Originally Posted by MtnRider2
Ian have you considered going to a LED light over the HID ones? Pros vs. Cons?
Good timing on this subject, so I think the best thing is to do a complete blurb on everything we have recently been testing, with the new KTM 950/990 fairing as the catalyst for the exaustive testing process !
Existing Britannia Lighting options for the past 6 years
We have used Hella 90mm units with the OEM 65w Halogens and offered 35w HID upgrades on one or both lamps. Following expert advise we stuck with a specific low beam projector and a 'free flow' High beam unit and the wiring harness is configured so that the low beam remains 'on' when the Hi is switched, so you get both lights on Hi. This was a crucial decision, because it brings into play the importance of both lights complimenting each other so that they are not trying to do the same 'job' when on together. Equally important was the need to get maximum light from existing power outputs from most Dual sport bikes. So, my thinking was that most bikes spend their time with the low beam on and the extra 15w of the Hella halogen could be coped with easily. When the High beam is switched, there is a surge of another 65w, but the thinking was that bikes running at higher speed on Hi beam would cope for the period of time the Hi was on. This has been very successful with no real problems with electrics except on the 450 class bikes. The 35w HID conversions have been very popular and have taken the 'worry' out of using too much power. In 2013, 80% of all our fairings are sold with HID on one or both lights.
Problems and/or downsides over the past 6 years
1) Halogens get very Hot !
2) HID low beam sometimes have problems 'firing up', if battery on bike is weak.
3) Delay on Hi beam 'firing' up for the first time when cold.
4) Bulbs often do not last as long as they would in automotive environment.
Our testing conclusions in late 2013 and the future
So, I decided on a thorough, objective test on as many lights as we could get our hands on and to make it even better, by inviting some others to make their judgement as well. So, 5 guys in all, two of which are very experienced off road riders who consider 90 miles an hour on forest road, at night, to be the 'norm' !!
First off was the HID's which ranged from the Hella units we currently used at both 35w and 50w configurations, right up to the Baja Designs 8" HID, even though these would never fit into a fairing ! In particular, I wanted to establish whether the concept of a 'role specific' combination of two lights was still the best, so we had some Bi Xenon units as well.
1) Lamps that 'dip' are no where near as effective as two separate lights. They are a compromise where neither the Low , or Hi requirement is effectively covered and really just a way to get two functions from one lamp. The low beam pattern is particularly compromised.
2) As a stand alone low beam lamp, nothing gave the accuracy and width as well as the Hella lamp we already use, but the 50w was understandably much better.
3) Hi beam units were all good at throwing the light into the far distance and the 8" Baja designs unit was 'exceptional' and whilst we can't use it in a fairing, it's clearly the one we were going to measure everything else against !
LED's - The answer to everybody's lighting need ! Hmm, maybe one day !
There are virtually no options available for a street legal LED low beam that isn't designed for a Bus/Semi and weighs as much as an artilary shell !! So, from what I can gather, the option is to try and 'dim' the LED so you don't blind everyone coming the other way. As far as I'm concerned, this is a non starter for anyone with an adventure bike as the concept of 'dimming' your light with a thousand oncoming headlamps in the pouring rain, is not an option ! So, it was back to the HID's for the low beam role and in all 5 observers opinion, the Hella low beam projector with 50w HID could not be bettered, on or off road. The light is even, wide and has a sharp cutoff, so that everything in front of you right up to the level of the rear mirror of a small car, was bathed in light.
So, the challenge was now on to find the best unit to match with the Hella projector and this is where the LED's could start to play a part. Now it might surprise you to hear that of all the LED's we tried, only the Squadron matched the HID's for distance penetration and this unit is drawing a massive ( for LED) 42w to do it. Although the penetration only 'matched' the 50w HID, the evenness of the light was better than any of the HID's. Only the 'unusable for us' 8" HID was better and then only slightly. For the doubters out there, I can tell you that when the Hella 50w HID was on with the Squadron LED, you turn any of the 18w LED offerings on as well and not know that it had been turned on
The overall conclusion
There is little doubt that LED is the lighting of the future, but the 'hype' of 18w units replacing HID is really just that - 'hype'. Don't get me wrong, an 18w unit can be as good as a typical OEM high beam offering and they are not that expensive, but thye are not in the same league as the high end HID lighting and not in the same league as the 42w squadron.
Perhaps the most important issue learnt from this testing is that it's not just the amount of light that's important, but how it's focused and where it's pointed ! This issue particularly came up with the two offroad 'nutcases', where they expressed that where one light overlaps the other, you get a 'hotspot' of light that pulls your eyes towards it which is not good. In particular, it's important that the Hi beam drills well into the distance, whilst the low beam looks after the 'less important' nearer area. You could see this happening where in some combinations, the 35w low beam was better than the 50w version, because it kept you looking ahead, because the nearside was slightly less lit up.
So, keeping in mind that we only do dual sport fairings, where road riding is important (not 'off road only'), we will be sticking with our Hella HID low beam on all our fairings next year, but may offer 50w as well as 35w versions. We have decided to fit the Squadron LED as the HI beam for the upcoming 950/990 fairing, not just because of the light, but also for the instant ON/OFF and slightly lighter weight + it looks cool in the 'stacked' light configuration !
We also have a Squadron LED fitted into a Lynx for the Hi beam that is being tested in our new KTM 950SE Lynx kit and if this shakes out OK, then it will be an option in early '14.
The squadron ain't cheap, so we will also be looking at another lower powered LED to match up with the 35w Hella HID for an upcoming KLR fairing.
Cheers and happy Holidays