An 848 update

Folks will remember that I fitted the Lithium battery, not to save weight, but to see if they were all that they are cracked up to be. I still can’t feel the 3 kgs weight loss when riding the bike, but the battery is performing well. It cranks the engine quicker than the old battery did and has not needed any charging while the bike is idle in the garage.

The Worx exhaust is also working fine, it is a very pretty exhaust with little cut outs in the ends of the db killers. You will need to go back to that post to see the pictures. The exhaust is LOUD, but is a very pleasant sound. I fitted discs (old pennies beaten down to 30mm diameter) into the db killers to see if anything changed, it made no difference at all. With the Worx fitted the bike pulls a little stronger from lower revs, perhaps that is due to the lack of catalytic converters. The Worx is also quite a bit lighter than the original silencers.

There is also a post earlier about the exhaust valve motor eliminator. That is still fitted with no problems and I could not even say if that makes much difference any more, I have forgotten how it felt with the valve motor.

The headlight is fine as it is with the bi-xenon projector and HID in the right side and a H11 LED in a fixed Ducati projector (dip only) in the left. In normal daytime riding it looks like both lights are on and they look the same, but in the dark the LED adds nothing to the illumination of the road ahead. The next generation headlight with two HID bi-xenon’s is being built at the moment, but this one is going to be fitted with a relay and switch so that the headlights do not need to be on during the day and a pair of angel eyes will be fitted for daytime riding.

The Metzeler M7RR tyres are great and give confidence over every road surface, but the bike is such a peach to ride that I never expect it to frighten me. A great combination of tyre and bike then!

The back of the bike has the TST tail light and the LED indicators with LED brake light fitted to them. Everything is working fine with it as it is. I have not had time to fit the flash rate controller that I bought from ebay to see if it slows the indicator flash, but will do that over the next few weeks.

I have yet another video camera to add to the Gopros that I own, this one is called a Polaroid Cube Plus, and unlike the Gopros has built in image stabilisation produces better videos. The mounting options are also better. The cube also does time lapse so I made a little video of the bike on a windy day to test that function. Here it is:

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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.

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.

bulbs1

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.

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).

Headlight split and main beam improvement.

Thanks to a fellow Ducati rider I obtained a spare headlight to start modifying. I paid him by paypal and he sent the headlight well packaged to me here in France. It did take rather a long time to arrive but that was the fault of the French parcel system, Chronopost, I won’t go into that apart from to say that third world countries have a better system! Anyway Thanks to the seller and to www.ducatiforum.co.uk where I put out the plea for a headlight.

onewholeltThe dip beam is on the left as you look from the front and the main beam on the right, in this post I will be working on the main beam.

rearwholeThis is looking at the back of the headlight unit. Connector number 1 is the three wire connector for dip, main and earth wires. Numbers two are the sidelights, these will be changed from small halogen bulbs to LED bulbs.

dipwblbIf you remove the cover numbered three you will see the back of the dip beam with the Halogen H11 bulb fitted.

dipshieldAfter taking the bulb out you will see the shield that gives the dip beam cut off. It is at the bottom because the light that comes out of the headlight light is turned upside down at the focal point so this only allows light to shine downward from the dip beam.

mainshldIf we now look into the main beam projector on the left side of the bike we see that there is also a shield! This one is fitted at the top so only allows light to shine upwards. It is crazy to have a shield in the main beam in the first place, but the reason is that Ducati were cheap when buying projectors and only bought one sort – the one with a shield and fitted an upside down dip to the main beam side! The thing is that this shield is so easy to remove and cost nothing to do.
grazebeforeThis is the graze on the main beam side. The cover is not cracked and the damage is not near the focal point of the main beam projector. I pulled out my Micromesh kit and set about it as if it was a Harrier aircraft canopy. My Micromesh kit was probably last used by me on a Harrier or Jaguar! Anyway, after about a hour it looked like this:

grazeafterI am happy with that for now, I will give it another going over at a later date.

Next the heat gun came out and a selection of flat bladed screwdrivers were assembled to split the two halves of the headlight. It is not a difficult job just fiddly. If you use too much heat then the black part of the headlight will distort, not a problem as you can heat it again afterwards and reshape it.

parted

The main beam projector is removed by unscrewing the three adjustment screws from the back of the headlight, I have marked them in red here. Put a small amount of oil on the thread before unscrewing as it makes life easier.mainoffThe bracket must then be removed from the projector:

projout1This is just a case of removing three nuts and bolts. You can see that I have put F in pencil on mine to show which is front. I also wrote “bottom” on the projector although there is a large hole at the bottom.

projscrewThese two screws are then removed to reveal the inside of the projector.

shldscrewAnd there is the offending shield inside the projector. It is held on with one screw, why Ducati could not have removed this at the factory I’ll never know.

shldgoneHere the shield is removed and is laying on the pencil, being a perfectionist that I am I did not see the point in the bracket that held the shield either!

brktgoneSo I removed that too. It is only made of cast alloy so a couple of holes drilled allows it to be snapped off, and then a rotary file makes it all smooth.

