Sunday, March 11, 2012

Clearwater Glenda LED Install on the 2010 BMW R1200RT

Somewhere along the line I decided that I needed additional lighting on the front end of my RT.  The stock headlight is OK and I don't ride that much at night, but the area I live in is heavily overpopulated with white tail deer.  Anything that can help you spot them on the side of the road is worthwhile.

I was also interested in increasing visibility from the front. I'd already installed the  BMW Supplemental Rear Brake Light  (63000445578) with the 2005 and up R1200RT specific harness (61000445579), on the back end so I think I'm covered there.  The idea of creating a "triangle of light" on the front of the bike was very appealing.

I looked at a large number of auxiliary lighting kits of halogen, HID and LED variety.  Eventually I settled on LED due to the relatively high output and low power consumption.  While more expensive than some halogen kits they are still less that many HID kits.  The LEDs are also simpler to install with no ballasts required.

I wanted a clean installation on brackets that look like they are designed for the bike, rather than a tack on.  I was hoping to avoid spoiling the line of the bike as much as possible.

Eventually I settled on the Clearwater Glenda Led kit for canbus BMWs, with BMW R1200RT specific fork mount brackets. The few reviews I was able to find were positive and it seemed like the lights would be high quality. The brackets actually attach to the front fender mounting locations as you will see in the pictures that follow.

The lights are expensive but patience payed off and  A&S BMW offered a 15% off sale on everything, plus free shipping and a couple of ROK straps thrown in. That helped to ease the pain a little.

Here is a look at the contents of the Clearwater Glenda kit.

Clearwater Glenda Kit cables and Brackets

The Glenda LED lights

The power cables on the back of the lights are permanently attached and include 3 wires in each harness covered by a black sheeth.  The Clearwater Instructions warn not to connect these directly to the battery or damage to lights may occur.

The other included wiring is a battery cable with ring terminals and a fuse holder at one end, and the canbus compatible relay on the other.  No additional wiring is required.

Wiring Harnesses

Canbus Relay

There is also a dimmer at the end of one cable. This is used to reduce the brightness of the lights during routine driving so as not to blind oncoming drivers.  The wiring harness includes a lead that is connected to the high beam circuit.  This connection allows the lights to be operated at full brightness on high beam and then automatically return to normal on low beam.

Dimmer Assembly with Bracket

The first order of business is to remove the left side tupperware.  Like with most work on the RT, its the only way to get the wiring and other components.  If you need help with that you can watch this YouTube Tupperware Video or search the forums for instructions.

Once that was out of the way I took a look at the mounting location and installed the lights loosely on the brackets and then the brackets onto the fender mounts.  They will need to be adjusted later.

Note the 2 fender mounting points
The original fender mounting screws are reused.  The lights mount to the brackets with supplied 1/4-20 Allen head screws.  The lights will be adjusted later using a square to make them perpendicular to the ground, per the Clearwater instructions.  At that point I'll add blue Locktite and tighten everything securely. A wire tie was added later to keep the wire tight to the forks.

Left light attached to the bracket and mounted to the fender mounts
I routed the harness along the OEM wiring harness and the J&M Audio cables.  Everything is secured with heavy nylon wire ties.

Battery Harness Routing
The Can bus relay is mounted near the headstock along a frame member.  Be careful to allow for lock to lock steering and suspension movement.
Canbus Relay Installed
The kit includes 3 posi-twist connectors for making this splice.  While they probably would have worked fine I elected to solder and shrink wrap the connections.  The ends are pinched off to help avoid weather intrusion.
Shrink Wrapping Splices
An outer layer of shrink tube was added over the three splices.  There are about a dozen wires coming together here and I wanted to ensure a permanent watertight connection and reduce the bulkiness of the connectors.

Outer Shrink Wrap Over Splices
A switched power source is needed for the lights.  By connecting the canbus relay to the headlamp circuit with the provided connectors the lights are only on when the bike is running.  The other connection is for the high beam, which brings the lights to full brightness when the high beams are activated.  I did utilize the supplied posi-twist splices for this connection.

Connections to Headlamp connector Low and High Beam Circuits
This was my first thought for where I wanted to put the dimmer.  I did not want to drill any holes in the bike to mount the dimmer.  I quickly determined that this would not work since it interfered with the wiring harness for the left switch assembly when turning lock to lock.

Trial Dimmer Location
I settled on removing the bracket and mounting the dimmer directly on the wiring harness for the left switch assembly.  I don't expect to need to adjust it frequently, but its in easy reach if I need to.  the recommendation from Clearwater is to set the dimmer to about 20% and let it go to full brightness on high beam.  Reports from other users appear to confirm this setting.

Dimmer Control at Left Control
Here are a couple of shots of the finished installation on the Clearwater LEDs on my R1200RT
Clearwater LED Install Closeup

Clearwater LED install complete on my 2010 R1200RT


The lights,brackets and wiring seems to be well thought put and well made.  The light output allot of light and the dimmer / high beam combination is a nice feature.  They seem to complement the bike, as much as any aftermarket light can, without ruining the lines of the bike.

My only nitpick is the number of wires that need to be spliced and stuffed up into the nose.  This area is very tight and it seems like every farkle I add needs space in this area.  Also the kit could be installed easier if there was some sort of waterproof connector that everything plugged into instead of the posi-twist splices.

Thanks for reading.  This article is for informational purposes only and remember your mileage may vary.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

J&M comm system install - Stereo vs. Mono for Zumo Audio Output

Some readers have commented that it seems odd that the factory stereo connector for the BMW NavIV  only supports mono rather than stereo input.

I agree, it is a bit odd, but there is an explanation.  Apparently that input to the R1200RT's factory stereo is only designed to provide the ability to get turn by turn prompts from the NavIV.  Any input on that cable will interrupt the audio that is playing by reducing the level, or "muting" it for the duration of the input.  This makes sense with turn by turn prompts but does not really work well with other sources such as the Zumo's MP3 player or book reader.  The same would hold true if I had the 665 with XM.

I have considered connecting the Zumo 660 to the factory iPod connector in the glove box.  Connecting it there would provide stereo audio into the RT's system from the Zumo.  I elected to use the factory Nav IV connector because I plan to use it primarily for the turn by turn output from the Zumo. If I connected the Xumo to the iPod connector I would have to switch the audio input on the radio control panel to "iPod" and would only be able to hear the Zumo at that point.  My preference right now is to use the FM radio and the USB stick for MP3s then have that source interrupted for turn by turn prompts from the Zumo.  I liked retaining the use of the factory multicontroller for changing channels, MP3 tracks, etc.

I'm hoping that this weather breaks soon so that I can get out and ride with the system and let you know how everything is working in the real world.

I would be very interested in hearing from anyone that has done a similar install.

Hope you enjoyed the write up.