How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs


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How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby WingAdmin » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:45 pm



The later model GL1500's (1990-2000 SE's) have handlebar controls that light up blue, allowing you to identify the controls at night. However, they are a frequent failure item as the bulbs burn out. Switching them to LEDs eliminates the heat generated by the lights, and essentially ensures they will never burn out again.

The end result looks a bit brighter in the pictures than they actually are, because of the exposure I used - I wanted to make sure you could tell in the picture that they were lit up. They actually appear just about the same as the original light bulbs.


1. The lights that illuminate the handlebar controls are absolutely tiny, and encased in a blue rubber sheath.

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2. Inside the sheath is a tiny light bulb. This is what we will be replacing.

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3. To replace the bulbs, I sourced tiny 3mm blue LEDs, using the RL3-B2030 LED from superbrightleds.com. These are extremely cheap, a bag of ten of them can be had for $6.00. While they do have a rather narrow 30 degree viewing angle, I figured they would do OK, and I was right. These LEDs cannot be driven directly from your bike's 12 volt system, so a 560 ohm resistor must be connected in series with each one. I had these resistors already, but they can also be purchased as part number CF1/4C561J from superbrightleds.com. Five LEDs and resistors are required to replace all of the lights.

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4. One of the lights, the lower "Set/Decel" light on the right side, illuminates from the side, rather than the front. This is fine for light bulbs, which illuminate from every direction, but not for LEDs, which shine directly out the front. To solve this problem, I ground down the top of one LED at an angle, and roughened it up with sandpaper. This made it so the LED illuminated the roughened, angled area, sending the light to the side rather than out the front. It worked fairly well.

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5. The LEDs have one longer lead - this is the positive. Also, on the LED case, one side has a flat side - that is the negative. This is universal for all LEDs. Cut the positive lead short as shown, then cut the resistors short as shown.

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6. Using a tiny bit of solder, "tack soldered" the LEDs to the resistors. Try to do this as quickly as possible, to avoid damaging the LED with heat. Then trim the resistor's remaining lead short to about 1/4", matching the remaining LED leg to it. You may want to test the LED at this point to ensure it is working - you wouldn't want to go through the whole install to find out you had a bad LED! Do this by hooking it up to a 12 volt source - positive to the resistor side, negative to the other lead. DO NOT hook it up backwards - it will destroy the LED!

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7. Remove the screw at the bottom front of the right handlebar control.

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8. Remove the screw at the rear as well.

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9. Separate the handlebar control by lifting the top half away.

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10. Gently pull the light out of its recess in the bottom half of the handlebar control.

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11. Also pull the light out of its recess in the top half of the handlebar control.

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12. Loosen, but do not remove the cable strain relief at the back of the upper half, and swing it out of the way.

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13. Remove the screw and the stay it secures from the corner of the upper half. It holds the wiring for the lights, and keeps the connectors in their stay. The white connectors to the right of the screwdriver are the light connectors. You will see once you remove the metal stay that they are held in place between plastic stays that keep them from coming apart due to vibration. Remember this, as you will have to put them back the same way during reassembly.

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14. Pull the wires free. Note that when I pulled the lower bulb free, the blue rubber boot did not come with it. The lower bulb has the longer wire. Separate the connectors and remove the wires.

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15. Here is the lower bulb and the boot that belongs to it.

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16. Now is a good time to test your LEDs. On the connectors, the brown wire is +12V and the green wire is ground. Plug your LED into the connector as shown, turn the motorcycle to "ON" and ensure that your LED lights up.

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17. I gently pushed the bare LED into the hole in the upper half, to see it light up blue. It works!

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18. Cut the old bulbs off the wires, and strip a tiny bit of insulation off the ends. I used some shrink tubing to insulate the LED legs.

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19. Tack solder the LEDs to the wires the same way the resistor was soldered to the LED. Make sure the resistor is connected to the brown wire, and the other LED lead is connected to the green wire. Insulate the wires to ensure they are secure - electrical tape will do, but shrink tubing is much better. Fit the blue rubber boots over the LEDs - they aren't needed to turn the lights blue, but they help secure the LEDs in place so that they don't vibrate loose out of their holes.

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20. Reconnect your modified wires to the connectors in the upper half, push the connectors into their plastic stay recess so that they cannot separate, then replace the screw and metal stay over top of the connectors.

