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I've never messed around with LED bulbs before on anything. I mean, I have things like flashlights with LED bulbs, but I have never had to change them, so.......

When installing them, can you touch the bulb with the human finger/skin without doing damage to it?
 

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Yes you can touch led all over and they won't burn out prematurely you're thinking of halogen lights, your grease from your fingers cooks a hot spot and burns out the elements prematurely
 

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BikeMaine said:
I've never messed around with LED bulbs before on anything. I mean, I have things like flashlights with LED bulbs, but I have never had to change them, so.......

When installing them, can you touch the bulb with the human finger/skin without doing damage to it?
Yes, you can grope them (LEDs) all you want.
Like FL said, you're thinking/heard of halogens and the natural oil on your skin causing hot spots.

Just remember that LEDs are polarized. If you put it in a wedge socket and it doesn't work, rotate it 180 degrees.

O_E_M
 

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FloridaEX500 said:
Yes you can touch led all over and they won't burn out prematurely you're thinking of halogen lights, your grease from your fingers cooks a hot spot and burns out the elements prematurely
I know halogens do that, but I wanted to know if LEDs also did it. I'd hate to buy one then frig it up.
 

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BikeMaine said:
FloridaEX500 said:
Yes you can touch led all over and they won't burn out prematurely you're thinking of halogen lights, your grease from your fingers cooks a hot spot and burns out the elements prematurely
I know halogens do that, but I wanted to know if LEDs also did it. I'd hate to buy one then frig it up.
You aren't going to mess it (LED) up by touching.
LEDs aren't like halogens.
Two totally different sources of light production.

And you're thinking headlight bulbs.

O_E_M
 

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Discussion Starter #26
BikeMaine said:
When installing them, can you touch the bulb with the human finger/skin without doing damage to it?
No, you won't damage it. You won't damage regular incandescents that way either. The only bulb on your Ninja you can damage by touching it is your headlight bulb. The oil on your fingers left behind can create a temperature imbalance and shatter the bulb. Regular incandescents don't get that hot, and LEDs at this scale generate negligible heat. Don't worry about touching them, you'll be fine.
 

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I'm a little bit confused. This write up suggests red tail light LED's and ambers for the turn signals. Another entry suggests that because of the way a colored lens filters out specific colors, I take it to suggest using clear LED's for the tail light and turn signals. Which way should I go for maximum visibility? I am also going to order some more modern looking two wire LED turn signals for the bike and some adapter plates to mount them. In the case of the front we of course have three wires stock. I can't find any entries that tell me how to make it happen. Instead, I found this video showing how to use diodes in each of the hot wires to solve the "feedback" issue. Take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTcDc85d1Q0 Does the bike shut down the running light filament when the turn signal is on? I suppose I could figure it out myself but all the panels are off with all leads disconnected and the battery is downstairs on the tender. Thanks guys.
 

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Cherryz said:
I'm a little bit confused. This write up suggests red tail light LED's and ambers for the turn signals. Another entry suggests that because of the way a colored lens filters out specific colors, I take it to suggest using clear LED's for the tail light and turn signals. Which way should I go for maximum visibility? I am also going to order some more modern looking two wire LED turn signals for the bike and some adapter plates to mount them. In the case of the front we of course have three wires stock. I can't find any entries that tell me how to make it happen. Instead, I found this video showing how to use diodes in each of the hot wires to solve the "feedback" issue. Take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTcDc85d1Q0 Does the bike shut down the running light filament when the turn signal is on? I suppose I could figure it out myself but all the panels are off with all leads disconnected and the battery is downstairs on the tender. Thanks guys.
If you have colored lens then match your LED to to the color of the lens for the brightest and most visible effect.
If you have clear lenses then of course you still need colored LEDs.
Red brake lens... get red LEDs
Orange turn signal lenses... get orange LEDs
It's that simple.

