Headlight Modulators

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by PatrickM, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. PatrickM

    PatrickM Been here awhile

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    Anyone use them?

    I put one on about 1000 miles ago and they do seem to work as advertised. Cars get out of the way a bit faster when I'm lane splitting and I'm feeling that on the narrow two lane roads, people see me coming from a bit further away.

    But one thing I don't like is that when activated, the Canbus throws a lamp error.

    The wiring is pretty simple, you disconnect the hi-beam and connect the modulator. From the regular input, you tap the hot wire to the device, and ground the wire from the device (I just plugged it into the brown/ground of the head light connector). In other words, it just fits right in between the head light and the connector.

    I tried grounding the device as normal (as per instructions) and tossed in a spare turn signal bulb to the lamp connector, but that didn't work.

    Does anyone know:

    1. What is the wattage that the system is looking for?
    2. For some reason, if the bike wasn't running, LAMP failure wasn't being indicated initiallly.
    3. Is there a ECM/software update to reduce the threshold like there is to get rid of the LAMP failure with BMW LED turn signals?
    #1
  2. VikB

    VikB Been here awhile

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    Nope and I hate running into folks who have them. They are completely obnoxious for other riders and drivers to have to deal with. :kboom

    If you are concerned about a specific driver seeing you toggle your high beams a couple times.

    Thankfully most riders around here don't use 'em. :clap
    #2
  3. PatrickM

    PatrickM Been here awhile

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    Thanks for chiming in as someone who doesn't use them. I'm sure there are a lot of you.

    Some of us do prefer using legal means to increase visibility. If you're not one of them, that's fine. It's the same argument I hear about "loud pipes saves lives" which actually does break the law in a myriad of places and as a motorcyclist is one of the chief criticisms of riders I hear of when discussing things that upset motorists.

    It's patently obvious that these do increase visibility the same way that motion attracts attention by the human consciousness.

    As I mention, I ride in places like CA where I can lane split and as I'm riding between lines of cars and I'll take an additional margin of safety.

    But hey, it's probably cooler to mount up on a black bike, wearing all black leathers as well.
    #3
  4. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

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    another way would be to use aux lights to be seen. It's what I do. Fog lights that can be run at any time and some powerfull aux lights for the night use when nobody's on the road
    #4
  5. duffs

    duffs I have a beard

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    Firstly while it is legal in the US and your choice to run these, don't be lulled into a false sense of security that they will significantly increase your conspicuity - a study for the NHTSA showed there may be some increase in conspicuity, but there was not enough evidence for a recommendation. In other words, while they may help to some degree, wearing a bright/fluorescent jacket and simply having the headlamp on in the first place are more important.

    1/3 - The CANbus is looking for a steady burning 55W H7 bulb to be fitted, as modulators are illegal in the EU the bike was never designed/intended to accommodate these (and BMW doesn't localise this for US models). The difference between LED and standard indicators is simply the wattage (2W vs 10W) since the CANbus is performing the flashing function - the software setting for this only reflects how much wattage the computer should expect based on which bulbs are being used.

    2 - When the engine isn't running, firstly the computer keeps the headlamp switched off (only parking lamp), but also the computer assumes the bike will not be in motion and de-prioritises non-essential functions (ie if the headlamp is off, it's not a priority to check if it is functional) which may explain the delay. Its goal is self-preservation to ensure there is enough power to start the engine. For the same reason the handgrip heaters will not function unless the engine is running and there is sufficient charge in the battery (on very cold days where the battery struggles somewhat, the computer won't allow the grips to switch on).
    #5
  6. Full Power

    Full Power Long timer

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    Headlamp "Modulators" are so annoying, even your MOTORCYCLE hates them.
    #6
  7. JoshBMW

    JoshBMW Been here awhile

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    This; they are fing obnoxious.
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  8. Schai

    Schai Adventurer

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    Sorry boys, but I'm a confirmed wimp. I don't like vacations in hospitals and my family actually likes having me around, if for nothing more than my credit card and checkbook.

    I have a pair of bright, auxiliary LED flood lights on a modulator flashing on and off all day long. They are very visible from quite an angle off to the sides and very white. My friends tell me about the scares that they've had from cagers making left turns and coming out of side streets, but I haven't had a single such case in the 8,000 miles that I've had the bike.

    I have the modulator and auxiliary lights on a relay and fuse from the battery, so the CANBUS doesn't know it. There are a couple of diodes in the wiring so the relay and lights come on with either the high beam or a switch from the low beam. The pair of lights were about $60 from Ebay. The Modulator, brackets, relay, connectors, etc., were another $130.
    #8
  9. PatrickM

    PatrickM Been here awhile

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    That's my take as well. I changed out to HID for better visibility. Put in LEDs into the turn signals for increased brightness. Put on hyperlites because I do not want to be rear ended at an intersection, changed out the horn for a siebel to get attention of the person drifting across lanes, and finally... A headlight modulator.

    With the HID running at 35W, I don't get a CANBUS error, and based upon what I'm reading, the headlight modulator isn't turning off the light, but reducing the voltage to. IIRC the turn signal is ~10W and when I hooked it up in parallel, it would still throw a LAMP failure. So somewhere between 35W and 10W is the sweet spot for an inline resistor.

