So you've finally decided to swap out those bulky OE indicators for some sleek new LED units; maybe because you want something brighter to keep you safe out on the road, or you want to make your bike look its age and not older.
LED motorcycle indicators have a lot of benefits over the OE option, being smaller & lighter units, which allows the designs to be a lot more sharp and modern, plus giving a much brighter flash out on the road.
When it comes to upgrading your current indicators to an LED set, simply plugging in the new units isn't quite enough (although fitting them properly doesn’t require you to be a neuroscientist).
LED lights work using a lower wattage than normal bulbs, which is why when you plug them directly in to your existing indicator wiring you'll notice they flash a lot faster than normal and most probably a lot faster than the rate allowed for a UK MOT *
So, to slow your flashing down you have to make the wattage draw similar to how it was with the original indicators, and you can do this by fitting either a new indicator relay unit or with resistors.
You might have been put off making the change in the past because of all the talk about calculating wattage of bulbs and determining which units to buy, however it's not as difficult as it sounds. Fitting new LED indicators is an easy task for anyone with simple electrical knowledge.
The Relay Method
Relays are the reason your indicators flash and not just stay on constant, and the
way they work out how fast to allow flashing is by the wattage of the system. When you fit LED indicators you adjust the wattage of the system and therefore need a new relay to suit (Or fit resistors).
Getting the right LED relay for your motorcycle in most cases just means pulling out your existing relay and buying an LED specific relay that matches the pin lay-out of your current relay.
If you can't find an LED relay that matches your pin lay-out exactly then you can either purchase a different LED relay and hardwire it in using electrical connectors or as we would suggest, use resistors instead to slow down the flash rate (read below)
Once you know you have the relay it's as simple as wiring your new motorcycle indicators in and plugging in your new relay!
The Resistor Method
Maybe you only want to change your rear indicators to LEDs and leave the front indicators standard, or you're struggling to find the right LED relay for your bike. If that's the case then you will need to fit resistors in your wiring circuit.
By adding resistors to the wiring you increase the wattage draw from the LED indicators to match what was there before, therefore your existing relay will continue to run as normal with a standard flash rate.
As the difference in wattage between LED and standard indicators is generally quite large, it is recommended that you will need one resistors per indicator that you are changing. You can buy 25 watt resistors in pairs here.
Some useful tips for using resistors:
- Resistors get hot during operation, so wrapping them in tape can lead to resistor over heating or worse melting plastic parts around it.
- Resistors need to be fitted in parallel to the indicator, mean one end connecting to the positive and one end connecting to the negative.
- Test your indicators for each resistor you fit to ensure that they are working correctly and to determine if any more are needed to further slow down the flash rate.
As with every modification to your motorcycle, if you are not confident undertaking the work it is always a better idea to take your motorcycle and the indicators to a qualified mechanic.
Hopefully this has been useful and answered some of your questions about fitting LED motorcycle indicators. Click below to shop for your new LED indicators.
*In the UK the legal flash rate for motorcycle indicators is between 60-120 flashes per MINUTE.