So what I hope to show is how to install a dual HID kit I obtained from Walt at HID50.com and save you some heartache in the process. There are right and wrong ways to install this kit on the 990. Walt is in the UK, but has been very responsive. Tickle him and he will write 10 paragraphs on the subject of HID systems! Tickle me and I’ll beat the living crap out of you.
The only approach for doing a dual system is to get the Euro spec headlight assembly, which if you have done any research on Advrider.com, is a great upgrade on its own from the feeble US spec light. Eventually all the bureaucrats will pile up enough of our hard earned money and decide on a global vehicle standard. I’ll be putting a set of HIDs on my wheelchair by the time that happens. Until then, you have HID50.cm and my buddy Chip at munnracing.com to sell you a Euro spec headlamp assembly and me to talk you through the bits you thought might be tricky.
The good news is that this all goes together quite nicely thanks to the HID50.com kit (no affiliation whatsoever). It is a quality kit with the nicest connections and attention to detail that I expect for use on my KTM.
I’m sure you are looking for the ‘is it worth it’ part of the content so I’ll save you some time right here -> Yes. Is it worth $500 to have a lighting system that:
1. Doesn’t require augmenting with another set of lights/wiring.
2. Reaches out and grabs a driver’s attention damn near burning their retinas at night.
3. Reaches out and grabs a driver’s attention damn near burning their retinas during the daytime.
4. Burns cooler than the weak US spec system.
5. Lasts longer than halogen systems.
The difference this makes during the day snapping cager’s out of their cellphone coma is amazing. (Stay tuned for a Steibel horn install fellas) I could instantly tell the cagers were reacting to my presence in a different way. They are that bright. In fact, riding in from Barber last weekend after sundown almost made me feel sorry for the cagers in front of me who were motivated to get the hell out of my way by the brightness of the sun in my front fairing.
What is also quite special about this kit is that you can do it one beam at a time to spread out costs over time, with each upgrade being a nice boost in the lighting system! I’m sure many will go Euro headlamp, low beam HID, high beam HID over time (and so the wife doesn’t notice).
So on with the show!
Initial goals for lighting system:
1. No external lights bolted on anywhere: keep it light, tidy and stock looking
2. Light up the night like the sun yet run cooler than halogens
3. Keep it under 500.00 total
Euro spec headlamp assembly 160.00 from Chip Munn at Munnracing.com
HID50.com KTM H3/H7 dual 50 watt thin ballast kit 164 pounds sterling (~300.00 depending on exchange rates)
Zip ties 1.00
Heat shrink tubing 4.95
US Quarter 0.25
Sharp Xacto knife 5.99
Sam Adams Octoberfest 6.79 for 6 bottles
Phase 1: Headlight assembly and testing
Recieved the Euro assembly from Chip Munn (Munnracing.com) the day before the HID kit showed up. Gotta love that timing! The HID kit was unmolested, tidily wrapped and marked accurately to warn off customs bureacrats and tariff mongers.
As you can see there is a lot of stuff going on in here…but have no fear it will all makes sense quite soon.
So what you see here are the following:
1. a thin ballast (details at HID50.com)
2. an H3 or H7 compatible 6000k HID bulb
3. wiring connections to plug into the stock lighting connectors (yes!)
4. wiring connections back to the ballast
Can you keep the stock lighting connections? Yes! No cutting and reconnecting. I’ll deal with packing all this into the KTM 990 fairing in Phase 2 so for now let’s get this wired into the new Euro assembly.
Ready for fun.
Here is a quick glance at the US spec (left) and Euro spec (right) headlamp assemblies side by side. Notice how the US one looks like a single large lamp with a small afterthought of a high beam, while the Euro looks like two respectable lamps? What you see is what you get! This picture doesn’t mean that you have to remove your US headlamp yet, unless you feel compelled. We’ll cover that later. In fact everything we are about to do has nothing to do with your bike until it is time for testing your wiring.
By the way, you are done with the US spec headlight assembly. It is no longer needed and can be promptly mounted to that Harley Streetfighter project you have going as they both share similar levels of quality and performance.
So here is the back of the Euro assembly with the H3 (high beam) getting busted into by yours truly. These are high quality rubber caps on here. These are super sweet KTM bits of rubbery love.