After this I polished the inside of the projector lens as it looked milky and put it back together.

lensesThis is it reassembled. Note the difference in the cleaned lens on the right and the uncleaned dip beam on the left!

At this stage I could put the whole headlight unit back together and for no cost have a headlight that will give a huge improvement in light when main beam is selected. Therefore this is a free modification that just needs a bit of time and patience to do.

I will not reassemble yet as I have a dip beam modification to do will not only improve the dip, but will further improve the main. I also have to play with some LEDs, well what did you expect!

 

 

 

HID xenon conversion part 1

This post will concentrate on fitting a HID (High Intensity Discharge) xenon kit to a vehicle that has a projector headlight fitted as standard, that includes the Ducati 848 and its big brothers, and the ST2 and ST4. Other bikes such as the older BMW R1100S also have projectors fitted and can be upgraded in the same way.

I would not consider fitting a HID xenon to any light that does not have a projector due to the HID giving out about 3 times as much light, (35 watt version) as a 55 watt halogen bulb. The shield in the projector stops any of that light straying into other road users eyes.

There are vendors on ebay who will try and sell halogen bulbs and call them HID or xenon, but they are halogen, if there is no ballast then it is not a HID. Ebay is the best and cheapest place to buy a kit, and most kits for sale in the US or Europe, started life in China and on ebay. Buying from ebay will also ensure that you are getting the very latest and smallest ballasts on the market rather than some previous  generation, bigger ballasts from some ones old stock.

First decision to make is the power that you want, two versions are available, 35 or 55 watts. The standard halogen bulb fitted to your headlight is a 55 watt. The watts in these cases are a measure of electrical power consumed and not light output, that is measured in Lumen. A 35 watt  HID xenon has nearly three times the light output of a 55 watt halogen. If you use a 35 watt HID xenon bulb then you must also use a 35 watt ballast.

The second decision is the colour of the bulb, measured in “k”, a 4300k is about the same white as daylight and a 6000k is bluer, but puts out no more light than the 4300k – bigger is not better. You also need to know what type of halogen bulb is used in your standard projector. The Ducati 848 etc use a H11 and the ST range a H1 or H3 (I can’t remember which).

Below is a kit that was ordered separately as a bulb and a ballast from ebay for around £8 for the lot.

kitThe part ringed in green is the 35 watt ballast. I know that it has DUFF written on it as the black wire coming out has been damaged. The red wire is the input.

The bulb is ringed in red. In this case it is a 6000k H11. It comes, as they all do, with the cable to supply 12 volt power to the red lead of the ballast and two plugs to take the very high voltage out of the ballast.

kitconnHere you see the connector for the 12 volt in, circled in red, and the two connectors for the bulb supply, circled in green. The hard part of installation is finding where to fit the ballast, but this ballast is a very thin modern one and fits behind the triangular panel inside the right mid fairing on the 848.

hidbulbThis shows the only part that needs to be fitted now the ballast is located. The HID bulb (green) needs to be fitted in place of the standard H11 halogen, and the two wires arrowed in red need to be fitted to the original plug supplying the halogen bulb. I avoid touching the bulb just as I would a halogen due to the oils in human skin. As the ballast will be outside of the headlight enclosure a rubber grommet is supplied to fill the hole than needs to be cut into the back of the headlight.

Does it make much difference? Well here is a short video that I made in my garage with the Gopro. The first light that you see is the 6000k HID xenon dip beam. The sharp beam cut off can clearly be seen.

When the main beam comes on (a standard 55 watt halogen H11) you can clearly see that it is not as bright and more yellow than the dip which stays on. At one stage I put my hand over the dip so that just the halogen main can be seen, that shows that it only lights toward the top as there is a shield inside that light too, it is just a dip fitted upside down! If that shield were removed there would be a better spread of light from the main. That will be the subject of another post.

The main thing is that people can see the difference between the two light technologies and can understand how a 35 watt HID xenon gives so much more light than a 55 watt halogen.

There is, however, one disadvantage to the HID, it does not light instantly like any other bulb, but takes a few seconds to come to full brightness. This is the reason that I will leave a halogen in the main beam for the flash function.

Doing this mod took me about 45 minutes and needed no special tools other then a 25 mm hole cutter to cut the plastic. It has been running for a few hundred miles without problem.