LED headlights …. verdict

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Sealight LED headlightsSince fitting the Sealight X2 LED H4 headlight ‘bulbs’ I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple decent night-rides to see how well they work – about 100 miles in all. In fact it’s worked out perfectly, as there’s been no moon, so when riding in unlit mountains – dark means dark!

So how did they fare? Well let’s just say I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Make no mistake, they’re not really any brighter than a standard H4 but the bright white light and fast changeover (Hi/Lo) is a nice touch. The beam is surprisingly good, although the Aprilia guard on the front does mess it around by causing shadows/reflections but it does that with Halogen bulbs as well. Overall it’s fair to say that I didn’t have to adjust my pace at all to compensate …. as long as I can stop safely on my side of the road, in the distance I can see well-lit, then that’s fine with me! Oncoming traffic never seemed upset, so I’m of the opinion that there’s little scatter caused by the LED’s not being exactly in the lens sweet spot.

In the end though, the real benefit from these lights is the saving in energy. With about 4-5 Amps less being drawn, I’ve found I can now use my dinosaur Hella Micro DE fog lights and still show a charging voltage of 14.1V, even the fan cutting in only drops the voltage to 13.7V! It’s like a breath of fresh air and quite amazing how a simple redistribution of Amps makes the Capo a happier bunny. The main point now is how long will they last ….. only time will tell! 😀 

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Who’s bright idea was this?

Range Rover P38 and a littel under bonnet fire!I bet you thought I’d run away with the circus it’s been so long since I posted anything!

Well in fact I’ve been rather preoccupied with other stuff of late ….. bad wrist, car barbecuing itself at the side of the A14 Adriatic (autostrada) motorway and getting a shiny new job (and car!). But more about all that another day. For now though it’s upwards and onwards with the fitting of a new toy for the Capo, or should I say toys … there are more posts to come about fatter/heated grips and reducing the torque on the twist grip for my wonky wrist!

A pair of X2 H4 (Hi/Lo) Sealight LED units in the headlights. These were recommended by Ravenranger over on the Aprilia AF1 forum and for a splash under £40 a pair (delivered) in the UK, I decided to take a punt. A neat and simple kit with bulb/box/plug connected by cables – just the right length for the Capo which is nice. Double sided Scotch 3M pads and some cable ties to mount the box’s out of the way complete the parts list. They’re rated at 12-24V and an output of 4,000lm (hmmm really?) and apparently fully waterproof, even the cooling fan.

I found fitting them really easy, hardly any worse than changing a standard bulb. All rubber seals and panels fit straight back into place as well. The little boxes were attached to the back of the headlamp shell with the double-sided sticky pads and it was all reassembled no problem.

NOTE: Look at the pics of the locking ring and bulb, two lugs 180º apart. The lamp can be fitted upside down if you’re not careful! Don’t ask me how I know this …. just be careful to check which way up the lamp is when clicking it into place.

Measured current draw on fuse A is:

Dip beam:     Halogen  8.35A   ( 53.4W * 2 )   LED  4.9A  ( 31.4W * 2 )

Main beam: Halogen  9.6A      ( 61.4W * 2 )   LED  4.9A   ( 31.4W * 2 )

So a saving of approx. 3.45A on dip and 4.7A on main. As you would expect, the light is a very bright white that made the existing halogen look dull and yellow in comparison add to that the very rapid turn-on and switch between dip/main and you certainly know it has LED’s installed!

But of course, this is all academic if the light pattern is junk! Night couldn’t arrive quick enough for me to get out to the barn and have a good look – low beam cut-off and high beam spread being paramount. Well I have to say that initial impressions are excellent. In the pitch-black of the Abruzzo evening the dip showed a nice crisp cut-off line and distinctive kick up to the left of a UK headlamp …… flick to main and the olive grove over the road practically burst into day light – OK, not quite! But bright enough to be surprised at just how decent these things appear to be. So far so good. I’m impressed enough to want to go get kitted up and hit the road rather than head for the tool kit and swap back, which is a damn fine start in my books. The weather looks nice for the next couple of evenings so I’ll dig out the INNOVV C5 and see if I can get a bit of night-time video!


