Biking Spirit – Blog

Jan 23, 2014

Motorcycle Lighting, Explained!

Motorcycle LIGHTING, Explained!

Are you also among the many who complain about the stock headlamps on your motorcycle? Then this article is just the one for you!

OEM (Original equipment manufacturer) headlamps that come stock on your motorcycle are just designed for the utility that the motorcycle is built for. When you buy a street or a track motorcycle, the Manufacturers don’t really expect you to be doing 130 kmph, even though the machine can max out at 200 kmph. Do you know why?
“Manufacturers expect you to stick to the speed limits of the street, which is generally about 30 – 60 kmph within the city, and a maximum of 80 kmph on the free open mega highways.”

 

Back in the days when I was non-existent, the only option for lighting up the darkness in front of the motorcycle was halogen lamps. Halogen bulbs are a filament based gas filled bulb, where the filament heats up due to electricity and emits light – very similar to the ones you would find at your home. Halogens are pretty affordable, however these lamps are very prone to malfunctioning, majorly filament breakage.

 

 

 

 

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I was fortunate to be on a motorcycle when the new “HID” lights were introduced into the motorcycling market. HID, or High Intensity Discharge, used Xenon Gas inside the bulb, and two tungsten electrodes to form an electric arc to emit massive amount of light. HID lights were good, very good… But? Yes, there is always a but!
But HID lights require a ballast to power the Xenon gas. A Ballast that takes 12V from your motorcycle battery and multiplies it to thousands of volts, just to power your Farkles! HID kits are infamous for two things. One, to drain out batteries and cause electrical issues especially on electronic-fuel- injected motorcycles, and two: they catch fire. Of course there are much more sophisticated and reliable ones as well, but they come with a price of approximately Rs. 20,000 ($300) onwards.
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We’re here in the 21st century where there is a marvelous advance in technology in all industries, and there have also been great inventions when it comes to automotive lighting. Tungsten Bulbs, Halogens and HID lights are now history!
LED, or Light Emitting Diode in now the in thing! Compact, energy efficient and powerful, LED lights have now taken over the motorcycling market. LEDs are widely used in automobile lighting. You can find LEDs in turn-signals, Back-Lit Speedo/Tacho consoles, switches, pilot lamps, tail lamps and now also behind those slick sexy looking projectors as well!

 

You’re wondering where’s the “but” for LED lighting…? Well, having bright powerful and energy efficient lights are one thing… But they’ll be only as effective as the reflectors of your headlamps. Remember I spoke about street and track bikes having poor lighting? That’s got a lot to do with the reflector too. The reflector is the shiny mirror finish part inside a headlamp assembly. The headlamp reflector is what directs the light from the bulb onto the road. A better reflector gives you a better spread of the light. Since there is only a little that you can do with a stock reflector, projectors are a better option.

Images_Blog_Lighting_08A projector is basically a lens in front of the bulb, which distorts & magnifies the light to the desired beam pattern. Projectors have been powered by H7 halogens in the past, and then evolved to HIDs and now run LED lights too. “But” projector set-ups are widely used in cars, it’s a rare sight to see this kind of lamps on motorcycles. A DIY projector set up is hardly any good when compared to the ones developed and provided by OEMs. Yes, there are a few good brands that manufacture aftermarket Projector Light sets and needless to say – they come with their through-the-roof price tag.

 

 

 

So if we ruled out Halogens, HIDs, Projectors & LEDs; then what options are we left with?
The Answer – Auxiliary Lights

 

AuxLamps, or Auxiliary lights are technically not the main driving lamps, but they supplement your primary motorcycle’s headlamp. The beauty of Auxiliary lights is that you can choose to mount them in a much more efficient place, and you can also choose the output and the beam pattern. Too much gyan? Let me break it down for you..

 

 

 

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Aux-Lamps:
They are available in various shapes and sizes. Round, square, oval, short & long.
They come in different beam patterns – Hyper Spot, Spot, Euro and Flood beam.
They can be powered by all the bulbs mentioned above – Halogen, HID and LED.
They come in different color temperatures – From 3400k all the way to 8000k.
You can own them even with shallow pockets!

 

So how would you choose the best set up for yourself? Read more…

Street Use  (upto 70kmph)

  • Headlamp Replacement
    • HID
    • LED
  • Auxiliary Lights
    • Halogen
    • HID
      • Spot
      • Flood
    • LED
      • 10W x 2 (spot)
        • 35 degree spot
        • 30 Degree Spot
        • 25 Degree Spot
      • 18W x 2 (spot)
        • 35 Degree Spot
        • 30 Degree Spot

Touring Use (above 70kmph)

  • Headlamp Replacement
    • HID
      • 35W
      • 55W
    • LED
      • 40W
      • 55W
      • 60W
    • Projector
      • H3/H7 HID 35W
      • H3/H7 HID 55W
      • LED 40W
      • LED 55W
      • LED 60W
    • Auxiliary Lamps
      • Halogen
        • 35W x2 setup
        • 55W x2 setup
      • HID
        • Reflector
        • Projector
      • LED
        • 10W x2 setup (spot)
          • 30 degree spot
          • 25 degree spot
        • 10W x2 setup (flood)
          • 45 degree flood
          • 60 degree flood
        • 20W x2 setup (spot)
          • 30 degree spot
          • 25 degree spot
        • 20W x2 setup (flood)
          • 45 degree flood
          • 60 degree flood
        • 40W x1 Setup
          • Flood Beam
          • Spot Beam
        • Fog Lamps
          • Halogen (<4000k)
            • 35W x2 setup
            • 55W x2 setup
          • LED (<4000k)
            • 10W x2 setup (flood)
              • 45 degree flood
              • 60 degree flood

 

Brands that you’d generally come across..

Baja Designs, Rigid Industries, Clearwaters, Denali, PIAA, Light Canon, Vision X…
All these brands are basically manufacturers who assemble parts like the LED, Driver, Reflector, Lens and housing to make their light… “ CREE “ is the top manufacturer of LEDs and most good brands use CREE LEDs and other CREE components. CREE LEDs are very reliable, durable and they generally have a run time of 30,000+ hours.

You can also find a lot of different variants in Auxiliary LED lights which aren’t really “branded” however they are the same spec on paper as the much bigger reputed brands – and the cost less than one-third the cost of branded ones.

Remember, it is very crucial that you position your lights well. No matter how good your lights are, they need to be positioned to meet your requirement.

 

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