Motorcycle Driving Lights Buying Guide


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:

Motorcycle Driving Lights

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?

Rivco 2inch 55w Driving light Kuryakyn Phase Seven - 4-1/2 Inch LED Passing Lamps PIAA Powersports 600 Series H.I.D. Driving Light Kit

Driving Light Breakdown  

Halogen Driving Lights:

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.

Watch our Driving Light Video Breakdown

LED Driving Lights:

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.

H.I.D Driving Lights:

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.

Driving Light Basics

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.

    1. Halogen: These lights can be purchased at Walmart, 7-Eleven, or even the local drug store! They are cheap and effective. Their biggest downside is the fact that they burn out more often and are not so vibration resistant.
    2. LED: These are more expensive than the halogen offering but the lifespan is incredible. They rarely fail, they are waterproof, and they are super bright. The biggest downside is “IF” they fail you can not just pick up a replacement at the corner store.
    3. HID: These are the brightest and most expensive driving lights you can currently purchase.  The cost is similar between most brands. Typically driving lights are single circuit lights meaning they are either ON or OFF and do not provide a High / Low functionality. Wiring consists of a ground wire and a power wire.

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.

Driving Light Breakdown by Brand

Kuryakyn: Driving Lightbars and Clamp-On Driving Lights

      1. Universal Wiring Relay Kits
        1. KY-2328 Universal Wire Relay Kit
        2. KY-2201 Handlebar Switch Wiring Kit
      2. KY-4001 Driving Lightbar with LED Turns (Watch the Installation Video)
      3. KY-5001 Constellation Driving Lightbar (Watch the Installation Video)
      4. KY-5009 Universal Constellation Clamp On Driving Lights (Watch Installation Video)
      5. KY-5013 Clamp-On 3” Side Mount Driving Lights
      6. KY-5012 Clamp-On 3” Front Mount Driving Lights
      7. Don’t forget your Model Specific Mounting Brackets for the universal lightbars!

Kuryakyn: Harley Davidson Bagger Driving Light Upgrades

      1. KY-2247 Phase 7 LED Passing Lamps 4 ½”  (Watch Installation Video)
        1. KY-2249 Matching Phase 7 Headlight 7”
      2. KY-7748 Spotlight Halo Trim Rings
        1. KY-7750 Matching 7” Headlight Halo Trim Ring    

Show Chrome Accessories: Three main styles of driving lightbars (Watch Installation Video)

      1. Chrome Contour Driving Light Bar (Standard and Mini)
      2. Elliptical Driving Light Bar (Standard and Mini - Watch Video Installation)
      3. LED Driving Lights

Cobra: Lightbars for Metric motorcycles.

      1. Steel Lightbar

Rivco: Universal lighting options for Harley, Metric, and Goldwing motorcycles

      1. 2” Halogen Driving Light with 1.25” Clamps
      2. 2” Halogen Driving Light with 1” Clamps
      3. 4.5” 35 Watt Driving Lights (clamps sold separately)
      4. 4” 55/60 Watt Driving Lights (High / Low Functionality) clamps sold separately.

           
PIAA: The highest quality universal and model specific driving light kits available. Rugged enough for the Baja 1000... rugged enough for everyday use!

      1. PIAA 005 Xtreme White Driving Lights (H3 Bulb 35W = Looks like 70W)
        1. Multi-Fit PIAA 005 Lamp Kit
        2. Upgrade your current lightbar with these PIAA 005 Lamps!
      2. PIAA 1100X Platinum Light Kits (Dichroic Bulb 55W = Looks like 85W)
        1. 1100X Platinum Multi-Fit (see Best Fit for fitment details)
        2. 1100X Platinum for Harley Davidson Vrod & some Yamaha
        3. 1100X Platinum Multi-Fit (Yamaha, BMW, Triumph)
        4. Upgrade your existing lightbar  with these 1100X Platinum Lights
      3. PIAA 530 LED Driving Lights with 2 Bulbs 3 Watts = 6000K (mounting clamps sold separately)
      4. PIAA 600 H.I.D. Driving Light Kit with a D2S 12 Volt 35 Watt Bulb (mounting clamps sold separately)
      5. PIAA 1100 LED Light Kit with 4 LED’s per Light producing 6300K (mounting clamps sold separately)
      6. PIAA 510 Long Range 4” Driving Lights (H3 Bulb 55W = Looks like 60W)

Custom Dynamics: Unique LED lighting options allowing you to use existing OEM housings to produce bright LED light.

      1. 4 ½” LED Sun Spots Driving / Passing Lamps(sold each) with 162 Incredible Bright White Genesis II LED’s to upgrade stock 4 ½” housings.
      2. Dynamic Ringz LED Turn Signal Inserts feature a ring of 24 White LED’s with function as driving lights until the turn signals are activated and then they turn off and 24 inner amber lights flash accordingly.
        1. Amber 1157 Flat Style Dynamic Ringz
        2. Amber 1157 Bullet Style Dynamic Ringz

Conclusion:

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

By Kyle Bradshaw