INCREASING REAR VISIBILITY
Click for marker lights Three ways to do it, easy and hard way
or click here for RED/AMBER signals
or here to use LED's for RED/AMBER rears

with notes for Kisan Signal Minders
By Chet Walters
Click for marker lights

Click here for four way flashers!

CAUTION: THIS MOD MAY BE ILLEGAL IN YOUR STATE. CHECK WITH YOUR STATE LAW
ENFORCEMENT AGENCY BEFORE PERFORMING THIS MOD. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

The Valkyrie suffers in rearward visibility. That tiny tail lamp on such a big bike is not enough for the sleepy, cell phone gabbing drivers behind you to really take notice. Too add more visibility in this area, what we will do is replace the rear turn signals with Honda FRONT turn signal/running lights so there is more "see me" at the rear of the bike. This mod can cost $4, $20, $50 or $64 depending on which signals you decide to use. This mod can cost you two hours of time or five hours of time plus an extra $10 depending on which way to decide to do it. This does, of course, work on any bike, but these instructions detail the method used to install on a Honda Valkyrie pre 2000 Standard.

Why a switch? During this mod, we will be installing a switch, which is optional at your discretion. I recommend installing that switch. The display of amber running lights on the rear of a moving vehicle is NOT LEGAL in most states. The switch is there so you can easily display your new rear amber running lights when you are parked at a show to impress your friends and relatives. You should always switch them off before you enter a public highway in order to conform with the laws in your state if need be. The last three motorcycles I owned had this mod so I have been using rear amber running lights for some time to impress my friends and relatives at shows. I have often forgotten to turn them off when entering the public highways, however. I have a very poor memory and I have forgotten to turn off my rear amber running lights in as many as 24 states and two countries. I have been stopped by LEO's in some of these states (one stopped me recently only to admire my motorcycle) and none of these kind officers noticed that I had forgotten to turn off my rear amber running lights. Should you forget to turn off your new rear amber running lights and ride on a public highway, road or street in a state which forbids the display of amber running lights on the rear of a conveyance travelling on a public highway, road or street and a Law Enforcement Officer of that state insists that you have your conveyance towed since you cannot ride it in his/her state on a public highway, road or street while displaying rear amber running lights, that switch may come in very handy.

Why not red? At Auto Zone, or your local auto discount store, find BLAZER red lens clearance lights #C827R for $1.99. These will almost fit the Honda signal housing -- two screw type, not the snap in type -- (see below about the snap in type). You must drill your own holes for the screws and they let moisture in to fog them. I have tried these and find that they are very good for running lights, but the turn signals are much less noticable in the daylight because the fluting of the lens does not send light up high enough for a normal driver behind you to see well so I removed them and went back to amber. Red turn signals are much less noticable in modern day traffic since most cars and bikes use amber. Also, at night, they make a nice "sea" of red at the rear of the bike but because they do not change state with the brake light, the brake light is lost in this sea of red and becomes SERIOUSLY less noticable (and I have THREE brake lights, two in addition to the one in the tail light). I tried covering the light bulbs on my Valk with red plastic BarJan "condoms" purchased at a truck stop to make these red and legal. The condom lights do glow a very cherry red, but are much too dim making the turn signals barely visible in the daylight. The covers also make the lights run hot which melts the plastic inside the housing (first hand knowledge) and they outgas vapor which tarnishes the interior of the lenses. I don't recommend using them. I have not successfully used red tint on the bulbs to make the lights actually display red, especially in daylight. There is another method to make red running lights and amber turn signals all in one if you look at our RED RUNNING LIGHTS PAGE but I don't recommend that method either as you will see there. Besides, you don't really want red. Amber is much more impressive to your friends and relatives at shows. And, amber running lights on the rear of your Valkyrie are much much more visible to the sleepy drivers behind you (should you foolishly forget to turn them off before you ride on public highways, that is).

Why not red?
This is an opinion: having tried all of these methods and having tested each extensively, here is my verdict. Adding rear amber running lights using the EASY method detailed below is the BEST method. It may be more expensive, but it adds the greatest rear visibility and safety to your bike all hours of the day or night, even though it may be illegal in most states. In a long ten hour day and night, I rode with my buddy Frank and several other bikes. I had the red rears and Frank had the amber rear running lights. All day long, my attention was drawn to the Frank's Valkyrie with the rear amber lights both day and night. We even swapped bikes for a time, and mine was just lost in the sea of tail lights. Swapped back, and all I noticed was Frank's Valk - Frank's Valk - Frank's Valk (you get the idea). It stood out among all the other bikes and was very noticable. Tired as I was that night, I immediately reconfigured my rear running lights to AMBER.