If you plan on running a 2 wire light then you're going to lose the running light function.
I suppose there's a way to run diodes and make it work though... but you would need a dual filament bulb which is going to give you 3 wires anyway.
The running lights are on all the time, like the tail lights... when you activate the front turns it lights up the brighter second element, just like when you hit the brakes.
Would make more sense to me if you found a light fixture you like and if it's a 2 wire, convert the socket to accept the dual filament and 3 wire.

I added a 3rd brake light to '88 S15 Jimmy... which uses the same bulb for turns, brake, and tail.
I used a 2-3 tail light converter like what you'd use on an RV with a combined brake/turn/tail to allow you to use your towed vehicle's seperate brake and turn lights... that allowed me to add the 3rd brake light without it flashing with a turn signal...
It has a stack of diodes in a small box and some type electronic flasher in it.... but wouldn't really be able to be applied for the 500 for the purpose you want though.

O_E_M
 

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Cherryz said:
Thank you sir.
NP
Hope it cleared up a little confusion.

When I ditched the stock front turns for Eagle Eyes LEDs I did away with the running lights by simply unplugging the lead.
It's still there behind the fairing if I ever decide to add some seperate running lights though.

O_E_M
 

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I’m writing this up because, so far as I have found, nowhere on here is there a complete guide to replacing all the lights on your Ninja 500R with LED lights. That changes with this post. Most of the info I found here on the forum or on the wiki, but some of it I had to find elsewhere and none of it is all in one place. A definite thanks to superjuventino for posting pictures of the blue color for the instrument cluster, which works surprisingly well and was my inspiration to use the same color.

Warning: Incoming wall of text. There’s a lot of information before we get to the pictures.


Intro to LEDs

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode and is a very efficient method of lighting. It uses far less electricity than an incandescent bulb (the kind your bike normally uses, with an element in a vacuum or halogen/xenon gas that heats up to produce light) and often produces far more light. Important to note, though, is that LEDs are a diode, which means that electricity only flows through in one direction. Many of the bulbs can only be plugged in one way, but all of the bulbs in the instrument cluster have symmetrical connections, which means they can be plugged in backwards. Incandescent bulbs work in either orientation, but LED bulbs will only work in one orientation.

There are three primary reasons to upgrade your lights to LED: brightness, efficiency, and longevity. You can make all the lights on your bike brighter with LEDs, which makes you easier to see. You can save quite a bit of power because the LEDs are so efficient, which is extremely helpful if you want to add heated gear or farkles. LEDs also last far, far longer than incandescents so if you replace all the lights, you likely will never have to address them again.

It is important where you source your LEDs from. LEDs are produced by the millions in China and virtually all LEDs come from there. This means that you have thousands of manufacturers to choose from. Well-known brands like CREE are a good sign of quality, but they can be more expensive than they are worth. I recommend SuperBrightLEDs (hereafter called SBL) because they make quality products and the price is reasonable. I work with LEDs for a living, though I don’t work for SBL (nor do I compete with them, haha). You can do quite well getting LEDs from eBay, but that can be a gamble. I will provide the incandescent part equivalents, though, so you can find the bulbs wherever you like. I will also include the SBL part numbers to make it easier if you order from there. All LEDs should be wide-angle (270 or 360 degrees). This is true of automotive applications as well. Always order LEDs that match the lens color (or color it should be if you have clear lenses). White LEDs will wash out the lens (pink for brakes, basically white for blinkers).

Lastly, there are two different types of LEDs (for this purpose, at least). Regular (no specific name) and SMD (surface mounted diodes). SMD bulbs are more expensive, but they’re much brighter and have far better coverage. I recommend using SMD bulbs if you can afford it.


Parts You Will Need

Listed here are all the parts you will need for a proper install. You can technically skip the flasher, but your blinkers will hyperflash, which isn’t desirable. You can skip the brake light strobe, but I think it makes you more noticeable. It’s also easy to wire it in such a way that it can be easily and quickly bypassed. I also specify brighter brake light bulbs than the blinkers, even though they are the same bulb type. All part numbers are for SBL specifically.


