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More light with Less power

Motorcycle headlights usually leave a lot to be desired when it comes to actually seeing where you are going in the dark. This is especially true of the DR650. With my eyes no longer working like they did when I was 20 (or even when I was 40) getting more light in front of the bike is more important than ever.

One of the first things I did was to replace the stock 60/55 H4 bulb with a brighter 100/80 bulb. That helped a little, but riding on an unfamiliar road in the dark was still no fun. In addition, the DR doesn't have much extra electrical capacity so running a higher wattage bulb means not running any heated riding gear. I think I've found very good solution in a combination of products - the Electrosport HID light kit and the VisionX Solstice LED lights.

There is a problem with many HID kits. HID bulbs have an arc instead of a filament. This means the placement and shape of the light source can have a detrimental effect on the light pattern made by the headlight lens and reflector. The wrong combination will blind oncoming traffic. Many HID kits only have one fixed beam. Our Electrosport kit has a solenoid that moves the bulb capsule from the low beam position to the high beam position.

Look below to see some comparison photos showing the relative light output. All these photos were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel XTi set at ISO 1600, 1/25 second at F8.0 The images have not been manipulated other than to resize them.

Low beam with 80 watt H4 halogen bulb. Yes, believe it or not this is brighter than the stock 55w bulb. The pattern is actually pretty good spreading even light across the road with a nice cut-off to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.

Low beam with the 35 watt HID. Lots more light. The pattern is fair. The brightest part is still cut off well enough to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.

High beam with 100 watt H4 halogen bulb. This concentrates the bright part of the beam directly in front of the bike. The problem is there is very little fill in down low and to the sides. You can see what's in front of you but you can't see the deer standing at the side of the road!

High beam with the 35 watt HID. Now we're talking! A wider spread, pretty even pattern. More light to the sides and down low.

This is the halogen light with both high and low beams shining. If you hold your high/low switch in the middle you can get lit up. I do this occasionally when I really need to see and it does work pretty well. You can't do this for very long. With this bulb we're drawing 180 watts which will drain the battery pretty fast not to mention probably melting the bulb and plug and maybe the wiring.

Here we have the 35 watt HID on high beam with the addition of two 10 watt Solstice LED (euro pattern) lights. The LEDs do a great job of filling light in around the main beam from the HID. This amazing amount of light only requires 55 watts which is the same amount of power as the original stock low beam.

From left to right: Vision X 10 Watt Solstice Solo LED Light; HID unit; Lights mounted on lower triple clamp of DR650; Detail of mounted light. Click on any image to see a larger version!

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