R1100GS: Wunderlich Dual Headlight Install and Review (w lots o' pics)

Discussion in 'GS Boxers' started by LoneStar, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Prepping the bike for a long term trip, and decided to freshen up my 98 Anniversary a bit in the front with LED instrument lights, new TT flexible stalk turn signals, and the Wunderlich Dual Headlight system. After searching the net for reviews I could only find references to an older Wunderlich version and the Touratech dual system so I decided to be a guinea pig and jump in.

    Wunderbulbs was $299 plus shipping, and since I had the front end down to replace the instrument lights with colored LED's I went ahead and ordered the kit. Took a couple of weeks since the Wunderlich crew was behind after attending an event somewhere.

    Woohoo!
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    Collector's Edition Box :D
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    Sealed for my protection
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    Feeling wood
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    I Wunder if the Germans have ever heard of bubble wrap
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    Luckily the bulbs weren't broken since both boxes looked like they'd been pulled out of Oprah's shorts
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    Harness
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    Doodads
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    The goods - frame anodized black aluminum, reflectors appear to be of a fibrous plastic, lenses held by three screws, o-ring and plate
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    Contents of the box
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    Remove the rubber caps
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    Install the bulbs
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    Plug the black and white leads onto the rear of the H7
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    Slip the rubber cover back over the rear of the bulb - one thing that is funky is that the spade connectors stick out far enough that the rubber cover can't go very far on the housing - they should make an angle connector IMHO
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    Rubber cap onto the rear of the H4 and then plug the triple connector on
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    At this point you need to decide whether you want the low beams to remain on when the high is switched on. This is explained in the directions, but a single white wire has the bullet connector covered with tape. If you want the low to remain on with the high beam, remove the tape and plug them together.
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    The parking light is pre-installed, but the bullet connectors need to be cut off and replaced with the spade connectors included in the doodad bag. The wiring connectors for the parking light in the headlight housing are spade type.
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    Old school vs new cool
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    Remove the bus headlight. Go ahead and remove the fairing also as it will make installation easier
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    Remove the spade plugs from the parking light socket
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    Plug the triple connector and spade plugs in and prepare to install the new headlight unit
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    Ok, up to this point it had been very easy, and I was excited to slap the new headlight in, but...
    as always there is a hitch and what had taken all of 15 minutes so far now hit a speed bump.

    The new aluminum plate uses the existing 3 screw holes in the plastic headlight housing, and therein lies the rub.
    The plate has to fit in the thin recess of the thin plastic housing, and in my case the housing was distorted to minor degrees from heat or molding or whatever. The plate has 3 precise holes and of course the headlight housing was off by 1/16" on the bottom screws. I wrestled with the housing trying to flex it but there wasn't enough play.

    Luckily the solution is easy and using a small rat tail file I lengthened the mounting holes in the aluminum plate. Luckily the lengthening was needed towards the center so I was enlarging into the solid area and not out toward the edge.

    With all the variations of plastic and your particular housing you may not need to do this, but I did. Installing the plate is a tight fit and you have to flex the housing edge some here and there to get it in. That's where removing the faring comes in - if you leave it in place you can't get to the housing edge to futz with it.

    No big deal, but would have been a 20 minute job max took a lot longer simply from putzing with it and then having to file out the screw holes - only the 2 bottom were required and lengthening to a slot was 1/32 to 1/16.

    Plate finally in place
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    Testing parking light
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    Low beam check
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    High beam with low check
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    The ABS plastic housing is held on by 2 screws on each side. It's important to note that the cover also covers all 3 headlight mounting bolts SO if you are using an aftermarket headlight screen that uses them, it will no longer work. Your options are to make one utilizing the side screws or the windscreen bolts as a base - or simply screw screen directly onto the plastic housing itself.
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    Installed
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    As you can see the housing extends forward, providing "some" protection for the headlights but also and importantly, the housing shields the windscreen from the headlight glare that feeds into the plexi screen with the factory headlight.
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    Liking the look already
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    With the windscreen and the new TT flexible stalk blinkers
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    "Luke, I am your faaaather"
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    Just looking at the catalog pics it was hard to tell how it really looked, but in the flesh this thing looks damn good IMO.

    Bottom line will be whether it is an improvement over the stock or not, and getting it all adjusted will be interesting. Still I like the look and really like the redundancy of two bulbs vs one. I try not to ride at night, but sometimes it has to happen and I'm also prepping the bike for a long term trip to S America so I'm hoping this proves to be durable and better than stock.

    I'll have to fab a rock guard for it at some point :deal

    Next Installment: Real World Lighting Comparison

    More manana amigos
    #1
  2. lewis_jr1

    lewis_jr1 Been here awhile

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    Nice upgrade to a great machine. I'm also impressed at a cost-effective kit from Wunderlich. I wonder when they started that policy? :clap
    #2
  3. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Lewis lol - I was shocked it was 299 myself :D

    Got the bike back together after replacing FI hose, fittings and doing some rerouting - tonight will be the big test to see beam pattern and brightness :deal

    Before and after

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    #3
  4. Farnsrocket

    Farnsrocket Manos arribas!!!

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    I will say it's cool looking.........I had always wondered how hard it would be to fab up a dual headlight like that......for cheaper of course and use the Wunderlich wiring diagrams.

    Anxious to see the actual light output!
    #4
  5. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    •• CAVEAT •• - I didn't have time to fully adjust the headlight throw on the Wunderlich and it's pointing too low compared to the stock headlight pictures. My battery, which has been on it's last legs for a while, pooped out right when I was about to adjust the Wunderlich beams lol. Maybe when it gets charged up I'll do a reshoot. Also, the lights brightened up some when the engine was fired up so in fact the test comparison below is a little flawed against the Wunderlich since the battery was poopy.

    The photos were taken at identical exposures, color balance and at a lens length approximating normal field of view to fairly compare the lights.
    FYI the far end of the driveway is almost 100 yards exactly.

    Stock Headlight on Low Beam
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    Wunderlich Headlight on Low Beam (aimed too low)
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    Stock Headlight on High Beam
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    Wunderlich Headlight on High Beam
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    As you can see, the Wunderlich low beams are significantly brighter on low with a spread reflecting the round headlight shape - but they are pointed too low for better comparison. The stock rectangular headlight on low is much dimmer but has a slightly wider spread due to the rectangular reflector design.

    The Wunderlich High Beam is not as bright at distance as the stock, but has a much better pattern overall and when I get it adjusted it may be a little better. In fact after looking at tight crops of the concrete area there's only a 10% difference or so and I bet that disappears when properly adjusted.

    The stock headlight on High leaves large areas of darkness near the bike and at the edges of the road. The Low beam is too dim overall but it's interesting to see how well the stock headlight designers were able to match the cut off points of the high and low beam.

    SO, it's looking like the Wunderlich with the High / Low combo will be brighter overall with a better spread. No miraculous differences but some significant improvements in broader and smoother illumination as well as brightness in the Low beam area. I bet the high beam will at least equal and probably better the stock for brightness when adjusted and definitely improves the field of illumination some.

    Anyway I'll top off the report when I get them adjusted and do some riding.
    #5
  6. fusionzone

    fusionzone Adventurer

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    nice work bro !
    :clap
    #6
  7. djlxr400

    djlxr400 Adventurer

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    Nice job, they look very good. Thanks for the write up:D
    #7
  8. def

    def Ginger th wonder dog

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    Looks like this setup could benefit from an HID conversion. Any thoughts?
    #8
  9. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

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    I have read about some inmates taking an old headlight set up off of a Honda or older Katana, or such and supposedly it fits in the gap quite well. All that has to be done is to fab up a bracket to hold it in place. I've toyed with the idea, but obviously no too hard. Yet. :evil




    Nice write up, thanks for posting the pictures. I like it. :clap
    #9
  10. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Thanks guys - too much rime on my hands right now LOL.

    To be honest I wasn't sure if I liked the dual look based solely on pics but in real life it really looks good IMO.

    Farns I don't think it would be too hard to fab one if you have tools and time - it's certainly not complex and like Kawi says just sourcing the lights would be the trickiest part.

    Unfortunately I don't have the time or tools to produce something nice and finding the parts around here would be slim so for me the premade kit was the way to go. I'd discounted the TT version based on a few reviews I'd found which said it was no improvement and some said even worse.

