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Light Enhancements ( ST1300 ) *

Started by KoTAOW, October 28, 2011, 06:18:19 AM

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Contributed by Scott Fairchild, STOC #4728.
Original article can be found here:


Light Enhancements ( ST1300 )

The dual-headlight design of the ST1300 is very efficient, and I've never had any problems illuminating the road ahead as the beams shinned bright and clear. Another cool feature of the ST is that it has a headlight angle adjuster. It allows you to raise or lower the beam over about 5 degrees. This is handy when the bike is loaded down to let you pick the best angle to shine upon the road.

As for enhancements, there's a couple. First is the Aeroflow® Headlight Protector. This is basically a piece of clear acrylic molded to fit over the headlight enclosure. It is thick and very durable. Aeroflow® makes many different covers for many different bikes, and the key is that each cover is designed specific to one bike only. This means that it form-fits the ST's headlight curves perfectly. Also, unless you're standing right up near the bike, it's virtually invisible.

The concept of a headlight cover is simple. A replacement OEM headlight assembly is about $250 with a couple hours of labor involved. The cover is $70 with about 10 minutes of labor involved. Imagine a large rock kicking up at the headlight and you can do the math. The cover attaches with 3M® dual-lock (super velcro) and includes clear rubber beads to keep it padded and separated by about 1/8" from the actual headlight assembly. As I just mentioned, installation only took a few minutes, though you shouldn't ride the bike for a day. This will give the adhesive on the back of the dual-lock pads the necessary time to fully cure.

The other light enhancement deals with what are called the "position" lights. These are small lights located up and outside from the actual headlights. They are not very useful from any light-producing standpoint, and are mostly for show. As such, I installed blue LEDs (T13-B6) in the sockets and now they add a nice blue light effect to the sides of the headlights. It's probably illegal to have blue lights there, but hey, it's a blue bike and they accent it nicely. I'll simply keep them there until a cop tells me get rid of them.

They aren't that difficult to replace, but you pretty much have to give the bike a forward enema reaching up into the fairing around the front wheel. Having large hands makes this more difficult. If you have a 10 year old kid handy, have him or her do the manual labor part.

As a side note, LEDs (light emitting diodes) are great for use in every single light on the bike except the headlight. I even expect that to change in the coming years. Today's LEDs are bright, run completely cool, practically never burn out and use only a fraction of electricity compared to normal bulbs. In fact, because LEDs don't waste energy in the form of heat, you could run about one hundred LED lights for the same electricity it would take to run one incandescent bulb.


Thank You again for your contribution Scott Fairchild, STOC #4728


Comments by Paul R. Buettner, STOC #3499:

In Texas blue lighting in the front of the vehicle is not probably illegal it is illegal.

You will not pass the state inspection required each year either.

Ticket prices vary by county but start at $60.


Comments by Bob Peloquin, STOC #3445:

The statement that LEDs are the right replacement for virtually all bulbs on the ST is, in my educated opinion, completely wrong.

The incandescent bulbs used on our motor-vehicles emit light at all visible wavelengths and in all directions pretty evenly.  LEDs, by contrast, put out a very narrow range (or ranges) of light in very specific directions.  For example the 'white' LEDs actually put out several distinct wavelengths of light that appear to be white or bluish-white to our eyes but are in fact made up of 3 or more distinct colors mixed together.  These colors do not necessarily work well with colored lenses such as those used in brake lights and turn signals.  For example, putting 'white' LEDs in a taillight having a deep red-colored lens will block out all wavelengths except the specific one it passes to give it the red color.  Since the 'white' LED has very little light in the red part of the spectrum and most of its light concentrated in the blue, yellow and green portions you end up with much less light getting through the red lens than with an incandescent bulb.  And that's only part of the problem.

The second issue is directionality.  LEDs put out all their light in a cone directly in front of the light-emitting junction.  This light is focused by the plastic shell of the LED in most cases and further narrows the cone of light.  Even those 'direct replacement' LEDs which have panels full of surface-mount LEDs do not place the center of their light source at the same place a regular incandescent bulb does.  These LED bulbs do not allow the reflector of the light assembly to properly focus and direct the light where it needs to go.  This both reduces the intensity and changes the directional characteristics of the light assembly; probably putting it out of spec with the federal lighting requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (Code of Federal Regulations CFR 571.108).

In short, you cannot achieve the same light quality or intensity in all directions the OEM bulb was designed to provide by replacing the stock bulbs with LED replacements.  How many times have we seen bikes (usually tricked out crotch-rockets or uber-chromed cruisers) with tiny red spots of light instead of a fully-illuminated brake light when they've put these 'LED replacements' into the stock housings?  They simply cannot work as well as purpose-built LED light assemblies like those used by the vehicle manufacturers.  Vehicles with stock LED light assemblies meet or exceed CFR 571.108 while these LED replacements cannot do so.  The laws of physics cannot be changed just because you "want" the LEDs to work.

Your safety is at stake.  Don't trade off safety for cool-factor or longer bulb life, cooler running or lower current draw.  It's just not worth it in my opinion except for those rare instances where 'marker lights' which provide no additional safety are replaced.  I'd never replace the brake lights or turn signals with LEDS unless they were DOT approved and proven to produce the correct amount of light in the correct directions to achieve a brightly lit, fully illuminated light assembly when installed.


Comments by Steve Wendelboe, STOC #1099:

IIRC, any lamps emitting light with a color temp above 6500 (it might even be 6000) degrees Kelvin are illegal everywhere in North America for highway use. The reason is simple, they're dangerous. Blue light inhibits pupil response and is blinding to oncoming traffic. That's why they appear to be so much brighter. They also contribute to eye strain and fatigue.