My Shiny Hiney – V Star Tail Lights

New Lights

New Lights

Bikes a little over a year old now, up to this point I’ve only done mostly bolt on parts with little modification to the stock bike. This was my first new vehicle I bought myself, I havent had the courage to start cutting her up. Its true what they say, once you start modding you never stop.

So far I’ve been mostly happy with the looks of the stock bike, one of the main reasons I was attracted to it. One area I felt it could use a little work was in the rear. The big box of red plastic they call a tail light looks like it could have came off of my ’70s era moped, its dim and doesnt work too well certainly not good enough during the day. The distinctive mustache bar tail lights are useful to identify any other V Star from a long distance but they just dont do it for me other than the amber lights do have good daytime visibility. Yamaha puts a big emphasis on style and I like the looks of most of their bikes but what happened here?

Stock V Star Lights

Stock V Star Lights

To improve the looks and hopefully make things a bit brighter back there I ordered some Kuryakn Road Star turn signals with an integrated curved laydown plate holder, (more on that later), and one of the ’39 Lincoln Zephyr tail lights from Shiny-Hiney.com. Both pieces are heavy, solidly built with excellent chrome. I’m very impressed with the craftsmanship of the Shiny Hiney lights, I’ve seen similar lights that cost just as much that were flimsy chromed plastic, not these they are thick solid metal. I’d recommend them for any hot rod build or restoration, they make LED panels that fit into the stock OEM housings for many makes, very nice.

The Kury curved plate holder, on the other hand, turned out to be a major pain in the arse. Its held together by 4 flat topped alan screws flush with the top surface. It looks good when assembled but the screw holes are at different angles because of this and only line up when everything is perfectly flat. Mine came in the packaging from the factory with one of those screws already mangled as a testament to how difficult it is to get those to screws in even without a plate in there. A note to Kuryakn: If your own assembly workers cant get the things together without stripping screws and damaging it, you might want to think about a redesign. After an hour of swearing, squeezing, twisting and hammering I about threw the hunk of junk out the window. Then I remembered my neighbor might have some pipe clamps or a vise I could use. I borrowed 2 C clamps and a pipe vise to squeeze everything together on three sides as tight as possible and then start the screws. I still could not get the last one to go in, it took another pair of hands and another half hour of two engineers trying to figure out how to get the thing together before all was done. It looks good now but that thing aint ever coming apart again, I don’t know what I’ll do when I need to replace the sticker on my plates.

Completely exhausted from wrestling with the plate holder for half a day I needed a few micro brews and a movie rental to relax for a few hours. Dont forget this important sometimes overlooked step, don’t work around nice paint while angry.

Next: start pulling stuff off. I’ve kept all the screws and pieces in a large Ziploc bag. I have no idea what screws go where but at least they are all together if I ever decide to sell this stuff on Ebay. One mistake I made, I couldn’t figure out how to get the tail light assembly off with the wires still attached so I pulled out as much slack as I could, which is not much, and cut it off. Then while taking the turns off I noticed the wiring goes from the harness to the turn signals first where its hooked in with bullet connectors and then goes down to the tail light and it all just easily pulls apart. Oops. So the next V Star I decide to start cutting apart I’ll remember you can just unhook those things without cutting them.

Stock holes and the worn gasket groove

Stock holes and the worn gasket groove

With everything off I noticed the edge of the tail light gasket had worn its way into the paint leaving a fairly deep groove. It took a bit of scratch out polish to get the get all of the gasket out of this. I don’t know if this is from all the miles I’ve put on the bike already and the vibrations, or if it was bolted on while the paint was not yet fully cured. From a distance its not too noticeable, but I still know its there. Luckily the new lights also cover part of it.

Next: I covered everything with body masking tape and drew a line from the seat bolt to the tip of the fender as a reference point. This would be easier on a stand so everything was level, I had it on two paving bricks so it took more measuring and eyeballing to make sure things weren’t crooked.

Taped Fender

Taped Fender

Using a flashlight from behind I traced out where all the stock holes were, so I could make use of these or cover them as much as possible.

I forgot to take pics of the rest of this, sorry. The Shiny Hiney lights came with a nice template which made positioning those a breeze. Using the flashlight again and the center line I drew previously I was able to center it and use the lower bolt hole, while covering up all the others. Just tape it down when its in place and you’re ready to drill. I got one of those step drill bits for this, those things rock, whoever invented that was a genius. The tail lights are designed to mount to a flat surface and the fender is curved so things dont exactly fit perfectly to the fender, theres maybe a 1/4 inch gap on each side where it doesnt touch but you can hardly tell. One of these days I’ll take it apart when I can find a sheet of foam rubber or something to stick under there, an old mouse pad should work.

