So the saying goes – Never Ride At Night!
Yeah ok, it happens, stock lights, light the road, well some of them do and some of them are about as useful as a candle, XR650R I’m talking to you.
Do you need more light, LED’s are a good solution, cheap LED units can be found for around $20 and up, good LED’s can be more than your car payment.
Regardless of what you buy they need to be added to the wiring system but maybe you haven’t done it because of the voodoo of motorcycle electrics.
Firstly go and buy your choice of lights, maybe look for options that others have used and how they’ll mount on your model of bike.
Also, keep in mind the difference between spotlights (specific directional bean) and floodlights (general lighting of a non-specific area)
shown above is my Super Tenere, lights to the side are around 1200 lumens and are floodlights, I run them the majority of the time for daytime and nighttime visibility.
The one under the headlight has 4 LED’s two spots and two floods and puts out around 5000 lumens…basically makes night into day
the difference of just the stock light vs everything on and the bikes full-beam too
Ok huge difference, right?
Now getting them on the bike and making wiring easy. You can buy premade wiring kits but they generally run $40+ why not do it yourself.
The obvious way a lot of none electrically minded riders think is to just tap into the headlights high beam wire, with a posi tap or similar.
Yes that is a possibility and an option but not always a good one.
Why? Generalizing here…quite a few bikes out there do not have a separate relay installed for light and the handlebar switch is the only connection. It may have been designed only to handle what the stock lights put out.
Now if you add an additional draw to that switch/ wire, you could blow a fuse or worse still melt your switch housing.
So let’s do it the right way, let’s have those lights on a separate circuit.
If you’re saying…”I’m outta here, this is all way beyond me.” Keep reading, I’ll make it real easy, and we can try it all out NOT on the motorcycle.
Get your new LED, a relay from an auto parts store, a few spade connectors, a battery and a waterproof off/ on switch and a couple of inline fuses and lay them out like this –
For this test run on the bench, see where that shows ‘chassis ground’, just make those connections back to negative on the battery.
Flick that switch off and on, does the light work, of course it does, you just made light, easy right?
Now to mount it on your bike, you will still have the hi/lo on your bars and an additional switch for the extra LED lighting.
Mount the switch in a location easy to get to with your left hand, mount your new LED’s in a location that if the bike were to hit the ground they WOULD NOT be the first thing to hit: Reason being most are made of cast material and will fail in a drop.
Wiring the lights –
- Have more wire than you need
- Have the right gauge wire for the output of your lights – this should be shown on the box, if not use 14 gauge or heavier
- Use stranded wire not solid wire
- Don’t use all the same color wire for everything, match the color of your bikes ground wire to the negative part of your new LED set up…usually brown or black
- Mount the switch
- Mount the relay, somewhere under the seat is usually best
- If you still feel unsure run the wiring with lots of excess and test it all in location
- Once you are happy do your final fit
- Add a matching fuse to your tool kit if you don’t already have one
That’s it, done!
One last thing when it gets dark, test out those lights and the angles they point at before you head out into traffic. Your weight on the bike obviously will make the rear of the bike drop some which in turn make the lights beam lift, so adjust accordingly
All images mine