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The importance of motorcycle bulbs

Updated on June 28, 2012

As with any other parts, the life span of your motorbike headlights is finite. Consequently as time passes they will wear out. What should you do? Let's investigate:

This has a massive effect on your safety as a motorcyclist, as when a bulb 'blows' it will leave you in darkness.Even In the daytime it is advisable to have your lights on, but can you imagine trying to ride a bike in the evening or at night without a headlight?It's illegal for one, and downright dangerous for two. In this situation the sensible solution is to change the bulb as soon as possible, but it's what happens before a bulb finally blowing that we're going to look at here.

Nearly all modern motorcycle headlights bulbs are filled with halogen gas and a tungsten element that is superheated to become white-hot and therefore give out light. This is OK, but it's inefficiant and gives off a lot of heat. Over time the tungsten element will literally burn away and leave a deposit on the bulb's glass, weakening its brightness.

In this situation you're less visible to other motorists and you have decreased visibility at night yourself. The result of this? You're less safe, thanks to this one small component.

It also works your bike's battery harder, as older bulbs are energy-hungry need more and more power to run. This doesn't affect your safety, but it will contribute to a worse fuel consumption and more wear and tear on your battery.

HID motorcycle headlights

So standard OEM motorcycle headlights are a small component with a big role to play in our safety. If you think that you have ageing bulbs it is time to start looking for alternate options.

The ideal alternative is HID motorcycle headlights.

These lights are the ultra-bright xenon lights, are 3 times brighter than standard bulbs. Not only do they give you more light and extra visibility, but they also use less power and won't dim with age, so you are instantly eliminating dulling, due to deposit build up from old halogen bulbs.

They do cost more to buy than regular OEM or even aftermarket bulbs, but you can still usually pick one up from somewhere around 30 pounds. If you possess an older bike just double check their compatibility before you buy as they may not be available in a size that fits.

The LED alternative

You could also decide on LED motorcycle headlights. Based on the humble LED, these types of lights don't burn anything and simply emit light by passing electricity through a metal semiconductor. They give off light immediately, meaning there is none of the warm-up time associated with HIDs, and they come small enough to be used in indicator assembelys too. What's more is the technology is cheap.

For those that do serious mileage, whether it be touring, commuting or anything else, these might be the solution as they're extremely sturdily constructed and have a bare minimum of individual parts, making them resistant to vibration.

Just like HIDs they are energy-efficient and are typically brighter than halogen bulbs, making them a safe optio. That being said, there is always a catch, and in this instance it's that they just lack the sheer power and brightness of HID bulbs.

Typically with these bulbs, buying online is the way to go. Motorcycle dealers and garages aren't like to sell many, so prices can be high. Buying from an online specialist should mean they only set you back around 20 pounds.

So we know that motorcycle bulbs are crucial to our safety, and that old ones tend to wear out over time. With that in mind, don't be dim. Replace your motorcycle headlight bulbs as soon as possible, and keep spares should the worst happen.


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