Saturday, August 18, 2012


Initial Product Review

As a rider who’d never used running or fog lights on any of my previous 35 plus years of motorcycling, my first experience with the stock runners on the GSA was less than overwhelming.  Perhaps I didn’t know what to expect, but riding at night seemed little more illuminated with the supplemental lights on than when off.  Likewise, in fog, things were still foggy.  My mental resolution was that when the lights were on, others could undoubtedly see me better even if I wasn’t convinced that I could see better myself.

Then came the spill and one of those puppies snapped off in the gravel, ta hell and gone up in the mountainsCursing this misfortune was something I engaged in because I knew the BMW light would not be cheap, but I knew I needed to restore it in order to “make things right.” 

At the fix-it counter, the salesman suggested an upgrade.  “It’ll cost a bit more to replace both lights with these,” he said, “but replacing the one with stock will cost you more than half what the new pair will cost.  And they’re much brighter.”  I did some quick trigonometry in my head.  “Okay,” I said, even before he handed me the brochure.

The promotional material for “Clearwater Krista” lights is pretty compelling.  They were “born out of frustration with existing incandescent filament bulb technology.”  The brochure goes on to explain about old style bulb light being a bi-product of heat.  I recalled something about this from high school physics.  I don’t need heat, I need light, I’m thinking – which is why I don’t like presidential campaigns.

The aftermarket lights are high-powered LEDs inside “machine or forged” aluminum billet brackets.  While I’m not planning on another biff, when it happens, these babies should survive, even if I do not.

The existing auxiliary light switch turns them on and off, but a supplemental knob allows the rider to increase or decrease the brightness – easy accomplished with gloves on.

It took five or six weeks for me to coordinate installation with my local dealer (my fault - not the dealer's) once I’d ordered the lights even though they are manufactured in Northern California only a few miles from the dealership.  During that period, I considered cancelling my order because I’d not felt running lights offered me much and these were going to be a new Shoei Neo-Tec helmet’s worth of dough.

Glad I didn’t.  When the GSA rolled out of the shop, it was apparent I had upgraded to a new level of touring capability.  The physical body of the light is light years more advanced than the plastic of the OEMs.  The trio of LEDs is far bigger than the original singles.  And the illumination, I found out that evening in my otherwise darkened garage is incomparable.  I looked for some fine print to read – and read it.

The tech noticed that my spill had rendered out of adjustment the stock bar to which the lights are fastened.  He didn’t straighten it but provided me with tips if I felt I needed to make amends.  At home, bike on the center stand, I had the impression I was looking at Igor’s hump.  (That’s Eye-gor, mastah!)  It was clear something had been tweaked in the fall.  Don’t know how I’d missed this before.  The right hand light was higher than the left one.  Plying a stout screwdriver, I gently bent things back to square.  Allen key fitments on the pivots points of the Kristas made adjusting them so as to not blind on-coming traffic easy.

As the summer wanes and the evenings grow earlier, I am looking forward to some casual rides at dusk and beyond.  People will more readily see me and, after a very quick spin that first evening, I’ll be more confident about the road – and what lurks at its edges (deer!) – at night.

The downside of busting a critical part off the bike is having to replace it.  The upside is the opportunity of replacing it with something better.  I think I’m going to like these things.

Resource:  Information on Clearwater Lights is available at:  (916) 852-7029

© 2012
Church of the Open Road Press

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