Harley Davidson CANsmart DENALI Electronics

By: Julie Nordskog

I’ve written a bit about the DENALI Electronics CanSmart controller and customizable settings for the auxiliary lights I run on my 2019 Harley-Davidson Road Glide. These include the DENALI Electronics D7’s, D2’s, and the B6 brake light. I also have the DENALI Soundbomb horn hooked up to the CanSmart controller. I customize settings, for things like light intensity, by hooking my laptop up to the CanSmart and using the EZCan software. But the time may come when I’m on the road, and without my laptop, but need to tweak a setting due to variable riding conditions. When that happens, I’m able to use the motorcycle controls to make some adjustments.

I’m most likely to use the motorcycle controls to adjust my auxiliary DENALI lights at night. Let’s say my nighttime low beams are set for 20% and I’m riding on a remote, unlit highway. Each time a car approaches in the opposing lane, the driver flashes his high beam at me. Sometimes, he just leaves the brights on, nearly blinding me as the car passes. After two or three times, I consider that my low beam setting may be too bright for oncoming traffic. 

I exit the highway and find a safe place to stop. (The highway shoulder isn’t a safe place for me or my beloved motorcycle, especially at night.) I put my lights into dimming mode by holding down the tripometer button for 1.4 seconds. The lights will flash to indicate dimming mode has been activated. Within five seconds of that flash, I click the tripometer button slowly to add 10% of brightness with each click (10-20-30-40….100).

After I reach the highest setting, the cycle begins again. That is, after I click through to 100% intensity, the lights turn completely off with the following click. When I click again, the lights are at 10%, and so on. I simply stop clicking when I reach the desired brightness. Following the example above, I’m going to stop at 10% intensity. 

There are several important details to keep in mind when using motorcycle controls. First, they only adjust the light intensity on the low beam, which are, essentially, the running lights. And once I turn the motorcycle off and later restart it, the light intensity will return to the programmed setting I chose when using the EZCan software. 

When I adjust settings using only the tripometer button, I am working exclusively with my D7 light pair that I have connected to Circuit 1 on the DENALI CanSmart controller. 

I may also need to adjust the settings on my second light pair (D2’s) that I have connected to Circuit 2. To do so I must first pull and hold in the clutch. I then hold down the tripometer button for 1.4 seconds. After the flash indicates I have initiated dimming mode, I click the tripometer button continuously through cycle until I reach the desired light intensity.

Why use the motorcycle controls to adjust the lights on Circuit 1 and Circuit 2 separately (as opposed to all at the same time)?

When I am riding with others at night in wooded areas, they want me to lead with my awesome lights, so we can see not a deer… but aaaaalllll the deer. Mmm hmm.

However, when following in more urban conditions, the rider ahead of me may complain that my lights shine too brightly on their side mirrors. So, I turn the light intensity on the D7’s as they are upper, forward-facing lights. By the way, if I just want to turn the lights off completely, I rapidly click the tripometer button three times. My lower lights, the D2’s, are pointing toward the shoulder of the road and don’t require adjustment in this scenario.

You may have read in other posts that I put my DENALI auxiliary lights to the test in extreme and unusual conditions during the 10,000-mile Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge. On the Hoka Hey, we are not allowed the use of GPS, so we use the tripometer to monitor the miles as we follow written turn-by-turn directions. 

When I make a turn, I reset the tripometer mileage to zero (by holding down the tripometer button for three seconds). The next line of directions reads “in 20 miles, turn right on Little Back Rd.” So, I watch the mileage to know when to look for the Little Back Rd. sign. I turn, then reset the tripometer by holding the button down for three seconds.

See the conflict? Every time I reset the miles on the tripometer, my lights briefly flash to tell me I’ve initiated dimming mode. If I do nothing more with the trip button for five more seconds, then my light settings remain unaffected.

Conversely, if I need to adjust my light settings, I am so paranoid I am going to accidentally erase my mileage count. These things happen when a person is tired. On my Road Glide, the trip display has four views one can cycle through one click at a time. These are: Trip 1 (the mileage for this leg), Trip 2 (mileage for the day), Total Mileage Odometer, and number of miles in reserve (based on the amount of gas remaining in my tank). If the view is of Trip 1, and I hold down the tripometer button too long, I’ve lost crucial information. Picture the painting “The Scream.” 

I know, most people are never going to be in this situation. But I’m just saying, if it comes to this for you, do take a photo of the mileage display before risking data loss.

The good news is there is an interim solution! 

In 2018, when my concern for this issue first arose, and before riding the Hoka Hey, I called DENALI tech support to ask what I could do. The option DENALI tech support devised was to use a splitter cable and place both light pairs on Circuit 2 only. Remember to adjust settings on Circuit 2, one much hold in the clutch. Adjusting the light intensity on Circuit 2 is a more deliberate process, and one is less likely to incidentally reset the trip mileage. (In this case, use of motorcycle controls to make settings adjustment would affect both light pairs uniformly.)

Yes, while my lights are configured in this alternate way, they flash at every turn when I reset the tripometer. But it’s kind of funny. I just let my riding companions know I’m not flagging them down. And, if that is my only tradeoff for running DENALI Electronics’ versatile and powerful lights, I’ll take it. Every time.


Julie’s Road Glide Walk Around

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