We love the dark, menacing stance of our 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom project bike, but it’s hard to see the motorcycle at night. The Lunasee ASL1000 Active Side Lighting safety system aims to remedy this.
We love the menacing stance the blacked-out scheme provides on our 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom project bike. But riding an all-black motorcycle has its drawbacks. While people rave about the matte black features during the day, the Vulcan becomes almost invisible at night. Sure, it’s got standard turn/brake signals and a few well-placed reflectors, but the signals are seen primarily from directly in front or directly behind the motorcycle while the reflectors require an outside light source to be effective. By that time, it could be too late. Fortunately, there’s a new safety device on the market called the Lunasee Active Side Lighting System that aims to make motorcyclists more visible at night.
The concept itself is fairly simple. A high intensity LED shoots a concentrated beam of light at a strip of special tape mounted on the rim of your motorcycle. The tape illuminates as your wheels spin, making a ring that glows in the dark. It only requires a nominal power source to power the LEDs and doesn’t require another light source like reflectors do. Sounds good in theory, but before we report on our findings, let us run you through installation first.
First thing we did was open up the package to make sure all the parts were there. Lunasee provides almost everything needed for installation, the exception being a small hose clamp we had to buy because we used it with a hose clamp spacer to mount one of the LEDpods on the rear. But we applaud Lunasee for providing the necessary items for four different methods of mounting the pods to the bike, from spacers to double-sided adhesive pads. The kit even included three different lengths of brackets, which was a good thing because we used different lengths on the front and back. So the first step is to make sure you’ve got everything you need to get
started and to scout out your motorcycle to figure out which method of mounting to use, where you want to mount the LEDpods and to start planning out where you to run the wires.
After eyeballing the logistics, the first thing to physically do is pinstripe your wheels with a Light Emitting Rim Tape (LERTape). You’ll want to make sure your wheels are clean and debris free before starting. Lunasee gives three suggestions for applying the tape, from pinstriping it freehand to using the convenient Applicator Tool they provide. We opted to use the Applicator Tool because it’s got a little tab that follows the contour of your inner wheel so that the tape seats in the same position around the entire rim. This step did require two people, one crouched down applying the tape while the other rolls the bike to expose different areas of the wheel. There’s a small weight on the left side of the Vulcan 900 Custom’s rear tire that prevented the tape from being mounted flushly 360-degrees. Luckily, this only created about an inch long gap that didn’t have tape on it, but when the wheels get spinning it wasn’t even noticeable.
With the tape mounted on both sides of both wheels, we set about the process of installing the Lunasee Control Box. Kawasaki didn’t make the Vulcan 900 Custom’s battery easily accessible, so the seat and small plastic tool kit box
One of the first steps to installing the Lunasee system is pinstriping your wheels with this special Light Emitting Rim Tape (LERTape).
above the battery had to be removed first. While we were at it, we removed the tank as well for routing of the LEDpod wiring from the fork to the Lunasee Control Box. Before we started tinkering with the electronics, though, we disconnected the battery. Don’t want any incidental jolts shooting up our arms, know what I mean? We then mounted the control box to the subframe crossbar just below the rear fender with zip ties and decided to place the on/off switch right next to the motorcycle’s ignition on the left side of the bike. The switch assembly has one wire that runs to the control box while the other is a ground. We ran power for the control box directly to the battery, the red “hot” wire threaded directly to the positive terminal while grounding the black wire on the negative terminal. Plugging the system in directly to the power source means the system must be manually turned off and on every time or else it will drain the battery. We could have spliced in to the Vulcan’s power wire and the system would automatically turn itself off and on, but since this is a project bike that ultimately had to be returned to Kawasaki, we ran it directly to the battery. Another option is to run it to an accessory power wire, which the Vulcan 900 Custom didn’t have.
Now that the Lunasee Control Box and switch assembly is in place, we ran the wires from the LEDpods to the control box to test them first. There are four ports to connect the wires too, two for the front and two for the back, and if the wires aren’t plugged in correctly, neither set of LEDpods will light up. After confirming they all worked, we set about installing the LEDpods to the mounting brackets. For the front wheel we used a 4-inch bracket mounted directly to the fork via a factory bolt. The brackets are lightweight and malleable so you can easily bend them until the LEDpod sits about a half-inch away from the LERtape. We were able to bend a 5-inch bracket to mount the first LEDpod on the right rear side, but on the left side the chain guard and pulley made mounting space limited. For the final LEDpod to be installed we had to use a hose clamp with a hose clamp spacer mated to a 3-inch bracket. Double-sided sticky pads (provided) were used to glue the pod to the bracket, the adhesive plenty strong to deal with the rigors of everyday riding. One tip to remember when mounting the LEDpods is be sure to sit on the bike when aligning them with the LERtape so the suspension sits where it generally does laden with a rider.
With the pods in place we carefully ran the wires up the fork, ensuring that they had plenty of movement side-to-side, then carefully installed it using zip ties as we ran it under the tank and back to the control box. With the Vulcan 900 Custom there’s no wiring on the right side of the fork so we didn’t have any place to discreetly run the wires. The job was even easier on the backside of the bike because the wires were already close to the control box. One item worth
All wiring for the Lunasee ASL1000 system runs through the control box. We connected our system directly to the battery which requires you to manually turn the lights off and on.
mentioning though. Be careful not to pull too tight on the red power wire during the installation process or the fuse that’s connected to this wire will lose contact. No power, no lights. We pass this nugget along through experience because we jostled the connection loose after we had everything hooked up and ready to go and had to go back and troubleshoot the problem. With the LEDpods mounted and the wiring routed, we checked to make sure the wires had enough room to move with the fork and travel of the bike before trimming them down for the best fit.
Turning the Lunasee ASL 1000 system on is as easy as pushing a button. As you can see in our video, the blacked-out Vulcan is almost invisible at night. With the Lunasee side lighting system equipped, the motorcycle’s wheels stand out against a black night. The beams are intensely bright and the tape continues to glow for a few minutes even when the system is turned off. The tape leaves a distinct light signature as the motorcycle rolls along which is visible from quite a distance. The system took us a couple of hours to install but definitely falls into the DIY category. The Lunasee Active Side Lighting system is virtually unnoticeable during the day but is highly visible at night and its light trails are easily seen by drivers in cars.
Riding around with the system in our home state of Oregon as fall sets in, we were concerned with the LEDs getting gunked up by dirt and rain film, especially since the directions state to avoid direct contact with the lights.
Lunasee’s ASL1000 Active Side Lighting system comes with just about everything you’ll need for installation.
Lunasee informed us that wiping it gently with a soft cloth or sponge is recommended, and if mud is caked on they suggest spraying the area first with a spray bottle filled with diluted dish or car wash soap. If this is the case, allow the solution to dissolve and soften the mud before gently wiping it off.
If you frequently ride at night, then seriously consider installing the ASL 1000 – Active Side Lighting Kit. It is a complementary safety device that definitely makes motorcycles more visible at night while remaining virtually unnoticeable during the day. The system is fairly painless to install and it fits a variety of motorcycles. A $199.95 investment seems like a relatively small price to pay because if it prevents a nighttime collision even once, it’s worth it. Not only could it save expensive repair costs, but it could just save your life. If you’re interested in buying one for yourself, check ‘em out over at Lunasee.com.