So as you can see we have nice stock wires going into the bulb assembly. Be careful in there as the edges of the bulb assembly are quite sharp!
Anyhow you want to unclip the springs holding each bulb in place. Do this for the H3 (shown here) and H7 bulbs.
Also, there is a little pilot light reflecting the small influence that complete dumbass bureaucrats still hold on the European Union. Just pull this thing out and forget about it until we are done.
So here we are with the wiring disconnected. Don’t you feel better already? No? Okay. Remove the H3 and H7 bulbs by detaching the spade connectors (try not to touch the glass surfaces with your fingers) and use them as spares for your other 8 bikes. Don’t have 8 bikes? Stop reading on go buy more. Come back later and finish this.
So here is the most important picture in the bunch. We have the KTM wiring on the left and only one of the two HID harnesses on the right.
Follow along in the pic:
1. Stock KTM harness Molex type connector. Power comes from here.
2. Stock KTM spade connectors (H3 indicated by the number). Previously connected directly to the bulb! Now they will connect to the kit via #3
3. HID50 kit spade connectors. Connect power to ballast through #4
4. Ballast power connector. Plugs into red ballast power wire. Ballast is not shown here but coming back from it is…
5. Ballast high voltage connectors which connect into our magical HID bulb, seen here in a protective plastic canister.
6. This rubber grommet is going to go into the back of the…
7. KTM rubber cap (once we cut a tidy hole in it, of course)
If you are doing just one of the beams I suggest you replace the H7 as the large low beam will have more utility.
Now here is the crafty part. We need to cut a hole in the rubber cap to accomodate the kit. Trust me this will work out very nicely. This takes a little bit of craftiness and by that I mean arts and crafts. Specifically the ability to not cut the living shit out of yourself with a sharp instrument. If you cannot handle this then go have your Mom cut these for you.
So we need to cut a 23-24mm hole in each rubber cap, while not cutting ourselves or more importantly the stock wiring that comes into the cap. How the hell am I going to do that? Well Mr. Fixit take a US quarter and an ink pen and draw a circle. Voila. 25mm circle. Do this on the backside of the rubber cap, not the inside like I show here. I did the inside on the first one and it proved harder to cut. See next picture.
Now you can take a sharp Xacto knive and slowing cut around the inside of the pen mark. You can always make the hole bigger so go easy. It doesn have to be perfect but take your time so we get a good seal later. If you screw this up there is always rubber cement, I guess or another rubber cap from KTM which costs more than the HID kit… 🙂 Nuff said.
If you got good marks in Arts and Crafts you should have something like this when you are done (blood cleaned up before taking picture) or you should go to the hospital.
Take the HID bulb out of its protective little plastic jar for a moment but DO NOT touch it to anything. Now feed the HID bulb and wiring through the hole you just made. Replace the little jar on the HID bulb. Now squeeze the grommet and shove it into the hole you cut. If all goes well you should have something tidy like this:
Repeat for other bulb. Your doing great. Have another beer.
Now you can connect the spade connectors together. On my kit there was a black ground and either blue or red power wires. These connected to the KTM brown ground and green or blue power. Just remember black ground on the kit and brown ground on the KTM side.
Here is the whole kit at half way point (sans shrinkwrap tubing). One grommet is in and the other HID harness is about to be wired next just like this first one. Do that and we’ll get to test the light source next.
Notice in this picture how I oriented the KTM wires coming out of the back of the headlight assembly. They should be going to the right (from rider perspective) of the headlight assembly. There is no hard and fast rule and you might have good luck going the other direction. The easy way to tell is that the correct side is the side the little pilot bulb is mounted. Need another brew, we are thinking way too much.
So now it is time to excise that US headlamp assembly from your otherwise badass Katoom!
Here I have removed the left upper fairing being careful to disconnect the turnsignal lead and various vent hoses. Gently pulling the 2 upper and then 2 lower tabs that hold the windshield to the fairing support will allow removal.