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21. Route the wires as they were originally, and position and tighten the cable strain relief.

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22. Insert the LED connected to the shorter wire into the hole in the upper half.

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23. Route the longer LED wire around the handlebar and into the hole in the lower half. Note that this photo shows the original light bulb, not the LED.

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24. Push the halves together, replace and tighten both bottom screws.

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25. Turn the keyswitch to ON to check your work. It should light up with a nice blue color as shown!

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Next, we move on to the left side.

26. Remove the two screws holding the left side halves together.

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27. Pull the halves apart as shown.

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28. Remove the screw as shown and the retaining bracket it holds in place. This holds the light and its connector in place, and prevents them from moving around.

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29. Remove the screw as shown. This disconnects the upper CB/audio control panel from the lower handlebar control.

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30. Pull the CB/audio control panel free.

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31. Pull the light out of the upper half and disconnect it.

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32. Remove the three small screws holding the CB/audio control panel together.

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33. Once the screws are removed, separate the halves at the far side (the side farthest away from the fader knob) as shown, then pull the halves apart.

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34. On the lower half of the CB/audio control panel, remove the screw and stay that holds the light connectors in their plastic stay - this works the same way as the one on the right handlebar control.

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35. Remove the switch retaining screw. Once this screw is removed, remove the tuning switch, then the mute switch, then the light distributor, in that order.

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36. Here I am holding the light distributor. Remove the light bulb from it, and disconnect the wire.

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37. In the upper half of the CB/audio panel, remove the screw holding the fader control in place, then pull the fader control free.

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38. Loosen, but do not remove the light stay. Pull the light free, and disconnect the wire.

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39. Here are the three lights removed. The longer one is for the lower half of the CB/audio panel, the other two are the same length.

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40. Replace the light bulbs with LEDs as described previously. Here, I have plugged the wires into their connectors and turned the keyswitch to ON to ensure the LEDs light up properly.

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41. Insert the LED with the longer wire into the hole in the lower half of the CB/audio panel and reposition and tighten the stay.

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42. Replace and refasten the fader control into the lower half of the CB/audio panel.

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43. Push the LED into the light distributor.

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44. Replace the light distributor into the upper half of the CB/audio control, making sure it is correctly positioned. Follow this with the mute switch, and then the tuning switch. Fasten them in place with the screw as shown.

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45. Position the light connectors into their plastic stay, then position the metal stay over top of them as shown and tighten.

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46. Rejoin the CB/audio panel halves, starting at the fader knob side, then pushing the far end together.

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47. Replace the screws holding the CB/audio panel halves together.

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48. Insert the LED into the upper half of the handlebar control.

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49. Position the wire and connector under the stay, then fasten the stay in place with its screw.

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50. Position the CB/audio control panel over the upper half of the handlebar control, making sure the two plastic pins on the control panel fit into the holes on the handlebar control.

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51. Replace and tighten the screw fastening the CB/audio control panel to the handlebar control upper half.

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52. Rejoin the upper and lower halves of the handlebar control, and tighten the two screws holding them together. Notice that unlike the right side, the two screws are of different lengths - the longer screw is the one shown being tightened in the picture.

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53. Turn the keyswitch to ON and check your handywork!

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littlebeaver
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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby littlebeaver » Sun Jan 08, 2012 1:14 am

That looks fantastic...Man your really out did yourself on all the photo's that's a great project for anyone..Good Winter project for sure... :D

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby WA9FWT » Sun Jan 08, 2012 9:53 pm

I read it all and what a great posting again.It's posting like this that has made this site stand out from all the rest.
Just removing all wires,screws and having to remember to pick up the camera for a nother shot is sure time consuming for sure.I sure give you credit for a well writen artical....

I'm sure others agree,and what it does for others that we don't here from ( post ) encourage them to up-date there cycles. 73
WA9FWT Phil

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:56 am

WA9FWT wrote:I read it all and what a great posting again.It's posting like this that has made this site stand out from all the rest.
Just removing all wires,screws and having to remember to pick up the camera for a nother shot is sure time consuming for sure.I sure give you credit for a well writen artical....

I'm sure others agree,and what it does for others that we don't here from ( post ) encourage them to up-date there cycles. 73
WA9FWT Phil


Yeah, it does about double the amount of time (sometimes more) to stop and take pictures along the way. It also makes me try to think like someone who has never done it before, to try to document each step and not skip shortcuts or things I know I could get through quickly.