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Website upgrade

Not much to post at the moment folks. The Capo has been sitting quietly in the barn for three weeks while my right wrist had a complete meltdown. I’ve only been able to push a mouse or hold a pen for a couple of days, let alone think about riding a bike!

However one thing I have managed to do this week is upgrade the server-side thingumajig from PHP5.3 to PHP7 …….. is that tumbleweed that just wandered by? Yes I know, dull as dishwater – but it’s what ultimately puts my pages on your screen. So as a huge favour could I ask you folks to drop me a line if anything on the site doesn’t work or looks wrong, it would help speed up confirmation that the site is still all intact and not wobbling around waiting to croak at any second.

Oh and one last bit of good news – I have joined the Beta testers for the TuneECU app, which is fantastic and I feel very privileged. Thank you Alain! I can’t wait to see what marvels we have in store ……

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TuneECU (app) gets all sensor-tive at last!

Back when the TuneECU app arrived, I recall having a brief email exchange with Alain Fontaine the developer about the lack of a ‘sensors’ page ….. and could it possibly be added. He was very polite, but I got the feeling this was WAY down on his list of priorities for the app. Now I can’t blame the chap, he’s worked very hard through the years providing TuneECU for a huge range of bikes, something I know we’re all immensely grateful for and his free time can only stretch so far trying to please everyone!

However, since that time I’ve honestly felt the app is a bit of a lame duck. If I want to work with maps, then TuneECU on a laptop or full-on PC is my instrument of choice, always was, always will be. The datalogger is a bit of a gimmick and doesn’t allow me to datalog inputs other than the preset ones. So that only really leaves the basic diagnostics – tacho, IACV, fan and fuel pump as being useful tests I can perform if I’m stuck by the roadside. Year after year I’ve longed for the sensors to be displayed, to bump the app up to an honest to goodness road-side diagnostics tool in my top pocket …….

……. well that day has arrived! TuneECU can now display up to 16 sensors at a time from an extensive list available. Turn some off, turn others on, as long as you stay under 16 then they’ll all display just fine. I’ve run the app with both OTG cable and via Bluetooth on Galaxy Note 3 and 4 with the engine running and off, everything appears to read OK. I’ve yet to go through the list and check the readings against TuneECU (PC), but from what I can see, the readings look reasonable. Of course the battery voltage is still 0.2V low, but that’s a standard cock-up by the ECU! 

Now, if all the sensor info is available in the app, maybe Alain might update the datalogger to allow us to choose the sensors it logs ……. that would be nice! 😀 

UPDATE 14/07/17

Just had an email back from Alain …. we may well be getting a choice os sensors to display on the datalogger sometime soon. Now that is fantastic news!!

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They call it mellow jello ……

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid 3D printed INNOVV K1 camera mountNow that I’ve finished running the C5 camera on the rear, I figured it was finally time to get around to making a more permanent mount for the rear K1 camera, rather than the piece of scrap steel strip that has done the job so far. Although it felt quite rigid, the fact is the video image would suffer with a bit of ‘jello’ above 6,000rpm – an annoying vibration in the image that makes it look slightly wobbly!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid INNOVV K1 rear camera 3D printed mountSo after a couple of test runs to make sure dimensions were ‘ish’, it was a 6 hour slog-athon until the Robox printer produced this little puppy. It uses the same two M5 bolts as the steel strip, along with two more M4 mounting points to add a little extra rigidity. The camera now mounts (like the front) using all three 1/4-20 UNC points. I’m happy to say the image is lovely and stable, no more wibbly-wobbly video when the throttle gets lovingly caressed!


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INNOVV C5 – New remote head (snake) camera

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid INNOVV C5 camera system HD Wi-FiThe INNOVV website has just been updated with the details of the new C5 full-HD remote head camera system. I’ve been beta-testing a pre-production one for a few weeks now and have to say it’s a neat and waterproof system that has excellent image quality. Communication is via a smartphone app (Wi-Fi not Bluetooth) with outstanding ‘live-view’ ability.

