04-05-2013, 12:01 PM
R11GS Dig that crazy beak
Joined: May 2008
Location: Oroville, Washington, USA - 48.938665, -119.427047
Bring out your dead (threads that is)
I know this is an old thread that I started, but it still applies to our bikes. The last thing I did before putting the bike up last winter, was add a headlight relay harness to the system. Believe me I've tried every kind of special bulb in the old bus-style headlight of my R1100GS and I always was straining to see in the dark (especially during the fall when it gets dark fast and the deer come out to play). Sure I have auxiliary lights, which are great when no one else is around, but nothing I found would help me see when I had to run on low beams -- every auxiliary light I tried would get me the irritated flashing from oncoming traffic. Which, of course irritates me w/ all the folks that have higher wattage blue bulb HID tuners driving around out there that make you want to run off the road.
Anyway, I found a Touratech dual headlight kit on eBay that was used -- this one I bought for much less than on their website. It was of all metal construction with glass lenses. It used two regular H4 halogen bulbs. After installing I found it did no better, but really no worse at lighting up the road, even with two Silverstars. The plus was I think it looks better than the single headlight, but I didn't really hate the school bus light. I just wanted something that worked. The other plus was if one lamp goes out I could still get home on the other.
I broke down and bought a headlight relay harness from Eastern Beaver (http://www.easternbeaver.com/Main/Wi...s/h4_kits.html). In my case I consulted Jim, (email@example.com), first about which dual headlight harness would best suit my needs and bought the one he recommended with a relay for each bulb. It was relatively quick and plug and play w/ routing the wires to the battery (in my case the auxiliary fuse box) taking the most time. He also sells relay harnesses specifically designed for the R1100GS big bus cyclopes headlight too (with relays sealed against the elements so they can be outside the headlight housing because of the cramped space). In either case I am sure this one, relatively inexpensive fix, will help all my fellow R11GSers who are having trouble seeing in the dark. As has been said before putting a relay on for the bulb gets more power to the bulb and takes the strain off the headlight hi/lo switch -- something I've had to rebuild twice and then ended up replacing. And believe me the harness was much less than a new switch.
So, I have no comparison photos, but take my word for it, my low beams with Silverstars are actually useful now and no flashes from oncoming traffic because they are actually putting out the legal amount of light and in the correct position. However, if you did want to use slightly more powerful bulbs than recommended (and I'm not advocating that) you wouldn't have to worry about melted wires or switches going bad, because the relay harness eliminates the problem.
Why not just switch to HID?
I'm guessing that since HID conversions have gotten so much cheaper, that most people will op for this. I didn't do so because both my old bus headlight and the metal and glass TT dual setup were designed for H4 bulbs and putting in HID you will not get the optimum beam spread for which these reflectors were designed. There's also the where to hide the ballast situation, altho most people have found places to their liking under the beak, etc. Then you have to decide on whether 1) to go with the HID bulb that moves back and forth for hi/lo or 2) going for just HID low beams and using auxiliary for high or 3) have the bi-zenon with the small halogen bulb for high and the Zenon for low. The moving bulb sounded shaky to me as far as how long it would last -- the low HID and Aux. high or the two types of bulbs would have been the way I went if I did go to HID. You still might get in trouble in some states or countries for using HID at all though.
In my case with the TT Dual set up I had gave me a fourth and fifth option. I could have 4) tried to cram one high Zenon HID on one side and a low Zenon HID in the other or 5) an H4 Halogen high on one side and and an HID H4 low in the other. The TT dual's can be set up where both come on high/low or where only one bulb is lit at a time with one on with the high beam and the other on with the low beam. I have mine set up so they both light when on high or on low.
So, in conclusion, I think installing the relay harness is one of the best modifications you can make. For lighting, I could no longer live without this or my Signal Minder. You can make your own harness, which I've done before for auxiliary lighting, but a company like Eastern Beaver, is a safe bet for a quality, tidy looking harness and I highly recommend Jim's work.
P.S. You could do the same with the new Wunderlich dual headlight like LoneStar installed (great look by the way), you would have to build or buy your harness with H7 bulb holders instead I believe.
My dog hates my bike!
1999 R1100GS - Blue & White, the fastest colors.
Valley BMW Riders member "Bigfoot"
PaperBoy screwed with this post 04-05-2013 at 12:12 PM