XB500 online with new LED arrays and shunt mod - A big thank you to everyone here.

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XB500 online with new LED arrays and shunt mod - A big thank you to everyone here.

I thought I broke it, but I just had it wired wrong. \o/

I wanted to send a big thank you to everyone here on these forums, because without you guys I wouldn't have been able to upgrade my bike and troubleshoot the repairs.

/me tips hat.

I first started my endeavor when I found that my bike would drop to 10/15 kph when I was going up a hill on my way to work everyday. This bothered me alot.

So, I proceeded to take the bike apart. Which was a task in itself.

Once the front was apart, the first thing I did was silence the speaker of deaf - see my other thread. It has pictures. Sorry, not pop up pictures. I wanted to, I just didn't have the time. Forgive me.

Doing that was easy though, next... the controller.

Once I had the controller out I proceeded to due the shunt mod - which was pretty easy. However, when I was putting the case back on, the shunt wire contacted the casing and caused a spark. Apparently, the controller didn't completely drain. This worried me as I wasn't sure if I did any damage.

I am not sure who wrote it, but THANK YOU who ever wrote that guide and all that awesome information that's on www.bergerweb.net.xb500 about the XB500. This was INVALUABLE.

However, I did discover a way to put the controller back together with little headache, which I will post later when I get pictures of the entire thing.

I also found a thread by CaptainSlug where he documented his mods to his bike. One of which was the installation of LED arrays instead of the bulbs. I am GREATLY thankful for this thread, especially the wiring diagrams because I decided to do a complete bulb replacement in my bike.
Unlike him though, I decided to keep the existing bike parts and frame covers, so I started my conversion.

In each headlight cavity, I instead 4 forward facing super bright white led's and 5 bottom mounted LED's pointing IN towards the side of the cavity for a total of 18 LED's working as my headlight.
I replaced all the turn signal bulbs with 3 amber LED's each, two facing directly out and one pointed at the reflective base for a total of 12 amber LEDS.

The tails lights however where an experience.

Up until now, my tail/brake didn't work correctly. The bulb that was in it only worked as a "constant on" tail light and didn't do anything when the brakes were applied. So I was going to try to figure out how to wire up some kind of switch to give me that ability.

What I did was wire one BIG bright red LED into base to act as tail light, and 2 on either side which would be independently wired to work as a tail light to whatever switching mechanism I could come up with.

Once all the housing modules were wired up, I found that I couldn't test it because I didn't have an 12v power source. I applied a very liberal amount of glue gun glue to any exposed wires from the LED's and solder joints, keeping attention not to cover the resistors themselves, but enough to prevent a possible short and protect the wires from moisture and etc.

When I went out to start putting the bike back together, the first thing I did was try to hook up the controller. How, I was smart before I disconnected and numbers all the wires on both sides so I would know where it all went back together. Problem was, the ink that I used bled and the numbers became unreadable. DOH!

I tried to put it back together as best I can and while I was doing it, there was another spark from one of the wires when it accidentally came in contact with wire. This scared the shit out of me because I thought if I didn't burn the controller before, it was definitely dead now.

But, I didn't really have a choice, so I continued to re-assemble to the point I can test the lights.

Once I got the headlights put back in, which was pretty simple because I just clipped and used the connector that went to the original light connectors. Inserted the key and turned it on.



I thought that controller was dead, but I wasn't sure... I could have wired it wrong, because everything that I was reading lead me to believe that when the controller burns out, it doesn't actually disable the entire electrical system.

I pulled out my multimeter and started testing lines line crazy... which was a pretty hard thing to do. I could not find the source of the problem however.

Back here I came and posted some threads and sent some messages asking what I could do.


I came across the wiring diagram for the xb600, which was VERY interesting. However, I wasn't sure if it was the same for the 500 or not. Once someone told me that it was, or close enough, I printed it out and went back out to the garage. I also came across a thread by whome that had the labels for each of the wires, these two things saved me from having to buy a new controller!

I discovered that I did have the controller hooked up wrong (thank god it was not a serious mistake, just minor) and once I had it hooked up right, the electrical came online and my new headlight arrays come up and looked SWEET! (i'll post pics again later)

I went to the back and started to install my read lamp assembly and hook up my tail light. I was testing with my multimeter to make sure I knew which was positive and negative when I found something odd.

