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Better headlights petition

Discussion in 'Technical and Troubleshooting Torque' at netrider.net.au started by hornet, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. The subject of lousy motorcycle headlights came up again on our Illawarra forum, and someone raised a petition which anyone can sign to ask the manufacturers for better headlights. Be cynical about it if you like, but it is an important safety issue, anda a couple of seconds of your life might save it, or someone else's, one day.


  2. I just changed my bulbs to Philips Vision Plus and they are an improvement. The next step up would be HID. Don't know when manufacturers will have HID as standard as it costs around $200 compared to bulbs which are probably a few dollars.
  3. how big a market are we again?

    Now lets ponder a few things - how good are the headlights on the current model sportsbikes compared to a few years ago? Incredible improvement, especially in the R sisters.

    Scooters have had monster leaps and bounds in headlight designs and output in the past few years.

    Small commuters - how much night riding do they really do (particularly through the maquarie pass like the illawara riders :p )

    Bigger tourers - tried an FJR or LT lately?

    Also, please define better lights - you want corner lamps or more light in front of you? You want auto levellers because you don't have preload adjustment? You just want a biggest alternator so you can do your own thing? There are quite a few of us out there who have made our own cornering lamps to fill that hole - you just have to be prepared to put the work in, or accept the limitations of your equipment. I would also point out, in reponse to the comments made on the petition site, that 2008 model cars are still doing fine with 1970's lamp designs. THe majority of people still aren't stumping up for the $2000 steerable lamp assemblies. You have fairly cheap cornering lamps available on some cars though, but cars still have the limitation that you can't see through an open road corner, just like a bike. Levelling a bikes lights may get rid of the immediate hole, but you won't get to see where you want to go - same as with a car - car corner lights are only for sharp intersection type turns.
  4. Wattage and intensity is not the issue. Ths issue is coverage. All bike headlights look great when pointing straight ahead. But when you're canted over in a left hander and the left verge of the road is still in complete darkness, that's when you start to think that 180 horsepower is not such a great thing if you're not going to get round the corner.
  5. see below/above

  6. You are missing the point entirely in the car/bike comparison. Cars don't lean left and right when they corner. And I shouldn't have to stump up to fill in the black holes which the manufacturers are quite happy to ignore in giving me fly-by-wire throttles and other unnecessary fripperies instead of....
  7. I ain't missing the point at all hornet.
    The market for really good steerable lamps on cars is so small, they have to bundle costs into the HID price just to get people to buy it. Smaller market for bikes, and gee, when you look at the number of bikes used seriously at night, you have to be approaching enough to count with one hand. Thus, people do their own thing, just like they've always done with their cars.

    A petition won't change a thing. Take the above notes and apply it to cars for example. There isn't a sufficient business case for any manufacturer to up and change the fixed assemblies for mobile ones - and lots more cars are used at night than bikes. The business case for any bike/scooter manufacturer must be laughable, combined with the fact that most corners seen by night commuters have street lighting.
  8. hornet, just in case you think i'm pushing for poor lighting, there is a big reason my bikes look the way they do - I probably do more night miles here than everyone except aussiedave. Just as a rider and an engineer, I can't see a business case for it. Sure, it may come in the future, but as an amateur astronomer as well, i'm afraid to say we'll probably get much more street lighting before we get stunning headlights on all bikes.



  9. I dunno, these young whippersnappers don't know they're born.

    When I was a lad, we had 25W, 6V glow-worms in our nacelles and were happy with that :grin: .
  10. Looxury!

    We were looky to HAVE headlights when I wus a lud...

    Seriously, how big an issue is it, really? How many of you actually ride at night, outside of the metro areas where there is no street lighting? And in urban areas, you can have Boeing 747 landing lights on your bike and they'd still be nigh on useless, what with the street lighting and other traffic's lights.

    That's where the market is, and that's what the manufacturers cater for. Besides, it gives us an exuse to spend money on our bikes upgrading and modifying them, doesn't it?
  11. Well I think you're oversimplifying the argument (but I do accept the matter of the scale of the market. Remember, however, we're talking about lights on bikes all over the world, not just here.)

    When I last came to Melbourne I rode from Lake's Entrance to Bega in the dark and even with 135watt high beam, it was anything but comfortable, and I had severe eye strain the next day. It's not a matter of how many people ride in the dark, it's a matter of how many people would if the lights were up to it.
  12. Agreed mjt.

    Since I started to ride bikes with reliable 12V alternators and quartz halogen globes, I've never had a problem with lack of light.

    I would be very surprised if there is a bike on the market today (enduros and pseudo vintage Enfields possibly excepted) that has lamps inadequate for speed-limit plus riding by the remotely sane.

