Intro: LED Accent Lights for Your Ride!
So I had the bike in the carport for the winter and was dying to add my own personal touch to it, and after doing the usual sportbike mods - Fender eliminator, LED turn signals, HID headlight, Rim Stripes etc... I decided it was time for some LED accent lights. I ordered 3 strips of purple 12v waterproof LED light strips off Ebay for about $6 each. They can be found easily with the search term "led light strip" with color specified. I also bought 2 LED valve caps for the tires, which light up with movement, but there's no instruction needed for those...
I put the 3 strips in strategic locations to illuminate and draw attention to certain aspects. I put 2 strips on either side inside the fairings over the engine blocks, where there is a vent hole in the fairing, the lights illuminate the glossy black frame and beefy 4 cylinder engine on either side. The other strip I put under the tail to illuminate the rear tire and shiny exhaust on either side.
After a few tries at a power source and a couple fuses later (I don't have a multimeter, I'm pretty ill equipped) I ended up using the brake/running light to power the circuit (which has interesting results, since when the brake is applied, the power is routed to another circuit to brighten the light, the LED's are extinguished. I think I'll keep it this way because it's more interesting). I also had an unused SAS (Steering Assistance System?) switch on the 'dash' of the bike which was ridiculously convenient, so I wired the lights to that so I can turn them off during day riding.
Step 1: Materials
So what you're going to need IS:
- Pliers (needlenose)
- Wire Cutters/strippers (I don't have any, I just use the cutter on the pliers)
- Zap straps (zip ties)
- Electrical tape
- LED strips
- Velcro (industrial strength, self adhesive)
- Appropriate gauge wire
- Soldering equipment if you feel the need for secure connections (I just twist together and E-tape it)
Anything else you're comfortable using for very simple electronics projects.
Step 2: Attaching Side Strips
Here you will have to attach the strips to the fairings and fender. For the fairings on either side
Take the light strip and cut a fitting amount of velcro, the same length and width of the light. This will attach the LED to the fairing, and be removable, so that when you take the fairing off to do maintenance, the light can be attached and removed easily. I haven't had a problem with heat near the LED's yet so it shouldn't be a problem in the future.
The glue on the Velcro wasn't strong enough to adhere to the strip itself, so I did 3 zip ties along the length of the light on one side of the velcro and it attaches fine.
Do this for both sides.
Step 3: Attach Tail Strip
The tail strip is a little different as there is no reason to attach velcro. Remove both seats, on my bike, the passenger seat is on top of all the wiring for the tail lights which is where I tapped the power for the LED's from, so leave the seat off for the remainder of this project.
Once the seats are off, find the dead center of the plastic fender. Mark with a sharpie. Then, on either side of this center line, mark on either side about 2cm apart (or double the width of the strip you're using) every 10cm or so up the fender. These marks will be drilled so that the light can be attached with zap straps on the underside of the fender.
Drill one small hole at the bottom (or top, depending on where your wiring is) for the - & + wires to come from the light to under the seat where the power supply will be.
Secure the light with zap straps under the tail and feed the wires out the small hole drilled.
Step 4: Find a Suitable Power Source
The best power source would be the license plate light (I didn't use this due to modifications and circuit overloads). If this doesn't work for you, you want to find something that has power when the key is turned to ignition (kind of like 'acc' in a car). If you have a multimeter this should be easy. Also, if you could figure the resistance out, you could wire it directly to the battery, but a switch would be essential, otherwise the battery would be dead very soon since the lights would be on constantly.
Anyways, find a power source and wire the Led's directly to the pos and neg. Use this power source for all of the lights. Be sure to test it in many conditions before soldering or taping your connections up. Run the bike, rev it, turn the signals on, pump the brakes, make sure everything still works normally.
If all is well, finalize all connections, solder then tape them up (or just tape them).
Step 5: Incorporate a Switch Into the Circuit
If you want to put a switch into the circuit, which I would recommend for many reasons, being that these lights might not be legal where you are, so you can turn them off when the law is looking. So you save your battery and you can turn them off during the daytime.
You can get a switch from any old electronic project around the house or Canadian Tire, The Source, or use a conveniently located unused one like I had the luxury of doing.
Put the switch where you can access it relatively easily, I wouldn't drill your fairings out and put the switch in there, maybe hide it under the seat, this one's up to you.
As for technical stuff, cut the positive wire coming from the power source after the bike element (taillight, license plate light) and before the LED strip and extend the wire to either side of the switches connections. I had to use trial and error for this because of lack of a multimeter, but turn the bike on where the LED's would normally be illuminated and try either side of the switch with the wires and turn flip the switch either way until you find a setting that turns the LED's on and off. Tape and or/solder the connections (not in that order...)
Step 6: Replace Everything
Re-install seats, fairings and whatever else you had to take off to install the lights, and everything should be hidden once you're done.
Step 7: Finished!
Now take your bike to the local hot spot at night and cruise around. I justify these lights as safety additions, and make me more visible (albeit more distracting) at night. If it's ever a problem, I can just switch them off - even while I'm riding.
This is a much cheaper way of adding accent lights to your ride than extremely expensive 'professional' kits and installations.
Get creative, install lights everywhere and anywhere! I'm always looking for ideas since I'm not the most creatively adept.
Constructive feedback is greatly appreciated, as I'm constantly looking for something to do and improve on.
As for safety? I'm aware of the risks and hope you are too. Adding lights to your ride can be distracting to anyone around it (you included) so only do this if you accept the responsibility of potential consequences, which I assume you already take if you're riding such a two wheeled beast.