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The new Clearwater Erica lights are extremely powerful, with an incredible amount of light output.
In fact, if you need more light than this, then you better wait for noon on a sunny day.
We'd probably label the Erica lights as "For off-road use only", because even at their lowest setting, the light output may be too powerful for daytime street riding.
But for many motorcycle owners, too much is never enough and if that's you, well, then here's your next set of lights!
Installing the Erica lights is relatively straightforward and the roughly 12,000 lumen output for the pair uses up just 120 Watts total.
Just for grins, we installed them on the Suzuki DR650 (blog) with its accessory 250W stator. Surprise! The bike can run these lights no problem, even down to idle speeds...although the Clearwater Darla lights (review) are probably a better choice for the DR650.
Clearwater has upgraded their installation kits with each new generation and the Erica wiring harness is relatively easy to install. Very high-quality stainless steel hardware is all included and many different bespoke mounts are available for a variety of bikes.
Besides having a longer reach, the beam pattern of the Erica lights is wider and taller than next most powerful set that the company offers, the Clearwater Krista lights (review).
It's hard to imagine anyone needing more light than the Erica lights can put out however and they're probably too much for street use, but if you're riding Baja or off-road in the dark or just doing a nighttime cattle roundup on the farm, these are the lights you'll want.
The Clearwater Erica lights are rated at over 6,000 lumens each, although lumen ratings are about as useful as pixel ratings for digital cameras; i.e., they sure don't tell you the whole story.
But just for comparison's sake, a single incandescent motorcycle headlight is approximately sorta kinda something like around roughly 750 lumens on low and 1,500 on high. Give or take.
The Erica lights mean business, no two ways about it. And with the magic of modern LED technology, these lights use only about 60 Watts each at their highest setting -- pretty amazing.
Many smaller-capacity motorcycle electrical systems can handle 120 Watts total, so it may be possible to fit the Erica lights to off-road or motocross bikes (although it may take some electrical system fettling).
For example, our Suzuki DR650 project bike (blog) has a 250W stator (review) installed and all-LED turn signals (review) and a Bikemaster HID headlight (review), all of which reduce power consumption slightly, but it handles the Erica lights no problem.
To be perfectly honest, the Erica lights are probably too much for street use only, because even at their lowest setting (like all Clearwater Lights products, the Erica lights are dimmable), the light output can be blinding to oncoming traffic. But, to some owners, more is never enough (and we can fully understand that sentiment!).
So if you're going to mount the Erica lights on a dual-sport or street bike there are a few things to consider.
First, make sure you have the on/off rocker switch mounted where it's readily accessible. Like your right thumb. Even when idling with the rheostat controller turned all the way down, the Erica lights are extremely bright. Which brings us to #2: make sure you aim these lights correctly. If you're on the street, you do not want the lights to blind oncoming traffic, which can happen, even (especially) during the day.
Here's the hot tip for street mounting the Erica lights, however -- one which Clearwater Lights will surely like to hear: mount a second set of lights that work better at low power as visibility lights. The Clearwater Krista lights (review) we had mounted on the DR650 prior to installing the Erica lights (both types are the same size and fit the same brackets) are more reasonable as motorcycle visibility daytime running lights and the Clearwater Darla lights (review) are even better for that purpose.
Best yet, for daytime running visibility lights are the Clearwater Glenda lights (review), which are pretty much solely designed for that purpose (but also work nicely as night-time fog/side lights).
In fact, the Erica light kit harness (and the latest Krista light harness) now have stub wires out of the relay to connect a second set of either the Darla or Glenda lights, so option #3 is best if you want additional daytime running/visibility lights. Also, consider the BikeVis Bullets (review), which we have mounted on the DR650 also. They're tiny yet highly visible and they use almost zero power.
All that said, if you want max power during the day or (especially) night, then the Clearwater Erica lights are, in a word, awesome.