    Wunderlich's version was $100 less and their blurb said it was a "new" 3rd gen design so that sounded good. I always fall for that marketing crap :lol3 Seriously though I've found Wunderlich stuff to be really well designed and made in the past so I figured I'd give it a shot. I used their peg lowering kit and rear tail rack support and both were very high quality.

    Def - my only experience with HID is reading threads here. I was going to go that route for the stock headlamp but as I understood it the 1100's H7 required the solenoid version of the bulb and I just couldn't see that lasting a long time in rough terrain. Murphy has been my two-up riding buddy for years :lol3

    My upgrade plan includes HID lights similar to the TT version or Wunderlich Flooters at some point, but I haven't got there yet.

    This dual setup would be good for HID since one lamp could remain on while the HID fired up. Since the headlight housing is curved and now there are two lamps instead one in the center you'd probably have to cut holes into the rear of the housing - that is if the HID bulbs protrude further out - which I don't know.


    Ok, now do I go with the pricey Shorai battery which I can't afford or the now "old school" Odyssey battery which I can't afford either but will put me less in debt.... hmmmmmm, decisions, decisions
    #10
  11. Mr Puffin

    Mr Puffin Been here awhile

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    Certainly looks the part and illumintes well :clap And a good How to write up to boot :1drink

    So thats something else to buy for mine then..............:evil







    Mr Puffin
    #11
  12. tallguy-09

    tallguy-09 Smile 4 Miles

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    Not a big difference but by looking ot your jpg Exif information you've manually exposed Wunderlich with 0.5s and Stock with 0.4s, same f2.8 IS0400 for both pictures.
    Exposure time does change things (the longer the brighter) but I'd say there would still be a difference even if both were taken with 0.5s exposure time.
    #12
  13. switch

    switch Romanian Trailbiker

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    I'm pretty sure the low beam pattern and overall visibility of the W. kit is below the stock headlight. That bus-like piece give the R1100Gs one of the best nigh-riding lamps ever fitted on a bike. IMO.
    #13
  14. opposedcyljunkie

    opposedcyljunkie Heavyweight Boxer

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    Nice. Finally they come in 55/60-watt versions. I had the TT version on both my GSPD airhead and 1100GS and they were both a total waste of money. They were only specified for 35-watt H4 bulbs which had the lumens capability of scooters at best. Finally sold them and one buyer mentioned later on that he started using 55/60-watt H4 bulbs. The reflectors melted in no time at all :D
    #14
  15. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

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    Then don't ever ride a V-Strom. That headlight puts the 1100 to shame. Coming from the V-Strom to the R1100GS I immediately noticed what a huge difference there is, and how superior the Suzuki design is. Of course, the Suzuki design is almost 10 years newer. :D
    #15
  16. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Cyljunkie - well that makes sense if it was 35W yikes :eek1


    The above photos weren't meant to be the final images, as I plan on getting the lights properly adjusted, doing a shot of such and adding thoughts on riding experience.

    Tallguy - in the essence of speed I ran them thru iPhoto which shows them both as 1/2 @ 2.8. I'd been bracketing and didn't finish as the mc battery died (been screwing around on the bike for 3 days with various projects and didn't realize it was low) however the 1/3 stop difference wouldn't overshadow the obvious 1-1/2ish stop brighter headlamp difference. As stated I plan on a final shot when the lights are adjusted.

    But in the interest of brightness equality, and for Tallguy :lol3 , here's a side by side of Stock headlight low beam vs Wunderlich low beam and identical exif data as seen below

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    And BTW there was a significant drop in brightness when the engine wasn't running - likely due to the battery weakening as it was dying







    Stock .4s/2.8/400 on left and Wunderlich .4s/2.8/400 on right

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    The above shot of the Wunderlich side was before I had adjusted the camera angle and most of the brightest area of the beam is out of frame, but you can still see the significant brightness difference over stock. When the hot spot is adjusted further out and the voltage isn't poopy the Wunderlich should be even brighter


