The bril­liance of light-emit­ting diodes

Motorcyclist - - Contents - —Zack Courts

FOR DECADES AF­TER THE IN­VEN­TION of the light-emit­ting diode (LED), hu­man­ity couldn’t take ad­van­tage of the tech­nol­ogy be­cause LED only ex­isted in red and green va­ri­eties. A more nat­u­ral, white il­lu­mi­na­tion was unattain­able un­til three Ja­panese sci­en­tists trig­gered blue light from an LED in the early 1990s. The prac­ti­cal use of LEDS in ev­ery­day life im­pacted the world for­ever, and those three sci­en­tists won the No­bel Prize for physics in 2014.

The ap­pli­ca­tion in mo­tor­cy­cling is equally great— LED are tougher than in­can­des­cent bulbs and use less en­ergy—and the even-bet­ter news for all mo­tor­cy­clists is that re­plac­ing your bike’s non-led head­lamp can be easy. Mount­ing kits are avail­able for a va­ri­ety of makes and mod­els, from a hand­ful of dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies. Depend­ing on the bike, af­ter­mar­ket LED head­lights can be had for $150 to $250 and will likely light your way bet­ter than the stock unit.

If you’ve got a stan­dard 7-inch head­light to re­place and money is no ob­ject, feast your wal­let on the J.W. Speaker Model 8790 like the one we in­stalled on our BMW R ninet Scram­bler long-term bike. Ours re­tailed for $800. Mount pric­ing de­pends on the bike. The 8790 sits in a die-cast alu­minum hous­ing and, in ad­di­tion to look­ing like an alien eye, throws a buck­et­load of light down the road. How much? Any brighter, and tech­ni­cally it would be il­le­gal. It’s also adap­tive. On-board sen­sors de­tect your bike’s lean and cast bright LED light through the cor­ner ahead. The fu­ture is here, and it’s bright in­deed.

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