Glenda LED Light Kit (Dimmable) by Clearwater Lights
By Deryle Mehrten
Glenda LED Light Kit (Dimmable) by Clearwater Lights, The Clearwater Company, (916) 852-7029, www.clearwaterlights.com.
Since our 1998 K1200RS (bought used in 2001) I have had conspicuity lights mounted on the front of our Beemers. At the BMW MOA Rally in 2001 we bought a set of PIAAs for the 1998 K1200RS that later went to the ’04 K1200RS with the help of some new mounting brackets. Seems auxiliary light brackets can cost as much as the lights!
While at the 2010 BMW MOA Rally this year I found a pretty good deal on a set of Clearwater Lights that are the “newer” super bright LEDs and pull very low current. They can be dimmed and if connected to the high beam, can be toggled between the dimmed setting and 100% full on, which is really bright. The lights have a nice look to them and can be bought in several colors with matching or contracting bezels. We went with the black on black.
The first thing I did was to compare all the parts in the box with the parts list contained in the provided BMW K1200GT Installation Manual. The CANbus Adapter as identified in the Wiring diagram was not in the box. Specifically, the piece that replaces the running light socket in the headlight shell was not in the supplied parts. I contacted Clearwater Lights to report the missing piece and after a short conversation with one of the technicians I was connected to the owner. Glenn explained that most BMW CANbus buyers were not using the socket in the headlight shell, it was very difficult to near impossible to get to, and it was no longer a part of the kit. OK.
In order to make the lights dimmable, a small rheostat called the Volume Control POT needs a mounting location where it can be reached and operated by a heavily gloved hand. The Bar Mount picture in the Instruction Manual is not a K1200GT; it is a picture of a BMW, but not the K1200GT. Neither is the picture for the Fairing Mount suggestion a K1200GT, it’s a Honda. Neither mounting location fit the GT’s profile. After some searching it turns out the screws that hold the handlebar bolt cover on make an excellent location. To mount the rheostat on these screws the hole in the provided right angle bracket that the rheostat pushes through was expanded to 7mm and the mounting screw hole was enlarged to 9mm. After a bit of wire routing, the Volume Control POT looked pretty good with no interference with any body work or the tank bad. I put on my pair of Gerbing heated gloves and I could easily turn the knob up or down. The knob just pulls off so you can set it where you can easily see if it is turned up or down.
Next was the mounting of the main CANbus relay. The fuse block provided with the kit is rather large, taking up a lot of room that is needed to mount the High/Low relay. I replaced it with a Posi-Lock in-line fuse holder that left plenty of room for the High/Low relay to sit atop the main relay. The wires from the lights are long enough to reach the battery tray and routing them up to the main relay was easy with the body panels removed. Lots of small zip ties were used to keep everything tucked away.
The Installation Manual did not identify any specific locations to take power from to run the relays. The low beam light on the K1200GT is relayed so that it only comes on when the engine is running; nice feature, I wanted the Clearwater lights to do the same. The power socket to the head light is under the dash on the right hand side and can be wiggled loose with a bit work. That’s where I decided to use two small Posi-Taps to pull switched power to operate the CANbus relay and the High/Low relay.
Here I ran into another delay because of needed parts. First, I needed two Posi-Taps to make the two power connections the installation manual suggests and the kit came with only one. Second, the Posi-Twists provided were not big enough to handle all the wires once past three. Unfortunately none of local businesses in my neighborhood carry Posi-Lock products, so it was off to the web where I ordered a packet of Posi-Taps and an in-line fuse holder. It took a few days for them to show up at the door.
One more wiring diagram problem cropped up. The wire from the CANbus relay to the negative terminal on the battery was identified as Black/Red and did not match any of the wires in the kit I received. After closely comparing the two relays in the kit, I identified the correct wire. After sorting that out, all the electrical connections were made and the lights operated perfectly the first time I turned them on.
Note: When the bike is first turned on, the Clearwater lights will flash. I believe this is the computer looking to see if the headlights work and is enough current to trigger the Clearwater light’s relays. This could be a problem if one of the head lights is out and the computer is fooled by the relay circuit, you may not get a warning that you have a light out.
Mounting the light pods was the last step. The brackets provided were intended to mount on the front forks using the 6 mm screws that hold the front fender on. Longer screws and spacers were provided. On their first test trip, the lights did not stay in one position, they drooped down. I was reluctant to tighten the screws down with enough torque to keep them from moving. Those screws were going into threaded aluminum holes in some very expensive front forks and I did not want to strip them out. After some thought, and a bunch of trial fittings, I decided on using the front brake mounting bolts as the mounting position, a lot stronger. In order to do this I had to modify the mounting brackets and get a couple of replacement bolts along with two small spacers. Everything I needed was available at my local Ace. I did make sure the brake replacement bolts were the right strength. Do not use stainless!
The socket head bolts provided to mount the lights to the bracket forced the lights out too far in my opinion, they didn’t look right. To remedy this, I chamfered the light mounting bolt holes so recessed socket head bolts could be used that made for a much better mounting position. The bracket hole for the brake bolt also had to be enlarged, which was easy enough to do. Mounted using the brake bolts looked good and I wasn’t hesitant to torque them down tight enough to prevent the lights from moving around. Much better.
The lights look pretty good and boy do they put out some light. They work as advertised - I can turn them up or down, and when I hit the high beam they go to bright, really bright. Riders in front of me said they have a blue tint, as bright as the stock head light. I give the light pods a solid A rating.
The Installation Manual on the other hand gets a D-, too many things were just not right. The parts that were no longer part of the kit were still referred to in the text and were shown in the wiring diagram. Pictures of a KGT for the mounting suggestions would have been nice. The incorrectly identified color code on one of the significant connections caused some delay until the correct wire was identified. None of these problems were insurmountable, just slowed down the installation process…and generated some four-lettered expletive deleted comments.
Even so, I am pleased with the lights. Once installed, they do work as advertised and give us just a bit more visibility to help ward off the left hand turners, cell phone texters, and who knows who or what. I’d buy them again.