Note: I elected to use aftermarket flush front blinkers and short rear blinkers, so I don’t have pictures for the blinker installs. It’s as simple as opening the blinker, replacing the bulb, and putting it back together. Due to this, I don’t technically know for sure if the listed bulb will fit, but I’m 99% sure it will because it is not significantly larger than the incandescent. I would be very surprised if it doesn’t fit, but don’t come complaining to me if they don’t.

1156 bulbs have one state (bright) and 1157 bulbs have two states (dim and bright). Thus the brake lights and front blinkers have 1157 bulbs while the rear blinkers have 1156. If you’ve converted your rear blinkers to running lights, you’ll want 1157 bulbs for the back as well.

Total cost for this list: $150.57 plus shipping at the time of this writing. The cost will only go down with time. A little steep, but worth it IMO, and you could save money buying LEDs elsewhere or buying less bright ones from SBL. I listed the best/brightest bulbs IMO, but you have the bulb numbers and can find alternatives should you desire.

You should have a pile slightly larger than this:




Blinkers

This is the easiest one, so we’ll start here. To replace the blinker lights, all you have to do is open the blinker, put in the correct bulb (1156 rear, 1157 front) and close it back up. That’s it, you now have LED blinkers. They’re brighter than what you had before, but now they’ll blink quite quickly. You’ll need to replace the flasher relay to fix this.

Quick history: Older flashers were thermal, relying on heat build-up to break the circuit, then cooling again to complete the circuit. An ingenious design, but they make LEDs flash slowly (or not at all). Very old Ninja 500s may have this style flasher (my ’92 Ninja 250 did). Most will have a solid state flasher, which flashes faster the less load it has. An electronic (or, more accurately, digital) flasher has an internal timer that doesn’t rely on load and will happily flash at the same rate no matter what you put on it (within the loads it can actually handle, of course).

Remove the OEM flasher; it is on the right side of the bike, near the rear brake reservoir. You’ll have to remove the side fairing to get to it. If you’re having trouble finding it, you can turn on a blinker and trace the sound to it. Remove it from the bike and cut off the the connector. Cut the wires as close to the connector as possible so as to leave as much wire behind on the bike as you can. Cut the bullet-style connectors off the new flasher. Crimp quick disconnects onto the bike wires (one male and one female, doesn’t matter which is on which wire). Use some heat shrink tubing if you’re feeling fancy to give it a clean look. ‘97+ models should have an orange and a brown wire plug in the connector. That's it. Don't be like me and take the hard way.



Strip the ends of the wires for the new flasher, but don’t crimp them yet. Turn on the blinkers and figure out which wire on the flasher works with which wire on the bike. You can’t hurt the flasher by hooking it up backwards, so try it both ways and see what you get. On ‘97+ models, it should be black to orange and grey to brown, but double check. Crimp the proper ends on the electronic flasher. Now it can only be reconnected correctly if you ever have to take it off. Test functionality.



Install the flasher and test the blinkers again. You should have them blinking at a sane rate now.




License Plate Light

Take off the cover of the license plate light, then remove the lens. Swap the bulbs. Turn on the light, make sure it works. Put it all back together. You did it, yay!


Brake Lights

If you plan on installing the brake strobe module, it’s a lot easier if you remove the fairings and grab handle. If you don’t, you can do this without removing the fairings. In either case, though, start by removing the seat. There’s a video a bit further down that will show you how the strobe module behaves.

LED compared to incandescent bulb:



To install the brake lights, reach in and twist the bulb holders 90 degrees and pull them out. Put the bulbs (1157 red) in the holders (after removing the old bulbs, of course) and put them back in the sockets. That’s all there is to replacing them.

