If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

LED there be Light

One of the additions I was going to make to the little GS was a pair of auxiliary riding lights.  I'd seen a lot of the big Beemers with the Touratech aux lighting, and they certainly look the business.  But then I clocked the price of them, and thought that a luxury weekend for two in a health spa would be cheaper.  But then a quick trawl round eBay (on a quiet night shift) brought up a cheap alternative.  Three Cree LEDs in each, low current draw of 15W, waterproof and, if not Touratech cool, at least not horrendously ugly.  Thirty-three of your British pounds brought them to my door, I put them in the garage, and that was that.

The fact I didn't fit them on the first available day tells you something.  I was already doubting whether I would keep the GS, and it seemed a waste of time and money to spend half a day putting them on there only to take them off again.  Happy to buy them, unwilling to fit them, work that one out.  So on a shelf they stayed.

Today was the first dry, sunny day for weeks, so I put some warm clothes on and spent the afternoon fitting them to the XTR.  I needed to take the tank shrouds and tank off to do the wiring, and what a pleasure it is to have a bike where this is a two-minute task rather than a lengthy chore.  On the XTR, the sidelights and indicators share a separate fused circuit, so I tapped into this for the power source.  The lights between them should only draw 2.5A, and the XTR's generator puts out a maximum of 20A, so there shouldn't be a problem with having them on full-time.

Not matt-black and adventure-touring cool, but not two hundred quid either.

When I got them wired up and going, I was surprised how bright they were.  From the front of the bike, they are brighter than the dipped beam.

The pattern is a focused spot beam rather then a foglight-style flood, so they won't make much of a difference to the light from the rider's point of view.  The Yamaha's headlight is pretty good anyway.  But they do make a very distinctive triangle of lights, which should aid my conspicuity.  I'm not a big fan of hi-viz, always-on lights or the crazier gadgets like headlight modulators, but if others see me and identify me as a bike rather than an odd point of light somewhere in their field of vision I will be happy.  At this time of year, my evening and morning commutes are in darkness, and the majority of my journey is on fast and unlit roads.  If people see an unusual triangle of lights approaching them, assume it is an alien craft full of little green men come to kidnap them, and don't pull out in front of me because of it, that is a win as far as I am concerned.

It's dark now, and I have had a bit of a play trying to get them angled so that they are visible to the front without dazzling oncoming traffic.  Already I can feel that the right-hand one is starting to get loose on its bracket, so tomorrow I may need to take them off again and do some beefing-up of the fittings.  Thirty quid only gets you so much.

More on this at the weekend, when I have had a chance to use them in anger, as it were.


  1. Good post.

    I am considering the same set of lights, so this was a timely write-up.


    1. If you can wait a few days, I will do a follow-up with how they pan out on a few night rides. The left one is solid, but the right one became a little loose on its bracket as I was adjusting the aim. I will have to take it off tomorrow to see if I can make it stronger. Not a big problem at the price, but I'll post again with results.

    2. One further thought, if you are considering buying these: they come with a hopelessly inadequate length of wire, less than two feet. I had to splice in some extra lengths to be able to wire them together and then back to the joint with the main loom. Easy to do, not a biggie, but worth bearing in mind.

  2. I was told once that the triangle of lights was good for conspicuity as it mirrors the front of a train engine so it catches peoples attention.

    Not sure if that is true for all trains or if the human mind thinks of it thus, but I thought it interesting.

    1. Not sure that idea applies to the UK, where our trains still have acetylene lamps and a candle for the driver to read by :) It's not a configuration that I associate with trains, to be honest, but it's unusual enough to attract a second look, hopefully. There was a letter in one of our bike magazines recently, where the writer claimed that when wearing hi-viz he found more cars cut him up, rather than the reverse. He reckoned that we see so much fluoro yellow now that was no longer take any notice. There may be something in that. Giving people a visual image that they have to think about may be a way of getting their attention.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...