Design and content © 2004
Kuryakyn Silver Bullet Spots
After a rather nasty encounter with a spare wheel in the middle of Interstate 5 near downtown Los Angeles at 75mph, which I couldn't see because of the anemic output of the stock 51/2" lamp of my Softail Standard, I decided that far more light was needed. Light which could be thrown at least 200 feet and provide steady illumination for the entire distance, even with the blazing headlamps of 4 lanes of oncoming traffic in the left lane.
My solution was to add small spot lamps. The contenders were Lazerstars and Kuryakyn Silver Bullets. I chose the Silver Bullets because they were cheap, and I had three bikes to outfit with spots.
The Silver Bullets came in two sizes. Small was about 1 1/2" in diameter using MR-11 halogen bulbs, and Large was about 2 1/2" in diameter, using MR-16 halogen bulbs that are widely available in hardware and home improvement stores. Available for under $4 from bulbs.com. The small Silver Bullets turned out to be too small and unfocused to give me the performance I wanted, so those went onto the Sportster, and I got two sets of the larger MR-16 spots for the Softails.
While a kit with brackets for the Softail forks was available, the brackets would have mandated mounting the lights outside the forks. This wouldn't be suitable for our purposes.
To understand why the lights had to be mounted on the inside, this is what it looks like with the shield and lowers
The lights mounted on the outside of the triple tree would melt the lowers!
So what I did was modify Custom Chrome brackets [part number 09-149] by drilling out the hole to 3/8". I then lightly sprayed clear coat on the hole in a probably vain attempt to prevent rust. Had to grind the head of the hollow bolt provided by Kuryakyn to make it smaller so it would fit inside the bracket properly. About 3 minutes of work. Well, maybe a little longer than that.
Bought the wiring harness offered by Weekend Concepts (makers of the Lazer Star lights) which is available through the Custom Chrome catalog. There are two kits available. One has a switch that mounts above the left hand controls on the bars and blends in fairly well with the HD controls, the other has a weatherproofed toggle switch. I opted for the one with the toggle switch, which I mounted to the tank console exactly opposite the odometer reset switch. The kit also comes with a weatherproofed relay that has a built in 15 amp mini-fuse, and wiring already attached that is easily hooked up with good instructions. I ran the wiring under the gas tank, and with a creative use of shrink tubing, the whole thing looks pretty sano.
As I mentioned, immediately replaced the bulbs with 10 degree spots. Which aren't really 10 degrees, because there's a lot of side to side light leakage from the bulb itself, providing decent wide angle illumination while still throwing most of the light way down the road. The wide angle illumination is good enough to see bambis waiting on the side of the road to jump in front of you. The bulbs are 50MR16SP10 [50 watt, MR16 without lens, spot, 10 degree], and as I said they were under $4 at Bulbs.com.
These puppies are bright, like two little suns. When I first rode with these, I was shocked by how much I wasn't seeing when I turned them off. If you're on a dark road, it would be an act of mercy and courtesy to turn the lights off when cars approach. It could also be wise for the purposes of self preservation, since the approaching driver might get target fixation and head right for you, especially if they're drunk.
These lights are also very bright during the day. Since riding with them in daylight, I've seen an astonishing reduction in the number of drivers who turn left in my proximity, as well as wild lane incursions.
One of the great advantages of this setup that I hadn't anticipated, is that I can blow a headlight fuse or bulb and still have lights to get to safety where I could change the fuse or diagnose the problem. Any one of these spots is as bright as the stock headlight, particularly without a compromised front lens. But be forewarned, they aren't DOT legal, and a police officer well versed in the legal aspects of lighting can issue a ticket for using them.
Which brings up another point. The same thing that makes you more visible to other drivers makes you more visible to the police. If you're being naughty and they're coming from the opposite direction, they can see you for a great distance.