Please read this entire article before you decide which method to use. And be cautioned, if you choose to do it the easy way then you forget to turn off your turn signals for an extended period of time, both of your filaments will be lit and you may melt the interior shell of your signals. I did, but I had BarJan condoms on the signals at the time which made them run hot anyway and I had K&S signals, which are of inferior quality. I have been running rear ambers for around 10,000 miles now using Honda lights and housings without mishap. If you install a Kisan Signal Minder that leaves your signal lamp on when it cancels (the Valkyrie model), I can almost guarantee that the easy way will melt your shell in a short period of time if you forget to manually cancel. Melting your interior shell will cause the signal assembly to actually fall apart, which is something you do not want to happen on the road!


THE EASY WAY
TIME: Two hours

MATERIALS
16-22 gauge wire (4" long)
small toggle switch (SMALL)
1 splice-in wire connector (blue plastic variety)
optional - connectors for the switch
Honda front lights both left & right ($64)
or
K&S front lights both left (#25-1061) and right (#25-1064) ($50)
(K&S housings melt readily though)
or
Interior front shells/sockets L & R ordered from your dealer ($20)
(tho my dealer says you cannot buy these, some have)
or
Dual light sockets from Auto Zone Conductite 85803 $2.69
(requires grinding out the old sockets and glueing in the new ones)
TOOLS
8mm socket
10mm socket
Phillips screw driver (preferably a "stubby")
soldering iron
wire cutters
wire strippers
patience

Remove the license plate. Wrap a towel or tape some kind of pad on your fender below the rear light/license assembly to protect your paint since stuff is going to hang there for awhile. Remove the large headed Phillips screws holding each turn signal in place. Remove the two 10mm nuts under the fender which hold the turn signal assembly to the fender. Pull the assembly off the fender (the lower portion is held in place by a tab). There should be enough wire to pull it out far enough so you can remove the Phillips screws under the bar on each side. Lift off the top cover. Remove the 8mm nuts holding the license light. Remove the 10mm bolts which hold the re-enforcer and plate bracket in place. Remove the screws holding the rubber extenders. Unplug all of the connectors to complete the disassembly.

Using the splice-in connector, break into the BROWN wire which comes out of the license light with a pigtail of your wire about 4" long trailing out. Solder this pigtail to a pole of the switch (or use a connector for later removal if desired). Here, remember: you are going to mount the LEFT signal on the RIGHT side and the RIGHT signal on the LEFT side so that the drain holes are on the bottom.

Feed the new signal wires through the rubber mounts, now!

Wire color for the next step depends on which signals you purchased. Honda signals are more expensive but are of significantly better quality. Honda signals will have BLUE/WHITE & ORANGE/WHITE wires for the running lights, BLUE and ORANGE wires for the signals and GREEN for ground. My K & S signals had RED for the signal light, BLACK for the running light and BLACK/WHITE for the ground. If yours vary in color you'll first have to determine which wire works which light and which is ground. Once you have determined this (HINT: the really bright light is the turn signal), clip the brass connector off of the end of the wire which works the RUNNING lights on each signal (BLUE/WHITE & ORANGE/WHITE on Honda). Strip then solder both of these wires onto the other pole of the switch. These are front signals so they should have plenty of wire. You may want to use a set of connectors for these wires so that you can unplug them instead of de-soldering them to remove at some later date.

Drill a hole of the recommended size for your switch in an unobtrusive but accessible part of the light assembly housing taking care that you will have clearance for the switch on the inside once you put it all back together. Mine is centered on the left side of the housing about an inch from the bottom. Mount the switch. Plug all the wires back together with their respective colors matching EXCEPT, make sure you plug the LEFT signal wire into the ORANGE wire from the bike's harness (for Honda signals, the BLUE wire will plug into the ORANGE wire) and plug the RIGHT signal wire into the BLUE wire from the bike harness (Honda ORANGE to BLUE).

Turn on the key and TEST (there is a ground wire so there is no need to touch the housing, which is plastic anyway, to the bike at this point). Make sure all the lights work as they should. Test your switch. It should serve to turn the RUNNING lights on or off but have no effect on any other lights. Once you've made any adjustments to the wiring, re-assemble. Here's where your patience comes into play since this puppy is tricky to re-assemble unless you have a third arm growing out of your chest. You have just completed the "EASY" way to get rear amber running lights.

I do not in any way recommend that you use these lights while traveling on public highways.


CAUTION: THIS MOD MAY BE ILLEGAL IN YOUR STATE. CHECK WITH YOUR STATE LAW
ENFORCEMENT AGENCY BEFORE PERFORMING THIS MOD. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.


