It was the first of its kind -- an LED "system" light that completely
replaced the original reflector and bulb.
It was an engineering marvel, because Heavycycles used the entire plastic
tail light housing, purchased as a replacement part from a local BMW dealer,
to install the LEDs, the circuit board and the electronics.
It worked great and it still does -- we had it on my old
1984 BMW R100RS "Last
Edition" before it was sold, and it's been on the
1986 BMW R65 "S" ever since.
It still works great and lights up the night (and day) with LED goodness,
sucking down only a tiny trickle of juice while providing maximum output.
But it's obvious that it would be inefficient at best to source a
replacement tail light housing and stuff it full of LED lights and
customized electronics for every bike.
Heavycycles has since developed a relatively easy-to-install LED system
board that replaces the original reflector and bulb for several different
motorcycle makes and models, with more on the way. They sent us the
Ducati Multistrada version shown here, and I snapped a few pics and took some video
to illustrate the installation.
LED light technology has also made some advances in the interim, and the new Heavycycles LED light
is the brightest brake light I've ever seen
-- surely it is way brighter than any single LED replacement bulb could ever
hope to be.
Part of the reason is something we've discussed in our
other motorcycle LED replacement light reports (see the right-hand column
for links); LED light is very directional when compared to an incandescent
bulb, and the tail light reflectors used on motorcycles with incandescent
bulbs are optimized for those bulbs and not for LED lights.
About the only way we've been able to equal or better an original
incandescent bulb with an LED replacement was with the Radiantz LED 1.5"
lights on our old 1998 Triumph Thunderbird Sport (see
article). Those lights are big and powerful, but the T-Bird also
had a dual bulb system, so the two big LED lights paired together were able
to overcome the reflector issue.
The Heavycycles LED replacement packs the LED lights on a
circuit board that's maximized to fill as much of the tail light assembly as
The board shown here uses 64 bright LEDs and when it's
stuffed into the rather small Multistrada tail light assembly, it definitely
fills every available square millimeter with light. There's probably no way that
any more LEDs could be stuffed in there if you tried.
By the way, the LED boards are also available with built-in turn indicators
for those who want to clean up the rear end of the bike by removing the
stock turn signals.
The board comes with clear instructions and I suggest you follow them
precisely. Heavycycles uses 3 tabs at the top of the board; the brown
ground to the turn signals, the yellow for the brake light and the black for
the running (tail) light.
The instructions illustrate how to bend the female terminals over 90
degrees, but make sure you bend them the right way. The LED-packed
barely fits in the housing, so you'll have to bend the terminals over for
everything to fit. Be careful, take your time and have patience when
working on any part of the tail light housing because it isn't the most
robust piece on the bike.
Back of the Ducati Multistrada brake light housing; the two screws are
access the internals to remove the stock red lens.
With the lens removed, this photo shows the stock 1157 bulb and plastic
Here's the wiring behind the reflector. I ended up removing the
insulation on the power lead so I could fit the terminals on the Heavycycles
Note the tubular incandescent bulb across the top that illuminates the
Heavycycles LED replacement board (top) with its three terminals;
the back of the stock Ducati plastic reflector (below).
Heavycycles LED brake light replacement.
Heavycycles LED brake light installed in the Multistrada housing.
Video: Stock 1157 brake light vs. Heavycycles
I did have to splice in a short brown wire to the left turn signal; I think
Ducati ran out of wire on mine and it was about 12 mm or so too short.
But it's my understanding that this is unusual and most owners should not
have to splice any wires inside the tail light assembly.
A length of heat shrink tubing is provided with the light and I suggest
using it on all the terminals, because once everything is packed in there
it's pretty tight. Also, once you get it all together, it should never
have to come apart again, what with the very long life span of LED lights,
so you may as well do it right.
It took some fettling to get the board to fit correctly because it's made to
fit as many lights as possible. Heavycycles suggests using either
"Goop" or or low volatility RTV silicone to seal up the board at the 4
corners. I used Goop but if I had to do it over, I'd go with the
silicone. Goop leaves too many "spider web" strings around and it made
more of a mess than I'd like.
Make sure that no Goop or silicone gets on the outer edges of the housing so
that the red lens will still fit correctly when everything dries.
It took me about 40 minutes or so to remove the light assembly (easy on the
covered this in the Multi blog), slowly step through the instructions
and do the deed. I let the Goop dry for a few hours (the instructions
say 24 hours) and put it back together and everything works perfectly.
The Heavycycles LED replacement brake light is BRIGHT, no doubt about it.
The center section of LED lights are illuminated with the running light, but
when the brakes are applied, the rest of the LEDs come on and the entire
board goes into light overdrive.
Heavycycles says "you'll need welding
goggles so you don't hurt your eyes", and while that is, of course, somewhat
of an overstatement, the light is definitely bright.
Yes, it's much more expensive than an LED replacement bulb, which can cost
up to $25.00 or so, but you'll simply never get as much light out of one
bulb, at least with current technology. We're pretty much convinced
that this is the brightest LED replacement tail light and brake light system
Of course, there's no guarantee it will stop a drunk from plowing into you
at a stoplight, and you'll never know if it caused someone to stop when they
may not have done so with another type of light, but it's nice knowing that
you did everything possible to warn the dullards behind you that you're
coming to a stop.
UPDATE: Some specifications provided by Heavycycles that I
forgot to add in the original post:
current regulation circuitry - LEDs stay the same
controlled brightness from 10v to 25v
electrical protection circuitry - Forward and
reverse transient and over-voltage protection (think
super surge protection)
and brake light circuits - If you lose your running
light power, you would still have a brake light, and
vice versa (There are actually three independent
brake light circuits on the all red taillight kit...
highly fault tolerant!)
plug-and-play installation - Designed to fit neatly
into original light assembly
with OEM-type terminals - NO splicing of wires
detailed installation instructions - A fairly well
trained monkey with a screwdriver could install it
and ruggedized circuit board - For extreme weather
and vibration protection
lead-free construction - Green!
Has a 5-Year
warranty - Covers the whole circuit board assembly
Heavycycles Motorcycle LED Brake Light
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "A.W." (4/10): "I have a 2007 VRSCAW
(Harley VROD) and have had one of Joe's (Heavycycles) tail
lights for little more than a year. I upgraded the stock
light to the HD LED light as I was scared away by the
Heavycycles' price tag.
Then I saw one in person at night nonetheless.
To say it was bright is a grave understatement. We were
with a group of of riders and several on VRODs, when side by
side at night, the Heavycycles tail light made the other tail
lights (many were LED) appear to be off.
Joe has perfected his system and it is awesome
on my VROD. He even went so far as to make the running
light in the shape of the letter 'V', and then the entire thing
lights up when you apply the brakes.
I recently had Joe upgrade my tail light to the
"Vegas V", which makes the V flash when brakes are applied while
the remainder of the LEDs stay full blast (here's the
YouTube video). I would tell others to just purchase
this from heavycycles.com instead of wasting time and money, as
I did, with several of the other alternatives in LED."