On the kurys I positioned them so that the bullets would be as level as possible I didn’t want them pointed at the ground, this would be different if your bike is slammed. On mine this this put the lights up a bit higher than I originally wanted but it worked out well because it put the two large holes where the wires came through for the stock turn signals just above the bullets and mostly hidden by the brackets. No templates on these, they are meant to bolt into the stock holes on a Road Star I believe. This is where having 2 hands would have helped. Someone to hold it while the other checks that its straight and can draw an outline where the mounts touch.

The screw holes are not perfectly centered within the mounting brackets either so you have to measure from each side and top to bottom and transfer this into your tracing on the fender to get a better guess as to where they are. I also found out they don’t fit perfectly flush with the fender on the sides so like with the plate holder, the holes line up but the threading is at an angle so they wont work, Oops!

Starting from my perfectly aligned but wrong holes, I had to grind out the edges for more room for the bolts to fit in from the back diagonally. This made it crooked, so more grinding. By trial and error, bolting things up taking it off and grinding more and repeating, I eventually made everything fit straight with one of the holes ending up big, jagged and ugly looking. Shhh dont tell anyone. Luckily with everything hooked up you cant tell, and taking the tape off it didn’t look all that horrible.

Aftermath: 5 new holes with touchup paint on edges

Aftermath: 5 new holes with touchup paint on edges

Looking at my truck rusting away in the driveway I dont want that happening to my nice new bike so I took some red touch up paint I had and carefully painted the edge of all of the newly drilled holes I’d done and packed everything up for the day. Just before going to sleep I came out and did another coat by flashlight and let everything cure overnight.

To have better access for wiring I pulled the fender up, just take two of the bolts out of the side arms where it connects to the frame and the whole thing comes up like a hinge. Then you can tighten the bolts back down to hold it up. It might be better to have additional support incase it falls down, but I didnt and it held fine like this.

Lifted Fender

Lifted Fender

The stock wiring harness and the wires from the new lights are all very long. This is good but I didnt want to have a lot of extra wire hanging to have to tie up somewhere to keep it off the tire. I bolted things up and cut all the wires about two inches longer than I needed, yeah another mistake. With the wires short the bullet connectors I crimped on had to all be at the same length, this made the wiring fat in that area and more difficult to tie down than if I’d had the wires longer and staggered the connections at different lengths.

wiring

wiring

I was a bit concerned having all the wires sticking out like that next to the tire so I made a plate out of some flashing to cover them and hold everything tight to the fender. After putting the fender down I realized that the rear tire can never come close to touching there and I did all of this for nothing, but its probably better I did.

Flashing Plate

Flashing Plate

Redid all the bolts with lock tight and I think everything came out very well for my first real mod, despite the um couple of mistakes that we shall not speak of 😉 What do you think? Not only does the tail lights look better but they are much brighter than stock and flash 3 times before staying on steady when hitting the brakes. I like it, it gives more visibility and no additional modules needed its all internal to the light. The turns also require no additional modules, they use regular halogen bulbs so everything works just like stock, the auto signal cancel still works and they blink at the right frequency. I do think I’ll add in some run turn module later now that the turns are red though for more visibility.

New lights in action

New lights in action

At Night

At Night

4 comments to My Shiny Hiney – V Star Tail Lights

  • Patrick Eilers

    I’ve never done anything that fancy because I either rat them out or use them for daily beaters, but that’s definitely a massive improvement in appearance over stock. Looking good.

  • Dino

    Tim, do you have a shed to keep you bike in. Just wondering because your bikes is candy red and it doesn’t appear to be weather or sun faded. Everytime I see it, it looks like it’s garage kept. It’s so clean and the paint look so good.
    Dino,

    • Lynx

      Dino, thanks this writeup is over a year old though.

      Nope nothing special just some waxing. I live between two high speed gravel roads and it’ll get dusty 10 mins after you just washed it, its impossible to keep things clean out here, I dont even try. I’ll just hoze it down and clean it good every 2 or 3 months and then rewax it, sometimes just the tank. It helps so then I can just dust things off quickly before I leave, also my pants rub and scuff up the sides of the tank a bit so I try to keep it waxed for that to not wear down the paint as much. I used to keep it under a cover but not since the fork stops got bent in the wreck.

      We dont get much rain out here just lots of sun 350 or some odd days a year, you only need to protect against that. I used to wax the truck twice a year and had a guy ask me if Jeep was making those again a few years ago cause he thought mine was new heh. I told him, Nope this things 20 years old and never seen a garage.

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