THE HARD WAY
TIME: Five hours

MATERIALS
15' two conductor 18AWG wire (Radio Shack 278-567)
1 small DPDT toggle switch (Radio Shack 275-663)
16 sets male/female quick disconnects (4 packs of Radio Shack 64-3049)
2 splice-in wire connectors (blue plastic variety)
optional - connectors for the switch
weather resistant electrical tape
3' of 3/8" corregated plastic wire conduit
tube of non-petroleum grease (plumber's grease)
several small wire ties
Honda front lights both left & right ($64)
or
K&S front lights both left (#25-1061) and right (#25-1064) ($50)
(K&S housings melt readily though)
or
Interior front shells/sockets L & R ordered from your dealer ($20)
(tho my dealer says you cannot buy these, some have)
or
Dual light sockets from Auto Zone Conductite 85803 $2.69
(requires grinding out the old sockets and glueing in the new ones)
TOOLS
8mm, 10mm, 14mm sockets
Phillips screw driver (preferably a "stubby")
soldering iron
wire cutters
wire strippers/crimpers
lots and lots of patience

Honda turn signals work in the dual filament front bulbs by switching off the running light filament and causing the brighter signal filament to flash alone. This makes for better contrast on the signal since it goes from bright to dark instead of bright to dim. In this, the hard method of adding rear running lights, we will duplicate that higher contrast action for the rear signals, eliminate all of the dangers of melting if you forget to switch off your signal, and eliminate most of the worry of melting if you have the Valkyrie version of the Kisan Singal Minder installed (note - most of the worry).

In all instances mentioned here: For installing connectors, I recommend that you crimp the connector onto the wire, then wrap the wire and the crimped part of the connector with weather resistant electrical tape to provide a good seal. Many of these connectors will be subject to moisture and road grime. You may want to buy an extra bag or two of the connectors since it is easy to destroy them when crimping. When we speak of the RIGHT side, that is the throttle side of the bike, or the right one as you sit on the bike. For the LEFT, that is the clutch side, or left as you sit on the bike. The Radio Shack wire is red and black, the listed connectors red and blue, your colors my vary. Please remember to keep consistent with your colors since I will be referring to the Shack colors to match the Shack wire and connectors. Don't use "zip" cord, it will crack and deteriorate in a short time. The wire you use must be weather resistant and have a good thick insulator.

We must first nearly disassemble the bike. Remove: the headlight rim (if you don't know how, stop here and perform the easy method), the rear license/signal assembly as described above (but here, unplug all the wires and remove it), the tail piece of the rear fender as if you were changing a tire (owner's manual tells you how), the right side cover, the seats, and the front and rear mounting bolts of your gas tank (leave the tank in place). Set your shocks on the highest preload to give you some extra clearance under the rear fender.

Look under the rear fender and find that the harness runs under some clips. These clips have spaces. Take some wire ties and run them through the spaces and under the existing harness, making sure that when you loop them to constrict, they are oriented properly. You should run one under each space, but that's your choice. Cut a length of your wire eight (8') feet long. Under the seat on the right side you will see that the harness feeds through a grommet. Feed your wire through the grommet and pull it out under the remainder of the rear fender so you have about 6 inches or so of wire extending beyond the plug of the original harness. Wrap this portion of your wire twice with electrical tape along its entire length for added protection. Press the wire tightly against the underside of the fender and close the wire ties so that the wire is held tightly against the fender in the groove of the clips. Clip the excess off the wire ties. Cut the end of the wire off at the bobbed fender so that there is about two inches remaining (this is going to be tight, but it is necessary). Strip, separate and put FEMALE connectors, BLUE on the BLACK wire and RED on the RED wire, on the ends. Wrap the ends and put a dollop of grease on both the contact point of the connector and around the outside of the plastic.

Raise your gas tank enough to lean it over the left side of the bike exposing the right frame and main wiring harness that leads to the headlight. Beginning with the clip under the seat, route the remainder of your wire following the main harness. Run it through the existing clips, or add wire ties as need be. Under the front part of the frame, the harness crosses over to the left side so set your tank back down to complete this process. Feed the end of the wire through the headlight housing and pull it until there is some free play left around the frame for cornering. Bolt your tank back down.

Cut a length of wire about four inches long. Separate and put a BLUE female connector on the BLACK and a RED female connector on the RED on one end only making pigtails. Inside the headlight housing, locate the ORANGE/WHITE wire and the BLUE/WHITE wire. Here, make sure that you unplug the ORANGE/WHITE and the BLUE/WHITE wire so that you can determine which of these wires has the MALE bullet connector. Using the splice-in connectors, connect the BLACK pigtail to the BLUE/WHITE wire with the FEMALE bullet and connect the RED pigtail to the ORANGE/WHITE wire with the FEMALE bullet. Re-connect these wires with their bullet connectors (we do it this way so you can replace a broken front signal in the future without hassle). Clip the end of the wire you routed so that there is enough to reach the connectors on these pigtails. Install MALE connectors to match colors. Grease and connect, being careful of the color match.

Move now to the tail piece. Cut a three (3') foot length of wire and feed it through the grommet, leaving about four inches of wire hanging out on the painted side. On the dirty side, cut a length of conduit so that it will closely match the length of conduit on the original harness. Insert your wire in the conduit then tape wrap the entire length twice. Under the tail you will see clips like the ones we saw before. Work the same magic here with wire ties so that your wrapped wire is held tightly against the tail and runs along the original harness. This part of the fender is subject to some hard abuse from stones so we need to protect the wire well. On the upper part of the fender, clip your wire so that there is about two inches remaining and put MALE connectors (BLUE-BLACK & RED-RED). Tape this end generously, but leave enough play in the wire so that you can connect. Clip the end of your wire that hangs out of the grommet on the tail leaving about two inches (like the original wires). Put MALE connectors, matching the colors, on the ends. Re-install the tail piece on the bike, matching the colors when you connect your new wires, and make sure your new wires are inside the little box there. (Patience! Patience! I will help you find and severly punish the engineer.)

Disassemble the license/signal assembly and mount your new signals as described above (holes on the bottom). Mount the signals BEFORE you add connectors to the wires. Clip the bullet connectors off the running light wires of your signal and put FEMALE connectors on the ends (BLACK-LEFT & RED-RIGHT). If you are not putting on a switch, skip the next section.

THE SWITCH
You must use a DPDT switch that works two circuits at the same time, isolated (Shack 275-663 or equivalent). Cut two lengths of wire about two inches long and separate them. Put FEMALE connectors, one RED-RED and one BLUE-BLACK, on a set of wires. Repeat the process on the other set of wires but use MALE connectors. Solder a RED w/ MALE connector wire to the center terminal on one side of the switch and a RED w/ FEMALE wire to the end terminal on the same side. Solder BLACK wires to match on the other side. Leave the terminals on the other end empty. Use some tape to cover the terminal end of the switch completely along with a little of the wire. Mount the switch as described above (the listed Shack switch needs a 1/4" hole). Pack some plumber's grease in the switch at the base of the toggle to help keep it weatherproof. Plug your new signal running lights into the switch (if you followed closely, plug the light's RIGHT RED FEMALE to the switch's RIGHT RED MALE and the same except BLUE for the left).

NOTE: it is hard to find a DPST switch. The one listed is dual action. The center terminals supply current to one end of the switch in one position and the other end of the switch in the other position. When you are going to utilize only one switch position on a DPDT, you should not wire "HOT" to the center terminals, but wire "HOT" to the end terminals so that when the switch is "OFF" the other end terminals (non-used ones) remain "COLD."

After the switch
Re-assemble the license/signal assembly and set it on a stool near the rear fender so that you can plug in all the wires. Plug 'em in, noting the colors for the signals that we mentioned above and matching up your new wires and connectors by color. Do the smoke test. The switch should shut off the running lights only and have no effect on the other lights. Make sure that the running filaments are turned off for the appropriate signal, like they do in the front, when you test the signals. If the left running light goes out when you turn on the RIGHT signal, don't panic, just reverse the connectors on your new wires and try again (just remember if you ever pull this stuff off again to reverse the wires). If it works, re-assemble the bike and go for a ride! You have just completed the HARD way to add rear amber running lights to your Valkyrie.

I do not in any way recommend that you use these lights while traveling on public highways.


THE DILEMMAS
Which way to do it? The hard way does indeed supply greater contrast when your signal is on since it goes from very bright to dark instead of very bright to dim. This added contrast, IMHO, is only advantageous during the daylight hours. The hard way also indeed eliminates the danger of melting your signal in the event that you forget and leave it on for an extended period of time. But that takes a long long time (see notes on Kisan below). With the easy way, bright to dim is sufficient while riding at night, especially if you use real 1157 bulbs in the signals. Again, IMHO, I feel that it is sufficient in the daylight as well with 1157's installed. However, there is a danger that you may melt your signal, (which is likely if you have K&S signals and an 1157 in there). I've done it both ways, and I've melted my rear signal by leaving my blinker on for over an hour on the freeway after performing the easy method. But, given my now educated choice, I would do it the easy way and pay close attention to my turn signals. The hard way is entirely too much work for the little advantage it offers.

