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Motorcycle Driving Lights Buying Guide
Visibility is quite possibly the most important element for both the motorcyclist as well as for the other automobiles who share the road. Visibility for the rider looking down the road, and being able to see as much as possible with the utmost clarity, or visibility of the rider throwing ample light into the atmosphere, be it daytime or nighttime, so as to eliminate the common phrase, “Sorry, I just didn’t see you!”
Imagine the reduction in accidents if motorcycles were “visible” to every motorist and if every rider could “see everything” clearly!
Historically, the term “driving lights” brings images such as this to the mind:
Today however, you are not limited to this specific style of driving light bar. Riders can now add aftermarket lights of all shapes, sizes, and types to their bikes.
Halogen bulbs, specifically the H3, have been the primary bulbs used in driving lights of the past and present. More recently H.I.D and LED lights have made their way into the mainstream segment of motorcycle lighting. With this influx in lighting options, a couple important questions arise...
1. What are the differences between these styles of lights?
2. Which of these lights are best for you?
A halogen light bulb may also be known as a tungsten halogen light or even a quartz iodine light. These are incandescent lights that have inside them a small amount of a halogen in the form of either asiodine or bromine. The combination of these halogen gases and the tungsten filament produce a chemical reaction which redeposits evaporated tungsten back onto the filament, increasing its life while maintaining the clarity. This allows halogen lights to operate at a higher temperatures and in smaller systems making them a great light for motorcycle applications. They have long lifespans and produce high amounts of light with pleasant color temperatures.
A light-emitting diode is more commonly known as an LED and is a semiconductor light source. LEDs have been used as “accent lighting” for many years in the motorcycle world and just recently they have proved themselves effective as both driving lights and headlights. When an LED is switched on, electrons are able to recombine with holes within the device, releasing energy in the form of photons. This effect is called electroluminescence and the color of the light is determined by the energy band gap of the semiconductor. LED lights have many advantages over incandescent light sources such as lower energy consumption, longer life, more robust, and they are smaller in size. Conversely, LED lights can be relatively expensive and require more precise current and heat management than comparable incandescent or halogen lighting options.
High-intensity discharge lamps commonly knows as HID lamps are electrical gas-discharge lights which produce light by means of an electric arc between tungsten electrodes housed inside a translucent or transparent fused quartz or fused alumina arc tube. This tube is filled with both gas and metal salts. The gas facilitates the arc's initial strike. Once the arc is started, it heats and evaporates the metal salts forming a plasma, which greatly increases the intensity of light produced by the arc and reduces its power consumption. High-intensity discharge lamps are a type of arc lamp. High-intensity discharge lamps make more visible light per unit of electric power consumed than fluorescent and incandescent lamps since a greater proportion of their radiation is visible light in contrast to heat.
Now, how does this technological talk relate to you and your motorcycle? Luckily, the lighting leaders in the motorcycle industry have done all the dirty work and they bring to you Plug-And-Play applications! That’s right! Choose your bike, choose your light, and away you go! The lighting explanation above was given to expand your knowledge of motorcycle lighting options and how the types differ.
Mounting: Driving lights, for the most part, are model specific in nature and installation can vary between brands. Lightbars normally mount onto the lower triple tree under the headlight. Clamp-On driving lights mount to fork tubes, fork legs, handlebars, engine guards, and anywhere else the clamp will fit.
Bulbs: As mentioned earlier, the H3 bulb was the most common driving light bulb. Today
halogen bulbs, LED bulbs, and even HID bulbs are being used for driving lights.
Housings: Today driving lights come in round 4.5”, 3”, and 2” sizes, square in many sizes, and even rectangles up to 24 inches.
Wiring: Most driving lights come with a ground wire and a power wire. This creates a little dilemma... do you wire to the high beam or the low beam? Personally, I want my driving lights on at ALL times! If you want that too, we recommend the Kuryakyn Universal Wiring Relay Kit. This complete wire harness comes battery leads, fuse, relay, switch and enough wire to complete the installation.
Kuryakyn: Driving Lightbars and Clamp-On Driving Lights
Kuryakyn: Harley Davidson Bagger Driving Light Upgrades
Show Chrome Accessories: Three main styles of driving lightbars (Watch Installation Video)
Cobra: Lightbars for Metric motorcycles.
Rivco: Universal lighting options for Harley, Metric, and Goldwing motorcycles
PIAA: The highest quality universal and model specific driving light kits available. Rugged enough for the Baja 1000... rugged enough for everyday use!
Custom Dynamics: Unique LED lighting options allowing you to use existing OEM housings to produce bright LED light.
Motorcycle lighting is one of the most important upgrades / additions one can make to their machines. Driving light visibility is more than just a matter of style and looks, it can even be a matter of Life and Death. Protect yourself today by purchasing a set of driving lights in an effort to make you and your motorcycle more visible. With hundreds of options available, lighting is now a perfect way to express your personality and individual style.
Thank you for reading this Motorcycle Driving Light Buying Guide. Until next time, take care and ride safe!
Kyle Bradshaw & the CC Team