TandemHearts

Signal Minder and VectraLIGHTS

October 1st, 2006

  • This photo is a bit under exposed to show how the various lights (head light, Vetra Lights, Signals as running lights) compare. The Vectralights are the weak link.

I added Kisan Tech’s Signal Minder (hereafter called SM) and VectraLIGHTS (now known as VL) to the motorcycle, a Kawasaki Ninja 650r. The SM automatically turns off your signal lights and has the option to turn your signal lights into always-on (at reduced output) running lights. The VLs are strips of LEDs that mount under your mirrors and provide an additional set of signal lights. They can be used separately, but when used together, the VLs just plug into the SM. The results are a mixed bag. UPDATE: Well, that was fun.  After about 10 months of use and maybe8,000 miles, one of the VetrcaLights failed. They weren’t very good to begin with, and it was out of warranty, so I took them off the bike.  The “running light” option conflicted with the lights I put in the Givi truck, so I turned off that option.

Kisan includes everything you need to do the installation – scotchlock connectors, velcro to mount the SM to your fairing, springs to replace override the springs in your turn switch, zip ties to attach the VLs wires to your mirror stalks. There are several models of the SM, depending on which signal relay your motorcycle uses. The 650r uses the SM3. Because the plug on the bike only uses 2 of the 3 connectors, Kisan includes a 3rd connector that you ground to the frame.

Putting in the SM is as easy as:

  1. remove the one fairing piece,
  2. pull out the stock replay,
  3. attach the ground cable,
  4. plug in the SM in place of the stock relay – no splicing or wire taps need
  5. velcro the SM to the fairing
  6. reinstall the fairing piece

The running light and return spring over rides are options, so I decided to just put in the SM to start. My real motivation for the project was to install the VL, so I didn’t care about the options. When I tried the signal minder with the VL plugged in, the LEDs did not work. Then I read the directions that said, “For some systems the VLs will only work if the running light option is in place.” OK. Adding the running light option means using scotchlocks to tap the hot wire for each (front) turn signal. This wasn’t hard to do. Kisan again included everything needed.

Once the running light option was in place, the VLs worked fine. I mounted the VLs under each mirror, being careful to mount them far enough forward so that I could not see them while on the bike. They are bright enough at night to be distracting. I was able to fit the flat wire from the SM to each VL in a gap between to fairing pieces, so I didn’t have to cut any plastic.

The VLs are not great for improved visibility. Because of where the mirror is, and how I mounted them, they are not visible from the rear – my hands are in the way. LEDs are directional, so there is loss of brightness off-axis, so they do not show well from an angle greater than maybe 45 degrees. These LEDs are not a current generation I suspect, and are a bit small, so they the individual diodes are not as bright as the ones used in the hyperlights. During the day, they are probably useless. Veronica followed me for 60 miles the night I installed them. We started out just before dusk and finished well after dark. She reports that while she noticed the left side was not working (because of a loose wire), she didn’t think the working one added much visibility.

Veronica said that the best visibility improvement on the bike was the reflective tape on the luggage, followed by the hyperlights. VLs were a distant third. From the front, the bike’s headlight is so good, that I expect the VLs will not improve visibility forward. Finally, the stock signal lights are good and make great running lights. So, the Signal Minder (for it’s running light option) is very good, but the VectraLIGHTs are probably not worth the money.

Next week I’m getting mirror extenders. I may also remount the VLs farther out on the mirror. The combination may make them more effective.

The photo links to a full gallery, including a few quicktime movies of the VLs in action.

  • The signal minder comes with everything you need to install it.

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