Note: The H3-WHP9 LED listed here from SuperbrightLEDs.com has been discontinued - in its place, you can use any H3 replacement LED bulb. However, there is now a better option: Cyclemax now offers a 50-watt-equivalent LED specifically for the GL1500 cornering lights that is a direct replacement for the OEM bulb - no cutting of wires, no retrofitting.
The cornering lights on GL1500's normally turn on when the turn signals are activated, to illuminate the turn that you are about to make. Many GL1500 owners have made a simple modification to make these lights stay on at all times, for more illumination and visibility. There's a couple of problems with this modification:
- The bulbs (and in typical Honda tradition, they are strange, expensive and hard-to-find) burn out relatively quickly
- The added load on relay #3 by having the bulbs on all the time cause it to heat up and fail early, meaning you lose your tail lights, fuel & temp gauges, among other things
If you aren't interested in using LEDs, and just want to replace the bulbs, skip forward to the procedure. In my case, I wanted to replace the bulbs with low-power, high-brightness LEDs to solve both problems: the LEDs will never burn out, and the power draw is minimal, to prevent the relay problem.
The 1998 and later GL1500 had these lights on at all times by default, and used halogen H6M bulbs instead of the larger non-halogenated bulbs of the earlier Goldwings. The bulbs still burned out just as often, however.
There have been several topics written on the replacement of cornering lights with LEDs, often involving modifying the light fixture itself. I wanted a simple, quick conversion that anyone could do - and that could be potentially reversible (should the owner desire). With some research, I decided on the H3-WHP9 LED from superbrightleds.com. It is a replacement for a standard H3 daytime running light, quite bright, and draws only 65 milliamps:
1. This article focuses on the right-hand light; the left-hand light is identical, except everything is a mirror image. First off, if you have any accessories that need to be removed before you can remove the lower cowls, do so now. In my case, I have a set of wind wings that I need to remove.
2. I also have a set of air horns that need to be disconnected, loosened, and pivoted out of the way.
3. To remove the fairing front cover, press inward at the center of the top of the cover. This will expose the posts seated in the grommets at the top corners.
4. Gently pull the top corners away, one at a time, to unseat the posts from their grommets. Note the black tab that is holding the front of the lower cowl in place - it's important that the lower cowl is fitted back behind these tabs when it is replaced.
5. Once both posts are unseated, remove the front cover.
6. Remove the screws on either side of the under cover.
7. While holding the under cover in place, remove the center screw.
8. Pull the under cover away.
9. Gently pull the inner edge of the lower cowl screw cover away from the screw head.
10. Be very careful removing these covers - pulling them back too far will snap the tab off of the outer edge. See how the tab hooks into the cowl. Gently rotate the inner edge back, then pull it straight out.
11. Remove the lower cowl screw.
12. Gently remove the lower cowl deflector. It pulls out approximately one inch at the bottom, then is pulled straight down to disengage the top tab, then is pulled straight back to disengage the front tab.
13. This is the top tab that needs to be disengaged.
14. And this is the front tab.
15. The side marker light trim needs to be removed next. OEM Honda trim is black plastic and looks different than my aftermarket chrome trim. My trim has screw caps that must be removed to access the screw heads.
16. Remove the three screws holding the trim and the marker light in place.
17. Once the screws and marker light are free, the lower cowl will easily pull away.
18. Peel back the rubber cover over the back of the cornering light.
19. Push the light socket in towards the light, then rotate it counter-clockwise (left).
20. The base of the socket will come free, leaving the bulb in the housing.
21. Remove the bulb from the housing. If you are replacing the bulb with a similar halogen-type bulb (not an LED), make sure that you do NOT touch the glass bulb with your fingers! Oils from your fingers will cause the bulb to fail in short order. If you do inadvertently touch the glass, clean it gently but thoroughly with rubbing alcohol and a clean, lint-free cloth. If you are not using an LED, insert your replacement bulb into the housing, and skip to step 34.
22. This is the LED that we are using to replace the halogen bulb.
23. Pull back on the brown wire to compress the spring inside the socket, then while holding it back, cut the wire as close to the socket as possible.
24. When the wire has been cut, the socket contact will spring back to the top of the socket. It is held in place with tabs on either side.
25. Press down on one of the contact tabs, so that the other tab pops out of the top of the socket. Remove the contact and the spring from the socket.
26. Here is the socket with the contact and spring removed.
27. The LED will fit into the socket as shown, with its positive lead protruding from the rear of the socket.
28. The pressure of the socket against the base flange of the LED will provide the negative connection when it is inserted into the housing.
29. Strip the end of the brown wire and crimp a standard "blue" automotive female connector onto the wire.
30. Thread the LED's wire through the spring and push the spring up to the base flange of the LED.
31. Stretch the spring out so that it is approximately one inch long.
32. Pull the LED's wire through the hole of the socket and through the hole in the rubber boot. Thread a piece of heat-shrink tubing over the wire, then plug the wire into the female connector on the brown wire.
33. Heat the shrink tubing to seal the connection. You can use electrical tape for this, but this area is exposed to road spray and the elements, so I highly recommend you use heat shrink tubing.
34. Push the socket into the light housing and rotate it clockwise (to the right) to lock it in place. If the socket is not tight in place (can be moved), then remove it, stretch the spring out a bit more, and replace it.
35. Replace the rubber boot over the socket, and tape the wire around the end of the boot to weatherproof it.
36. Place the lower cowl back into position. Ensure the innermost tab (with the hole in it) fits behind the black tab protruding down from the radiator grill mentioned in step 4. This holds the front of the lower cowl in place.
37. Now is a good time to turn the ignition on to test the operation of your light. If all goes well, we now reassemble.
38. Replace your side marker light and trim, and screw it into place.
39. Replace your screw caps (if you have them).
40. Replace the lower cowl deflector. Insert the front tab first, then the top tab, then slide the deflector to the left to line up the screw holes.
41. Tighten the lower cowl screw.
42. Replace the lower cowl screw cover - insert the tab first, then press fit it over the screw head.
43. At this point you would repeat the procedure on the other side of the bike. Once that is complete, lift the under cover into place.
44. Insert the center screw to hold the under cover in place.
45. Ensure the posts at the front, on the bottom of the lower cowls fit into the holes on the top of the under cover (visible at the front edge where the lower cowl and under cover meet) - on both sides! Once the posts are in place, replace and tighten the screws on either side.
46. Make sure the tabs at the bottom of the front cover fit behind the ridge of the under cover, and that the tab on the bottom center of the front cover fits into the slot in the under cover. Align the front cover, then press the posts on either side into their respective grommets.