Lighting is a key component of motorcycle safety and unfortunately it is one that many of us take for granted when it comes to the stock lighting on motorcycles.
But like most things in life, time and technology has brought about both revolutionary and evolutionary changes and motorcycling sure hasn’t been left behind, at least for the most part.
For example, the various lights on a typical modern motorcycle are much more advanced than what was available even a few years ago.
But turn signal lights haven’t seen much in the way of revolution or even evolution over the years, other than various sculpted shapes and some lens changes.
This means that most stock turn signal lights still use the tried-and-true incandescent bulb and reflector system.
But tried-and-true doesn’t always mean that it is the best solution…but it is cheap and it does work.
With the advent of LEDs, however, a whole lot of options are now available.
Unfortunately, manufacturers have been reluctant to adopt LEDs for turn signal lights, probably for cost reasons.
But since turn signal lights are such a key component in communicating with other road users, perhaps cost shouldn’t be the primary concern here.
So it’s good to know there are accessory solutions for the motorcyclist; just check out the many reviews of LED lights published on webBikeWorld over the years.
The Weiser Ultrabrights Extreme LED inserts in this latest review are a modern and timely example of what technology, innovation and progress brings to our sport.
In the Kit
Each Weiser Ultrabrights Extreme two-light kit contains the two LED-on-circuit-board modules and companion locking keys that are used to align, hold and position the replacement inserts inside the stock turn signal housing.
A double-sided coloured instruction sheet is neatly folded and inserted in each kit and less a couple of small tools (see photo), nothing else is required for the installation.
The LED inserts come in various shapes and sizes; for this BMW installation, the LED arrays are 80.5 mm wide by 40.5 mm tall.
Each has twelve small OSRAM amber automotive grade LEDs projecting 2 mm above the printed circuit board, strategically arranged in three rows of four for optimal lighting distribution.
Turning the circuit board over reveals eight resistors in two sets (R1 to R6 and R7/R8), one diode and small blade connectors marked Plus and Minus for wiring connectivity.
Total thickness of each precisely shaped insert, less the two blade connectors, is around 5 mm and the inserts fit precisely into the recessed edges of the BMW OE turn signal light housings.
xWeiser LED Notes
The small plastic indicator locking key supplied with each Weiser LED insert fits into place on the section of the signal light mounting arm (stalk or stem) that sits inside the module.
With the key in place, the Weiser LED insert slips into place over the stem with alignment provided by a notch on the key and a matching tab on the stem.
Once the key is in place, its outer U-shaped arms engage the cutout on the LED insert to secure and position the insert exactly where the now vacated OE assembly used to sit; this is a simple and effective mounting solution.
Note that the Weiser LED kits are designed to be inserted into the bike’s existing turn signal housings; the kits are not complete replacements for the entire turn signal housing.
You’re basically replacing the light bulb and reflector with an LED array but still using the existing stock turn signal housing and lens.
Note also that the Weiser and other LED inserts are for turn signal use only. They are not designed for prolonged use as running lights.
Installing the Weiser LEDs
Although the Weiser LEDs are available for many different motorcycle makes and models, my original plan was to add the Weiser LED upgrade kits to a 2015 BMW R 1200 R.
But at the last minute I decided to use some other LEDs on that bike…
So the hosting assignment fell to a 2015 BMW R 1200 GSW that utilizes the same (common) style of OE arrow-head shaped turn signal housings as the R 1200 R.
Both are compatible with the Weiser kit I have, according to the Weiser fitment listing for BMW motorcycles.
The double-sided instruction sheet details the required steps visually with matching text instructions, making removal of the OE bulb reflector assembly and fitment of the LED inserts easy.
Simplifying things even further is the fact that removal of the entire turn signal light housing from the motorcycle isn’t required, or shouldn’t be.
Again, note that the Weiser LED inserts are designed to be a replacement for the turn signal reflector and bulb.
Here’s a step-by-step illustration in photos, with the installation description following:
Most OE indicator housings or the lenses are secured with one or two small 20 mm screws located on the outer edge of the lens, so a number 0 or number 1 Phillips-head screwdriver does the trick in removing the long thin screws.
Pull the lens away from the housing and put it aside with the small screw.
Remove the Reflector and Bulb
Remove or separate the OE (Original Equipment) bulb reflector assembly from its (usually tight) fit inside the turn signal light housing.
A small flat screwdriver inserted into the top access cut-out may be necessary to separate the reflector assembly from the housing.
Make a mental note — or better yet a photo — to record the component layout and the wiring connections. There will be a power wire and a ground wire (on BMW motorcycles, the ground wire is brown and the blue wire is positive or power).
Disconnect the Wiring
Carefully pull the two small female connectors off the terminals on the back of the bulb/reflector assembly. If access is an issue, try using a pair of small needle-nosed pliers to facilitate this step.