It records in 1080@30fps and 720@30 & 60fps, has an internal battery for independent operation, park mode, an internal microphone and a socket for a remote microphone. The recording unit is small and lightweight and because it’s waterproof, can be mounted just about anywhere on a motorcycle.

Anyway, enough for now ….. pop over to the INNOVV website for more information and later on, once I’m done beta testing I’ll post up a review. At the moment I’m especially keen to see how the C5 and K1 video quality compares – day or night – so the Capo’s getting plenty of use! Here is a picture of the recording unit ………… remember, this is  a PRE-production model, so the one for sale may look a little different, especially the final body colour.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid INNOVV C5 remote head HD camera

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Replacing the regulator – FH012 to FH008

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Shindengen FH008 FH012 rectifier regulatorWhen it comes to electrics/electronics, we are all oh-so familiar with the fact that for the most part, things either work or don’t. But occasionally we get the mighty frustrating intermittent fault that dances between the two, then we also get the rare as hens teeth, slow failure. The one that takes an absolute age to travel from 100% working to finally broken, the kind of behaviour more befitting a mechanical part than electrical. Well that’s what I’ve just had!

Back in August of 2010 I fitted the Shindengen FH012 rectifier / regulator and I think it’s fair to say that it began its slow decline within a couple of years. The once steady 14.2V at 4,000rpm slowly ebbed away, a few millivolts here, a few millivolts there, year on year. By last autumn the charging circuit was giving me about 13.6V (idle) and 13.9V at motorway speeds.

After the incident with the stuck starter solenoid a couple of weeks ago, it seemed to shave off another 0.1-0.2V. On the return leg of our trip the Sparkbright battery monitor would dip from green (OK) to amber (not OK!) when the fan cut in …… such that I was turning the headlights off when we hit slow traffic in order to keep the thing charging.

Each year I’d checked the alternator, wiring, connectors and battery and everything tested just fine …… so was it the regulator? Time would tell I figured! In January I bagged a brand new Shindengen FH008 but hadn’t got around (galloping laziness!) to trying it out. So before the main Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Shindengen FH012 rectifier regulatorpower/ground cables were replaced it seemed only fit and proper to test the new regulator, then decide what to do about sorting the charging system.

The quickest test was to simply crimp some spades on the FH008 leads and plug them directly into the Furukawa sockets on the charging loom and see what happened – 14.4V (idle) and 14.5V at 4,000rpm is what happened! Most definitely the regulator rather than the alternator or wiring then.

The old loom was removed and inspected – all still in excellent condition. Even so, new cables, connectors and sheathing were ordered from the original suppliers and in went the FH008, back in the original location. With the bike buttoned up and a healthy voltage at the battery, it just left a moment for my eye to linger on the right hand side of the bike. Somehow it looks odd, naked, empty without the old rec/reg in front of the clutch, I’ll get used to it I know, but for now I do miss it!

Measured voltage at battery:

Idle (lights / fan OFF)  – 14.4V  and at 4K – 14.5V

Idle (lights ON + fog lights ON) – 14.3V and at 4K – 14.4V

Idle (lights / fan ON) – 13.9V and at 4K – 14.2V

Idle(lights / fan / fog lights + everything else* ON) – 12.8V and at 4K – 13.6V

* GPS / Intercom / K1 Camera / Heated Grips (high) / Cruise Control / brake lights


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3D printed speedo sensor case

With all the other stuff going on recently, I almost forgot to mention that the run across the continent was a great make-or-break test for the 3D printed speedo sensor case! Works a treat and even if I say so myself, it looks way better than the original! 😀 

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid 3D printed speedo sensor case & Honeywell 1GP7005 sensor - replaces AP8124985Although it’s working brilliantly, I’ll modify the design of the cap to give a little extra room inside for wiring up …… and rotate the lion’s head so it’s horizontal,  ya can’t beat a bit of OCD!


