LED Taillight Project

LED Taillight Project

As I stated in a previous post regarding my 2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650,  the lack of LED lighting is disappointing.  For me, LEDs just look cooler, can be seen easier, and don’t have that ‘warm-up’ time that incandescent bulbs have. Some even say that this effect can reduce reaction times.

So, what would be the best way to light up the entire taillight housing with LED power?  After some research, some people simply drop in a replacement LED bulb.  Since my taillight takes the bulb type 1157, I looked at a few direct drop in LED replacements for the incandescent 1157.

Nice bulbs, man.
Huh. (superbrightleds.com)

But, after reading some on various car and motorcycle forums, it seems that these bulbs are far from ideal–since it’s hard to make an LED with a 360 degree spherical light spread.  All of these types of bulbs attempt to replicate the incandescent by shotgunning, or putting a load of LEDs on the drop-in bulb.  Users reported that the LEDs replacements still don’t appear to fill the entire housing with light.

So, I decided against buying an off the shelf LED replacement bulb.

I then stumbled upon a few forums where people had made their own LED arrays, and found www.superbrightleds.com.  I placed an order for a bunch of these guys.  Why red and not white? Well, white LEDs are more expensive, and the taillight lens filters all other wavelengths out – so the white LEDs wouldn’t appear as bright, as most of the wavelengths produced would be filtered out.

And so, the work begins.

Red LED (superbrightleds.com)

That’s one of the LEDs that I ordered.  I ordered 50 of the red.  They have 4 pins–two for each the anode and the cathode.

Opening it up!

So I pulled the taillight housing out of the V-Strom.  This meant taking off my sidecase mounts and unbolting a few things and taking out a couple of those plastic ‘Christmas tree’ fasteners.  I used a heat gun to separate the two halves, as they were glued/sealed together.

Two pieces!

I then started to experiment with LED layouts on my little project boards…

Which is better?

And made a board that fits into my housing!  This took a bit of dremel-ing, tape, sanding, and patience.

Then I attempted to place my LEDs on it in a nice manner.

…And ran out of LEDs.  I’m ordering more.


  1. Pingback: Custom LED Array - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums

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