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We've described installing all of the other Clearwater Lights light types in previous reviews, so grab one of the links in this review or at the top of the page and you'll learn everything you need to know. Also, Clearwater has the installation manuals available online, so check out the "Basic" guide also for the light type that interests you.
The Erica lights are very high quality, made in the U.S.A. and the light modules are machined aluminum. The hardware pack that comes with the light kits is very high quality stainless steel and probably 3-4 times heftier gauge than any other light kit on the market and also probably heavier-duty than you really need. But, more is better, right?
Clearwater has also improved the wiring harnesses provided with the kits and you no longer have to do as much dicing and splicing as with the first generation. Depending upon your obsessiveness quotient, you may still want to shorten up (or lengthen) some of the wires to get everything tidied up. Here's a .jpg of the Erica wiring diagram.
We took the opportunity to replace the older Krista harness on the DR650 with the newer version of the harness provided with the Erica lights. We also cleaned up the installation and made it as tidy as possible.
One of the great things about the DR650 is that it's so easy to rip apart, because it's no tourer, that's for sure. But the absence of a fairing means there's not all that much room to run wires and stow connectors and relays. Believe it or not, however, we were able to get everything nicely packed under the tiny headlight wind protector on the DR650, with all the wires stored in that little package above the headlight with its vinyl cover. That says something for the svelte-ness of the Clearwater Lights harness.
We re-used the existing on/off switch from the Krista lights on the DR650, because it's a better design for this bike and it's located on the left-hand mirror stalk, which makes it easy to use. The rocker switch that comes with the Erica kit is nice, but it's designed for flush mounting on a fairing, so it's nix for the DR650. It's easy enough to find 3-wire on/off switches if you need to roll your own.
Of course, Posi-Locks (buy 'em here!) were used to connect and tap into switched power sources on the bike. And by the way, the little 18-26 gauge Posi-Twist (gray) come in really handy for pairing 2, 3 or 4 of the small 20 (?) gauge wires used in the Clearwater harness.
You'll also need a good quality wire cutter/stripper for those hair-thin wires; we use the Klein 1000 (here). It's just a touch more expensive than those too-cheap-to-use strippers, it's made in the U.S.A. and it works really well. Another good one is the Gardner-Bender GS-366 (here). These tools work well for narrow gauge wires like you'll find on the Clearwater wiring harness.
The Erica lights use the same type of aluminum CNC machined housing design as the other Clearwater lights we've reviewed. The Erica light modules are the same size as the Krista lights, so we didn't have to swap out the mounting brackets on the DR650; the lights fit right in.
We have the "Basic" kit, which includes everything shown in the kit contents photo. Clearwater also makes motorcycle-specific kits for various bikes, although sometimes this increases the price due to custom mounts.
The Krista, Darla and Erica lights all seem to have roughly the same beam pattern, which is a wide and tall spread that's very useful for motorcycle riding at night. These aren't really "spot" lights or "pencil beam" lights; they have more of a generally wide pattern that illuminates everything. This means you have to be more careful on how you use the lights so you don't blind oncoming traffic.
The difference with the Erica lights, with their 6 LEDs in each module, is that the pattern is wider, taller, longer and more powerful all at once. Turn the light modules even slightly pointing outwards (to the left and right) and you'll have sunshine in what we estimate to be about a 140-degree arc in front of the bike. The light is concentrated directly in front, of course, but you can mess with the orientation of the light modules vertically and horizontally to get what you want.
Point them in to concentrate the firepower in front of the bike or out to illuminate the deer hiding in the woods, waiting to pounce.
The amount of light easily overwhelms anything your wimpy headlight can throw and you could probably easily (albeit illegally) use one Erica light as a sole-source headlight on a custom bike and still have way more light than a stock headlight can manage.
Clearwater Lights has specific fitment kits for "standard" and "off-road" applications for their lights, so the kit contents will vary, depending on the configuration you order.
The Erica (and Darla and Krista) light kit includes two LED light modules, two universal mounting brackets, the dimmer or "volume" control switch, a potted relay, Posi-Lock, Posi-Twist and Posi-Tap pieces and zip ties. Also included are instructions with configuration and connectivity photos and diagrams.