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby crock4 » Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:11 pm

Thanks wingman, these kinds of posts are what makes this forum so good for me. Even being limited in ability when it is explained so well it raises the comfort level enough so that I would not hesitate to give it a shot. kudos

Bob
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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby WingAdmin » Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:21 pm

crock4 wrote:Thanks wingman, these kinds of posts are what makes this forum so good for me. Even being limited in ability when it is explained so well it raises the comfort level enough so that I would not hesitate to give it a shot. kudos

Bob


If you can work a screwdriver, you can get into those things where the lights are. The toughest part for some people really is the soldering - I've been doing it for so long I don't think twice of it, but I know not everyone has experience with a soldering iron.

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby crock4 » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:02 pm

Well for me soldering is one of the things, but a lot of the time my big thumbs get in the way, and small parts break easily. That is what brought me to this site originaly, I was trying to add some acc lighting and broke off the tabs on some connectors. I finally did solder them. Often a small job ends up being a big one when you figure in the collateral damage. :lol:
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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby wingpilot08 » Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:15 pm

The same thing can be done for the light on the radio panel...same process...same leds!! much better lighting!!
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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby WingAdmin » Sun Jan 22, 2012 9:52 pm

wingpilot96 wrote:The same thing can be done for the light on the radio panel...same process...same leds!! much better lighting!!


Yup...I've just finished doing that to my radio, I've taken pictures, just need to find the time to write it up.

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby oldnco » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:42 am

Looking forward to seeing the mentorship article on the Radio-Dang this is a good article!!!!!! THanx so much!

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby tech1 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 8:55 pm

I do not know if my 88 is lighted are 88s? I would like to do this to my 88.
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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby drtjr » Sat Mar 31, 2012 8:25 pm

Great article and well written incl. pics (those will help a lot) Ordered the lights and resistors with the links in the article (came today). You are right, those lights are small errrrr tiny looking forward to this project.

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby ghostvet » Sun May 27, 2012 8:06 am

What are your thoughts using colored LEDs? Blue or even red.

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby ghostvet » Sun May 27, 2012 8:11 am

Also, what LEDs/resistors would you recommend for the dash lights?

Then again, what do you think about LED marker lights, turn signals, brake lights, etc?

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby ghostvet » Tue May 29, 2012 9:16 am

Does anyone have any thoughts as to replacing the blue LEDs with red LEDs? I am thinking of doing this work, as I have to replace a bulb or two already in the handlebar controls and in the dash.

But, I am thinking about red instead of blue, although blue is by far my favorite color.

My thinking is red is better for night driving.

I am also thinking about using red for the dashboard lights and the LCD light (although probably not the indicator lights below the gauges).

Before I go through all the work and expense, I really would like to hear others' opinions.

Thanx!

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby wingpilot08 » Tue May 29, 2012 9:34 am

ghostvet wrote:Does anyone have any thoughts as to replacing the blue LEDs with red LEDs? I am thinking of doing this work, as I have to replace a bulb or two already in the handlebar controls and in the dash.

But, I am thinking about red instead of blue, although blue is by far my favorite color.

My thinking is red is better for night driving.

I am also thinking about using red for the dashboard lights and the LCD light (although probably not the indicator lights below the gauges).

Before I go through all the work and expense, I really would like to hear others' opinions.

Thanx!


Really a personal choice..I think red would look fine! I replaced the lights on the radio with (at first) yellow led's be then switched to white. Be sure to post pic's if you do red!
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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby WingAdmin » Tue May 29, 2012 12:12 pm

If memory serves, I think the controls on the handlebars are already tinted blue. That said, you might be able to get away with using red LEDs instead of blue and it might come through enough to light them up red.

As for dash lights, instead of trying to find LEDs with the correct size and resistor, I just used pop-in replacement 12V LEDs (with integrated resistor). You can see details at How to replace your dash lights with LEDs

Same goes for the fairing marker lights: How to replace your fairing marker reflectors with LEDs. I did the same for all of my turn signals and brake lights as well.

