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Let there be lights…

November 23, 2014

Part 1 – What I ended up writing…

I have owned used bikes, and I have owned new bikes.  The lazy side of me likes the fact that a good used bike will have many of the toys, accessories, farkles – whatever you want to call them – that make long rides more bearable.  I really appreciate the time and effort that the previous owner of a well-equipped motorcycle put into a bike.   The parts that they add can make a bike much more comfortable.  Even with the best of used bikes, though, there is still one problem; the bike wasn’t built for me.  No matter how much I may like a used bike, it is still a bike that was set up for the use of the previous owner(s).  Keep this thought in mind, I will get back to it eventually.

The bike owner in me, however, enjoys the fresh canvas of brand new, stock motorcycle.  The first bike I bought and then made “mine” was a 2006 Honda VTX 1800S.   The VTX, as I bought it in 2007, looked like the image below on the left.  The image on the right shows the bike as it was five years later.  I had made many  changes to the bike, mostly to make it much more comfortable for both me and my wife.  It turns out that if my wife is happy on the back of the bike, she is much more likely to be OK with my motorcycling hobby.

VTX 1800S2 LargeSONY DSC

 It always feels good to have somebody walk by your bike at a gas station or in a parking lot and say to you, “Nice bike.”  On the other hand, after you have made your bike “yours” by way of many dollars spent, hours invested, and the inevitable blood lost to scraped knuckles, when somebody stops to compliment your bike, and then continues the conversation by asking about changes you have made, you know that they are taking an interest in your bike.  They are not saying that a certain style of bike, or model of bike is nice, they are talking about one, unique motorcycle – yours.  That is a great feeling.

goldwinglights_zps975dc33bPeople modify their bikes for several reasons.  The primary reasons, as far as I am concerned, are function, looks, and peer pressure.  Most of my modifications are for functional reasons, though once I know how I want a new accessory to work I will take appearance into account as long as I don’t lose any functionality.   The owner of the bike on the right just may have a different guiding principle than I do…

At any rate, in April of 2012 I traded my VTX away for a used 2004 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom.  This bike was very well equipped.  To be honest, there isn’t much that this bike doesn’t have that I would want to add to it.  As I have mentioned earlier, this was my favorite bike out of the several that were in my garage.  Several months later I picked up a used 2007 Honda GL1800 Goldwing.  This bike wasn’t quite as well appointed, and there were several things I wanted to change.  Although both of these bikes were mine, I couldn’t really take pride in any aspect of either of the bikes other than “Yep, I bought that…”  As I mentioned earlier, these were somebody else’s bikes.  I only owned and rode them.

Earlier this year I found the 2013 Honda GL1800 Goldwing that I introduced you to in my post Out with the old(ish)…  This was my new fresh canvas.  Yes, this bike already had a lot of bells and whistles, but there were still some things I needed (wanted, in some cases) to change.  To be sure, the new Goldwing was a good looking bike right off of the showroom floor.  I had several people tell me so when I stopped to eat on the 200 mile trip home from the dealer.  I thanked the people for the comments, but inside I knew that all I did was pick out a pretty bike.

Once I got home the planning, ordering, and installing began.  For the purpose of this post, the details of what I have added are, for the most part, immaterial.  All that matters is that I researched the products, purchased them, and installed them.  They are the products that work best for me (or my wife, for any back-seat modifications).

I said the details were for the most part immaterial because this post was supposed to just highlight the fact that last week I added some driving lights to the new Goldwing.  The concept of this post has changed a bit and taken on a much deeper meaning.

Part 2 – What I intended to write about…

Bike with lightsThe first concept of this post was to write about the fun I had adding a set of Kuryakyn L.E.D Driving Lights to my Goldwing.  As you can see, things drifted a bit.  I have added a few things to the Goldwing, but I think this was the most involved (difficult…).  Actually, adding the lights wasn’t hard at all;  putting all of the pieces back together once I was done was a royal pain.

As you can see by the photo to the left, I got the lights installed and working, though as I look at the photo now I can see that I still need to aim them a bit.  As I worked to put the pieces back together, it occurred to me that the Honda engineers must have been very fond of playing 3-D Tetris.  Yeah, it was like that…

I decided to add the lights once I learned that my application to ride in the 2015 Ménage-à-Trois Rally had been accepted.  I would have a link for the rally but I can’t find a web page that does a good job of explaining what the rally is.  For now, don’t think Sturgis, think more along the lines of a motorcycle based scavenger hunt that lasts 36 hours and covers over 1500 miles in and around Utah.  As far as I know, the name is just a clever indication that there are actually three rallies in this event:  a 12 hour rally, a 24 hour rally, and the 36 hour rally that I will be riding in.  On a side note, my brother will be riding in this rally as well, though that will come up more in a different post.

I have known that I needed driving lights ever since my wife and I were riding along the East Entrance Road between Yellowstone National Park and Cody, Wyoming, on a rainy night.  The Goldwing puts out a good bit of light on it’s own, but I generally feel that more light is better, regardless of the current situation.  There aren’t many (or any) street lights along that road, so between the darkness, the wet pavement, the several tight curves, and the random large animals crossing the road without any regard for our safety, the decision to add more lights was made.

That was my last long ride of the year, so I didn’t have a real need to add the lights any time soon.  That is, until this rally came along…  Now I just want to make sure that I have the bike rally ready as soon as I can because I don’t want any equipment surprises just before the rally starts.  1500 miles is a long way to ride over a weekend, and I figure the fewer surprises, the better.

Back to the lights…  I haven’t had a chance to ride at night with the new lights.  Winter in Wyoming has a cruel way of keeping night riding to a minimum.  I did take the lights out for several daytime test rides.  While I wasn’t able to see how much light they throw down the road, I did see that the bike didn’t spark, catch fire, rattle, or lose any parts as I was riding down the road.  That’s always a good thing after working on a bike.

Next year, when I get a chance to test out the lights at night I will post some pictures or some sort of video.  I have a couple of areas near by that will give me the chance to encounter curvy roads with the chance of random large animals.  For now I think that my Goldwing will be hibernating in the garage until spring.  Sleep tight…



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