttime riding relies on reflected light and this reflected light must make a round trip from your headlamp, to the target and back to your eyes, you had better have plenty of light (Lumens) output from the headlamp to begin with.
    9- Reliable HID kits are now rather low cost, good ones available for ~$50.00.
    10- HID systems are unaffected by vibration so offroading will have no affect on lamp life.
    #23
  4. vintagerider

    vintagerider Long timer

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    Will you 1150 guys please stop assuming that what works for you is valid for 1100 riders? Thanks.

    edit: what works, sorta
    Scatter is bad with the HID in the 1100 bus reflector. It does not have the projector beam of the 1150. I did one using a DDM 55 watt slim ballast.
    http://www.ddmtuning.com/Products/DDM-HID-Kit-Slim-Ballast-35W-or-55W

    2 x slim DDM 55 watt- kit-
    2 x 3,000K arc tubes
    why 3k bulbs? When driven at 55 watts the color shifts toward yellow white, close to halogen. Much less fatiguing for yourself and for on coming drivers, Best color for daytime riding.
    added 2 x 4500k spare bulbs at time of order
    skipped optional harness
    cost was very reasonable
    slim ballasts have external igniter. did not cause any 1100 faulting.

    Wiring (simple/easy/clean/reliable/safer for harness):

    -separate the DDM power wire fromDDM lamp harness.
    -cut ballast plug then joined it to tinned marine (West Marine)14 ga double insulated run directly to battery
    -fused above pos wire with posi-fuse at battery
    -cut above wire (pos only) and inserted relay in series
    -tapped above ground wire for relay coil (posi-tap)
    -ran trigger wire to under-tank oem connector (posi-tap)
    -mounted ballast to steer head with HD hook loop
    -Taped, tucked away oem H4 socket for emergency re-fit
    Wiring/load is completely independent of oem harness except for milli-amp trigger. Load is off oem wiring (important, oem not fused)
    -done-

    kept the spare ballast and arc tubes, can re-sell

    The above gives you single beam only. Works fine in conjunction aux halogen or led for high beam. Some scatter but not too bad. Riding behind another driver- they tend to let you pass. Wide beam lights side of road. YMMV
    Not DOT legal. Won't pass state inspections.

    TIPS:
    Relay type and mounting: Relay should have screw tab. There is a hole on the side of steer head. Also mounts very well to tail of under tank connector plate with zip ties.++ Use a pre-made relay socket and pigtail! Can re-purpose from salvage yard. Volvos have fully potted heavy relays.

    Make connections with posi-lock barrels.. If you later decide to go with 100 watt halogen then your relay and wiring is already in place (leave enough extra marine wire to reach head lamp).

    You don't need to access the yellow or white wires at the oem H4 for trigger, you can tap these under the tank, physically close to relay.

    Can't emphasize how easy and reliable this wiring system is if you use posi-taps and marine duplex double insulated tinned wire. Most problems with aux lighting stem from splicing, use of low grade wire, using crimp terminals, not using dedicated ground for everything. Always wire direct to battery. No soldering required. Unobtrusive to oem harness.

    It's pretty easy to add three or four relays to the tail of the BMW under tank connector plate. All relay coil grounds can be tied together. Leave enough duplex wire from each relay to reach typical aux lamp mounting location. Coil can be left under tank until needed.

    Three or four posi-fuse holders can zip tie together near battery.

    Trigger points can be changed simply by adding additional posi-taps to oem harness trigger points.. Un-used pre-wired relay/wires won't have any power until you connect the trigger.

    Don't worry about adding switches at first. Lights will come on with engine. Switch if desired just connects to trigger so it doesn't carry load. OEM high beam switch is already in place to trigger one or more relays.

    Not much to think about if you follow these instructions. Very versatile wiring method that adapts easily to changing needs. guarantees both dedicated batt + and ground to each load and prevents damage to oem harness.
    #24
  5. def

    def Ginger th wonder dog

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    There are conversions that work for 1100s as well.
    #25
  6. ChadHahn

    ChadHahn Been here awhile

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    I've only had the bike since May and I didn't get to ride it much this summer, although night would have been the time to go for a ride.

    Chad
    #26
  7. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    :D

    I knew it was something like that. But this is Advrider, so...

    :lobby


    BTW, I have an HID lamp on the low beam of my 12GS. It really made a difference in the night lighting.

    I used to have an 1150GS, and its headlamp was even worse than my 12GS. I've never had a 11GS, so I can't compare. I'd recommend you check out the HID option for your bike.

    $50 or so, plus an hour or two in the garage.
    #27
  8. def

    def Ginger th wonder dog

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    Have you ridden up Mt Lemon? Or tried the Salt River Canyon out of Globe (Hwy 60).
    #28
  9. gsd4me

    gsd4me 90% bluff

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    I had an H4 +50 bulb in my 1100GS, it made a great difference. Another easy and cheap improvement is to have a relay fitted to the headlight.
    #29
  10. ChadHahn

    ChadHahn Been here awhile

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    I've been up to Mt Lemmon. I haven't been through the Salt River Canyon on this bike. This spring I rode down to Bisbee and did some gravel like whatever the road is from Parker Canyon Lake to Sierra Vista.

    I was going to take Reddington Road and the back side up Mt Lemmon but was having trouble with my pillion seat lock and after the third time it bounced off I turned around.

    Chad
    #30
  11. Gezerbike

    Gezerbike Hey Rocky...........

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    Everybody knows this is nowhere......
    3 pages of posts on a burnt out low beam.........winter is here early this year ! :lol3
    #31
  12. opposedcyljunkie

    opposedcyljunkie Heavyweight Boxer

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    Another huge improvement you can make to the 1100 lamp is to order a relayed wiring harness. Lots of cheap ones online but I went with the one from Eastern Beaver (American living and doing business in Japan). Not only does it make your headlamp as bright as new, but it also saves your light switch from self-destructing.
    #32