Author Topic: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?  (Read 715 times)

Offline Thunderlizard

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LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« on: September 30, 2020, 06:15:28 pm »
A while back, I "upgraded" my headlight bulbs to some really bright LED's. At first, I was pretty impressed with how far they reach and the amount of light they throw off. I actually ended up lowering the beams a tad because it created a lot of oncoming driver "High beam flash" (if you know what I mean).  But a couple of weeks ago, on the way back from a 3-day ride in the mountains, I started to notice that while they were fine on the straights, I was really having trouble on hidden curves or over hills. Not that I expect these things to go around corners, but I think that because they are so bright, my eyes don't adjust or see the unlit areas as well? Also, the light is whiter (6500K), which means it won't penetrate mist or fog as well either.
So, my question to you all is have you used another bulb that may be more yellow (3500k-400k?) but still put off decent lumens, and does it help you see better than the brighter, whiter bulbs? I know this may sound nuts, but there are posts about this very thing from "lighting specialists" online, so I'm thinking my impression is legit? ???
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Offline connie_rider

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2020, 06:52:56 pm »
That's a good question, and I will be watching this discussion for input from others.

I tried some of the LED's and they were bright, but had no cut off at the top. Blinded oncoming traffic.
So I bought some LED's that had a distinct cut off at the top, and also seem to put out more light to the sides.
 {I think the bulbs are built to work better with the reflector}
Bottom line, they work better for me, and light up the sides pretty well.
Detail; The bulbs I bought have to be clocked {installed right side up}. If installed wrong, they just make a glare.
           {Is it possible yours are not clocked?}
Also, I left the OEM running bulbs in my bike. They look yellowish compared to my LED's, but possibly add some light in the other spectrum?    If so, possibly the mix covers the range better?

I'll close with, I tried the blue bulbs in my C-10 "a couple of times; when that was the rage".
They were bright as heck, but I couldn't see anything {no contrast} and I removed them immediately.

Ride safe, Ted

Offline B.D.F.

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2020, 07:28:59 pm »
Motorcycles are tough to get light to shine in the direction of the turn because they lean and so dip that side of the headlights. Not sure what the beam spread looks like with your LEDs but the stock C-14 headlights are really quite good for halogen lighting. I upgraded mine to HID long ago and really like the light output; it still have a very reasonable beam with reasonable light cut- off (not too much light above the cut- off line) but they are much, much brighter than stock.

As to the color, tungsten lighting is toward the warm or yellow side of white while 6,500 K is well to the cool or blue side of white. It is generally accepted that 4,000 K (usually 4,100 K in practice) is the whitest light. Tungsten or halogen lamps are down in the 3,000 K range. White or slightly warm (yellow) light is best for illuminating objects so humans can see the best definition.

And of course, the lights Kelvin or color rating has nothing to do with light output other than again, the brightest lights per watt are in the 4.100 K color area. Anything warmer (lower in Kelvin) or especially colder is reduced in light output because it is missing some of the white spectrum. Put another way, 40 watts will only make so much light and reducing the color output by restricting the color only reduces overall light output.

Unfortunately some years ago Mercedes came out with projection headlights with a distinct blue band in the cut- off line. They are not blue headlights but rather again around 4,100 K in color temp. but when those lights are moving toward us, we tend to see that blue line bounce past our eyes. This made us perceive them as blue and has created a bit of a cult following with the 'kids'. In addition to appearing harsh to oncoming traffic, blue shift lighting is not very good at helping us see at night. And they have the additional downside of making white reflective things, such as the band around a stop sign tend to dazzle with reflective light, which is detrimental to the owner of that very lighting.