The tail light connector had 3 wires.


Hrm... What the hell is the third wire for?

I consulted the wiring document and found that the third wire actually came from the brakes.


The bike DID have brake lights build it...

Some quick checks with my multimeter and I found out that 2 of the 3 wires were "always on" and the other wire, in combination with one of the first two only came on when the brakes where applied.

Well! I'll be damned.

It turns out the bulb that was in the bike when I got it was NOT a bulb that had more than one brightness, thus the brake light was never working because the bulb never supported it. I wired my red LED's into the proper leads, which was a pain in the ass to figure out what went to what... and once it was done the read LED arrays came online and worked PERFECTLY.

I also was able to re-use the bulb sockets for the turning signal indicator bulbs. I was able to build a plastic "tab" with the wiring bent around the end and glue gunned into place. All I had to do was slide the tab into the socket and presto!

First shot, all my LED's arrays worked!

I finished re-assembling the body and the rest of the bike and by now it was 11pm at night, so .... I took it out for a spin to test the lights while running.

I still didn't test the movement of the bike because I was fearing the worst about the controller.

Powered up. And....


The bike took off with probably 2 times more acceleration than it had before. This was AWESOME! The controller was fine! The LED's arrays were working perfectly and except for a few minor adjustments to the direction of the head light to make sure it was all centered and pointing where I wanted, I had no problems.

Then the test.

I set out for a large hill in my area and decided to see what happened.
I was doing just a little over 35kph according to the stock speedometer (I didn't have my bike computer replacement installed yet) and started up the hill. The bike never batted an eye!

Before, the bike would drop to 15kph or less EASILY before I could make it half way up.... now, it never dropped below 32!

Everything was working perfectly and FAR better than it was before!

What's left to do?

- Well, I need to take more pictures and then get a thread up to show everything I did, as I am really proud.
- I need to re-align the handle bars as they are off just a bit.
- I need to install my bike computer (cheap ass digital speedometer for regular bikes I got for 10 bucks)
- I need to clean the left break lever sensor as it's a little dirty and sometimes doesn't read as "on" when the break is applied.
- I need to tighten up the rear brakes a little bit
- I need to adjust the mirror mounts as they are off a bit too much for my liking.
- I need to buy a new battery case cover - as it was broken when I bought it. Not a big deal, but still.

Things I learned:

- The XB500 DOES have a circuit for brake lights, but you have to have a bulb that can actually use it.
- LED's are not as effective pointing "in" and reflecting out vs pointing straight out - I am not going to pull the bike apart though to re-modify... maybe during the winter when I don't need to bike.
- Just because you see a small spark doesn't mean it's the end of the world - it's cause for concern, yes... but doesn't mean you need to go out and spend another 75 bones on a new one.
- The plastic body work is VERY easy to break. But nothing a little glue and some strategically places screws, nuts and bolts, and sheer will power can't fix.
- The high beam/low beam switch is not hooked up to anything, and according to the wiring guide, never was. So there is a free switch to use for whatever I want to hook up to it.... later.
- Making LED arrays is not that hard. And the stock light cavities have more than enough space and room to mount as many LED's as you like.
- Putting the bike back together is a BITCH.

What are my future plans for this bike?

- Well, I would like to eventually someday get a 5th battery installed.
- I am going to put out the old speedometer and replace it with something more accurate... like a much better and back lit digital system.
- Going to build a small radio into the dash.
- I need to replace the rear shocks as the old ones are a little old and squeak like crazy - I may not need to actually replace, but right now, I don't know what else to do, so that's the goal for the moment.
- Redo my LED arrays now that I know more - and since I have close to 250 of them left, I can afford a little trail and error.
- A newer and more comfy seat!
- Find a use for the high/low beam switch.
- Replace the battery well cover.
- Whatever other really cool things people on this forum have done and I can also do myself. :)

Anyway.... Like I said. Thanks guys.

Last seen: 4 years 6 months ago
Joined: Friday, December 1, 2006 - 09:01
Points: 712
Re: XB500 online with new LED arrays and shunt mod - A big ...

Thanks for the writeup. I've got a XB-600 on order, and this is very encouraging.

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