Here I have freed the tabs and the whole enchilada is rotating forward to reveal…
The brains of the beast! This is the top view of the previous photo. Here you can see the back of the US spec headlamp assembly, the wiring harness attached back to the bike plugging in with its Molex connector to the middle plug. Be careful of the ‘grill’ you see where the wiring is sitting. In fact I suggest you just cover it with duct tape while you are working on the bike. The ragged edge is very sharp and will cut you when it comes time to installing the HID bits.
Here you can also see the lower ‘tab’ of the fairing mount (with the triangular cutouts). Attached to the underside of this is the ECU (the cortex of the brain!). It is on top of this tab that we will install one of the HID transformer boxes. It is the perfect spot if you are installing only one as it requires no drilling! Brilliant!
So here is what you had just come off in your hands. See the USA stamp? It might as well say ‘THIS IS WORTHLESS’. You can remove this trash from the windscreen via the four screws you see pictured above.
There are shiny bushings pressed into the rubber mounts that you’ll need to also remove to transplant to the new unit, of which one complete is pictured right here.
Here I’ve taken a rolling table and placed it in front of the bike so I could do a test lighting to make sure the wiring is correct.
Low beam works. Damn bright. Like staring into the sun. Now time for high beam…
Just like that, my toolbox vaporizes from the intensity…hehe
Seriously this bad boy is bright. Okay, excellent now that I’ve testing the wiring, I’m going to take the unit back inside and make the connections really strong.
So here is a money shot that shows how the H7 bulb comes together. Now there is one thing about this that I have chosen to improve and that is to take some heat shrink tubing (Radio Shack, Fry’s etc) and place around the wires the you see here. The reason? The sharp edges of the Euro unit’s bulb assemblies will cut through this wire due to vibration…eventually…and cause a short. They are that friggin sharp. So I elected to not have that happen as I don’t like losing any lighting especially at night on a high speed run somewhere in the North Georgia mountains. Note: this is a characteristic of the Euro spec headlamp, not the HID kit.
So repeat and rinse (see the hairdryer doing the shrink action?) for the other bulb and you have a complete dual HID headlight assembly ready to plug into the ballasts!
Now to install the new HID upgraded headlight assembly into the motorbike.
Doing the low beam only is very easy as there is room for one of the ultra thin ballasts just below the headlight with some double sided tape to keep it in place. No drilling required. This makes for a quick and easy install.
For a second HID kit you’ll need to drill a couple of holes. Since I did the dual conversion, you’ll see both of these described below.
So first with the easy one which I’ll call the low beam, although I’m not sure which ended up in which spot to be honest!
So here you see the first ultra thin ballast attached with double sided tape to the lower ‘tab’ of the fairing mount.
As you can see I’ve run the input low voltage (red) and output high voltage (black) wires coming into and out of the ballast to the left (rider perspective) side of the fairing. Also you’ll notice a white ziptie in the upper right of the picture above holding the ‘mystery pod’ (and excess red and black wire bundled together with a black ziptie) that exists halfway along the high voltage output wire to the angled fairing bracket strut (shiny metal in the pic). Most kits are going to include too much wire for more remote installations and this presents a slight challenge.
Here is a side view from the previous pic showing the bundle of wires to the mystery pod with the black and white zipties holding things into this small pocket of space. The red and black wires to and from the ultra thin ballast running right along what is the left vertical fairing tab. The wires (red and blue) that plug into the headlamp assembly can be seen shooting straight up from underneath into the upper left of the photo and ready for action.
There is no hard and fast rule about where to stuff the wires, just tuck and coil things taking a look at where the headlamp assembly is going to require space.
If you are doing the second beam you are going to need a little more effort and finesse. It isn’t that bad as I’ve already made the mistakes for you. You might be thinking of mounting the previous ballast vertically like I’m about to show you for the high beam, but don’t. There isn’t adequate clearance on the left side of the fairing tab due to a number of relays.
If you are doing just the low beam you are done and can begin to connect the headlamp/windscreen assembly skipping the following few paragraphs.
Here I have mounted the second ballast to the opposite ‘vertical tab’ of the fairing mount on the right side. You need to pay particular attention to the mounting angle of the ballast (next picture) and distances from the landscape of the vertical tab. The best approach is to drill and mount only the front hole leaving the rear hole for later once you have mounted the windscreen/headlamp assembly. You can do this as you will have room to drill the rear hole and install the hardware once you rotate it to the perfect angle.