A while back, I "upgraded" my headlight bulbs to some really bright LED's. At first, I was pretty impressed with how far they reach and the amount of light they throw off. I actually ended up lowering the beams a tad because it created a lot of oncoming driver "High beam flash" (if you know what I mean).  But a couple of weeks ago, on the way back from a 3-day ride in the mountains, I started to notice that while they were fine on the straights, I was really having trouble on hidden curves or over hills. Not that I expect these things to go around corners, but I think that because they are so bright, my eyes don't adjust or see the unlit areas as well? Also, the light is whiter (6500K), which means it won't penetrate mist or fog as well either.
So, my question to you all is have you used another bulb that may be more yellow (3500k-400k?) but still put off decent lumens, and does it help you see better than the brighter, whiter bulbs? I know this may sound nuts, but there are posts about this very thing from "lighting specialists" online, so I'm thinking my impression is legit? ???
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Offline maxtog

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2020, 09:31:02 pm »
That's a good question, and I will be watching this discussion for input from others.

I tried some of the LED's and they were bright, but had no cut off at the top. Blinded oncoming traffic.


Indeed.  There are a *LOT* of very poorly designed and crappy bulbs out there.  And we are ALL suffering because of them.  Plus, there are all from non-name places that constantly change models.  So if you CAN find a great one, like I did, it will be gone before anyone else can buy the same one.  Mine have a sharp cut-off and relatively even lighting, once properly adjusted.  The bulbs are INCREDIBLY sensitive to being rotated.  Even a few degrees off and the pattern is ruined and no sharp cut-off.  And THAT, I believe, is the #1 problem with our being blinded by others (#2 being aimed too high, and #3 being crappy designs).

See this thread for the whole saga:
http://www.zggtr.org/index.php?topic=22202.0

Quote
Also, I left the OEM running bulbs in my bike. They look yellowish compared to my LED's, but possibly add some light in the other spectrum?    If so, possibly the mix covers the range better?


I changed the city lights to bright yellow LED, and converted both front turn signals to very bright yellow LED that blink OFF instead of on- so they are on all the time when not signaling.  This drastically improves the visibility and footprint of my bike from a distance while being safe, legal, non-annoying, and attractive.  It is a safety feature but adds nothing for my driving visuals.

Explore that even longer saga here:
http://www.zggtr.org/index.php?topic=2236.0
and also:
http://www.zggtr.org/index.php?topic=19650.0
and also:
http://www.zggtr.org/index.php?topic=18301.0
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Offline maxtog

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2020, 09:49:55 pm »
Motorcycles are tough to get light to shine in the direction of the turn because they lean and so dip that side of the headlights. Not sure what the beam spread looks like with your LEDs but the stock C-14 headlights are really quite good for halogen lighting.

The reflector forms all of the pattern, except the top cut-off.  The LED bulb just has to comply with the H4 filament location the best it can and position is incredibly important.  If it is done correctly, the pattern should be the nearly same as with the stock halogen bulbs- but since it is whiter and brighter, flaws in the reflector pattern will be more visible.  And the slight alignment issues with the LED light source not being a very tiny continuous filament (or gas) creates some additional artifacts.  The worse the design, the worse the artifacts.

The C14 doesn't have a straight cut-off all the way.  It bends the reflection of the bulb's cutoff (which is a metal shield) to have a "kick" on both sides.  I believe that is intentional to help light the sides higher, which is useful when leaning.  Unfortunately that kick does place the beam in other vehicles' faces, even when adjusted correctly.  Fortunately, it is only a small section.

Ideally, a motorcycle really needs either self-leveling headlights, which is very rare.  Or cornering lights that come on only when tilted, to add light where it is needed (either one side or the other).  They must turn off when not tilted, because they would blind other drivers.  That type is also rare, but the H2SX has such lights, which I thought was interesting.  I do wish I had something like that for night riding in curvy areas, especially where I can't use high beams (due to oncoming traffic).

Quote
I upgraded mine to HID long ago and really like the light output; it still have a very reasonable beam with reasonable light cut- off (not too much light above the cut- off line) but they are much, much brighter than stock.

