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Old 11-30-2007, 07:55 AM   #1
space OP
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Drawbacks of HID retrofitting -- focus issues?

There have been some great HID conversion threads on GSpot, like this one for the 1150 and this more recent one for the 1200. I'm sure there have been similar threads for the KTMs and KLRs and so on. So I'm thinking of doing the upgrade on my 1150 and maybe getting a kit for my GF's F650 as a Christmas gift. (Hope she isn't reading this. )

My concern is how well these things focus. I read an interesting and seemingly knowledgeable article on the drawbacks of HID retrofits -- here:
http://www.danielsternlighting.com/t...nversions.html
-- that gives me pause.

The gist is that the geometry of light emission is totally different, producing poorly focused beams. The light-emitting region of a halogen (the wire) is sharply defined, cylindrical, and runs straight through the center of the bulb; the emitting region of an HID is more diffuse and arcs toward the top of the bulb due to gravity. The accompanying plots of the light thrown forward by a conversion were particularly illuminating. (cough cough)

The original halogen:


The retrofitted HID:


Sure, the HID is throwing more light forward, but the cutoff is poor. It annoys other drivers -- I hate hate hate those idiot SUVs that blind all oncoming traffic, so it would be hypocritcal to do the same with my bike -- and it might actually decrease the range of the headlight. I'm not sure I fully buy that second point, but that's what the article said.

I've heard people on here argue similar things, notably HID guru Brad Vardy. But now that there are a lot of people who have been running such retrofits for a while, I'm curious to hear any real-world downsides. Has anyone been unsatisfied with the "upgrade" and gone with a high-output aftermarket halogen instead? Or gotten flak from oncoming drivers?

Anyone take a before and after picture shining their low beam at a wall or garage door to produce a low-tech version of the above graphs? How good was the cutoff?

Thanks for humoring this devil's advocate.
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Old 11-30-2007, 09:03 AM   #2
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I'll tell ya my story. Maybe it'll help.

06 KLR650 bought new - headlight sucked. Don't they all? One of the first farkles was to upgrade the headlight - or - more aptly put, the ability to see better at night AND be seen by others anytime. So, I bought a set of Hellas and installed them on the sides of the fairing and WOW they're great at night on smaller roads outside of town. Just what I wanted. But I can't see myself riding around during the day in traffic melting everyone elses retinas hencee the on/off switch. To brighten my day I installed a nice HID (ebay $89 shipped) single light kit and aimed it down - just a bit. Works great at night. Much better than the original KLR OEM unit. And I have lights for night riding (like I do that a lot!).

Oldrice-
www.oldrice.com/KR650.htm
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Old 11-30-2007, 10:26 AM   #3
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My friend, you're suffering from what we like to call "analysis paralysis" or "you're over-thinking it dude".

I've done several HID conversions including (but not limited to) a BMW K1200LT, KLR650, Triumph Bonneville, and an FJR1300A.

In every single case, because I was VERY careful about correct placement of the HID capsule within the headlight housing, the beam pattern has been nearly identical to the OEM halogen bulb.

My FJR is a favorite example. Using the servo actuated bixenon H4 kits that position the capsule correctly for either low or high beam, I get a SHARP clear cuttoff exactly where it was with the OEM H4 bulbs as well as an identical beam pattern. However, that's where the similarity stops. The amount of light thrown out is simply amazing.

Finally, the acid test for me is not one single cage has ever flashed me indicating my lights were dazzling them.

IMNSHO, 99% of the critics of HID would have spit the same nonsense had they been driving in the late 60's when halogen bulbs began to replace sealed beams. In fact, I know it since I lived it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by space
There have been some great HID conversion threads on GSpot, like this one for the 1150 and this more recent one for the 1200. I'm sure there have been similar threads for the KTMs and KLRs and so on. So I'm thinking of doing the upgrade on my 1150 and maybe getting a kit for my GF's F650 as a Christmas gift. (Hope she isn't reading this. )

My concern is how well these things focus. I read an interesting and seemingly knowledgeable article on the drawbacks of HID retrofits -- here:
http://www.danielsternlighting.com/t...nversions.html
-- that gives me pause.

The gist is that the geometry of light emission is totally different, producing poorly focused beams. The light-emitting region of a halogen (the wire) is sharply defined, cylindrical, and runs straight through the center of the bulb; the emitting region of an HID is more diffuse and arcs toward the top of the bulb due to gravity. The accompanying plots of the light thrown forward by a conversion were particularly illuminating. (cough cough)

The original halogen:


The retrofitted HID:


Sure, the HID is throwing more light forward, but the cutoff is poor. It annoys other drivers -- I hate hate hate those idiot SUVs that blind all oncoming traffic, so it would be hypocritcal to do the same with my bike -- and it might actually decrease the range of the headlight. I'm not sure I fully buy that second point, but that's what the article said.

I've heard people on here argue similar things, notably HID guru Brad Vardy. But now that there are a lot of people who have been running such retrofits for a while, I'm curious to hear any real-world downsides. Has anyone been unsatisfied with the "upgrade" and gone with a high-output aftermarket halogen instead? Or gotten flak from oncoming drivers?

Anyone take a before and after picture shining their low beam at a wall or garage door to produce a low-tech version of the above graphs? How good was the cutoff?

Thanks for humoring this devil's advocate.
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Old 11-30-2007, 11:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwhd
My friend, you're suffering from what we like to call "analysis paralysis" or "you're over-thinking it dude".
I've definitely been accused of that before!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwhd
I've done several HID conversions including (but not limited to) a BMW K1200LT, KLR650, Triumph Bonneville, and an FJR1300A.