You can see the difference between the two in this picture (LED bulb is on the right):



Subjectively, with only one in, it was hard to tell if the incandescent was firing it was so much dimmer than the LED bulb. The LED bulbs do a really good job of illuminating the entire lens, not just a spot, as is especially clear in this side shot (both LED bulbs installed).



Since I work with LEDs, we have a nit gun, a device used for measuring light. I brought it home to compare the brake light brightness. With the incandescents, I got 150 nits/1000 nits (dim/bright). With the LEDs, I got 800 nits/3200 nits! Needless to say, the LEDs are significantly brighter. It will be very difficult to miss the bike at night from behind.

The brake strobe module flashes the brakes 4x rapidly, 4x slowly, and then holds steady until you release the brakes enough to turn off the light. There is another strobe module that repeats that cycle forever, rather than holding steady at the end. It has a different part number and I wouldn’t recommend it. Here’s what it looks like. Looks like embedding a YT video doesn’t work here?

To install, you need to cut the blue wire with a red stripe before the connector that breaks it out into two blue wires for each bulb. This wire is the brake light wire (rather than the running light wire). I don’t know what color it is pre-’97. Once you’ve cut and stripped the wire, crimp a male quick disconnect to one side and a female to the other (you know the drill by now). Partially reconnect them (enough for electrical contact, but not enough for full lock) and make sure the brake light works as normal.

Once you’ve confirmed that, pull apart the wires and connect the wires of the strobe module. The red V+ line goes to the bike side of the wire you just cut and the red LED line goes to the light side of the wire you just cut. Crimp in the appropriate quick disconnects on the wires and cut the wires down to fit if you like. The black wire is a ground and should work on any bolt going into the frame. I connected mine with a ring connector. Plug it all in and confirm it works. Assuming it does, tape it down with the included tape (clean the area you’re taping to with alcohol first) and zip tie any wires down that might get in the way.




Instrument Panel

The last part to do is the instrument panel. There are 3x 194 bulbs that illuminate the gauges. These can be replaced with any color you want, though I would recommend against green. Green is the color our eyes are most sensitive to and the brightest color of the bulb recommended by a significant margin, so it would likely be too bright. White or red would work well, and blue works surprisingly well. Blue is the color I went with. There are also 5 total 74 bulbs (3x green for the blinkers and Neutral indicator, 1x red for the oil pressure light, and 1x blue for the high beam indicator).

For this tutorial, I removed the cluster completely. It’s definitely possible to do without removing it entirely. First off, remove the surround shroud from the instrument cluster.



After that, unscrew the nuts holding in the cluster to the subframe. From here, you can either disconnect the cluster entirely or work on it while it’s still attached to the bike. Each bulb has a rubber holder keeping it in place.



The bulbs here can be installed backwards, so I recommend doing a group and then testing them before moving on. If the LED doesn’t light, flip it around. You won’t hurt it by putting it in backwards. The LEDs are about the same size or smaller than their analog counterparts.

Comparing a 194 bulb with the LED equivalent:



Comparing a 74 bulb with the LED equivalent:



194 bulb in the holder:



74 bulb in the holder:



Test each bulb before fully installing it in the instrument cluster, as it is easy to install them backwards an all of them are important. Once all bulbs have been installed, reinstall the cluster and then double-check the lights.

Stock lighting:



LED lighting:



The LED lighting makes a huge difference; the instrument panels are brighter, sharper, and easier to see at a glance. I really like the blue, especially as it matches the bike color. It makes the needles fluoresce slightly, which is a neat effect.

If you’ve followed this from start to finish, you shouldn’t have any incandescent bulbs (except the headlight) left on the bike, and your bike should be much more visible at night, especially from behind. You can view the gallery for a few extra pictures not included here.
Just finished the gauge which was a breeze! Thanks man. Just wondering if anyone has done a video for the remaining parts. Also. SBL has stopped making some of the mentioned lights but if you click on the link the replacements pop up below!
 
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