Your motorcycle’s headlights are an essential part of your bike, as they provide you the illumination necessary to safely travel during the night. But headlights aren’t all about function, they also play a huge part in how your motorcycle looks. If you’re on the lookout for brand new headlights to replace your current, broken ones, or are just looking for an upgrade in terms of looks and performance, there are quite a few things that need to be taken into account to ensure you’re making the best buying decision. And the first step is to understand the different types of motorcycle headlights available.
Types of Motorcycle Lighting
Reflector headlights are the conventional, most simple form of headlights that have been used since the invention of motorcycles. These headlights use a tungsten filament bulb that’s mounted in the center. The bulb is surrounded by a reflective material, and the idea is to reflect the illumination produced towards the road in front of you. There are more modern versions of these headlights that are better at focusing the light into a centralised beam to better illuminate the road. Reflector headlights are the most cost-effective option and will give your bike a retro feel. The reflective material found on these lights is shiny and noticeable.
Projector headlights are a more recent invention and include some high-tech. You can think of them as an improvement of traditional reflector headlights. The housing is smaller and more compact, since there’s no need for a huge reflective housing. Instead, projector headlights feature a magnifying lens in the middle of the headlight which focuses and projects light down the road. Obviously, due to all of this, you can expect to pay more for a projector headlight. These headlights are available in a wide array of designs and sizes, allowing you to create a more customised look for your bike.
The newest technology in motorbike lights are LEDs. LED headlights are considered the most energy-efficient option. They can be very small, meaning they’re the most compact of all headlight styles. LEDs are also available in the widest range of brightness and light temperature, and they last longer than other types of headlights while consuming less power. The downside to LED lights is that they’re the most expensive. However, LED motorbike lights have an incredibly long life span.
Halogen bulbs are the most common style used in motorcycle lights. They feature a filament and come in combined or separate low and high beam lights. HID bulbs are another option, and these are brighter and produce a whiter light. The downside to HID bulbs is that they’re fragile and can go bad easily. Sometimes just a touch is enough to break them. And the most advanced option are LEDs. LEDs are modern bulbs and as aforementioned, are the most expensive. However, their durability is unmatched and they have the longest working life span.
The headlights are going to be exposed to the elements, so they need to have a solid construction that’s fully-sealed so water doesn’t get inside and cause it to malfunction. You should also look for a solidly built headlight to prevent road bounce and vibration from knocking the wiring, bulb or housing loose. Some headlights feature a sealed construction, meaning the bulb and housing are an all-in-one construction. Sealed construction means that if the bulb malfunctions, you’ll have to replace the entire housing, not only the bulb.
Before you pick a headlight, you need to make sure it will be compatible with your bike. You can do so by checking with the headlight’s manufacturer or vendor. Alternatively, you can look at your current setup and confirm that it’s the same setup as the one you’re intending to buy. The easiest solution is to buy a plug-and-play headlight. If you’re handy with tools and knowledgeable with bikes, you can go beyond plug-and-play models and change the setup yourself. This could require hardware like a conversion wiring harness.
Consider the brand of the headlight you want to purchase. Reputable brands generally provide more reliable products that are of high quality and have a proven history of reliable performance. While you may end up paying substantially more for a headlight from an established brand, you get peace of mind that you’re making an investment that will last.
You have to consider a budget when buying a headlight. The good thing is, there’s something to fit everyone’s budget. If you have money to spend, you can get a headlight with the latest innovative technology that makes you stand out from the competition. However, try not to forget that the main purpose of the headlight is to keep your path illuminated, so always choose functionality over fanciness.