Monday, August 1, 2011

Some Farkle's

Lite-Buddy on the right
Like many others, I found it impossible to go to the BMWMOA rally without picking up a few farkles. Whenever I've ridden with our little riding group from church, I noticed how much more noticeable the flashing brake lights were on my friends Goldwing. I also noted that my own tail light was burned out and it is the only light on the back of the bike that is always lit. Within 5 minutes after entering the first vendor building at the rally, I saw a booth selling Lite-Buddy's for BMWs. I had heard about these quite a while ago from another website describing a bike very similar to mine (though much cleaner). They are made of eight bright red LEDs epoxied into a ceramic base. I was somewhat attracted to them since they fit completely within the turn signal housings. Even though the turn signal lens is amber, the LEDs show up as red. They are "on" whenever the tail light is on and when you apply the brakes, they flash for 5 seconds then revert back to "on". Not too annoying but I think that they may help make me a bit more visible. To install them, you need to drill a small slot in the reflector to feed the wires through, stick them to the reflector and wire them up. The only thing difficult about the installation was fishing the wire through the tube supporting the turn signals.

I also picked up an adjustable voltage regulator to increase the charging voltage a bit to meet the recommendations of the Odyssey battery I installed last month. The bike still had the original electro-mechanical voltage regulator and it was set for 13.7V measured at the battery at 4000 rpm. I installed the new solid-state  regulator and adjusted it for 14.4V also measured at the battery. An observation on the accuracy of the in-dash voltmeter, it used to read just over 12V and now reads 13.2V. Not very well calibrated but good enough to watch for changes. The documentation that came with the battery recommended a charging voltage of 14.6V but I figured that this may be close enough for now. Removing the regulator to adjust it is a bit of a hassle since it is buried under the tank.

The last farkle is much less functional. The gps I use on the bike is a Garmin 60CSx that I've had for years. It is waterproof, sturdy, has sensitive radios and has street maps installed for turn-by-turn directions. I have been using the Garmin plastic bracket on a RAM handlebar mount and while functional, I'm glad I had looped the wrist strap around something as I probably would have lost the unit by now. It tended to come loose occasionally on bumps. The Touratech mount has a much more positive lock on the unit plus I think it looks kind of cool. Lots of springs and levers to actuate the locking mechanism. At the rally, they were offering a discount AND free shipping on any order.


  1. Yay! Farkles are always a good thing! I've always thought those flashing brake lights were a good idea. I've seen a few and they really do get your attention.

  2. Touratech is good stuff but usually comes with a price tag. I am glad you got your farkle at decent cost. Looks very sturdy!

  3. Nice Farkles.

    Any farkle that improves visibility and hence safety is a necessity right?

  4. I try to resist these kind of things. However, I'm really leaning towards the flashing brake lights. They were legal here, then not legal, now legal again.

    The police bikes used Hyper-Lites. Flashing brake lights really get attention. Right now I'm using my right foot!

  5. Richard:

    those flashing brake lights seem like a good idea. I'll wait for your opinion before I splurge

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. So far, I think that the flashing brake lights are useful. When parking at the work today, someone came up with a "thumbs up" and said that the flashing lights were a great idea. Very visible. In the past, I usually tried to "flash" the brake lights if there was someone behind me by applying and releasing the brake lever.

    I had looked at the Hyper-Lites as well and they have a lot more features and are much brighter but cost more. They also give you have the ability to change the flashing program, i.e. Calif mode. If I rode year 'round, I think that I would have gotten them instead of the Lite-Buddy's.

  7. Dear Richard:

    I'm sorry you didn't get a chance to look at my bike at the Bloomsburg Rally. I have a sort of sickness when it comes to motorcycle lighting. I can't get enough of it.

    The extremely dim riding light on the back of my K75 really started to aggravate me. You needed a flashlight to see if it was lit. And while things improved when you hit the brakes, the improvement wasn't enough.

    My first addition was a "Back Off" license plate bracket in flat black. This bracket featured a row of 18 red LEDs top and bottom (for a total of 36) that burn at 50% power as running lights and 100% power as brake lights.

    Then I added flashing "Hyper Light" clusters to the inside chambers of the the tail light lens. Each cluster is 18 red LEDs that flash like fireworks when the brakes are triggered. (To be legal, the have to flash for 5 seconds, then go to solid red.) I say to hell with this. Mine flash all the time. So that's another 36 red LEDs on the back.

    Last week, I was at my local dealers — Hermys BMW — when I came across this great supplemental tail lighting in one neat package. It bolts onto the existing license plate bracket and hangs under the existing arrangement. It comes with a neat wiring harness and looks like a fast hook-up job. Like most Beemer stuff, it ain't cheap.
    $149 buys a 16-unit LED package the hardware, and a wiring harness.

    I'm thinking about getting one, only because it's so cool-looking.

    Here is the URL:

    I have a voltmeter on the dash, and I crank out over 13 volts at 1000 RPM. But the 95 K75 has a huge alternator, 600+ watts, so juice is never an issue.

    Good luck with your light show.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads