Long term opinion of TrailTech Lights???

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by R_W, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. R_W

    R_W wannabe

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,126
    Location:
    Kansas
    I've read lots of good installs and initial reviews of the Trail Tech HID's, but are you still happy with them? Anyone have one fail? Would you buy them again?
    #1
  2. Velocibiker

    Velocibiker Adventure Antagonist

    Joined:
    May 28, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,164
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV

    More short term than long term, but have been burning mine for about 4 months now. No question they produce more light than the stock bulb(s). Quite rugged. No issues. Hard to believe I ever rode in the dark without them. The only drawback I've found is that since they produce a uniform 'cone' of light, they act like hi-beams and direct light up as well as to the sides and down. If you shine your low beam against a wall, you'll see it has a cut-off line. A high beam does not. These HID's are like mini high beams.

    I'm working on a combination rock guard and 'visor' so they'll act more like a low beam. In the mean time, I'll just continue to annoy the cagers. At least I know they see me :clap
    #2
  3. R_W

    R_W wannabe

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,126
    Location:
    Kansas
    Yeah, if they had a "low beam" option I would have been there already with a complete replacement for my KLR candle.
    #3
  4. LowAdvRider

    LowAdvRider Why aren't we Riding?

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    132
    Location:
    Eastern WA
    My motto also. I run with High Beams on in the daytime. May cause a few to be somewhat annoyed, but if over the course of my lifetime it saves me one accident.... :kurt
    #4
  5. creeper

    creeper Still alive...

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Oddometer:
    10,718
    Location:
    Puget Sound
    Yep, nope, yep.
    #5
  6. LowAdvRider

    LowAdvRider Why aren't we Riding?

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    132
    Location:
    Eastern WA
    I posted a reply earlier that I just nuked. It was wrong.

    I have a pair of these and blew the ballasts.

    Proper polarity was confirmed.

    The only things that I can point towards is that on my negative wires back from the lights to the negative battery terminal, I had bare spade connections.

    The other is a nagging wondering about the switch I used. Amotostuff.com's cheepy switch with no relay. 13Watts apiece.

    That is only about 2 amps. The ballasts blew after 1000 miles of continuous use. They went South during a long run between gas stops. So, it was not the starting surge.

    The fuse blew and the ballasts went South at the same time.

    Trail Tech is covering this under warranty, so Kudos to them, but does anyone have a clue? Don't tell me I need a relay. 2amps during a long run does not overwhelm a 30amp switch. Not to mention that the startup current should never exceed 12 amps. Still nowhere near the limits here.

    Help?
    #6
  7. legion

    legion Honking the Horn

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2003
    Oddometer:
    15,382
    Location:
    In Your Head
    Odd, but not a clear indication of anything. The question would be did the ballast failure somehow take the fuse out too (this would be unusual) or was there something else happening on your charging system that contributed to the failure and took the fuse out at the same time?

    The fuse you're referring to ...is it specific to the HID kit and came with it or was it part of the bike's electrical system that you just tapped juice from?
    #7
  8. Kevy

    Kevy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Phoenixarizonaallthewayto Tacoma, WA
    I'll offer some trouble shooting help, whatever that's worth.

    AFAIK, the lamps and ballast are made by a company called Welch Allyn. TrailTech adds the housing, wires, and mounting instructions and sells them to us.

    If you go poke around in the Welch Allyn site for "Solarc" products, you can get some cool information about these lamps.

    I don't have any info on the Trail Tech setup, but I suspect you've got a voltage problem. More specifically, a ballast Vs. bike voltage problem. On a bike electrical system, you can expect the voltage to vary from about 10 Volts right on up to 15 Volts. Most voltage regulators on bikes and automobiles are set just under 14.5 volts. It's a compromise setting that will charge the battery quickly if you're just making beer and cigarettes run once a week, and not cook the battery on a transcontinental IronButt ride.

    As you ride the bike, the battery charges, and its voltage rises until you reach the cutoff voltage of the regulator where it will stay as long as you keep the RPM up.

    Looking at the spec sheet (PDF)for the 10Watt solarc lamps and ballasts, I cant find one that matches the voltage range of a bike or automobile. The ballasts come in four flavors,12v, 12.8-13.2v, 14.1-14.5v, and 10.2V. They have an absolute max value for each as well, 13, 14.2, 15.5, 11.8 volt respectively. My guess, without having seen the TT product, is they're using the 14.1-14.5v (15.5v max) ballast and letting the user deal with the dimming at lower voltages, or adding a preregulator with one of the lower input voltage ballasts. You can tell which ballast you have by the color of the wires coming out of it.

    Then there's the operating temps and voltage warnings from
    "[FONT=&quot]Application notes for the Solarc 10 watt family of products"




    And
    <o:p></o:p>


    Like I said, I haven't seen the TT product in person, but I'm guessing that your battery voltage came up on your ride to very near the absolute max that the ballast could handle, and the ballast called it quits.


    Unanswered questions I have; exactly which ballast is TT selling with the lamps? does TT add a preregulator, or run the ballast unprotected? Does the TT lamp housing jibe with the W/A recommendations for propper cooling?


    I know it's a long post, I hope it "sheds some light" on the subject.


