Shift lights are one of those aftermarket accessories that have a practical use in addition to being just the thing to impress your mates. Certainly, anything that protects you from over-revving your hi-po mill is pretty alright by us!
So what exactly does a shift light do? Well, their role is to give you a visual warning of when you need to make an up-shift. Holding a gear for any longer (depending on what rpm you've set the light to trigger) will result in less-than-optimal acceleration times or - in the worst case scenario - you revving the engine past its redline. And past its mechanical limits...
Most shift lights determine engine rpm either directly off a single ignition coil, or an ECU tachometer output wire. However, the tachometer output is the one you'll more likely have to tap into if you own a modern engine'd car. That's because things like multi coil packs are a bastard to obtain just one all-inclusive spark signal from. Now, the problem is, which wire in that maze of engine management spaghetti is the tacho output? Umm, I dunno...
The big advantage of the Hyper-Form shift light is that it's a universal direct plug-in. No matter how many cylinders your car's got and what sort of ignition system it uses, it'll work. Yep - so long as you don't have an old generator-type charge system - you just stick it into your existing cigarette lighter socket and away you go. It's just like the writing on the packaging says - "just plug in and play"....
Indeed, this sucker is pretty clever. Instead of taking conventional rpm inputs, it simply takes the DC electric pulses that ricochet down the electrical system from the alternator. And, of course, it also works regardless of whether your car has a manual or automatic transmission.
Unlike some of its competitors, the Hyper-Form shift indicator is also a multi-stage device, using four sequential LEDs. This means you can set the first LED to illuminate at (say) 5500 rpm and the fourth LED to come on at 6000. One of the theoretical advantages of this is that you can be informed just before you have to make the up-change - rather than it being an immediate necessity. However - in our eyes - the ideal set-up is to have the first LED come on at your optimum up-shift rpm, and the last LED come on at your maximum engine revs. That way you're getting two vital pieces of information - not just one.
So how do you make it work?
The first step is to calibrate the unit to suit your vehicle and your desired shift rpm. This is performed by simply starting the engine (with all accessories switched off), and plugging the Hyper-Form's power socket into your cigarette lighter. Instantly, the unit will be receiving the pulses from the alternator. The next job is to twiddle the middle dial on the control box until you see the first LED start to illuminate at your desired revs (ie you need to be revving the car in neutral to determine this). After that, you move on to the right hand side dial to set the switch-on revs for the last LED. You don't have to worry about setting the staging of the second and third LEDs - the control box works this out on its own. And that's it - job done. How easy was that!?
Note that you can also configure the LEDs to illuminate in the reverse direction if you like (ie from right to left). This is done by firstly setting the right dial to bring up your number 1 LED on the right side of the scale. The second step is to set the left LED using the middle dial. So it's just the same procedure as setting it "normally", except you do it in the reverse order.
So what does the third dial on the face of control box do? Simple. This allows you to vary the intensity of the LEDs. And - believe us - you'll need it...
Out on the Road
With calibration completed, the Hyper-Form shift indicator is pretty much a set-and-forget bit of gear. Its trigger rpm remains very consistent (ie it doesn't come on at the wrong rpm) and it usually isn't fazed by other electrical interference - such as the radio, headlights heater fan. An exception to this was that on one of the test cars, the LEDs would all illuminate simultaneously when the electric sunroof was opened... Our only other gripe is that it's sometimes difficult to see at a glance how many of the sequential LEDs have illuminated. If you're paying a lot of attention to the road, we found that it's quite off-putting to have to divert your eyes to the display and count how many LEDs are glowing. It would seem better to have different coloured LEDs throughout the scale or, perhaps, a loud buzzer linked to the very last LED. (And of course it would be dead-easy to use just one of the LEDs, with the others removed or relocated.)
Other than that, it's very much on the money at giving you a clear and decisive indication of when to make a shift.
Take it from us - the Hyper-Form's red LEDs are extremely bright. Even with the brightness dial turned down, it's retina-burning stuff to look straight into the eye of the LEDs. It's a bit like looking into another car's headlights for too long! To remedy this, we found that the best set-up was to have the LEDs aimed slightly out of your line of sight and have the brightness dial turned up. This way, you can still see the LEDs illuminate during daylight hours, and - on top of that - the rest of the interior will illuminate when it triggers at night!
So overall - in terms of making it blatantly obvious when you need to make a shift - the Hyper-Form unit does it easily.
So you want one?
The Hyper-Form shift indicator comes complete with a cigarette lighter socket, the necessary wiring and harness connector (fully sheathed), the 3-dial control box and the 4-LED display unit - both with short lengths of adhesive strips for mounting. The 4-LED display also comes with a small metal bracket that gives an adjustable viewing angle. Its overall material quality and construction is to a high standard - although we do think it'd look a whole lot better if the 4-LED display was black instead of silver. The unit comes with a 12-month replacement warranty. The "instruction manual" is a single sided A4 sheet of paper, which covers the installation and set-up procedure as well as four basic operating warnings.
Overall, for its price, we reckon it's a pretty good buy. Its all-important features are its simple plug-in capability and the fact that it'll run with any type of modern engine - even oddball three and five cylinders. This fact alone puts the Hyper-Form shift indicator into a class of its own.