Ducati GT 1000 Brake Light Bulb
by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
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| Replace headlight bulb with
yellow version |
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I like the GT1000's simple round brake light. It adds to the bike's retro
looks and its balanced proportions bring a touch of class to the rear of the
bike. Too bad the entire housing is made from plastic though...
I'll bet that a Ducati designer studied a variety of 1960's style motorcycle tail
lights, because even the reflector has the classic "grid" look when the bulb
is lighted. The standard bulb is the typical 1157 dual filament, which
can be found at any local auto parts store and is also available in a
heavy-duty version. One filament of an 1157 is
lighted when the bike is started and the other filament comes on when the
brakes are engaged.
An alternative bulb is the 2397, which is very slightly brighter than the
1157 under some circumstances, but has a lower expected life. We
compared a variety of brake and tail light bulbs some time ago
in this article.
But, tinkerer that I am, I figured that I might be able to improve on the
Ducati design by replacing the 1157 with an LED light. I've had very
good success with the Custom
Dynamics "Clusters" LED brake/tail light, which we've used on various
motorcycles that have passed through the garage, from the
Triumph Thunderbird Sport
to the Triumph Tiger and
others, so I thought I might add one to the GT1000.
I'll cut right to the chase here -- the bottom line is that the 1.85"
LED light will
not fit into GT1000's brake light reflector housing, but I learned
something interesting tips that also apply when replacing the brake light
bulb on this motorcycle.
First of all, because the entire GT1000 brake/tail light assembly is made
entirely (well, almost) from plastic, extreme care must be taken to avoid
breaking or stripping any of the parts. I envisioned having to order a new
brake light assembly from Ducati while the bike sat there for 6 months,
which would be a disaster.
The owner's manual actually does include a section on replacing the GT1000's brake light
bulb. Following the instructions, I fond that the reflector can be
removed by unscrewing the #1 Phillips head screws on either side of the main
reflector housing, as shown in this photo
(below), with a yellow arrow pointing to the screw on the right-hand side.
It's not very easy to access these screws because of
interference with the turn signal housing. And, at
least on my bike, the screws were inserted very tightly
at the factory, which made them hard to remove the first
time. Also, the screws
are not made from the best quality metal and the heads are
very easy to strip.
An extra-long, high-quality #1 Phillips head
screwdriver is necessary to get past the turn signals
and to obtain the correct angle of
attack to remove the screws while putting enough pressure
on them with the tip of the screwdriver so that the heads
of the screws will not strip.
high-quality #1 Phillips head screwdriver will have a
special tip that is not chrome plated but has a special
coating or surface to give it as much grip as possible.
Don't try to unscrew these with an el Cheapo
The problem is that it is very hard to find a
high-quality, long (8" or so) #1 Phillips head
screwdriver. I went to Sears and a couple of other
stores to find one but couldn't. I ended up
ordering one from Snap-on along with a 30mm, 6 point
socket that I'll use on the rear axle nut to adjust the
chain (article coming soon).
But in the meantime, I realized I had something that
would work. One of my favorite tools is the
Wiha bit driver, which is long enough for this job
when used with a set of Wiha bits. The
Wiha tools are, in my experience, all very high quality
and I just happened to have a #1 Phillips bit in my set,
which worked fine. If you recall, the Wiha bit
driver was also the perfect tool for
removing the GT1000 evaporative emissions canister.
The bottom line here is that you'll need to have
patience and be very careful when removing these screws
because it's way too easy to strip the heads if you
The screws have a strange body design, with a wide and
sharp thread at the tip that I think is a self-threading
mechanism when the screw is inserted into the black plastic
tail light housing. The screws can
only be backed out so far and they hold the actual brake
light reflector housing by friction. This photo
(below) is a close-up of the left-hand screw.
The next photo (below) has a yellow arrow indicating
the "ears" on either side of the brake light housing.
The screws reach into these ears and hold the brake
light housing in by friction.
The actual bulb assembly fits into the chrome/red
plastic reflector, also with a friction fit. The green arrow
in the photo above points to the rubber bumpers that hold the white colored
bulb holder in place. The bulb holder can be
removed by very carefully pulling it from the reflector
with alternating pressure.
It feels like it would
be very easy to break something here, so use extreme
care and have patience! It will eventually come
loose, but it's not easy.
Unfortunately, after all this effort, I discovered
that the red lens is glued to the chrome reflector.
The chrome reflector only has a big enough hole in the
back for the 1157 bulb to fit through; thus, the larger
LED light will not fit. There's probably a small
LED light that will fit through this hole, but my guess
is that the LED would be so small that it would greatly
decrease the visibility of the brake light.
Also, LED lights are much more directional than
incandescent bulbs, so the chrome reflector would not
redirect the bulk of the light if an LED was used,
further decreasing the amount of light coming out the
I don't recommend using one of the
halogen 1157 replacement bulbs (see article) either;
we tested these a long time ago and they get extremely
hot and my guess is that they would quickly melt the
GT1000's reflector housing.
So, it's back to the drawing board. I like the
retro look of the GT1000's brake light when the bulb is
lighted, and I don't really want to add any external
LEDs to the bike because I think it would ruin the
period look of the rear end.
I may order an extra
brake light reflector (if that's possible; I wouldn't be
surprised if the entire rear brake/tail light assembly
comes as one piece) and cut it apart and send it out to
get the entire lens filled with LED lights. This
works very well, as we
detailed in this article a while back when we filled
the brake light of a BMW R100RS with LEDs.
If you have comments, further information, tips or guidance on
this project, please send it to me at
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