    Kev..
    <o:p></o:p>
    #8
  9. creeper

    creeper Still alive...

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Oddometer:
    10,718
    Location:
    Puget Sound
    Note to self... If you ever need HID assistance, PM Kevy.
    #9
  10. LowAdvRider

    LowAdvRider Why aren't we Riding?

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    132
    Location:
    Eastern WA
    The lights are in a metal case with little heat transfer capabilities.

    There also is no Prereg.

    I am not home AND the lights have yet to return from TrailTech.

    So, I do not know what rating the ballasts have. The technician "Jeff" asked a few times if I knew of voltage spikes.

    Not having a voltmeter on my bike (yet), of course I did not.

    They did blow near the end of a 600 miles day of highway driving which was the second day of such riding. So, I'm sure that the voltage that they were subject too was consistantly near the high end.

    Since this is my typical riding type for several trips per year, it will be interesting to find out if they survive my next trip. I will be taking the Strom (with lights on all day) to Birmingham here on the 9th of April. Should go back home for the weekend and then right back down for another week.

    The long periods of highway riding with max voltage should be a good test of the overheating of the ballasts theory.

    However, at least it's the ballasts and not the $59 bulbs....

    BTW, Trailtechs bulbs prices are not easily found on their website, but they are the best that I could find.

    Thanks for the help.
    #10
  11. R_W

    R_W wannabe

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,126
    Location:
    Kansas
    second that.
    #11
  12. LowAdvRider

    LowAdvRider Why aren't we Riding?

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    132
    Location:
    Eastern WA
    Got my lights back after the warrenty work. They have replaced the ballasts. They replaced them with 12.8-13.2 volt rated ones. The normal long distance riding voltage off the alternator is 13.7. I'm beginning to wonder if we need to have a higher voltage rating ballast in these to make them last.

    I'll be doing some decent riding here in the near future, I'll keep up with the info for future reference. If the ballasts blow again, I will be replacing them with a higher rating.

    Anyone else have problems with blown ballasts in these?
    #12
  13. R_W

    R_W wannabe

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,126
    Location:
    Kansas
    one of kevy's links had a regulator in it. I know I have used regulator in the past--they tied in-line and capped the voltage to protect from just such a thing.

    and I just ordered the HID kit from aerostich. $227 for a hi/lo H4 for the KLR was just too good to pass up. more light AND more power for heat. I think I will have enough power for a full jacket!!!!
    #13
  14. snoid

    snoid 100% Okie

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    44,689
    Location:
    beaver river sandflats, texas county.
    anyone got one plugged in? how does the spread of light compare to standard halogens? lots of spill? will i get pulled over for blinding cagers?

    it's listed as 8300k which would cast a suspiciously blue beam. how blue does it appear? could you compare it to high-end 4300k white HID's that you see in mercedes, lexus?

    also did you have to shim or relocate the bulb in order to control the beam? was it necessary to aim the lamp drastically downward if not?

    i'd be retrofitting the bulb into a non-HID baja single can with driving beam lens. there is 2-axis adjustability of the can inside it's cage but i'd like to operate from zero if possible.

    like to know what i'd be up against before dropping the two benjis... fanks,

    me
    #14
  15. Kevy

    Kevy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2004
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Phoenixarizonaallthewayto Tacoma, WA
    LAR,
    If that's the case, I'd find a way to regulate what the lamps get and call it done. Or, just live with the down time when they fail and hope T-T comes through with replacements. IIRC, the warranty period from T-T on the HID products is very short.:deal

    I have another question for Trail-Tech HID users. Do the lamps flicker or shift color temperature when you're bouncing down the road?

    The reason I ask is this, I have access to a 21W HID with Welch-Allyn innards here at work. If you move it quickly, bump or bounce it, it will flare and flicker. Could be annoying on rough pavement or dirt if the same holds true for the 10Watters.

    Thanks for the follow-up.

    Kev.
    #15
  16. R_W

    R_W wannabe

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,126
    Location:
    Kansas
    I'll post a report when I am done. The blue worries me, too. But I know 'stich's return policy so I am much more comfortable trying it from them.
    #16
  17. LowAdvRider

    LowAdvRider Why aren't we Riding?

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    132
    Location:
    Eastern WA
    I have noticed no flicker or color changing when riding with the Trail Tech lights.

    Also, on your question about the heat transfer capabilities of the units.

    They are metal cannisters and therefore transfer heat from direct contact with the ballasts. They do get hot, but not so much that you can't touch the outside for short durations. Pain threshold is about 120 F (49 C) so we are WAY away from your 90 C stated earlier.

    So, where does one get a Pre-regulator of quality?
    #17
  18. PASSMORE

    PASSMORE Just the last name...

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,312
    Location:
    The Texas Embassy in Sloughhouse, CA
    A note...

    I read somehwere that it was recommended that you not install these up side down (due to water?). I spoke with Jeff at TT and he said that was false, "mount them any which way you want".

    This opened up other mounting possibilities for me, hope it helps others as well.
    #18
  19. 14dirtinAlaska

    14dirtinAlaska n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    3
    Does anyone have any info on Baja Designs lights and if you do how do they match up with Trail Tech?
    #19