That was my second headlight upgrade (HID).  They are much brighter.  But they also are VERY hot, and damaged some of my reflector.  They also take time to warm up, and the transformers are annoying.  When LED finally got capable enough, I ripped out the HID and used LED and I like them much better.  I do think the LED pattern is better, although it is a bit less light and the light is not as consistent across everywhere (because of the 4 emitters).  Much easier to install, better light color, instant-on, no transformers, MUCH less heat (although they do have large heat sinks on the back, fanless- you don't want fans), and much less power consumption.

As to the color, tungsten lighting is toward the warm or yellow side of white while 6,500 K is well to the cool or blue side of white. It is generally accepted that 4,000 K (usually 4,100 K in practice) is the whitest light. [/quote]

But sunlight is around 5,500K on average- so I think that is probably the best color for headlights, since our eyes evolved to see the world in that light.  LED lighting has a worse CRI than HID, though... so the resulting colors we see are not as "correct" when illuminated with most LED lighting.  Cheaper bulbs have a worse CRI, and you will probably never see a CRI rating on headlight bulbs, unfortunately.
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Offline B.D.F.

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2020, 10:52:02 pm »
Self- leveling headlights would not do any good in corners because the center of down- force is always through the C/L of the bike and matches the bikes' lean angle. What would be outstanding would be a pair of 'fill' lights on each side, with the inside (the inside of the corner turned) light turning on at, say, 5 degrees. That would not be too harsh on oncoming traffic.

Yes, a key point is that light source shape, size and placement in the light housing. Tungsten lamp manufacturers keep this tolerance very tight, typically + / - 0.002" to hold the reflector's beam to very high standards. The HID arc is extremely close to the size and shape of the tungsten filament of an H4 lamp and so is an ideal replacement. The light emitting portion is the size of a grain of rice. I have not seen any LEDs that even come close to this size and shape, nor are any made to the emitter (the LED in this case) is suspended on a vertical plate so the light source is available to the entire 180 spans of the reflector. And to add light LED headlamp lights add LED emitters, making it impossible for them all to be in the correct space of the reflector. As you may be able to tell, not a big fan of them myself- speaking about retrofitting a LED into a tungsten headlight ass'y. Headlights designed originally for LEDs where the manufacturer can control both where the LEDs are located and then shape the reflector to best and most correctly use that light is something completely different. And yes, I realize retrofitting an HID lamp into a tungsten headlight ass'y is also a retrofit, the HID light source (the arc itself) is very, very close to the size and shape of the original coiled tungsten filament. Not perfect but I would give it an 85% overall rating (and of course that is both a WAG as well as my opinion :-) ) as a viable replacement.

Yes, sunlight is somewhat cooler and appears to our eyes as neutral but a big part of artificial lighting depends on the spectrum of light produced. HID lamps are missing significant portions of that spectrum and so will appear white at around 4,100 K. Look at all the HID lamp manufacturers, I mean the real or OEM ones, not the Chinese knock- offs and you will find that is the color they chose to make their lamps emit. I had a pair of HID's where one was 4,100 K and the other was 5,000 K and the higher frequency lamp produced noticeably blue- shifted light. 6,500 K is very well into the blue and on the way into the violet average from an HID lamp. HID lamps are cheap enough now that various colors can be tried on one vehicle and the difference will be obvious, both in light output as well as color efficiency.


Ideally, a motorcycle really needs either self-leveling headlights, which is very rare.  Or cornering lights that come on only when tilted, to add light where it is needed (either one side or the other).  They must turn off when not tilted, because they would blind other drivers.  That type is also rare, but the H2SX has such lights, which I thought was interesting.  I do wish I had something like that for night riding in curvy areas, especially where I can't use high beams (due to oncoming traffic).

But sunlight is around 5,500K on average- so I think that is probably the best color for headlights, since our eyes evolved to see the world in that light.  LED lighting has a worse CRI than HID, though... so the resulting colors we see are not as "correct" when illuminated with most LED lighting.  Cheaper bulbs have a worse CRI, and you will probably never see a CRI rating on headlight bulbs, unfortunately.
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Offline maxtog

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2020, 05:37:20 am »
Self- leveling headlights would not do any good in corners because the center of down- force is always through the C/L of the bike and matches the bikes' lean angle.