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Magnecor KV85 HT leads – Review

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Magnecor KV85 2530 HT leadsThe modified HAAS coils have been on now for just over six months and 12,000 miles and everything is ticking along just fine. Even so, the Capo needs a few treats every now and again, so I thought a nice new set of HT leads might complement the new(ish!) coils. Besides, the old OEM HT leads have been on the bike for 14 years!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Magnecor KV85 2530 part number ignition cable HT leadSo a couple of weeks ago I placed an order with Race Spec Performance (UK) for a set of Magnecor KV85 (Part No: 2530) HT leads. These are made on an order-by-order basis and this means a bit of a wait if lots of orders are flooding in as the riding season gets underway. They make it very clear that the wait could be three to four weeks. I wasn’t in a rush, the wait would be fine. So I was pleasantly surprised when they rocked up on the doorstep in just over two weeks – excellent stuff!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Magnecor KV85 2530 HT leads and sticker!Now these leads are designed to fit on the OEM Sagem/JCI coils but also fitted my modified HAAS coils with no issues at all. Well maybe one ……. the rubber boot is such a damn good fit it doesn’t allow the air out as the lead is pushed into place – so the trapped air just builds up pressure as the volume decreases. Then when you let go it oh-so gently pushes the lead back off again! The trick is to get it seated properly then slide something blunt up under the boot until hearing a ‘psstttt’ as the trapped air escapes …… NOW the lead is on securely!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Magnecor KV85 2530 HT lead on HAAS modified coilOverall the caps are shorter than the OEM angled ones and even with 8.5mm diameter cables the fit and bend of the supple cables is perfect in all four mounting locations. Overall length is fine allowing cables to be routed comfortably without trying to lose excess cable or bend cables in an unreasonably tight radius. And of course, now the engine looks way more powerful with these bright red babies in place!

Would I buy them again? Yes. I’ll definitely pop a set on the other Raid, with one proviso – I’ll skip the international shipping as it’s a bit steep (£16 versus £4.99 shipped within the UK). Otherwise at £50.99 I’m happy enough given the quality of the product, excellent fit and 10 year limited warranty. So lets start clocking up the mileage and how well they last!


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Running a relay race ……

So what is this new-fangled modification to the starter circuit I alluded to in the last post? Well in a nutshell it’s a new loom (plug’n play) that goes between the starter solenoid and the main loom and also goes to the battery. Why?

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid starter safety circuitAs mentioned previously, the starter solenoid draws about 2.9A when energised and that power goes from the battery via 2x 30A fuses, through the ignition switch on the headstock, then up to the fuse box in the cockpit and back to the starter solenoid. From here it goes via the diode block down to the engine (neutral switch) or side-stand switch (and back up into the loom) and all the way back to the handlebars (clutch switch) before finally making its way back to the battery via the main earth (Ground) cable – phew!!!! That’s a lot of cable and switches, never mind the diodes. OK the fact is, this circuit has worked trouble-free for 14 years, why mess with it? Because my gut instinct is that restricted power to the solenoid over time makes for low-speed actuation and eventually, burnt contacts …. that’s my theory anyway!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid starter safety circuit - modifiedI figured an easy way to make sure the solenoid gets lashings of fresh volts/amps is to make the circuit between battery and starter solenoid shorter and simpler – so in goes a small loom with another relay, a 20A unit exactly the same as used for the headlights. This relay is now activated by the starter circuit and its contacts switch fused-battery power direct to/from the starter solenoid – short and sweet!

This relay has a coil resistance of 70Ω and so only draws 170ma @ 12V so no problem with starter buttons or switches getting a little resistive over time as (for example) a mere 0.5Ω difference when set against the 70Ω coil is only 0.7% difference compared against the 4.4Ω of the starter solenoid coil where a 0.5Ω difference equates to over 11% difference. Bottom line – the whole circuit has an easier time!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid new loom and relay in starter circuit

The wiring is soldered direct to the relay spade connections and then slides into a 3D printed case and the case/contacts are encapsulated to keep the whole thing neat and tidy. Now the relay sits on top of the ECU held in place by a double-sided adhesive pad and the connectors tuck away neatly behind the battery.

If somewhere down the line it all turns belly-up, I only need to unplug the two connectors and reconnect the solenoid back to the main loom and it’s business as usual. So I figure I’ve got nothing to lose by giving it a whirl …… I’ll find out soon enough if it’s a thumbs-up or thumbs-down job!

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