The Erica, Darla and other Clearwater Lights kits are available with bike-specific mounts for BMW, Buell, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Suzuki, Triumph, Victory, Yamaha and others.
The wiring is labeled (photo below) and here's a tip: if you do end up shortening one of the wires, make sure you slide the label up above where you're going to cut the wire, so it's still labeled. We also have a fancy 3M ScotchCode Write-On Wire Marker Dispenser but you can use plain paper sticky labels or even masking tape. Just be sure to use a good-quality permanent waterproof marker with a fine tip.
The hardest part is locating and tapping into the switched power lines. You may need a copy of your motorcycle wiring diagram as a guide, and a digital Volt/Ohm meter. Ground one end, touch the red probe to the wire you think is hot, turn on the ignition and see if you get a ~13 Volt reading. If so, it's a hot switched wire.
Note that the Erica and Krista lights do come with an on/off switch, while the Darla and Glenda (smallest Clearwater light) only have the "volume control" knob. The reason is that the smaller lights can be easily left on as daytime running lights for visibility. You could splice in an on/off switch if you really wanted to.
All of the Clearwater lights can be dimmed down to 5% of full power using the "volume control". Note that even when the knob is turned up to max, the lights will only go the last little bit to full power when the motorcycle high beam is engaged. This is why it's important to connect the white high beam trigger wire; be sure to follow the instructions.
Here is an animated .gif illustrating the differences in the DR650's HID headlight at low beam only, high beam only and then the high beam with the Erica lights at full power:
It's not easy to take photos that truly represent the light output from motorcycle lights, but we try our best. These photos were taken at different times (i.e., the Darla and Krista photos were taken back when those lights were evaluated). But the same camera was used with the same lens and the same settings (ISO800, shutter speed of 1 second at f5.6), so the results are comparable.
You can see from the photos that all three Clearwater Lights light types output roughly the same beam pattern, but the Erica lights cast a wider, taller and farther reach.
Here's an animated .gif showing the Darla vs. Krista vs. Erica lights, all at full power along with the DR650's HID headlight on high. We cropped the Erica photo to the same size used in the earlier webBikeWorld Krista and Darla reviews:
Next is a slide show, also with the photos cropped to the older 650px wide webBikeWorld review format. This slide show shows the following: headlight only at low; headlight only at high; then high beam with the Darla lights; high beam with the Krista lights and high beam with the Erica lights.
You can select an individual photo and/or pause the slide show to study the effects.
webBikeWorld Overall Opinionator: Clearwater Erica Lights
We're huge fans of all of the Clearwater Lights LED auxiliary lights and at the top of the heap sits the new Erica lights. These are massively powerful, yet they take a reasonable 120 Watts total and still fit in the same light housing as the Clearwater Krista lights.
The light output pattern is wide and has a long reach, which is perfect for motorcycle use. The build quality of the light modules and the mounting hardware is excellent and there are ready-to-use mounting brackets available for many different brands and makes of motorcycle.
One of the signature features of the Clearwater Lights products is the ability to dim the light output with the rheostat controller dial, although the Erica lights are very bright even at their lowest setting. You could mount a second set of smaller Clearwater lights, paired with the Erica lights and use the smaller lights as conspicuity lights for the street during the day.
We do wish Clearwater would partner with some machine shop to make a set of stone guards for the lights and perhaps more dimmer and on/off switch options would be nice also.
There's no getting around the price of the Erica lights, which is pretty steep, but these are "Professional Grade" and not in any way, shape or form comparable with some of the cheaper stuff that passes as auxiliary motorcycle lighting today.
But once you flip the switch and see the output from the Erica lights, you're hooked!
|wBW Review: Clearwater Erica LED Motorcycle Lights|
|Manufacturer: Clearwater Lights||List Price: $849.00 for basic kit.|
|Colors: Black.||Made In: U.S.A.|
|Review Date: January 2014|