Friday, January 9, 2009

Tech Tip Time

With the change in seasons, yes, we have seasons in CA. Pretty much only two seasons: Warm and not so warm, but still seasons. And with this Daylight Savings Time thingy, is seems like I’m riding in the dark, (physically not mentally), more and more. Now, I’ve always thought the headlight on my Heritage kind of sucked. So I decided to change the bulb. I put in a Sylvania Silver Star bulb and headed out to look for creatures of the night.

The high-beam was a little better, the low-beam not so much. So WTF? This is supposed to be the top of the line best invention since the thong, headlight bulb. So I’m thinking, “this sucks”. Then it hits me like a bill from the IRS. This is where the “Tech Tip” part comes in. Understand, that this is what I do for a living. So it’s embarrassing to admit that I overlooked this important aspect of a headlight.

So I go back and check the alignment per factory specs. It was “way” off. A couple turns of a wrench and off into the night searching for little glowing orbs. What a surprise. It was like the difference between night and day. Just the headlight adjustment probably would’ of done the trick. But the Silver Star bulb is a great improvement over the OEM bulb. And yes, it is rated for motorcycle use. Riding at night, with the low-beam, with sunglasses, (not recommended, but looks cool), was the same as riding at night, with the OEM high-beam without sunglasses.

I would recommend the Sylvania Silver Star bulb, nice clean, bright, white light. Not those funny blue things. But the Tech Tip is to check the headlight alignment. I’m sure this gets overlooked a lot. I always check my lights before I head out, just not this part of the system. It only takes about five minutes and might help you see something one or two seconds sooner. Available at any parts store for about $20.00, or probably twice that if you must buy one in a H-D package.


Ann said...

Thanks for the tip! I'll make sure my mechanic reads it! ;)

AZhole Performance Systems needs to keep up on the tech tips, you know!

fasthair said...

Dr. Wrench: Great tip. When I first got my current bike the headlight was too high blinding people coming at me. Once at home I dug out the manual and set it accordingly. You would have thought when they PDIed the bike they would have caught this. But then again I bought a new bike once and didn’t even get it on the street before I rolled it back in the shop. Someone never even checked the tail/brakes lights on it before I picked it up. They had left the wiring disconnect under the seat. The salesman and I to fix it since all the techs had gone home already.

Those light bulbs do work great. I installed a set in a customer’s Mercedes because she said she had a hard time seeing at night. The next day she called to report, like you said, they made a night and day difference


Biker Betty said...

Thanks so much for the tip. I will have to pull out my manual and check this. I take my bike in for servicing every spring and I don't know if this is something they check.

I have the blue light (shhhh), but it made a huge difference compared to what I had. Everyone in my riding group sees me, so I'm thinking the cars do to.

One year they didn't check my spokes and I didn't realize how important that was, till they came loose on the back wheel, Yikes!!! Now I make sure to request that.

Willy D said...

Ann: I think your mechanic has invented more “tech tips” than I’ll ever know;]

Fasthair: A dealerships PDI did stand for Pre Delivery Inspection. It seems that some shops now think it means Pretty Damn Ignorant.

Biker Betty: Blues are better than OEM, but silver stars are a generation past blue. There are also questions in some states as to the legality of blue headlights. I have never seen anyone get stopped for a blue headlight. “But”, given the wording in the CA vehicle code, would it be “probable cause” to screw with someone if the Peace Officer felt like it? I would say yes.
As for the spokes – some shops just don’t get it.

25950. This section applies to the color of lamps and to any
reflector exhibiting or reflecting perceptible light of 0.05 candela
or more per foot-candle of incident illumination. Unless provided
otherwise, the color of lamps and reflectors upon a vehicle shall be
as follows:
(a) The emitted light from all lamps and the reflected light from
all reflectors, visible from in front of a vehicle, shall be white or
yellow, except as follows:
(1) Rear side marker lamps required by Section 25100 may show red
to the front.
(2) The color of foglamps described in Section 24403 may be in the
color spectrum from white to yellow.

FLHX_Dave said...

shit. Another gripe for the prep guys at my HD shop. I measured out the 25 feet and it was waaaaaaaayyyy off. No wonder I could'nt see shit at night.

Thanks for the bulb brother. It whoops a llamas ass! I owe you once again. Thanks for thinking of me. You are a true brother. Someday I'll return all the favors. White light kicks ass at night.

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Awesome tip! I'm checking it out. I need a new bulb anyway. I've been running on high beam for awhile, 'cause the low beam is burnt out.

RC said...

I hope this isn't a stupid question, but how can I go about checking the allignment?

Willy D said...

Dave: Bad prep from the HD shop? How in the hell could that happen?

Mr. M: Try it, you'll like it.

RC: You have got to be kidding me! I’m a firm believer in the old adage that “ The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask”. Check back shortly. I’ll put up a post on the adjustment.