LED and HID bulbs in headlights

Many people seem to mess with headlight bulbs looking for an improvement. I did some experiments with different bulbs on the Ducati Supersport. The Supersport has a single filament dip beam which is perfect for my experiments as it is a reflector and not a projector headlight. Any old type of bulb can be put into a projector, but the reflector headlight needs the filament of the bulb to be in exactly the correct place to produce the correct beam pattern and cut off.

The first picture shows the LED bulb that I bought for the experiment.

This is the type with a fan rather than a huge heatsink hanging out of the back, it does not really matter which type you use.

Here is the dip beam with a standard H11 55 watt halogen bulb, the type that nearly all cars and bikes are fitted with as standard:

As can be seen in the back of the very messy garage, the dip beam is very clear with a sharp cut off with virtually no light scatter to blind other drivers. This is a standard set up as designed by Ducati.

The next picture shows the Led bulb fitted:

This might look brighter, but it is not, the camera has compensated for the different amount of light. The nice clean cut off has gone because the LEDs are not in exactly the same place as the halogen filament was within the reflector. Loads of the light is being thrown all over the place rather than where the rider wants it, on the road. There is also far too much being thrown into oncoming drivers eyes. I would not be happy riding behind that.

The bike is in a different position in the next two pictures, but they are a comparison. Again the camera has compensated for the different amounts of light, the bottom picture actually has about 3 times as much light as the one below.

Once again this is a standard 55 halogen bulb with a nice dip beam cut off as in the second from top picture.

This one is the 35 watt HID xenon headlight bulb with a separate ballast. The light is much brighter, but again the nice cut off has been lost. This would seriously dazzle oncoming drivers due to the stray light scattering. That is the reason that these should only ever be used in projector headlights. No manufacturer puts HID xenon into a reflector headlight on any standard vehicle.

Led headlights can be specified as an extra on many cars and bikes these days, but none of them are LED bulbs inserted into normal reflectors designed for halogen bulbs, they are whole units with the LEDs as part of the design.

The halogen bulb is now at the peak of its development and cannot really go much further. Many will tell you that their bulb has 10 or 20% more light output, but that is rubbish, if it were possible then everyone would only make these improved bulbs. What those higher power bulbs are doing is to change the colour of the light to a slightly bluer light and fooling the brain into thinking that it is brighter.

Some people also use 100 or 130 watt halogen bulbs, remember that watts is a measure of electricity consumption and not light output as that is measured in lumen. What happens is that the halogen that uses 100 watts does not turn it all into light, but only a small percentage of it, most gets turned into heat to fry your wiring. Why do you think that the experts have come up with 55 watts as the normal bulb?

 

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Supersport LED rear indicators

Just a short post. I never liked the huge rear indicators on the Supersport, and do not like the fact that they are the only two incandescent light bulbs on the whole bike. So I searched for something different.

To change the indicators to LED, no resistors are needed in the cabling, they just need to be electrically connected and the flash rate will be correct. The small tray needs to be removed from under the tail piece, 5 screws, and the original indicators will fall out. If you want to preserve the original Ducati plugs the an adaptor to bullet connectors is needed, and two indicator blanks are needed to fit the new indicators.

 

These indicators are sequential, that means that the light flows from inside to outside rather than just flashing on and off. I made a little video with the hazard flashers on to demonstrate. As can be seen from the above picture, the indicators are rubber mounted so are not easily knocked off.

 

Test of the R&G heated grips.

Well it is a chilly 8c here in this part of France today, but the roads are almost dry. Time to test the grips.

Togged up with my thermal merino under garments (thank you Trish) and my 15 year old BMW gloves, off I went. I set the grips on four out of five LEDs showing, so not the hottest setting, and was rather surprised that after abut half a mile the heat was coming through. The controller is a push button that goes through the sequence of one to five LEDs and is very easy to operate with gloves on. If you leave them switched on when you turn the ignition off, as I did to refuel, then they will be switched off when you turn the ignition on again. This is a very useful feature as they are not drawing power when you want to start the bike.

In use, with the extra insulation of a pair of hands inside gloves wrapped around them, they are both of about equal temperature.

I took power for the grips from the bluetooth module plug under the seat on the Ducati Supersport as I am never going to have a bluetooth module fitted on my bike. There are four wires in the plug and the black and the red ones are earth and power that is switched with the ignition. I used the inline fuse that R&G supplied with the kit, but cut down the very long cable that came with it.

When fitting the grips the right hand plastic throttle tube needs the bulge trimming off the end as per R&Gs excellent instructions. R&G also supply individual parts such as just one grip should one get damaged in use.

I must say that I am very happy with this modification and am impressed with the quality of the parts.

R&G heated grips

This was intended to be a post about fitting aftermarket grips, complete with pictures and wiring routes.

R&G is a UK company that supplies many aftermarket parts for Ducatis and other bikes. I looked at their stand at the recent Motorcycle show at the NEC, and saw the many products that they sell.

I bought the R&G grips because they had a good write up in Ride magazines tests, but I would not recommend them myself. After very careful fitting I found that the left grip was noticeably cooler than the right grip. I removed all the connectors and refitted them only to find that it made no difference.

