Review: Hyperlites LED brake lights

I recently installed HyperLites LED brake lights on my BMW R1150RS. I feel that any way I can become more conspicuous out there, the better, and one of my greatest fears is not being noticed by a car coming up behind me, particularly if I’m slowing or stopped.

hl

The HyperLites are essentially two ‘pods’ of eight red LEDs each, wired to flash rapidly when the brakes are applied. You have a choice of either full-time flashing or five seconds of flashing before going solid. They don’t alter the operation of the stock brake light, just augment it.

For most BMWs, and some other bikes, the kits are prewired with piggyback connectors, so installation is easy and solder-free. On the R1150RS, it’s about as painless as it gets.

Also, most kits come in two versions: A normal “brake light only” version, and a second version for a few more bucks that includes a running-light feature. According to ther website, in the latter version the LEDs are run contstant at 60% brightness until the brakes are applied, then they flash at 100% brightness.

Thinking extra running-lights would be good, I purchased the running-light version, however once installed I found that they were too bright for running-lights. If they’re 60%, I would imagine that 10-20% would be more in line with a normal running-light brightness. I don’t believe LEDs like being run at such low power, so I think if I were designing an updated version I’d have a pair of LEDs on the end be a lower-light kind, and just power that pair for running-lights, leaving the high-powered brake lights off.

Anyway, I don’t want people wondering if my brakes are on all the time, so I opted not to connect the running-light lead when installing them. This reverts them to normal brake-only duty. * Update, 12/06: I have changed my mind, and reconnected the running light lead. Now they’re on all the time, and it’s fine.

Note that the R1100RS will use the same lights. It’s also worth mentioning that I was assured by the HyperLites folks that there would be no ABS/voltage related problems with my bike. And I have had none.

So, now for the installation. Here are the lights and harness:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Remove the rear seat, and then remove the two thumbscrews holdling the taillight on.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

Let the taillight hang gently by the wires.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

First you connect the ground lead to the brake light. This kit’s harness provides a piggy-back connector, so you remove the stock connector, connect the new piggy-back, and connect the stock connector to the piggy-back. Here is the ground lead connected to the brake light:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Next you connect the positive lead to the brake light:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Now, if you want the running lights and you have the dual-mode kit, you’d connect the third piggy-back to the tail-light positive. I just shrink-wrapped mine instead, and buttoned everything back up.

You may need to bend the protruding tips of the new connectors in order for the housing to fit back on.

After cleaning the mounting area with rubbing alcohol, stick the light pods on. Here is the final appearance:

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Something looks a little odd with the perspective of this picture, but it’s just my camera. The lights are on nice and straight, really :)

Update, April 2008:

After buying a K1200S, Hyper-Lites were the first thing I added to it. On the K-bike, installation is a little different. Rather than use piggyback connectors, the hyperlites ship with PosiTap connectors. Also, because of the CAN-BUS electrical system on the K12S, they connect slightly differently. Still pretty easy to do though, and I’m happy with the result. I used the hot wire from the accessory socket as my hot, and it works just fine. No CAN-BUS problems.

Two observations for the K1200S: I would recommend to the Hyper-Lites folks that the leads from the light pods be a 6-10″ longer for this kit. If you follow the license plate light wire up the bracket and into the tail it makes for a nice clean install. It’s doable, but longer leads would make it a lot easier.

Second, the license plate bracket that the kit comes with doesn’t look so great on the K-bike. The K12S has a pretty tidy rear-end, and I felt width of the bracket spoiled that. So I cut the bracket in half, and mounted each half vertically behind the plate, with the ears sticking out above the license plate. The original bolt hole is used, and a new hole is drilled in each half for the lower plate bolt. The pods then mount horizontally to the ears. Much better!

Here’s a photo of the K1200S tail with the hyperlites peeking over the license plate.

2013-08-09 18-27-43 DSC02172 (1)

Update, November 2008:

I recently noticed that one of the light pods on my KS began to fail. One bank of four LEDs was intermittent. I sent an email to Hyper-Lites, and in a few days I had a replacement in my mailbox. Great service!

Video:

Please click the link below to view a short video clip of the Hyper-Lites in action on the RS. Note that I snipped the green loop to enable the “five-second flash before solid” mode, so the video shows what that looks like too.

hyperlites

I love your comments. Don't be shy, reply!

There are 4 replies to “Review: Hyperlites LED brake lights

  1. David

    Hi, Sebastian. Thanks for the page on the Hyper-Lites application on your R1150RS. I plan to add some to my R1150RS next week, and I found your document helpful.

    How do you like your RS? First Beemer?

    Ride safe!
    David

    Reply
  2. Chris Watkins

    Sebastian,
    i just ran across your review while doing some optimizing for our site. Its always nice to see that some one is satisfied with one of our products. We have played around with a lower intensity level, we cycle them on and off at about 130 times per second to make them dimmer, and are considering offering a custom program for our control unit. Thanks again for choosing Hyper-Lites,
    Ride safe
    Chris Watkins

    Reply
    1. Sebastian Post author

      I remain thrilled with the lights, and they’re going strong. I’m convinced they make me more visible out there day and night.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The "are you a human" quiz *