    Want to go faster, the onus is on you to do what bonox has done to his bikes.
  13. the hornet has a single lamp assembly doesn't it? It isn't really a tourer, let alone a night fighter. If you are talking bulk illumination, you are talking straight line visibility and that comes back to very simple things that the hornet will never get:

    1. lots of reflector/projector area
    2. lots of lamps to go in the reflector/projector assemblies.

    Higher lumen outputs (eg HID) help a bit and are starting to be sold on some BMW LT's btw, but a bike will always have the problem that it is hard to put lighting area on a small vehicle.

    The GL1800 is the gold standard here though, with 4 large main beam lamps and two fogs. It does however have a drawback in frontal area compared to your hornet.
  14. That's a gross generalisation; even the realtively straightforward twisties to the north of Helensburgh are a challenge at night with any sort of lighting on a bike, let alone the Macquarie Pass, or Clyde Mountain, or Brown Mountain, or the section between Orbost and the border, or, or, or.....

    bonox, I accept the limitations of the Hornet's light, it's a technical issue. And I can see that if youwant to do some serious night riding, then your set-up is marvellous; I'd love to have thad that coming back from Melbourne last time!

    But what I'm asking is why the manufacturers can't surmount what should be the simple challenge of ensuring that the same piece of road which they can adequately cover when the bike is upright is also properly lit when I'm leaning over?

    With my (single) headlight in a left hand corner (not bend or intersection, that's not what I'm talking about), the area just to the front left of the bike is well lit, because the z-beam of the light comes even closer to the front of the bike. But the area of road that the same bulb lights in the upright position is completely in the dark. Further, the right-hand side of the beam is illluminating the tree-tops while straight head is stygian black as well.....
  15. Hornet try the Philips Vision Plus globes. I've got them and they are a noticable improvement over the honda globes. They are brighter and throw further.
  16. i'm aware of the problem mate - that's what the little dichroic lamps behind the main pair on the bmw fix for you. If you look closer, the driving lamps on the bird also don't point forward...

    The problem isn't hard to solve. To do it and put it on every bike at the same price as at present to compete with your neighbours though is where the 'problem' stands. In fact, in a projector assembly, with fixed beam (like the suzuki gsxr models for example), it isn't hard to have a rotating shield to keep the light 'flat'. You still have the problem however that a rider likes to see further through a corner than a cager, so would like even more light to one side. Now we get into the area of larger frontal area, more electrical requirements (easier to sell mechanical kW than electrical kW) etc.

    solid state bank angle sensors and soft start lamp technology is around and even you or I could bodge something up to solve the problem. You still have to build a business case on additional manufacturing (and reliability) cost to the number of users who will buy your vehicle over the competitions because of the lights, and that will always be a very low number.
  17. that isn't really what he wants...

    a 65W special isn't going to be better than a 135W 'ordinary'
  18. I just read that too, 135W should put out a decent amount of light
  19. I guess what i'm trying to say is that I don't agree with the statement on the petition - the problem DOESN'T need research. What it DOES need is enough people to pester the dealers who are willing to stump up options/accessories money for headlamps in the same way the car manufacturers have the 'special' lights packages.

    An online survey isn't going to change that - pressure from the salesmen (the dealers) may change it.
  20. I think that you misunderstood me. Or I didn't make myself clear enough.

    I agree with Hornet that bike lights are inadequate for country night riding. I do this myself on a daily basis, particularly during winter. However, the market being what it is, that most riders would not require anything more than what is currently available there's little incentive for manufacturers to cater for the LCD, as it were and equip every road bike with decent lights.

    I owned a ZZR1100 that I would not ride over 80kays at night. Its standard headlight consisted of one globe of around 50w. I put a 130/90 globe in it. It made little difference. Reason - crap lens and reflector.

    And this is on a bike capable of 280km/h back in its day...

    My next bike, a Honda CBR1000F had two globes but of 40w capacity. They too got replaced with better globes. It helped but not by much. Certainly an improvement over the OEM. They were pricks to get in too, with the bases needing modifying to fit.

    Finally, my current bike, a Blackbird has much letter lights. It consists of one single filament globe for low beam and another for high beam. When my rec.reg shit itself it blew both globes going home from work. Luckily the last one blew 200m from home and no cops spotted me. (night). I replaced them with $6 el cheapos from Kmart that night.

    They are adequate but I wouldn't consider a night ride too far off the highways into where the animules have a tendancy of jumping out at you.

    Best lights I've had were on my SS Commode. But it's unrealistic to expect that sort of performance from a bike headlight unless you go to extremes with fitting HID spots etc..

    So, while the idea of a petition to get better lights is laudable, in reality it's an exercise in futility. Not when most buyers of bikes don't really need anything more than what is currently available to them.