Adventure Tested: Twisted Throttle Denali D2 LED Lights – the Eyes of God

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By the specs Twisted Throttle’s Denali D2 LED light kit is a tempting proposition, especially with a 70% increase in effective brightness (higher luminous flux) over the Denali D1 kit we ran on our Baja Adventuring Honda Varaderos.  Given the D1s made a nighttime ride into Mike’s Sky Ranchero more feasible, and on and off road the D2s are an appreciable improvement.

The Denali D2 LED kit’s output is nearly twice as bright as the beam generated by the original Denali D1.  Case in point, I would never have nearly blinded my father in-law with the D1s, if they were flicked on to test the wiring connections as he looked directly into the lights at close-range. His vision cleared after a few hours, which is good because blindness could have made for an uncomfortable Christmas.  Joking aside, be advised not to let anyone look directly into the D2s.

The units themselves are suitably sturdy.  There’s a rugged waterproof 2” aluminum housing, which Twisted Throttle claims is submersible to 3 meters underwater.  Perhaps, I should consider a set for my 690 Enduro R given my proclivity for messy water crossings.  There’s also “unbreakable” polycarbonate lenses housed in 6061 aluminum face plates.  These come in ‘Euro’ driving beam lenses with a 20 degree beam pattern or fog beam lenses with 40 degree beam pattern.  So far I’ve not managed to break them, which is saying something as I follow Kevin on his 990 Adventure Dakar (code name: Honey Badger) as it kicks up rocks and gravel.  Incidentally the faceplate doubles as a radiant heat sink to melt away snow and ice in frigid conditions.  That, or it just bakes the bugs right on.

The Denalis claim an average LED life of over 50,000 hours (6+ years) without ever being shut off – we’re not about to test that, our lab is shy on that sort of mad science.  The expected lifespan in part is thanks to Electronic Thermal Management (EMT) which monitors the LED heat output and maintains safe operating temperatures.

The D2s only draw 10 watts (0.83 amps at 12 volts DC) of power per lamp, thanks to Prime Drive Technology (explanation: http://www.twistedthrottle.com/trade/productview/6158/665/ ). So, what’s with the monster thick cables?

For relatively low power requirements, the cabling and connectors are massive, which making the harness a pain to hide and route.  Especially on a bike like the 990 Adventure, where the battery is carried in the beasts belly.  This design centralizes mass, but means you need to run the harness from the bottom of the bike to the top.  In reality bike specific wiring instructions would be a boon.

For mounting, we ended up fudging mounts the Fender Mount Kit (http://www.twistedthrottle.com/trade/productview/5283), to situate the D2s under the KTM’s snout, rather than on the fenders or the side fairings.  This was a practical consideration for the type of riding we do, in that having the lights ripped off in a drop or when gently brushing a tree could be costly.  To do it again we’d end up using the optional mounting bar that outsets the lights, ensuring that the suspension can fully compress without the front fender contacting the lights – call it $39.99 of prevention( http://www.twistedthrottle.com/trade/productview/6775/885/ ).

Regardless of the modified mounting position, the actual brackets have rusted quickly, which is disappointing.

An additional consideration tied to the nature of our riding, was deciding not to wire the lights for High-Low beam.  The ability to support high and low beams is thanks to the Pulse Width Modulator, that lets the LEDs be “dimmed”, but I’m a more is better sort of guy when it comes to lighting off road.  So, it’s the single control switch for blinding/not-blinding mounted just a hands drop away from the bars on the 990 Adventure R’s inside, left, dash fairing.

The decision between the ability to switch between high and low beam and full output regardless of the state of the KTM’s stock lighting was a hard one. Ultimately it would be a great product feature to be able to override the high-low mode for offroad use.  Until that crops up, being able to run the Denalis at their peak output while the 990 Adventure’s lighting is on low beam to conserve power for other electricals was advantageous. We like our batteries live, especially when a headed vest is attached to or your frequently starting and stopping off road making power as a precious commodity.

To play nice with traffic, but not too nice, we aimed the Denalis to a midpoint between high and low beam.  Spending some time in California’s Bay area this year, I’ve noted that the D2s are particularly effective at announcing your presence to other traffic.  In the passing lanes, slower traffic tends to get out of their baleful glare, even during the day.  This has lead me to nickname the D2’s the “Eyes of God”.

The wrath of the 990 Adventure R’s new illumination extends to off-road too, making night and dusk riding a lot more pleasant and much safer.  In reality, flicking off the LED’s to run with the stock lights feels like you’re going blind, which obviously means I need a set for the 690 Enduro R.

At $349.00 for the main kit and $44.99 for the mounts, Twisted Throttle’s Denali D2 LED light kit is well worth being able to unleash the “Eyes of God”. Well, a god at least.  Darksied perhaps?

Twisted Throttle’s Denali Harness Introduction:

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