Contributed Tech Stuff - LED Lights - Part 3 - Front Directionals

Contributed by F. Robert Falbo

Disclaimer: Information and ideas contained in this section are solely those of the contributor(s) and not those of Harley-Davidson®, Harley-Davidson® of Uica, H.O.G.®, or the Erie Canal H.O.G.® Chapter.

I tallked about LED headlghts in Part 1, in part 2 - I talked about LED brake lights. Part 3 is about LED front Directional lights. As I've mentioned before, being seen is an important safety aspect of motorcycle riding, and if others can't see what you're doing, or that you're turning, that's obviously a bad thing.

Harley usually uses the ubiquitous SAE#1157 dual filament incandescent bulb for their directional lights. Sure, they've been in use for years, and the do the job they were intended to do, but while many cars & trucks have gone to LED directional lights, Harley has clung to the tried and true (and cheap) 1157 bulb. This has a drawback when used in Harly's front directional lights because of the small size enclosures they use in their styling. They look great, but function wise, not so much so.

So how do you improve the visibility of those small directional lights? Well, you can get lights with bigger lenses - not the most aesthetically pleasing solution for most people - or you can increase the intensity of the existing fixtures - the way most bikers go. Since this is about LEDs, I'm going to talk about using them to increase your visibility.

Modern Harleys have used the same front directional lights for some time now. They're barely visible in sunlight and easily missed in traffic at night, but they've been part of what make a harley a harley for years, with little or no improvement for visibility.

While you have plenty of choices when deciding to replace it with a higher visibility LED light - from your basic replacement that substitutes an LED panel for that 1157 bulb, to those that offer you a completely different housing with a super-bright LED. I think the best way to increase your visibility is to replace that 1157 bulb with an array of LEDs that are much brighter and give you an extra benefit.

(Click to view larger images.)

When I purchased a new bike I decided to purchase replacement LED bulbs designed for the bike. I'd been reading other people's comments about Custom Dynamics's LED conversion kits for Harley's lights, and after a bit more reading I took the plunge and bought a set for my rear brake/directional lights. They were simple to put in - simply pry off the red lens with a screwdriver inserted into the notch in the lens, remove the old bulb, push the wired base in it's place, twist the LED platform a few times to get the wires to coil, and hold the LED platform in place while you snap the lens back on. The Custom Dynamics LED kits have 48 LEDs on each platform, and they light red, not white, because the red lenses let all the red light through. If they were white, the red lenses would block the blue component of the white light, resulting in less brightness.

(Click to view larger images.)

So why not do the same for my front directionals? And so I did! As I mentioned before, I got an extra benefit from changing my front directionals to the Custom Dynamics LEDs - I got additional light in the form of a set of auxiliary lights. Custom Dynamics's Front directional LED platform contains 48 LEDs, the same as it's rear brake/directional LED platform, but instead of all the LEDs being amber, the outer 24 LEDs are white, and the inner 24 LEDs are amber. So while the bike is operating, the white LEDs are on, like really bright running lights. This helps others see you in the daylight, and they function like auxillary lights at night - filling in a lot of area. When you turn, the amber inner section blinks on, and the white outer section shuts off, turning back on when the signaling ends. What a great idea! You can see in the photos the ring of white LEDs in normal operation, and when signaling a turn.

I almost forgot - You need to purchase a set of clear lenses for your front directionals if you do this upgrade. I used lenses from Chris Products - they make replacement lenses for Harleys, and Harley-Davidson® of Utica carries them in stock.

So here's some information on stuff...

Manufacturer Model Part Number Price Application
Custom Dynamics Dynamic Ringz™ GEN-200-AW-1157™ $89.95 Bikes with the bullet style signals.
Chris Products Clear Lens DHD5C $2.00 Bikes with the bullet style signals.

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