NOTES ON KISAN SIGNAL MINDERS
KISAN offers two types of signal minders. One for the Valkyrie (and I assume other Hondas) that will stop your flasher from flashing by leaving the brighter filament of the bulb ON so that you still have two marker lights, one bright and one dim. And, your signal indicator also remains lit to remind you that you need to manually cancel. However, I can guarantee that if you perform the easy method which leaves the running filament lit while the signal filament is also lit and install the Kisan Signal Minder for Honda which leaves the signal filament lit when it cancels, in a period of time you will melt your signal. It will fall apart on the road since both filaments of the bulb will be lit and hot. Bummer. You could solve this by getting bulbs that closely match in brightness between the signal filament and the running filament so that when canceled and on, the lights closely match left to right. But, you WANT very BRIGHT turn signals, don't you? I sure do.

The other version of the Kisan Signal Minder will cancel your flasher by turning OFF the signal filament. If you utilize the easy method for rear running lights, this will return your rear lights to normal, with no danger of a meltdown, but will leave one side of your front running lights off. Not so bad, IMHO, but there is no feedback to remind you to manually cancel since your indicator is dark.

There is an easy solution to this problem so you can use the easy method and the second version of the Kisan Minder. Open your headlight. Locate the BROWN wire from the main harness which is connected to the BROWN wire leading to the harness that goes to your signal switch on the handlebar. Also locate the ORANGE/WHITE wire and the BLUE/WHITE wire leading from your front signals. If you unplug all of these wires, and tie both the BLUE/WHITE and ORANGE/WHITE from your signals (they will have MALE bullet connectors) to the BROWN wire from the main harness (it will have a FEMALE bullet connector) you will effectively wire the front running lights to always be on just like the rear lights are with the easy method. Now, when the second version of the Kisan Signal Minder shuts off the flashing filament, all of your running lights will return to normal. You do risk a meltdown of your front signal assembly by doing this if you don't have the second Kisan unit and leave your signals on for an hour or so (but just manage your doggone signal use wisely).

MY CHOICE
I've done it both ways. I now have wired my lights the EASY way. Since changing the rear tire on the Valk is a frequent task, this also eliminates the extra connectors under the fender. I may have a little less contrast in my signals, but those extra fender connectors make an irritating task ever more irritating. I have found that with the actual HONDA signals installed in the rear, they do not melt or deform. The K&S lights are of lesser quality and there have been reports of these things melting on long trips with saddlebags blocking the air. You should not run 1157 bulbs because they are hotter than the stock bulbs and may cause melting.

FINAL NOTE: TWO $4 METHODS
ONE: If you are good with a Dremel, you can get three wire dual filament sockets only at Auto Zone or other discount auto stores. With a Dremel and a small cutter, grind out your stock Honda two wire sockets from the housing and silicon or glue the new three wire sockets inside there. Wire them up as if you had bought new Honda three wire rear signals. It's up to you to color match the wires and also that you secure these well with glue inside.
TWO: This from Rex Holder. Red running lights and amber signals is detailed on our RED RUNNING LIGHTS PAGE.

Many thanks to Mark Tobias, Wayne (VOA #322) and VOA member RShrimp for their input on this article. Many thanks to the guys at Kisan Technologies (especially Andy) for running a great company (rare these days). I am not associated in any way with Kisan. In fact, this article may cause headaches for those guys. Sorry.


CAUTION: THIS MOD MAY BE ILLEGAL IN YOUR STATE. CHECK WITH YOUR STATE LAW
ENFORCEMENT AGENCY BEFORE PERFORMING THIS MOD. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.


In keen awareness of the international forum into which this article is published, the word "state" is used in lieu of province, country, principality, canton, territory etc. Substitute any word which may apply in your case.
This mod can be performed on any modern motorcycle which employs the same signal assemblies on both the front and rear of the bike while displaying running lights in the front in conjuncion with the turn signals.
For Snap in (Honda signals)with the little retainer grooves and single-screw mount). Use a Dremel moto-tool to grind a small slot for the top locating tab on each new (Blazer) lens. Make a pair of "L" brackets approximately 3/4" long and 1/4" wide, with the short leg of the "L" about 1/8" long, out of 1/16" steel sheet. Drill the long end of the bracket to accept a 6-32 screw and secure the bracket loosely inside the lens with the tab facing outward. Place the lens into position; you will then see where you have to make another slot for the bracket to engage. Once this is done, use a Zip nut and 6-32 screw to hold the bracket in place...the Zip nut will grab against the bracket and allow you to snug the assembly up.

Questions? Contact Chet at Chet says 'Be sure to write!'Chetspages@rattlebars.com

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