The first pictures.

Today is Sunday. I collected the bike on Thursday in the rain and it has rained since apart from a brief spell yesterday afternoon. My wife and I pulled the Supersport out of the garage to clean it and take some pictures. While it has been in the garage I have spent some time going through the various settings and modes on the bikes electronics and display, and have removed the rear footrests as they will only be needed when a certain person visits from the UK. I have also cut down the large rear number plate hanger that is too big for our French number plates.

Here are the pictures:

The front of the bike looks quite pretty while at rest, I thought that the 848 was a piece of art, but this one is too.Then when the ignition is turned on the daytime running light illuminates. It is an array of LEDs and makes the bike look more aggressive.

These two side views show the lines of the bike, note that without the black rear footrests and their hangers above the exhausts, the lines are a bit cleaner.

It looks like it should be quite an aggressive (uncomfortable) riding position from this angle, but that is not the case, it is very comfortable. The long part that holds the rear number plate will be changed for a shorted on in due course.

The business end. This instrument has a wealth of information. The two boxes on the bottom left and right can be scrolled though to show average speeds, fuel consumption, distance left on fuel in the tank and much much more.

The selectable riding modes, “Sport”, “Touring” and “Urban” are also selectable and programmable to give various throttle responses, engine power settings, traction control and ABS settings. If it sounds complicated then it is not too bad once you have read the huge instruction manual.

More to come.

Ignition key

The standard ignition key for a 1967 Ducati 250 single is so basic that any bent nail would work to switch the ignition on. If someone wants to steal a bike then they will probably lift the bike into a van, but I am not going to make life easy for them. As I never had the key for Dinky, I used a fuse holder inside the headlight and just inserted a 10 amp fuse to switch the ignition on.

I bought an ignition switch from ebay for the grand sum of £3.50 but at least it has a double sides key and can’t be switched on with a bent nail. The only thing was fitting it. I do not want the do anything to Dinky that is not reversible, that means that she can be returned to a standard bike without any effort in the future. For that reason I cannot just remove the old ignition switch from the headlight shell, enlarge the hole and fit the new switch, as that would damage the shell. The end result was to make an aluminium bracket that fits to the top of one of the front forks. The new switch, with key, is indicated in green in the following photos , the red arrow is the old switch.

ign2 ignsw

The result looks quite neat.

The next job was to fit the headlight for the first time. An LED bulb was fitted into the sidelight position to be sympathetic to the puny charging system on this old bike and will be used as a running light. If I switch the 45 watt headlight on instead of the LED then it will use just about all of the electrical power used by the little bikes generator.  I was surprised to find that the headlight lens is plastic and was just thinking how advanced Ducati were in 1967 to fit plastic lenses, my guru Craig, shattered that illusion and told me that it should be glass.


It does look rather cute now though.

As most of the major stuff is done for now on Dinky the Ducati, I shall move back to some work on Ronnie the BMW RS with his cafe racer conversion.

The ultimate headlight for the ST2

Please note that the videos in this post have a narrative so please turn on your speakers.

The ultimate headlight because there have been many ideas and a few mock ups so far. The headlight that has been running till now has a HID bi-xenon projector with a 35 watt ballast and a blue tinge bulb in it. As a bi-xenon supplies both a dip and a main beam from the single HiD bulb there was no need to have a separate main beam bulb so I put a cheap LED bulb in there instead. So rather than the standard setup of using a 55 watt halogen bulb for dip and then another 55 watt halogen for main, consuming 110 watts on main beam, the system used 35 watts for about 3 times the amount of light.

Since that was fitted my wife has taken a liking to the ST2 as I have been riding the 848. Most of the time she is behind and one thing has become apparent, the headlight is not very noticeable from the front. Due to the huge amount of light coming out of a HID xenon it has to be in a projector as the shield stops any stray light while on dip beam. This is a disadvantage as maximum visibility is needed at all times for other drivers. French law requires bikes to be ridden with lights on at all times. What was needed was a bright LED that would switch off when the main lights are on for good visibility during daylight  but no dazzle at night. I then found these on ebay:

They have two functions but the 30 watt LED is far too bright even for a daytime running light.

This is what has been in the main beam position up to this week. As can be seen the cheap H1 LED in the main beam has fallen apart due to the vibration on the bike.

The following video shows how to take the headlight apart:

Once you are at this stage there are four screws on the back of the projector mounting plate that need to be removed to change the projector. Even if you leave the standard projector in there, it is worth dismantling just to clean the inside of the glass as can be seen in the video, I would guess that the light output from your standard bulb will increase enough to notice even it, if this is all that you do.