In every single case, because I was VERY careful about correct placement of the HID capsule within the headlight housing, the beam pattern has been nearly identical to the OEM halogen bulb.
Thanks for the input.
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Old 11-30-2007, 11:23 AM   #5
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Anecdotally, I'll go with bmwhd -- perceptibly identical beam pattern WITH the HID in place (HI AND LOW) as pre-conversion.

I made sure the bulbs were properly oriented in the retainer AND snugly secured with the retainer clips. Nada mas.

That said, you're from Cambridge. I'm quite certain that over-thinking things is some sort of municipal requirement in those parts (as one of my best friends -- your garden variety MIT CS PhD -- would attest)
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Old 11-30-2007, 11:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NBeener
Anecdotally, I'll go with bmwhd -- perceptibly identical beam pattern WITH the HID in place (HI AND LOW) as pre-conversion...
I have to say from my experience recently that the beam pattern is pretty similar, but not exactly the same. On my 12GS the pattern is more flat on top and sharply defined, but slightly better spread. It is very bright, as you said, but not blindingly so.

I personally believe it is the high range of lights that are the real culprit. I have 4300 bulbs, but many go for the 6000 and higher range. These produce an annoyingly bright blue beam that dazzles oncoming drivers. The 4300 is whiter, but not noticably blue.

See this as an example:



Left is a stock 12GS and right is a 12GS with HID conversion. The right one is whiter, slightly blue, and the left is decidedly yellower.

Jim
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Old 11-30-2007, 11:56 AM   #7
NBeener
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Those really are great pics.

Jim?

Jim??

Where are you, buddy? I can't see a damned .....
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Old 11-30-2007, 12:38 PM   #8
dlearl476
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmwhd
In every single case, because I was VERY careful about correct placement of the HID capsule within the headlight housing, the beam pattern has been nearly identical to the OEM halogen bulb.
So tell us, what's the secret? According to the stuff I've read, that's the difference between a $99 dollar H4 "upgrade" bulb and an $800 pair of HID lights, that the reflector on the expensive ones is made for HID whereas the cheap bulbs are "supposed" to work with an H4 reflector.
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Old 11-30-2007, 01:23 PM   #9
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I added HID to the low beam of my 1150. I liked the output better but couldn't find a kit in the 4300 range so I want a little whiter. At first I thought there was too much scatter and it would irritate other people on the road, but so far its been great. The lense on the 1150 really doesn't lend itself to great output, regardless of bulb IMO but the HID is much better. I'm doing the Hi-beam next, delay be damned!



The Hella 500's peeking out from under the light are also next. I'm not sure how they will convert out with the clear lense and large reflector...
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Old 11-30-2007, 02:57 PM   #10
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I'm a vote in the "sometimes HID is overrated" camp.

I started with a bike that had pretty darn good headlights to begin with - GL1800 - two H7 lows, two H7 highs. I converted all four beams to HID.

+ Lots more light.

- low beam cutoff was not as sharp. If I had the lows up where I wanted them the scatter was enough to tick off oncoming traffic.

- HID lights take a fraction of a second to come on, then another couple fractions to really come up to full brightness. It's a perceptible delay if you use them as switched high beams. Not unusable but annoying. I don't think there are any automotive applications that actually turn a HID on/off for highs. They either use a solenoid system to move bulb or reflector, or just use halogens for the high.

If you compare the size of the gas capsule on the hid bulb to the filament on an H7 or H9 bulb - there is no way the beam pattern will be stock. The gas capsule is quite a bit bigger.
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Old 11-30-2007, 07:56 PM   #11
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Kermit came over tonight and showed off his newly colored Hella FF50 Lights.

I thought it a good opportunity to compare lights on each bike, so the following is my demo on my garage door.


HID Low beam only


Stock Low beam only


HID Low and High beam


Stock Low Beam (Note, Kermit has removed the cover on the tip of the bulb for better light).


Kermit's "yellow" FF50, painted with craft store spray stained glass window paint.


HID (left) and stock, both High Beams, with yellow FF50s on the right.
As you can see the beam for the HID light is slightly more scattered, mostly horizontally, but has a very similar line and height. I am very confident that the HID wont be blinding.


This is an example of a cold flash to pass. The High Beam HID was dead cold, and I flicked it on. When warm from recent use, it is VERY much brighter on Flash to Pass mode.

Also, for those concerned about excessive flood of light outside of the beam pattern, here is what you get:


Virtually identical to the stock amount of scattered light.

Jim 8)

PS Just a note, these are unretouched photos, and the camera made some adjustments based on the amount of light. The HID lights were significantly brighter than the pictures showed, but if you look at this picture:



You can get a better feel for the differences.
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Old 12-01-2007, 07:08 AM   #12
space OP
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Looks good. Certainly far, far better than the HID beam profile in the analysis I posted. Thanks.
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Old 12-01-2007, 07:14 AM   #13
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Do these things have anything to do with global warming?
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Old 12-01-2007, 06:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richc
Do these things have anything to do with global warming?


Jim
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Old 12-01-2007, 08:07 PM   #15
ehatcher
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I converted one of my 5 3/4 inch round headlamps with a cheap HID kit. Lots more light, cutoff as sharp as it was with the halogen. Made night riding not only possible but actually enjoyable.

The kit I bought used a servo actuated shield that slides front and back to achieve high and low beam. The low beam is good but the high beam is not so great. I understand some kits actually move the entire capsule in and out and I suspect these give better high beam. Can anyone confirm this and if it is true, whick kit(s) has a servo actuated capsule?

Eric
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