My BMW R1150 GSAA at Deals' Gap

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Slowing fast-blinking LED turn signals on a Kawasaki KLX250S

I usually discuss farkles as they relate to our R1150GS Adventure, but I decided that today I'd mention a fix for a common problem that can plague pretty much any bike. The problem: Fast-blinking turn signals. Too fast that is.

If you know anything about the dual-sport KLX250S, you probably know that Kawasaki puts some God-awful ugly turn signals on it. If you like playing in the dirt (and who doesn't), any get-off results in some stress to the aluminum mounting tab on the rear rack where the turn signal bolts. I.e., that metal tab gets bent! How many bends does it take to break? That's the question and I wasn't interested in finding out the answer. BTW, mine's a 2006. I understand that newer models actually don't have the rear rack from the factory. They still do have the ugly turn signals. :-)

So, I bought a pair of surface-mount amber LED turn signals and wired them in a few months ago. Since then, I've been putting up with fast blinking. With the possibility of a change to my commuting routine and the likelihood of using the KLX250S instead of the GS, I figured it was the right time to tackle slowing those puppies down.

A quick consultation with Google turned up a few hits on solutions and other related problems (There were even reports of ALL the turn signals blinking at once after installing LEDs instead of just the intended left or right side). The basic problem is this: The LED turn signals draw less current than their incandescent bulb counterparts, which affects the electro-mechanical operation of the blinker control relay. Less current being drawn results in a faster blink rate.

There's the expensive and perhaps quicker solution: Replace the Kawasaki-supplied signal relay with an all-electronic version from an auto parts store. That would be fine as long as one does the research and picks the appropriate unit. You also have to FIND the signal relay on the bike and admittedly I didn't look too hard nor does the manual tell you where to look. Perhaps it's actually up around the head light.

The second solution is to add some additional resistive load to each of the LED turn signals. Google results suggest that most folks did this by adding 10 Ohms of resistance across each LED turn signal. A quick trip to the local Radio Shack solves this problem, as long as you don't come home with low-wattage 10 Ohm resistors (the little ones you find on circuit boards). Go for the 10 Watt ones that are a couple inches long, as the little ones (1/4, 1/2 Watt) will definitely burn right up. The 10 Ohm, 10 Watt ones cost $2 and some change for a pair and they make nice little heaters under your seat to boot.

Seriously, with the added resistance (equates to load on the signal relay), the additional current drawn needs to dissipate. The resistors will heat up each time the relay energizes the turn signals. If they were on steady, they would get quite warm and things would likely start to melt.

With the side covers and seat removed, I was able to locate the left and right rear turn signal wiring. Yes, I knew where it was before, since I had already replaced the turn signals, silly. You'll need to be a little creative in how you cut and solder the wires to the actual resistors. Remember that you wire them in parallel, not serially. That just means connect the resistor between the two wires coming from each LED turn signal. I did this near where the turn signals plug into the wiring harness on each side, cutting the appropriate wires and soldering each side to a lead on the resistor. A short piece of medium-diameter heat-shrinkable tubing was used to cover the soldered connection in each case.

I'd hoped to use a larger diameter piece of heat-shrink as a sleeve over the entire resistor, but frankly, I didn't have anything with a large enough diameter. Good old electrical tape came to the rescue and I spirally wound enough turns of it to completely cover the resistor and the wires extending out both ends.

How did I know that the 10 Ohm resistor would do the job on my bike BEFORE I cut and soldered the wires? I simply connected each lead of the resistor in next to the appropriate butt-connector and tested it. Nice slow, appropriate blinking of the turn signals was the result. A couple bucks and an hour of my time in the quiet garage this morning paid off with a nice solution. Thanks Google!

DMP Fuse - Flush Mount LED Turn Signal - $29 a pair