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby redial » Wed May 30, 2012 8:22 pm

As you mentioned, you have been soldering foreverrrr. However, how do you get the shrink sheath to shrink? - other than putting a match to it. When replying, please remember I only have a soldering iron, a plus screwdriver, a negative screwdriver, a couple of adjustable wrenches, and a hammer for all other occasions :D

This is not quite the case, but serves to illustrate what some of the equipment, so we look to have as much instruction as possible, and I sincerely thank you for your illustrated discussions.
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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby wingpilot08 » Thu May 31, 2012 8:06 am

redial wrote: However, how do you get the shrink sheath to shrink? - other than putting a match to it.


Match...heat gun...bic lighter...but if all you have is matches...then use what you have!
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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby WingAdmin » Thu May 31, 2012 10:39 am

I have a heat gun that works very well, but I normally don't use it anywhere near my bike because it is hot enough to very VERY quickly melt or deform ABS plastic. So instead I have a tiny butane torch. It is hot enough to solder with, puts out a pinpoint flame, is refillable, and works very well for shrinking heat shrink tubing in a confined space.

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby Dwight_n_Sue » Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:11 pm

Thank you, Sir! I ordered the LEDs and resistors per superbrightleds.com for my '96 SE/Lehman Trike and was pleased with their promptness and accuracy. I bought a Weller P860M battery powered soldering iron which did the 20 or solder applications admirably. It took around three hours to take things apart and solder and install the LED's, even with the three grandkids helping out (ages 8, 6, and 3). I did re-use the blue soft plastic covers for the original lamps to firmly secure the LEDs in the sockets. I removed the alignment tab on the blue soft plastic lamp covers to facilitate installation. I would add just one thing to the installation instructions; when the CB module is removed gather the screws (3) immediately and store them in a secure area. I didn't and am missing one as we 'speak'. Now I'll move on to my dash lamps.

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby ghostvet » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:02 am

First, and I know you have been told this "once or twice" before... but your "how-tos" are freaking outstanding!!!

I am doing the handlebar control lights today. I am going to just to the right control stalk at first (since there are three lights), keeping the original blue for one light, a blue LED for the next light, and a red LED for the last light. I will take some pics tonight and post them.

I already took the right one apart the other day to clean the starter switch, and that job took me 30 minutes. I have a fair idea of how long the handlebars should take, not accounting for all the various monkey-wrenches that will be thrown in by the Goldwing Gods.

Thanx once again!

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby ghostvet » Tue Jun 12, 2012 9:58 pm

WOW!!!

I installed some LEDs in the control stalks and all I can say is WOW!!! The difference is vivid and bright! The blue is absolutely brilliant. It really puts the OEM blue bulb to shame.

In the right stalk I installed just a blue LED to see the difference. AMAZING!



In the left stalk I installed a red and a blue LED, and left the third light in the original bulb for contrast.



The ”haze” you see around the blue is only in the camera. It is not visible.

The red LED bothers me a bit because the LED lights a sort of fiber optic kind of plastic which lights all the words there. But, it leaves a ”hot spot” in three center where the LED is. Not sure how I will handle that.

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby wasp1975 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:39 am

Greetings from the other side of the world, Good ol' trusty Portugal...

I've recently bought a used GL1500 from 1997 and noticed that I had no light what-so-ever on the handlebars. I just did this two days ago and the result is very good. Though I will have to re-open the right side as for some reason the "Cruise Set" didn't worked for me today. It did seem that the button went all the way down, so no wires should be blocking it, and I'll probably loose an afternoon's hour trying to fix this.

Anyway my left side of the handlebar didn't had any kind of lights... Completely gone and what was left was just melted plastic with carbon. Some guy had opened it already and taped what was left... I Improvised a bit and the lack of the blue cap actually makes some difference here, as the led throws the light frontwards only... But oh well, little by little I'll get there...

Cheers! I really enjoy reading this...
Paulo De Feyter.
1997 GL1500 SE
1997 VT750 ACE

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Re: How to replace your handlebar control lights with LEDs

Postby WingAdmin » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:19 am

wasp1975 wrote:Anyway my left side of the handlebar didn't had any kind of lights... Completely gone and what was left was just melted plastic with carbon. Some guy had opened it already and taped what was left... I Improvised a bit and the lack of the blue cap actually makes some difference here, as the led throws the light frontwards only... But oh well, little by little I'll get there...


I took a small file and filed down the top of the LED to diffuse the light, to spread the light out a bit, it worked well.




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