Once the ebay light is fitted into the main beam side of the Ducati headlight, the 30 watt LED is wired into the same circuit as the cut off shutter in the projector. This means that it will illuminate as a flasher even when the headlights are switched off. The “angel eye” wires are a bit more tricky, the red wire (+) is wired into the bikes fuse box to a supply that is live with the ignition on, but dead with ignition off. I have fitted extra fuses into my fuse box to supply this and the voltmeter, and have fitted a 1 amp fuse (12 watts). The earth wire from the “angle eye” is wired to the supply side of the sidelight bulb. By doing this the “angle eye” will earth through that bulb as long as it is switched off, but should that bulb be switched on the “angel eye” will extinguish.

So what you see now is as follows:

Ignition on – Angel eye on, 5 watts consumption, everything else off.

Headlight switch in park, first position – parking light on, rear light on, about 8 watts consumption, angel eye off.

Headlight switch in dip, second position – HID xenon comes on 35 watts consumption.

Main beam selected – same 35 watt HID xenon, cut off shutter open, plus 30 watt LED on the other side.

The 30 watt LED is also the head light flasher at all times.

Here is the end result, the larger picture shows beam patterns on the wall while the smaller shows what the headlight looks like to oncoming traffic.

And there it is, the ultimate headlight using modern technology in a late ’90s designed headlight. It now fulfils all the functions that it should whilst using the minimum electrical power that it can and puts out huge amounts of light compared with the standard setup.

Back to the ST2 electrics and headlight

My wife has taken ownership of the ST2 while I use the 848. The ST2 is a much nicer bike to ride than her much newer BMW F800ST anyway. On trips out she has the HID bi-xenon headlight switched on as is the rule here in France. A couple of times she has told me over the intercom that the voltmeter is only reading 12.6 volts, so I know that there is not much charge going into the battery. As I always ride at the front (women can’t navigate) I have noticed that the sharp dip beam cut off in the headlight does not really do much for visibility. Both problems have been sorted with yet another headlight design.

In this design there is a circular LED “angel eye” as a daytime running light, A conventional side light for parking with the headlight switch in the first position and the HID dip on the second position. When the parking light or headlight is switched off the “angel eye” switches off. This way it can throw more light in all directions for the daytime to make the bike more noticeable and does not stay on with the lights at night so as to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers.  A 30 watt LED light is fitted inside the ring to provide a headlight flash function. as there would be none without the dip beam being on otherwise.

The ST2 is now very noticeable during the daytime from the front. The voltmeter is showing 13.9 volts at tick-over so we know that the battery is charging, and the daytime running light is only consuming about 5 watts. It is wired through a 1 amp fuse in a spare position in the standard fuse box.

I am not sure if I should make videos and take photos as it is some effort when I am not sure that there are many ST2s and ST4s out there with owners wanting to modify the lights, if I am wrong and there is someone then let me know and I’ll go and document it.

Hydraulic bike lift.

As we own a number of bikes, and I do all the servicing and work on them myself, A hydraulic bike lift has been one of the best things that I have invested in. It was a standard lift with some minor modifications. The first mod was to drill a hole on each side of the platform and insert a long bolt so that I can strap any bike to the lift before elevating. The second mod was to remove the very poor design of front wheel holder and fit my Constand wheel chock. This makes positioning a bike very simple and a one man job. Here is the standard lift.


I have a pair of magnetic screw trays at the front for placing fairing screws in.

When I was working on the Ducati ST2 starter the other day I found that the biggest problem with working under a bike is the light. There are florescent tubes on the garage ceiling, but that is not much use. I could fit the same to the lift, but they break easily and they need 230 volts, which I don’t want in my work area.

I ordered a 5 metre strip of waterproof, self stick, 5050 LEDs from ebay for less than £8, LINK HERE.  These can be cut to any length and I stuck 1.8 metres on each side of the bike lift.



These are connected to a small 2 amp 12v wall transformer, but will eventually be powered by a small battery fitted under the front of the lift, with switches to switch either or both sides on.





Some of the pictures look very poor quality, that is due to the camera trying to compensate for the brightness of the LEDs.

Thank you Will in Ireland for giving me the idea!


Headlight bulbs – general

All over the bike forums there seem to be people asking about LED headlight bulbs at the moment. We are not talking sidelight/parking light/running lights etc these are easy to change to LEDs and, as they are visibility lights and you don’t need to use them to see the road ahead, they do not need to be anything special. We are talking about headlights, dip beam and main beam, the things that you use to see where you are going.

Halogen Headlights.

Most modern vehicles these days use a light bulb known as a HALOGEN. The halogen bulb has been around for many years and has been developed to what is now the pinnacle of its efficiency. Most single filament halogen bulbs consume 55 watts of power and put out around 1400 lumens of light. They are very cheap to buy and produce, and are great value for money. The halogen bulb is on its last legs development wise and is probably the best that it is ever going to be. Some manufacturers are claiming all sorts of magic things for their bulbs (130% more light is one) but there is very little difference between the bulbs and you would probably need electronic equipment to see that difference. In conclusion, buy a halogen bulb from a known manufacturer and you will have the best available. Before you go out and buy 100 watt versions of halogen bulbs, remember that watts is the power consumed and more of that extra power will turn into heat than light, so for 90% more electricity, you may only get 25% more light, but enough heat to melt the wires on your bike! The second bulb from the left in the picture below is a 55 watt halogen bulb with a H11 base as fitted to many Ducatis.