The important clearances are the distance from the main mounting threaded insert (the most forward and second from the top in the picture above) which needs to allow for clearance of the right upper fairing around its attaching bolt. If you take a look at the back of the fairing you’ll understand. The mounting angle also matters. If too upright it will interfere where the windscreen and upper fairing come together. To far laid back it will mess with the upper fairing alone, although the latter seems to be a more forgiving direction if error is in your future.
Again, drilling and fastening the ballast mounting holes one at a time will give you the perfect location.
Here is a picture showing the general mounting approach but WRONG POSITION AND ANGLE. Notice the ballast is not in the same position as the previous picture given the vertical tab landmarks. This is showing the first attempt I made, mounting the ballast too far forward in both position and angle. Here the upper ballast mount interferes with the point where the front fairing and windscreen come together, not to mention the lack of room for the upper fairing mount where you see the black plastic tab of the windscreen fitting over the threaded insert.
The vertical ballast has yet to have the wires sorted. So let’s get that taken care of next. The approach is the same as the lower ballast by using the space near the upper angled fairing strut.
Here I’ve detached the right most (left in the picture) molex connector. The lighting connector is the middle one where you will plug in the headlamp assembly when reassembing. I’ve disconnected this big one to bundle and tuck the vertical ballast’s mystery box and excess wire (two white zipties) into this space just like on the first ballast. Don’t forget to plug the big molex back in or you won’t get very far!
One thing you need to do if you haven’t already is mount the prepared Euro headlamp assembly from phase 1 into the windscreen assembly. Here I have this completed and am about to connect the leads to the HID wiring. Don’t forget to connect the middle molex connector so we have some power going to the ballasts, which is important. 🙂
So where to put the excess wiring? There is a good amount. Most of these kits are set up for mounting the ballasts a good distance (3+ ft) away from the headlamp. For naked bikes this is a boon. For fairing bikes you just have to deal with the excess wire. Walt, if you ever read this, it sure would be nice if these came in shorter wire lengths.
My advice to you is to have a friend support the assembly while you tuck, tuck and tuck. It will take a good deal of patience. Stuff the wires anywhere you can. It will be a snug fit, especially from the rubber grommets from the kit push the clearance envelope that was already minimal. Did I mention to be patient? Don’t force anything but it will take some firm, even pressure to get things to come together. Any doubts just back off, rearrange wires and then give it another go.
Here is a shot of the left side (horizontal ballast) wiring with plenty of clearance and…
…a shot of the horizontal ballast tucked away underneath the headlight assembly. Tidy!
Once it is all said and done things should look stock. The lower grill is a good indicator of how things are coming together. If things look crooked, they are being pushed by excess wire, no doubt. Remove, rearrange, and repeat if necessary.
Now, before anything gets bolted back together, let’s test our install. It worked before on the stand but now is the moment of truth. Tturning on the ignition (say a quick prayer, of course!) and waiting for that Star Trek sound effect of the lasers er I mean HIDs charging up their voltage. If you don’t have success, don’t freak out. If you still don’t have lights you need to pull off the headlight assembly and check the connections and even test it while holding the windscreen. Having a buddy help you out here can make this much easier.
One thing you will notice is that the HIDs take a little time (seconds not minutes) to come up to full brightness. They will even get a bit brighter over the first hours of use. Once you have lights you will want to give them a ride, of course to enjoy the newfound sunlight. You are going to want to adjust the angle of the headlamp.
Here you can see the adjuster screw just on the lower curve of the low beam lamp. I’ve found they need to be pointed down by adjusting the angle. The idea is that you want to be able to avoid completely blinding those cars at stoplights. I try to pull close enough to the back of the car in front of me at stops so they are not just cooking their retinas through their rearview mirror. Once we are rolling everyone is fair game!
Putting the bike on the center stand facing the garage wall is a good way to see what the effect is. Even better is having a friend adjust them while you straddle the bike. Rider weight and luggage all have an effect. Aiming the assembly too high also diminishes the effectiveness of the high beam as a minor change can result in large changes 1000 ft down the highway, so you may need to tweak it more than once over time.