I didn't say what method of self-leveling.  Obviously gravity-leveling would not work on a motorcycle.  It would have to be something much more complicated.

Quote
What would be outstanding would be a pair of 'fill' lights on each side, with the inside (the inside of the corner turned) light turning on at, say, 5 degrees. That would not be too harsh on oncoming traffic.

Yep- those are the "cornering lights" I mentioned.  I would love to have those.

Quote
I have not seen any LEDs that even come close to this size and shape, nor are any made to the emitter (the LED in this case) is suspended on a vertical plate so the light source is available to the entire 180 spans of the reflector.

Exactly.  That is the main problem with LED H4 bulbs.  They have improved over the years, though.  The designs keep pushing the emitters closer together and with better arc dispersion.  And using fewer, brighter emitters.  But I think there is probably only so much that can be done.

The miracle moment for LED came a few years ago with the invention of "LED filament" bulbs.  Those can and do correctly imitate filaments and were a game-changer for bulb technology.  They look like tungsten filaments, emit light in ALL directions, use no heat sink, and require no complex reflectors in the bulb (which never worked correctly).  But they can't emit the same amount of light per length (yet) of the "filament."  So I am not sure if or when they could be used within an H4 bulb.  It is an exciting prospect, though.

When they came out, I could finally replace all the bulbs in my bathroom vanities and chandeliers and any other place where the bulb is actually visible, or needed true filament-like light dispersion.

Quote
As you may be able to tell, not a big fan of them myself- speaking about retrofitting a LED into a tungsten headlight ass'y.

I am on the fence.  I like the results of SOME of the bulbs, and not others.  It is a crap-shoot.  And when people choose badly, we all suffer.  And it is happening that way a LOT.  For sure, the correct thing would be to replace the entire reflector assembly.  I have not seen that option available for any vehicle, simply because of the expense and complication.
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Offline connie_rider

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2020, 11:13:45 am »
These are the LED Headlights that I installed.
Cheap and effective..

https://www.ebay.com/itm/BEAMTECH-H4-9003-LED-Headlight-Bulbs-High-Low-Beam-50W-6500K-White-CSP-Fanless/264740365902?hash=item3da3c1664e:g:3lgAAOSwVXdcHGT-

If you look closely, you will see that the upper LED is offset, and has a plate over it to block the light.
The location of the LED's, and the block plate, are what control the cut off on this brand.

Like Thunderlizard, I also wonder if a different heat range {than 6500K} would give more definition to what we see?

Ride safe, Ted

Offline fartymarty

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2020, 11:42:21 am »
(although they do have large heat sinks on the back, fanless- you don't want fans)

I've been very happy with my LED headlight bulbs which were purchased so long ago I'm sure me searching for a link now would be a waste of time,
but they were at that time one of the first few that had the shield to give good cutoff on the low beam. They do have fans however and
so they will fail at some point...I'm just wondering what will happen when they do. Will the LED just go off?
..will it overheat and start melting things like those pain in the rear HIDs did?..anybody have the LED fans fail on theirs?

Offline Boomer

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2020, 12:08:52 pm »
This is why I fitted additional spotlights as they fill in the blind spots.
I don't have LEDs fitted to the headlights on the C14 but have LED spots mounted on the mirrors.
My C10 has an LED headlight bulb and many many spotlights. 😁
George "Boomer" Garratt
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Offline maxtog

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2020, 03:22:08 pm »
They do have fans however and so they will fail at some point...I'm just wondering what will happen when they do. Will the LED just go off? ..will it overheat and start melting things like those pain in the rear HIDs did?