Install the Mounting Key
Next, slip the supplied Weiser mounting or locking key onto the plastic arm of the indicator module (see photos), oriented so the printed Weiser logo faces the motorcycle.
The key has a small notch that fits into a matching tab on the arm inside the turn signal housing; the key then sits in the same position as the now-removed OE bulb reflector assembly.
Re-Connect the Wiring
Attach the OE Brown (GND) and Blue (POS) leads to the marked ground and positive connectors on the LED inserts.
TIP: The needle-nosed pliers can again be drawn into service to help prevent unintentional bending of the very thin connectors (been there, done that).
Check the Connection
Before going any further, check that each of the upgraded signal light modules activate when the ignition is turned on and the turn signal is switched on.
Caution: don’t view the LEDs directly or closely while activating them, because they’re very bright!
Re-Install the Turn Signal Lens
Now line up the Weiser LED circuit board with the locking key (it will move around a bit) and push the LED board directly back into the housing, making sure the thin leads are stuffed carefully inside.
The entire assembly with the Weiser LED will recess slightly into the housing, like the OE reflector did.
You may need to hold the Weiser LED board in place while re-fitting the lens.
Make sure the lens engagement tang is engaged on the inside edge of the housing and once the lens is seated, the LED insert should be secured in place.
Fit the lens to the signal light housing and replace the screw but tighten it carefully — do not use force, make sure it’s not cross-threaded and don’t over-tighten, because this is just a self-tapping screw in relatively mild plastic.
On my bike, the rear left lens didn’t want to seat properly, so I flipped the Weiser insert 180 degrees and repositioned it, seemed to get everything seated as desired.
Other than that, I encountered no other issues in upgrading the signal light modules.
In fact, taking the photos and notes for this review took far more time than the actual installation of the four Weiser upgrade inserts. Each insert was typically completed in less than a minute.
Function and Performance
No issues regarding function were anticipated and none have arisen since installing the Weiser LED upgrade inserts just over a month ago.
The individual Weiser LED insert modules are transparent to the typically sensitive BMW CAN bus onboard system and as such, they function just like the stock units that were removed.
So there is no slowed or accelerated flashing, no Yellow (or Red) warning triangles on the dash display and no eventful shutting down of individual circuits by the BMW system.
We did the usual day and night visual output assessment with the R 1200 GSW by itself and then positioned between the R 1200 R with its stock incandescent signal lights.
And also with a speedy stealth BMW C600 Sport scooter with its rear-facing BMW slim-profile accessory LEDs.
The Weiser Ultrabrights Extreme are indeed much brighter than the stock incandescent bulb and reflector combination (see video) and still brighter than the BMW accessory LED signal light modules…depending on the variant.
Some ad-hoc light output measurements do reveal that the Weiser Ultrabrights Extreme LEDs provide a clear advantage over the stock units and to a lesser degree, the BMW accessory LED units as well.
Bottom line? The output from the Weiser Ultrabrights Extreme LED inserts meets expectations, given the large footprint of the multiple high-output Weiser LEDs.
They are indeed bright, forming a visual focal point that is not to be missed.
wBW Video: Weiser Ultrabrights Extreme LED Comparison
Weiser claims that the LED inserts are “plug-and-play” and they are, period.
And they work as advertised, with no muss, no fuss and no issues with the BMW electrical system.
Weiser also states that “In the unlikely event that they ever fail, when used as designed, we will replace them without question.”
The Weiser Ultrabrights Extreme LED upgrade kits might seem a steep investment.
But laying out $85.00 USD per kit ($170.00 for the two kits, front and rear) to upgrade the stock lights is largely offset in considering some of the relevant factors.
First off, the LED inserts will function for a long (long) time — think years and years.
Also, this single investment provides the means to update all four signal lights and don’t forget, the brighter attention-getting LEDs will enhance your visibility in both day and night.
Another potential advantage? Installation of the Weiser LEDs precludes the necessity of having the dealer tweak (at a cost) the bike’s electrical system to accommodate the LED lighting or possibly add a load equalizer (review) or two. Or four…
From “D.C.” (October 2016): “Just thought your readers might like to know that aftermarket LED turns won’t always pass inspection in Virginia.
It’s dependent on the inspector’s willingness to bend the rules, but if they’re not DOT stamped, they’re not supposed to pass.
I’ve been having trouble with this for the last couple years at my usual inspection stations. Bikes that had no problems for nearly a decade are now failing. I suspect a crackdown’s been taking place.”
Editor’s Reply: I asked Weiser if the LEDs met the DOT specs and they said that they meet DOT specs but haven’t been officially certified for cost reasons because the volume is so low on how many they sell.
So maybe technically you could truthfully say they meet DOT specs?