    No aux lights now, so can't place modulate them. But will see if I can get the new lights from BMW and potentially upgrade them to CREE LEDs as well.
    #9
  10. FredRydr

    FredRydr Danger: Keep Back 500 Ft.

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    They are annoying as hell, like loud pipes.

    Fred
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  11. Full Power

    Full Power Long timer

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    Nobody gets mesmerized, and then DRIVES right into a set of obnoxiously loud exhaust pipes.. HEADLIGHT blinkers, however have to be one of the absolutely most idiotic motorcycle accessories in use.
    But, go ahead and MODULATE your way to Nirvana if you are so compelled.
    #11
  12. Emperor Norton

    Emperor Norton Kilroy was here

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    Interesting how the "don't like them" crowd seem to come from places where lane splitting isn't legal. I wonder if that has anything to do with it? Another curiosity, I wonder how many people who've made the "they're obnoxious" claim are running stock pipes or aftermarkets that are the same or lower decible rating as stock.:ear

    I loved the one I had on my Monster, but that wasn't a canbus bike.

    Id also rather have people run modulators than some of those extra purple xenons, or the brighter than the sun "fog" lights.
    #12
  13. FredRydr

    FredRydr Danger: Keep Back 500 Ft.

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    WTF kind of logic is that? Okay, let's see if I can come up with the same kind of observation. I've never seen a headlight modulator in Italy, which makes California a lane-splitting joke.

    Fred
    #13
  14. Hucker

    Hucker Lost

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    When I see a "modulated" bike from afar, my first reaction is that an emergency vehicle is coming. When I notice that it is a bike, I think, :norton and :puke1

    I also wonder about the possibility of target fixation by someone under the influence...like a little bug to the flashy-blinky-thingy...similar to the traffic cones on the side of the road, or the myriad emergency vehicles struck by DUIers. Just not my thing. And, my opinion is worth exactly what you just paid for it. :D
    #14
  15. cchoc

    cchoc Outdoor Photographer

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    Modulated headlights are guaranteed to make oncoming drivers mutter 'asshole' as they approach, at best.
    #15
  16. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Had a modulator on a previous bike. Still had a couple of people try to pull in front of me. In my opinion, they are useless!

    Also, when you start using gimicks to get other people to avoid you, I think there is a danger you may be lulled into a false sense of security, and stop paying attention. They will still try to kill you.
    #16
  17. FlyingFinn

    FlyingFinn Long timer

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    Another headlight "modulator" hater right here. And yes, from the state where lane sharing is legal.
    95% of drivers are annoyed by the stupid blinking light (look at me, look at me, I'm important!!!) and there's STILL going to be that 5% of drivers that don't see you coming.
    So you better ride like none of them see you coming.

    And in the mean while not annoy the fuck out of everyone else.
    #17
  18. pilesofmiles

    pilesofmiles Retired + Riding

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    I absolutely agree. Well said Fred.
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  19. Schai

    Schai Adventurer

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    Off Topic
    There is no comparison in the annoyance of headlight modulators vs loud pipes. Headlight modulators don't stop conversations, drown out TV programs, or destroy the natural sounds of wind and trees a half mile away.

    I personally have never heard of someone being annoyed by the flashing lights of an emergency vehicle. The driver, sure. The flashing lights themselves, never. Why a flashing light should suddenly become annoying when relocated to a motorcycle is interesting. Maybe it is just a personal reaction to something different than the norm.

    On Topic
    Anything that adds to becoming more conspicuous significantly reduces the risk of injury to a motorcyclist from a car.

    Quick data from a 1993-1996 study in Auckland, New Zealand:
    White helmet vs Black - 24% lower risk
    Reflective or fluorescent clothing - 37%
    Headlight On - 27% lower risk
    Headlight modulator - not studied

    These are significant risk reductions. I'd be pretty sure that modulated lights should have similar risk reductions.
    #19
  20. pilesofmiles

    pilesofmiles Retired + Riding

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    Flashing or constant modulating front headlight is annoying and IMHO gives a rider a silly true false sense of security.

    If anyone needs a real world example of how drivers DO NOT pay attention to flashing lights on motorcycles or cars ask a law enforcement officer who rides a motorcycle for a living, they get hit and run over despite all the addional lights flashing not to mention on top of the light show they are still running a siren.

    Some cage drivers could interpret a bikes flashing lights as you giving them an "ok" for them to pull out and there you are.

    Finally if headlight modulators are such a deterrent to accidents than why has this not been made a mandatory law/requirement by USDOT for all new motorcycle sales? Burning a headlight was made a mandatory law? The numbers are just not there to convince manufactures it's a must safety requirement. Why don't we have headlight modulators on all new cars and trucks? Because they are not proven to be effective in preventing accidents or making drivers feel safer. And they are annoying. Imagine every car, truck and m/c modulating headlights?:lol3 Again maybe ask a motor cop, they are annoying as h$:!!

    I know insurance companies don't offer a discount on your policy if you have a headlight modulator, at least mine does not, but if you took a rider safety class within the last year or so some offer up to 10% discount.
    Headlight modulator, nope, nada, none.

    IMHO the headlight modulator gets filed under late night infomercial for snake oil and they are totally annoying. It's funny to think that anyone thinks flashing /modulating headlight is going to keep them safer.

    I would be interested to see 10 years of motorcycle rider statistics saying so.

    For what it's worth...my 02 cents.
    #20