Nothing will melt- not enough heat for that with LED.  Just enough to cook the diodes.  Mostly likely the light with just suddenly go off, permanently.  Before that, it might start to dim or flicker.  LED emitters do not like heat.
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Offline VirginiaJim

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2020, 05:10:15 am »
Both of my Indian Roadmaster's have LED's.  Great light going straight.  Turning not so much because of the sharp cutoff.  Scare the crap out of me the first I rode in the dark on a moderately twisty road.  The C14 stock lights are so much better if they are aimed correctly.  One of our Indian group members was talking about going LED and I talked him out of it.  Indian has now come out with a moderately priced adaptive LED headlight and I think I'm going to go with that.  It has special LEDs on the sides that come on when turning/leaning right and left. 
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Offline Thunderlizard

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2020, 08:24:42 am »
Sorry for the long delay, (been swamped with work and personal) but some great info. Thanks Fellas.
I've still not decided on what bulb but based upon my research, I'm definitely considering a bulb in the lower K range. Like VA Jim, night riding on twisties is kinda scary. I'm hoping a less blue light will improve things a bit.
Point to note, I was pretty careful to clock the existing bulbs, which are Beam Tech (same as ConnieRider, I think). No problems with the quality - they've been good so far, but again, they're too high in the K range.
If anyone finds LED's that are below 5000K, please let me know (preferably 4100k?).

Stay safe!
I never ride alone...my Lord and Savior is always with me.

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Offline maxtog

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2020, 04:00:21 pm »
they've been good so far, but again, they're too high in the K range.  If anyone finds LED's that are below 5000K, please let me know (preferably 4100k?).

Honestly, I don't think you will find anything that low.  The lowest I have ever seen is 6000K.
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samjluck

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2020, 07:15:18 am »
1st post and wanna help back for all the good advise I've received here as a lerker

I picked up a 2015 C14 with 2100 miles on it about a month ago and started doing the things to it that made it "mine". I have a long list of previous bikes and have ridden for 50 years. started when i was 5... :D

so the stock lights were okay but i know LED's rock and I got these from a suggestion here

https://www.ebay.com/itm/BEAMTECH-H4-9003-LED-Headlight-Bulbs-High-Low-Beam-50W-6500K-White-CSP-Fanless/264740365902?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

and these

https://www.ebay.com/itm/10x-AUXITO-194-168-T10-LED-Interior-Light-Bulbs-6000K-White-W5W-921-192-2825-24H/313178670081?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

install is a breeze and well I'll let the pictures tell the story. Best 20 minute improvement besides the lowering pegs so far!




samjluck

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2020, 07:15:54 am »
photo

samjluck

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2020, 07:17:20 am »
photo

samjluck

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2020, 07:18:09 am »
and complete.

night and day difference. and I thought the stockers were okay... lol

Offline maxtog

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2020, 08:54:15 am »
and complete.  night and day difference. and I thought the stockers were okay... lol

Well, the important thing isn't how they look from that angle, but the beam patterns they emit.  The throw, the cutoff, the fill, the scatter, etc.  Also, I strongly recommend amber "city lights" (the small decorative bulbs) instead of white, for improved contrast and safety.
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Offline fartymarty

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Re: LED or Other Headlight Bulbs?
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2020, 11:10:22 am »
Well, the important thing isn't how they look from that angle, but the beam patterns they emit.  The throw, the cutoff, the fill, the scatter, etc. 


Something that was mentioned years ago (I think it was Brian?), there is a ground pattern that the original bulbs and the HID bulbs would throw that slightly proceeded on both sides of the bike. You can see it distinctly in lower right of this photo:

You can see how the limits of focus for an LED (currently available) in a filament designed reflector are by comparing it to this one:


Regardless, I still think that the currently available LEDs with the shields for the low beam are a desirable improvement even if their patterns aren't perfect. But if you get the chance to follow 5 or more C14s with original filament or HID headlights at night as they cast those patterns in front of them as they weave the curves ahead of you I think you'll find the view mesmerizing.  8)