24 Hours of Glen Helen

Story and Pictures by Brent Farrell

Every October I get together with five of my racing buddies and compete in an event called the 24 Hours of Glen Helen, an off-road motorcycle endurance race hosted at the famed Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, CA. This year was the 16th in the races’ history and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in every one. This race is won or lost during the 11+ hours of darkness, so my team’s biggest concern is always lightsfor the bike. Race focused off-road motorcycles are not really designed to support powerful headlights and it’s up to all the teams to figure out how to best solve the lighting need. I’ve seen just about anything imaginable used – track lighting from the local hardware store, flashlights, helmet lights, halogen, and HID systems.  Over the last few years, LED lights have become the most popular and best performing option.

Last year we built a new light system using four KC HILITES 3” LZR CUBE’s. The lights worked perfectly and everyone on the team agreed it was the best light we had ever used. Of course that did not mean we couldn’t make improvements. As great as the LZR CUBES’s were, they were all the same beam pattern that gave us a very wide and usable amount of light that began to diminish, as you looked further ahead. We felt that if we had a light that could combine the excellent driving pattern of the LZR CUBE and include a spot pattern that would provide better visibility at higher speeds, we would have the perfect combination. Luckily, for us, the folks at KC had been working on something that would do just that.

image001

image003

image005

The FLEX LED quickly became our answer. Not only is it offered in spot or spread patterns, but each of its LED/Reflectors can be changed from spot to spread, thereby allowing the user to completely customize the light pattern based on their need. Best of all, it just takes a few minutes to make a change. We tried some different combinations and ultimately settled on running one of two 10” light bars with all spot beams and the other with four of the five LED’s using the spread reflectors. The result gave us an extraordinary amount of light everywhere we needed it.

image007

image009

image011

 

The FLEX LED quickly became our answer. Not only is it offered in spot or spread patterns, but each of its LED/Reflectors can be changed from spot to spread, thereby allowing the user to completely customize the light pattern based on their need. Best of all, it just takes a few minutes to make a change. We tried some different combinations and ultimately settled on running one of two 10” light bars with all spot beams and the other with four of the five LED’s using the spread reflectors. The result gave us an extraordinary amount of light everywhere we needed it.

image013

image015

image017

image019

image021

For mounting, we needed to be able to aim each light bar independently and the entire light frame would need to be mounted and removed quickly. We built small frames that would serve as a mounting point on each side of the lights, a simple and very effective solution. The frames included four pins that would drop into receivers, mounted on the forks of the motorcycle. The whole assembly was very strong and only required two quick release clips.

image023

image025

image027

Providing power to lights in an application such as this can also be a bit of challenge. Whenever possible, we try to separate the lights into independent systems, thereby reducing the chance of a total light failure while at race speed. Anyone who has done this type of racing knows this is critical for rider safety. To accomplish this, we installed an accessory lighting coil to the motorcycle that would support one of the two lights. The other would be powered by a 9000mha lithium ion battery. The lighting coil produces AC power so we incorporated a rectifier to convert it to the needed DC. The rider carried the battery in a small pouch and plugged it into the light when they got on the bike. We chose to keep the wiring as simple as possible and didn’t include any switches or non-essential connections as those are often times the first places where a failure might occur.

image033

image035

image031

image029

The result was near perfection. Our frame design was simple and proved to be very durable even taking a couple pretty substantial impacts without issue. Both the battery powered and the bike powered lights worked without a single problem and the combination of beam patterns gave us a wide pattern up close as well as an intense beam that extended far enough that even at the highest speeds the riders were comfortable.

As for the race itself, everything went as planned and the whole team was thrilled with our performance. When the dust settled, we had covered approximately 580 miles and finished 2nd in a very competitive class. Of course that leaves room to improve, so we’re already thinking about what we can do next year.

Several companies did a lot to help us this year so we would like to thank KC Hilites, Braasch Motorsports, GPR Stabilizers, and MSR. We could not have done it without your support!

image037

Author: JC Whitney

JC Whitney is the largest and oldest catalog and Internet direct-to-consumer auto parts and accessories retailer in America. Since 1915, JC Whitney has been filling the needs of customers by providing the right part at the best price. You can always shop with confidence at JCWhitney.com.

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *