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!

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Electrics – charging system

The Ducati 250 has does not have the correct regulator/rectifier fitted. The original probably gave up at some time over the last 50 years of its life and a previous owner fitted what looks like a British bike system that might even be older than the bike itself! The two parts are separate and are shown in the next picture by two green arrows.

oneThe other thing that can be seen from the picture above is the amateur wiring using any old bits of car and household cable with Lucar connectors crimped onto them. That will all need to be changed to look more original. While this old system was fitted I checked the voltages, Battery was 12.83 volts without engine running, I have a feeling that my voltmeter is over reading by about 0.3 volts. With the engine running it went up to 15.4 volts, so it is charging the battery, but even if that is 15.1 after deducting the assumed voltmeter error, it is too high for my liking. with the puny 35 watt headlight on it dropped to 13.7 volts, indicating that the 40 watt alternator is getting near its limit.

two

I bought this regulator/rectifier from ebay for the grand sum of £17 from China. It claims to be a Mosfet RR, but I am not so sure for that sort of money. Mosfet is a new type of RR that is bang up to date, it generates less heat and is supposed to be more efficient. Read about it on Google if you are are an electronics buff. The fact that it has three alternator inputs (I have marked them in yellow) say that it can be used on a more modern 3 phase generator, but in this single phase application it is fine to use just two inputs as that is all that comes from the generator. The other two connectors are for battery positive and earth.

threeThis is the new one fitted. There is plenty of space under the seat so it will get plenty of cool air.

The voltages are a bit different, the battery was still around 12.8 volts, but the running was now at a much more controlled 14.4 to 14.5 volts. Switching the light on still dragged that down to 13.7, so the battery is still charging.

On an old bike with no electronics the original 15+ volts would probably do little harm. It might shorten the life of the battery a bit, but you may never notice. I intend to fit an electronic ignition system made by Elektronik Sachse in Germany, but having spoken to the company it seems that there have been a couple of failures of their electronic boxes (I understand that the rate is miniscule, about 2 to 3%), and that may be due to the users bikes charging system producing an over voltage. There website is CLICK HERE.

This regulator will also fit my wife’s Ducati ST2, a bike that is known for weak electrics and a bike that is also fitted as standard with a single phase generator.

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.

Weight and batteries.

I am not a great believer in saving minuscule amounts of weight on a bike as in my opinion it does nothing. As an aviator I know that weight is proportional to acceleration and aerodynamics is proportional to top speed. Many vehicle manufacturers harp on about 0 to 60 mph, or 0 to 100 kph times, a totally useless figure for a road bike as there is never any need to accelerate that fast. To change a plastic part for a carbon fibre part and save 50 grams at a cost of £80 is only any good if you want to look at that part and it looks pretty. Joe Public will never notice that it is carbon and not plastic and you will not notice any increase in performance. What if we could save 3 kilos? I very much doubt that anyone would feel the difference in that either, after all it is only about the weight of 4 litres of fuel, and you could just put 4 litres less in your tank. The 848 is a fairly light bike in standard trim.

I am, however, a huge fan of technology and “toys”. I had a bit of money to spare, we don’t have road tax or MOTs on bikes here, so wondered what I could play with next. I found a battery on the web for the total of €105 (£80) but it was a Lithium rather than the old lead acid technology, so I ordered it to play with. When the box arrived this morning I thought it was empty!

battliwt

Here it sits on the scales at 605 grams. It claims 290 CCA (cold cranking amps)a measure of the ability to turn the engine. The battery behind is one that was in my garage with a claimed CCA of 210.

bat1wt

As you can see it is 3.5 kgs heavier! According to the label on top of the new lithium battery, it is a replacement for the above battery.

 

lable

But that great big heavy battery is not the one that is fitted to my 848, that has a much lighter battery fitted as shown below.

bat2wt

So the 848 battery is only 2.8 kgs heavier than the new battery, there is no CCA marked on this battery but I assume that it is over 200.

Ten minutes later I had removed the side panel and the battery clamp on the bike to reveal this.

oembattfit

A nice tight fit on the bike as that was the size of battery needed back in 2010 when my bike was built. After removal of the Yuasa YT12B-BS the scene ended up like this.

lifit

The lightweight rubber spacers come supplied with the new battery and when the retaining strap is fitted, it is very stable.

I switched the ignition on and watched the gauges go through the motions and the HID xenon dip beam headlight come on, and then I pressed the starter button. I was completely taken aback at the speed at which the engine cranked. As it ticked over I pushed to info button up one click to see the dashboard indicate that it was charging at 13.9 volts. The maximum for this type of battery is 15 volts but my 848 stays at around 13.8 to 14.1 volts so all should be good.

Rather than take the battery out and play with it on one of the other bikes, I decided to leave it fitted and see how it holds charge and how it performs. It should be fine as I understand that Ducati now fit lithium batteries to the 1299 Panigaleas standard.

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).