Time to light up my world Darla!
Saw a review of some Clearwater lights and decided that they would go nicely on my BMW. BMW’s do have an option for LED lights but the Clearwater ones are far superior. I decided on the 2” Darla and ordered them from Clearwater’s site on the 22nd August 2016. Total cost was US$841.64. It was not long before customs NZ got their grubby hands on them again wanting more money. Had to pay another NZ$120 and it still took another 4 days to deliver. Man they are useless.
Anyway I started putting them on and put on the mounts for the original OEM LED lights and mounted the 2” Darla’s. They look really tiny but put out 2,000 lumens each. Then came putting the “Can Opener” in place. This plugged into the Tire Pressure Monitoring System and basically watches for signals to use. Next was the routing of the wires to the battery and this was ugly. Had to take the fairings off one whole side to get access. Also had to run the data cable from the “Can Opener” to the front of the bike. It has two wires that are used. A red hot switchable line and a green dimmer line. I hooked these all up following instructions and decided to test before tucking everything out of the way. Turned the bike ignition on and the low beam of the bike came on. Nothing from the Darla’s. Flicked to high beam which should have output 100% from the Darlas and again nothing.
Fearing I had done something wrong I rechecked all the wiring including the fuse. Nothing. No power at the light so must be the relay. Checked for power on the Hot switched line and no power there. Tried a few more things but no power so no light.
At this point I emailed off to tech support to see what they suggested. After I sent the email I had a sneaking thought that maybe the bike needed to be running. However, I needed to go out soon so I will leave that test for the next day.
Tomorrow came and I hooked the wires up again, started the bike and bingo the lights came on. Man was I relieved and also felt like an idiot. No reply yet from Clearwater though but will give them the benefit of the doubt as they may be still in bed.
Next came the really hard part. Tucking all the wiring away so that it did not get caught on anything and did not get melted by the engine. Hard because of the limited room to work in and extremely big hands. Took about an hour but got it all tidy and took it for a quick spin to test the TPMS was still working. 100% all good.
Final thing to do is align the lights but that is a two-person job as it needs to be done with the rider weight on the bike. Will have to wait for now but close enough is good enough for now. I will be angling them slightly out to light up the corners better as the mains are good enough for the straight stuff. Overall it took me about 3 hours to install plus an extra hour for trouble shooting something that wasn’t broken.
Now time to go for a ride. Something was off though and the radio sounded like sh*t. After my short trip where everything was fine but the radio I turned the motor off and the radio came fine. I disconnected the data cable from the lights and started the bike. Radio was still okay. Then plugged the data cable back in and instantly noise on the radio. Hummmm. Another email to Clearwater.
They replied pretty quick suggesting I may have an earthing issue or I zip tied the power cables to the aerial wire. In the end I decided to unwire the whole thing and see what happens with the wires a long way from the bike. Still getting noise. Another email and they said they would try and find the issue but I was the 1st in 10,000 to have this issue. It always is, isn’t it?
Anyway after another email they said I could use the yellow wire instead of the red to use the turn cancel button to turn the lights on and off. After my 4 work days I redid all the wiring this time using the yellow wire. I can now turn the lights on and off as needed.
Went for a longer ride and found that the noise issue went away when the radio signal got stronger. It appears the LED lights have knocked about 5 to 10% off the signal needed to get good reception. It has also had an effect on the station display. If the signal is weak I can always turn the lights off to hear it otherwise can listen to the music on the USB stick.
My hands have many little cuts from working instead the cramped confines of the BMW and I can now strip the fairings off in minutes.
Support has been fantastic and they said they would refund my money if I was unhappy with them. I wonder if customs would refund their bit? Probably not.
Anyway the NI1600 is coming up on the 8th October and will be a good time to give them a night test. I will post this on my blog after I have done that run.
It is now the 9th October and have just returned from the NI1600. Man am I tired and fell asleep on the floor. The review will follow shortly. Anyway I spent the whole night riding and these lights are amazing. When they are on dip at 30% you can’t immediately notice them but all the signs light up and road markers as well. When they are on full at 100% they are gorgeous. They put out a lovely white light and light up the sides of the road very well so makes cornering at night a joy instead of a guess at how sharp the corner is. They are only 2 inches each but pack a punch. Wish I had done it sooner.