What have we been flogging around the countryside for you lately? Well, you could say it’s in your eyes and on your knees…
Back up your headlights
Night riding comes with its own hazards. That’s especially true when it comes to riding country roads; not that you want to be riding after sunset anyway for fear of things jumping out in front of you.
Headlights also have limitations, especially the old incandescent globe types that are fast becoming a thing of the past. If you wanted to improve lighting you either have to go up to a higher wattage globe or add a pair of driving lights, also with globes! Doing this can improve things a fair bit but upping the wattage or adding extra lights can bring problems as well.
The advent of the H4 halogen light had a huge impact and improved night riding dramatically. They are still used today but they also come with an inherent problem. Over time even H4 globes lose their ability to produce good light and as time passes they drop in output. Not that anyone will tell you to replace your headlight globe but it can be an idea to do so.
Another problem, and one that can’t be seen, is the amount of current that’s required to drive these lights. The wattage some of these globes need is quite staggering. An H4 globe takes a lot of power and sources tell us that that the majority of power to run lights, it could be up to 90 per cent, is lost in the wiring harness. Power is energy and energy is heat which over time can also damage a wiring harness.
Motorcycle manufacturers have been using this same system for years and years and until they come up with something better I suppose we’re stuck with it. Or are we? Sure we can’t do much about the standard headlight but we can add to it. LED technology is here and fast becoming the norm, so if you could increase your lighting by four to six times and use less power while retaining your standard headlight, would you take the option?
Clearwater Lights in the USA delivers just that. How do I know? Because I now have a pair on my Buell Ulysses.
Clearwater lights are extremely powerful and it’s amazing how much light can come out of such a small and compact unit. There’s virtually no heat at the lenses and there’s less stress on the wiring. The kit comes complete with mounting bits, dimmer, wiring harness, joiners and wiring diagram, in fact everything you need to do it yourself and the instructions are not hard to follow. Or if you want, you can just take them to your auto electrician.
The lights are machined from billet alloy. Brackets are machined from high-grade 6061 aluminium and depending on models and kits may be anodized or powder coated. Using new generation technology, Clearwater has used advanced, microprocessor-controlled circuits to keep the output at a constant level even though the voltage levels on your bike will change while you ride.
The rotary adjustable lighting control or dimmer allows the rider to use these lights while in traffic without imposing their glare on oncoming traffic; then once on the open road you can adjust them to open up your lights as you open up the engine for the road ahead.
The units on the Buell are located on the lower fork leg, which gives a good spread of light across the front of the bike and the road ahead but I am thinking that I may bring them up higher. The ones we fitted are hooked into the high beam and give an amazingly clean, strong white light.
Compared with the normal high beam this is chalk and cheese. The kit price is $US475.00, which also includes shipping to Australia and New Zealand. By the way, Clearwater also has a larger kit for those who have Adventure bikes. So see it for yourself, just visit www.clearwaterlights.com.