The first bulb (left) is a 35 watt HID xenon with a H1 base, The third is a COB LED with a H11 base, and the right hand one is a SMD LED with a H1 base.

LED headlights.

The LED bulbs above (the two on the right) are absolutely useless as a headlight bulbs. They would be fine for a show bike that never goes on the road, but will not give any decent light to light a road ahead. The COB LED uses about 8 watts of power, but at a guess only puts out around 500 lumens. The other LED (on the right) will use about 2 watts of power and puts out as much light as a dead glow worm.

If you want LED headlights then be prepared to spend the money on complete LED headlight units as LED bulbs in halogen reflectors just do not work. Manufacturers like BMW and Ducati motorcycles, and Seat, VW, Audi, Mercedes cars all make LED headlights but they are designed to be LED headlights and are completely different to anything else. These are being fitted to save electrical energy and improve longevity rather than to boost light output.

HID xenon.

These are the headlights that are often seen on upmarket cars. They consume 35 watts and have a light output of around 3000 lumens, over twice as much as halogen bulbs. The downsides of HID xenon lights are that they need a ballast fitting to fire them, see next picture, and they need to be fitted into projector headlights to control the amount of stray light and avoid dazzling other drivers. Both my Ducati ST2 and the 848 have projector headlights as standard. Projectors can be identified by looking at the front of the headlight and seeing what looks like a round magnifying glass. The projector has a physical metal shield inside to provide the sharp cut off required. The lack of this shield and the subsequent stray light is the reason that HID xenon bulbs should never be fitted into normal reflector headlights. When they come towards you at night you will sometimes see HID xenon lights as blue, they are not blue as standard, but the blue light in the visible light spectrum bends more than the other colours, so the blue is the first colour that bends around the edge of the metal shield in the projector. Below is a picture of a modern HID ballast.


If you retrofit HID xenon lights to your projector equipped Ducati then you will have to find room for this ballast. It is about 2 cms thick. These lights use less power than standard lights so would put less strain on the bikes electrical system. Some people think that a relay should be used with this, but after some experiments with starting and running these units I have come to the conclusion that a relay is not needed, if you use an inline fuse then a 5 amp is fine for each ballast.

Bulb bases.

In the pictures above you will see that there are two different bases on the bulbs, H1 and H11. These have nothing to do with the light output of any bulb that is fastened to the base, it is only the fitting of the bulb to the headlight. I have shown the H1, H3 has a small wire tail and is used in some headlights and many foglights, H4 is a twin filament bulb for dip and main beam in one bulb but with a large base, H7 is a more modern fitment used on some BMW bikes, and other things, H11 is used on the 848. There are more but a Google image search will show you those.

I made a little video today to illustrate the difference between the LED and the HID. Both bulbs are on in the video but I then put a bit of card over the HID light to show what the beam looks like for the LED.

This one shows the lights from the front. This proves that LEDs are great to be seen with but not for seeing the road with.

Mark 1 headlight fitted!

Okay there are three basic reasons for changing the headlight. Light output, power used and looks.

The looks is easy because the 848 headlight is a great design on a great looking bike, the only thing that could look better would be to see two lights switched on while it is running rather than one, that has been sorted in the mark 1 headlight.

The light output is not too difficult either, use a HID xenon kit. To get better light for the standard light you would need two HID kits, one for dip and one for main, but that would need to have two ballasts fitted and space is at a premium. The answer is to fit a Bi-xenon projector (see earlier posts) in place of the fixed shield Ducati projector in the right side. This means that one HID bulb gives both dip and main beam with only one ballast.

The electrical power used by a HID xenon kit is 35 watts rather than 55 watts of the original bulb despite giving out about three times as much light. One 35 watt bulb also gives dip and main beam whereas the standard light uses two 55 watt bulbs (110 watts) on main beam.

By having a Bi-xenon on the right hand side that gives dip and main beam the left side becomes redundant, so I turned the left  projector upside down, to make that just another dip, then fitted an LED bulb inside which makes it look great. It does not provide a decent dip to ride with and uses hardly any electrical power, but is seen by other motorists.

The results can be seen in the video below.

There are two videos one after another from different positions. As you are looking from the front the left becomes the right so the HID xenon is in the left as you are looking at it and the LED fixed dip in the right.

I have called this the mark 1 headlight because everything evolves. The mark one could have a standard halogen bulb fitted to the dip/main projector if the owner does not want, or is legally not allowed, to use a HID kit.

The Mark 2 headlight is being planned at this moment and will also incorporate a relay and a switch so that the headlights can be switched off while working on the bike rather than riding, and to enable the bike to start up before switching on the headlight. (Being kind to the battery).