Saddlebag tail lights

One of my old ambulance buddies, Guy Haskell, had a Honda Valkyrie. One of the things on it that caught my eye were the saddlebags. They were shaped to match the fender and had matching tail lights. I thought it looked cool as hell, and the more rear lights the better.

Many times I've looked at the back of the Victory and pondered additional tail lights. The back of the saddlebags are almost flat so something might be mountable back there. Now and then I would search the internet for lights that might work. I wanted something that looked they belonged with factory tail light. I didn't want to just slap on some generic tail lights. Tombstone lights would match the best but they all seem to be made for a rounded surface.


Recently I did some searching and happened upon some lights that I thought looked good. They were AC Shelby Cobra replica lights. They had a little bit of the tombstone light look and were flat on back. I ordered set from Shell Valley. They sell lights with standard bulbs or LEDs. It's been my experience that LED marker lights seem brighter than normal marker lights and I didn't want them to look odd with the factory light.


One evening I went to the garage and ended up starting the project. I put the bike on a lift jack and got it was level as I could. I masked the saddlebags then marked some plumb lines for reference.


Trying to lay lines on the fender was a pain. Even though it was basically flat it was still curvy enough to be difficult and making measuring hard. I used the tail light gasket as a template and my eye and the guidelines for reference. Initially I tried to put them level with the bottom of the factory tail light but from almost any angle it gave the impression of being lower than the factory light. Eventually I found a location that I felt looked okay.


With the location found it was time for the scary part...drilling into $$$$ saddlebags. I took my time and there were no issues.


The first light in place.


Both lights mounted.


In addition to the tail lights I also replaced the side reflectors with LED lights. The first obstacle was finding lights that would fit. The area for the lights is slightly less than 2 1/4". Most of the round LED lights are in the 2 1/2" range. I wanted very badly to try some GloLights from Optronics but they were slightly too big. I ended up getting a set from Electrical Connection.

I removed the stock reflector and removed the adhesive with Goo Gone. Then I marked and drilled a hole for the wires.


Reflector replaced with the LED light.


Now it was time to wire the whole mess up. I spent some time pondering how I would do it. In end I decided to hook the terminal strip to the tail light wires and mount it where the wires would allow. Less soldering and cutting that way. I put the terminal strip on the floor of the saddlebag. It will be covered by carpet. I cut the turn signal harness and ran it to the terminal block. I ran the side marker LED wires along with the turn signal harness.

To connect the lights to the bike I used 4-conductor trailer cable with the connectors on the outside of the saddlebags. I initially thought I would connect all the wires to a central point near the connector under the seat. However, upon inspection there wasn't a lot of room for anything. I was also concerned about overloading the factory wires. I ended up wiring it like this:

Ground - grounded to the front saddlebag frame mounting bolt. I also tee'd the turn signal ground into this line with a tap.
Turn signal - connected to the factory turn signal wire that used to go the saddlebag since it was right there.
Running lights - connected to the unused 'handlebar' wire at the auxiliary fuse block I installed earlier.
Brake lights - connected to the same location I tapped into for the brake light flasher.


The saddlebags had some thin carpet in them. I replaced it with heavier outdoor carpet I had left over from my trailer installation. It has a rubber base so it doesn't slide around as much and it will better protect the wiring.


The finished product. Three lights are better than one. I think the lights I added look good with the factory lights. Most people won't even know they were added. The side marker LEDs are nice and subtle. A side benefit of the new tail lights is they light up the inside of the saddlebag...a nice feature.

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