    Switch - I agree the designers did a good optical job on the glass throw and pattern, but the weakness of the light, and the large gaps between high and low beam don't work for me. Where I live the roads are tight and twisty and like a roller coaster, with a lot of deer on the roadside so switching between high and low on the hills and in curves/hill combos leaves a lot to be desired for me. I'm not expecting miracles from this light combo, but the extra brightness looks promising and if the individual lights themselves can be adjusted to a degree it may be an improvement

    I'm hoping this proves to be true but I'll find out :lol3

    FYI I also plan to supplement with additional lighting in the future


    #16
  17. tallguy-09

    tallguy-09 Smile 4 Miles

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    You're doing a fantastic job with this. I think I'd be doing the same if I were you, that light output is much improved over the OEM H4 bulb, looks much better for sure! Great looking motorcycle.
    #17
  18. Murkidi

    Murkidi R1100GS adict

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    the 1100 looks great , thanks for such a great info !!!! :thumb:thumb
    #18
  19. dfwscotty

    dfwscotty Long timer

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    I like it....I like it alot!

    The dual headlight conversion has been one of those things on the list once I got everything else on the list done. I like the price, the ease of install and the increased light output.

    Nice work!
    #19
  20. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus

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    Finally got a chance to ride at night with the new lights after putting my battery on the Optimate charger/reconditioner for almost a day and a half before it read good. Of course my battery decides to puke right when I get new lights installed.

    Some thoughts:

    At first glance the lights appear brighter and cleaner than the stock. Having the old pattern burned in my brain I needed to get a feel for the new look. As mentioned and visible in the pics, the stock headlight threw a wide horizontal beam pattern with a very sharp cutoff vertically. The sharp cutoff leaves black holes between high and low that are too radical IMO.

    The Wunderlich having circular reflectors has an overall circular pattern, being brighter in the center and possibly a little less peripheral spread but that's hard to say for sure as the center brightness makes the eye compensate and it may only be an illusion rather than fact.

    At distance the High beam has a more diffuse circular pattern and I'd say it's equal to the stock if not slightly brighter at distance - however the beam being more diffuse as opposed to sharply focused, it may give the impression of less apparent intensity.

    As I mentioned earlier, the final 3 mile stretch to my house is very hilly with lots of dips and off camber curves going down into fairly steep valleys and low water crossings. Riding with the stock light was always a workout, as I would have to enter a downhill curve and rapidly switch between high and low beams multiple times until through the curves. On low I could see up close but it was pitch black ahead, and switching to high beam would illuminate the oncoming hill leaving the 50 yards directly ahead in pitch black. With the stocker I had to switch back and forth continuously until through the curve, valley and hill. The 3 mile ride was a constant light switching until I got home.

    Tonight, for the first time since owning the bike I did not have to touch the switch once other than to dim for oncoming cars. That is exactly what I was looking for. Having the more diffuse beams and both bulbs illuminating simultaneously worked great.

    Having said all that and being happy with the improvement, I will say it's not a blinding bright difference (as expected), but overall a brighter and smoother spread. Since the bulbs are standard H4 and H7 and are a known brightness factor, I didn't expect a serious change.

    I will say that if you are looking for a significant brightness change for your bike and only have $300 to spend, then I'd spend it on aftermarket HID auxiliary lights, but this review was to compare headlights only with stock bulbs and not auxiliary lights, HID bulbs or combinations.

    My goal in this upgrade was two-fold - first, to freshen up the bike's looks and improve the stock headlight until I am able to afford high quality auxiliary lights, and secondly, add redundancy in lighting for a long term trip I'm prepping for.
    The upgrade does both.

    Between this new light set, and adding the amber and red LED lights to the instrument cluster, my night riding experience was really improved. The instrument lights are a soft glow and have no affect on night vision, no longer being a distraction, and the irritating bright blue high beam warning light is now a soft dull amber that is barely noticeable. In the past I found myself holding my hand in front of the gauges to get a better view forward in the dark

    I am going to try the Sylvania UltraStar(?) bulbs to see if they add a bit more light and am going to see if I can tweak the H4 housing to point slightly to the the right roadside which would be nice.

    Bottom line is I'm really happy with the new look for the bike, and the beam is an improvement though not radical.

    Rock on amigos!
    #20