Those that have read my articles may think I'm a little OCD when it comes to motorcycle lighting and safety. However, when we have documents like The Hurt Report on motorcycle safety showing that one of the most common accidents between motorcycles and other vehicles is drivers turning in front of them violating the rider's right of way, I think a little paranoia may be justified. Hence why I tend to favour my unfashionably bright neon riding jacket, and why I've upgraded my headlight from stock to HID. The final piece of the visibility puzzle, as well as making a substantial increase in night time light output, was to install some auxiliary lights.
I won't mince words here. My personal opinion is that the Triumph Tiger 1050's stock lighting is terrible. We've had five different motorcycles in our garage over the last ten years, and I've ridden numerous others short term. My Tiger is the worst of the bunch when it comes to its stock lighting set up. On a Tiger rider's forum the lights have been sarcastically described as "headlights that are as bright as an Ikea tea light". Despite my frustration with the Tiger's lights and its stock windscreen, the Tiger is also the motorcycle I have loved more than any other I've ridden. It is extremely comfortable, handles very well, is easy to ride at both high and low speeds, and has fantastic power. I prefer the power, handling and looks of this bike to many much more expensive motorcycles. Therefore it was time to start farkling and get the lights sorted out to make my favourite ride perfect for night time use.
I began reading about all the various options out there for improving stock lighting. Upgrading the headlight from stock halogen to a better aftermarket bulb was an option I tried on my old motorcycle. This time I would try a HID kit, mostly because it allowed me to reduce my power draw 20 watts from the original halogen while at the same time giving substantially more and better light. I would use those precious saved 20 amps later when the auxiliary lights were installed. Next I needed to look at which auxiliary lights to buy. PIAA, and Denali are some of the big names out there. They are no doubt excellent lights, but they are very expensive too. Reading forums, and searching YouTube for possible answers I came upon Mark Robbins' video. I was very impressed with what I saw, and asked Mark if he would send us an article which is the one you can now read on this site. In the end the lights I bought were the same lights Mark wrote about which were the Cree lights from Hong Kong. The product quality was reported as very high, yet they cost roughly half as much as all the big name competing products. I spent some of my savings on my HID kit , and still had some money left over for beer. (Always important, after a good day of riding.)
These lights are manufactured in Hong Kong by a man named Komy Kwan. You will often hear people including myself affectionately call his lights "Komy Lights" even though he doesn't label them this way. I've contacted Komy several times before purchasing, and afterwards to get information before writing this article. He has always impressed me as an exceptionally bright and decent person who really stands behind his product.
There are three different Motorcycle LED Auxiliary Light Pairs available for purchase. They are; a 780 Lumen pair, a 1,600 Lumen pair, and a 3,000 Lumen pair. Which light is right for your bike is really a personal issue. The 780 Lumen lights are ideally paired with your low beam and make excellent daytime running lights. The 1600 Lumen set will be too bright to use without the dimmer installed when facing traffic, but will give off lots light when running alone at night on an unlit road. The 3,000 Lumen set absolutely needs the dimmer for use in traffic, at full bright they are damn near blinding, however when you are alone riding a highway at night it is like having stadium lighting mounted to your motorcycle frame.
Being a typical guy, bigger isn't just better... it's best! Therefore I ordered the 3,000 Lumen LED set with a dimmer. I've included a wiring diagram, but for those that will simply bring the lights to the dealer to get installed here is the essence of it. When the lights are on low with the low beam, the power gets routed through the dimmer. The dimmer gets set with a wireless remote control. Once you've set the appropriate brightness level of the LED's when the low beam is selected, you can put the remote away. Leave it at home, in a tank bag, or in your pocket... it doesn't matter unless you wish to adjust the LED's light output with the low beam at a later time. When the high beam is selected, the dimmer circuit is bypassed and the LED's go to full power. DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE LIGHT the first time you turn these things on or you will be seeing spots for quite a while.
Now if you have the electrical capacity to handle it, and the extra money to spend... The best possible solution likely would be a pair of 780 Lumens LED's paired just to the low beams, and a pair of 3000 Lumen LED's just to the high beams. Some owners have gone this route and are very pleased. However with just the 3000 Lumen pair and a dimmer, I get the best possible night lighting with the ability to be able to also run these lights in traffic dimmed to a safe level for oncoming drivers.
I mounted these lights using a light bracket ordered through a local dealership. The bracket was made by SW-MOTECH. These lights should be able to be mounted just about anywhere; forks, fairing bolts, light bars, handle bars, crash bars, etc. It is up to the owner to best determine how to fit these to their own specific motorcycle.
I had these lights as well as the Yana Shiki HID conversion kit installed at my local authorized Triumph dealer as my motorcycle is on warranty and I did not want to put that at risk by making these changes to the bike's electrics myself. For those that will be paying someone else to install the lights, the savings in cost between these and some of the other big brands will likely pay your installation costs.
So the big question do they work well and would I recommend them? YES and YES! These lights are simply incredible. They light up the road better than the high beams on either of our family cars. They look really cool, and they are exceptionally efficient. My neighbour, who is a pretty hardcore Harley rider, exclaimed "holy #%&k! " when I demonstrated them to him the first time. The electrics specialist at my local Triumph dealer who installed the lights was extremely impressed with both the quality and brightness of the Cree 3000 LED's. They typically shock people with their performance as they are so small in size yet put out an enormous amount of light. These lights will get you noticed on full strength so be smart and only run them in a dimmed mode in traffic unless you want to attract the attention of law enforcement. However as a means to flash an inattentive driver, nothing I've seen personally is as bright or effective for a motorcycle.
When riding alone on a dark road on a moonless night, it feels like you are riding through a tunnel of light. Before I felt unsafe riding in pitch dark conditions unless I kept the speed right down to around 50 km/h. Now I can maintain the speed limit on most any Canadian highway with confidence. Riding at night is inherently more dangerous, because of wildlife and other hazards that are difficult to see. With these lights that danger has been reduced substantially, and for a safety minded rider that is reason enough to make this upgrade.
Visit http://www.farklemyride.com/ to see the before and after photos and a video of the LED upgrade showing you exactly how bright these lights are as well as many other reviews of motorcycle gear and accessories for your ride. All written by riders for riders.