Garmin Zumo 660 and HID headlights

Nice though it was to spend a day on the K1600GT, by the end of it I was glad to be back on my trusty GS, in fact I’d even go so far as to say I’d missed the old girl. The MOT was passed successfully but only after the tester had removed the HID light from my dipped beam and replaced it with a regular bulb, taping the HID bits nicely under the beak. The reason? Apparently there wasn’t enough definition to the beam to pass the MOT, it was just spraying out in front of the bike. I was a skeptical – were they just splitting hairs to justify some workshop time, like when I was charged half an hour’s labour to re-seat a front tyre for the DRZ’s MOT a while back?

Back at base I wheeled her into the garage and fired up the headlight while on the centre stand, pointing it at the far wall. Sure enough, the dipped beam had exactly the same pattern as the main beam, only after a minute or so it was also decidedly less white and more feeble. Looks like the HID bulb is on the way out, which coupled with the intermittent ballast failure on holiday doesn’t leave me a lot of confidence in the HID setup.

Did I mention that it’s also burning the crap out of the reflector? Every since a trip to Spain two years back involving some high temperatures I’ve noticed a gradual erosion of the silver coating on the inside of the headlamp, though to be fair the rate of damage has slowed down now. Still, I think I’ll switch back to a regular filament lamp soon, before the reflector damage worsens to the level where it won’t pass the MOT unless that too is changed. Something tells me Vines aren’t going to slap one of those on for free.

Lamp reflector from R1200GS burnt by HID lights

But the main point for tonight’s spannering session was to rewire the new Zūmo properly – my efforts by the roadside in France were OK to get me through the trip but wouldn’t see me through the long run. Time to strip off some plastic panels and see how much else needs to be shed before the cabling can be hidden away. This bit at least turned out to be quite easy; just follow the lead that supplies the forward auxiliary socket, and with a bit of cursing and squeezing I was able to accommodate the GPS cable without removing the tank. I decided to stick with the permanently-wired-to-the-battery approach instead of powering it from the Canbus system. Canbus power is cut 30 seconds after the ignition and the Garmin powers down 30 seconds after that, which is just enough time to become an annoyance at petrol and photo stops.

The trickiest part of the install was mating the plastic Garmin bracket to the Migsel mount. Although the hole pattern was standard, there was a lip on the back of the Garmin bracket which prevented it from meeting the holes in the mount. Joy. Things were complicated further by the mount’s construction, specifically the use of steel screws into aluminium threads. They were seized solid, so I’d have to do whatever was necessary in-situ or face a couple of hours of drilling and tapping fun. Not being too great with a hacksaw at the best of times I decided to drill some holes into a piece of powder coated steel shelf support (from the scraps bin, natch) and screw that to the mount to act as a guide. It was just the right width and stopped me making a pig’s ear of the job. All that remained to be done now was to cut down the Garmin-supplied screws by about 5mm as they were too long for the blind holes in the bracket.

Garmin Zumo 660 bracket with Migsel billet mount
Not a bad job for a redneck with a hacksaw

I’m really pleased with the way that the 660 sits on the GS. The 550 was OK, but it took up more space vertically and the bottom lip obscured the top of the rev counter a little, now it looks much more like an OEM component. Garmin have also revised the weather protection for the bracket’s contacts when there’s no GPS fitted; instead of a flimsy rubber cap (which would frequently flop off and allow moisture at the contacts – ask me how many brackets I’ve replaced) you now get a blanking plate which clips in place using the same mechanism that’s used to hold the GPS. I can see this standing up to just about anything, but time will tell.