I phoned R&G in the UK, but there is no one to answer the phones, All options end up with an answering machine. No problems, I sent them an email asking if there was anything that I should check to see if I had a faulty grip. Ten days later I am still waiting for an answer.

Conclusion: Steer clear of R&G products as there is no after sales support.

UPDATE:

I managed to contact someone on their Facebook page. It seems that the left grip being cooler than the right is quite normal as the left is fitted to the metal clip on, whereas the right is fitted to the insulated plastic twistgrip. This means that when initially switched on the left will be cooler until the metal underneath warms, and then after a while they will both end up being the same.

I will sort the photos and post another thread with the fitment instructions at a later date.

My niece has just ordered a Ducati Monster 821 from Ducati Winchester. She also ordered the R&G tail tidy to be fitted on delivery. When her bike arrives and I have looked that the tail tidy, I might order one for the Supersport too and will do a post about fitment.

Thank you R&G.

 

Ducati 939 Supersport panniers.

The Supersport has now got nearly 4000 kms on it, and I have loved riding every one of them. One of the first things that I bought was a tank bag, a Givi magnetic one that holds 15 litres. It is the same as the one that can be bought at a Ducati dealer for this bike and fits very well. I have also fitted a USB socket to the front of the bike to plug the tank bag in.

As this bike is such a great all rounder it will benefit from more luggage space. The Ducati panniers that are a very expensive optional extra, just don’t seem as well made as I would expect them to be. 

They also sit very high and to the rear of the rear axle. I prefer weight to be low and as far forward as it can be. So I had some thoughts.

One thing that I did not really want was a set of pannier frames on the bike when I have not got any luggage fitted, it would ruin the looks of a very beautiful bike. So I took the ST2 panniers and frames and started to modify.

I have removed the rear footrests from my bike as I never carry passengers, that allows me to fit the panniers slightly further forward and use the footpeg mount as a pannier rack mount. After cutting the brackets off the standard Ducati ST Pannier mounts I made new brackets to suit the Supersport. There is a strong point at the forward end of the rear numberplate/light hanger that is attached with 8mm bolts, so I used that along with the rear footpeg mount, also 8mm.

The prototype fits very well and looks fine on the bike. The best bit is that it is very quick to attach and remove the mount. So I made a time lapse video to demonstrate.

If anyone wanted to replicate this mount but wants to keep the rear foot pegs, then that would not be a problem, but the bikes rear indicators would need to be move backwards somehow, and the front mount would need to be longer.

As with any panniers on a bike they should not be overloaded (max about 10kgs) and high speed should be avoided.

I will update when I have refined the mounting. The silver pannier inserts are removable and could be painted.

Ducati Supersport horn

When I bought my first new bike back in 1977 at the age of 18, I had my fathers words in my mind, “Make sure that every bike that you own has good lights and a good horn”. That BMW R75/7 had both.

Here we are 40 years later and I have just bought the new Ducati Supersport 939. This bike comes with some decent lighting as standard and has the LED strip for daytime conspicuity, nothing needed there then. The horn on the other hand was like Mickey Mouse farting! It could not be heard over the sound of the engine on tickover. Bikers who have visited this area will know that there is one huge danger on the roads in this part of France – Belgian car drivers. A good horn stops them in their tracks.

The horn of choice was the DENALI Soundbomb Split. I went for the split as there is not much room on the Supersport and with the split I could use both sides of the bike. Here is the kit:

The part on the left is the dual tone air trumpet, the fitted aluminium bracket is my construction – more of that later, centre is the compressor and on the right is the air hose to connect the two. The kit also came with a relay which I threw away and fitted a better quality one.

The trumpet was fitted under the left fairing fillet panel with the home made bracket.

These are the two bolts that hold the fillet panel on, remove them and pull the panel rearwards and it comes off.

The following two pictures show the bracket that I made from aluminium to hold the trumpet. This is bolted with a rubber packer so that it is insulated for vibration from the bracket.

The bracket holds the trumpet out of sight below the fillet panel, and attaches to the top radiator mount and the bolt that holds the existing horn in place. Here it is in position.

The trumpet must have some clearance around it so that it when it is in operation it is not able to touch anything. The original horn is left in place and left connected, it can be seen in front (right in picture) of the bracket leg.

The compressor was fitted on the other side of the bike, also on a bracket bolted to the top radiator mount. The radiator expansion tank hose is a hindrance to using an allen key on this bolt, so a hex head bolt was fitted.

The relay was operated by piggyback wires from the original horn. The reason for keeping that horn is that the electrical system will not operate the Soundbomb alone as it draws too much power and the bike thinks that there is something wrong. The compressor is wired to the battery through the relay and a 25 amp fuse. Note the carbon fibre mounting bracket on this side. I have to thank my aircraft career for the ability to make brackets!

The horn button on the bike is now a thing to be wary of, I would not use it to say hello to someone on the side of the road as the ground shakes when it is pressed. Watch out Belgian drivers!