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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What suggestions are there for getting better light out of a 700 headlight?

I'm looking at how to improve my view now the evenings have drawn in as I'm not overly impressed with the lights on my commute.

I've thought about HID lights, but are they legal? I've heard a few people say that they are not!

How much of an improvement do some of the auxillary lights make? The sort that fit onto crass bars. Are they any good?


Any other ideas?

Cheers
 

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HIDs as a retro-fit are illegal in the UK. People who say otherwise are generally those selling them and who maintain that theirs are not like the "cheap inferior ones on the market" etc. There are plenty of people who fit them and some kits are better than other and don't fry other drivers/riders retinas quite as badly as others.

For a legal alternative, try something like an Osram Nightbreaker that will give more light output for the same wattage. They don't last as long as conventional ones though. Other things to consider are getting your night vision checked by an optician and eating carrots - although only one of those is likely to have any effect and it's not the cheap one that counts towards your five-a-day.
 

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Thought my 650 lights wern't all that great for long enough, then one night on a pitch black road I got my headlight dialed in to the optimum with the trimmer and now I find it alot better.

Obviously its never going to be as good as a better bulb or the conversions, but believing previously that I thought it was set good enough it made me wonder if other riders were not getting the max. from the standard headlight.

Another bonus is that because its brought the main beam down a little its taken a few miles an hour off the night speed and obviously made it safer, its unbelievable how much crap gets left in the road these days which you might not see in the dark.
 

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HIDs as a retro-fit are illegal in the UK.
Not sure that is quite right. If the light units have been type approved for HID fitment then it's legal to fit HID lamps even although the vehicle may be supplied with tungsten as standard. Apparently the approved units are marked with a "D".

In saying that I don't know of any bikes this would refer to but I'm sure there are cars who have an option of HID fitment as a factory option.

I've fitted HIDs to the GSA as the OE headlamp is woefull. Correctly adjusted it doesn't dazzle and I probably get flashed about once every six months and that's usually when I'm accelerating. The difference is amazing and what was a crap headlight is now fantastic.
 

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Not sure that is quite right.
By retro-fit I mean fitted to a light unit designed for an incandescent bulb and not specifically tested with a HID source fitted. If a light unit has been type approved for HID, I somehow doubt whether it would be suitable for an incandescent source. That's pure speculation of course, but I'd bet the reflector and lens assemblies on vehicles originally fitted with HID are different from those those originally fitted with incandescent sources.

Car HID requirements are different as cars with HID need self-levelling and headlight washers in addition to the correct lens/reflectors for them to be legal.
 

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without going in to the minefield as to whether HIDs are legal or not, I have them on my 1150gs and it passes it's MOT with no problem and wasn't an issue when the old bill had a word with me a few months back.

as Boris says get them adjusted correctly and they are no worse than any other bright headlight and makes the gs a damn sight safer to ride at night.
 

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The UK's Dept for Transport seems to be quite clear on the subject -

"In the Department's view it is not legal to sell or use after market HID lighting kits, for converting conventional Halogen headlamps to HID Xenon. If a customer wants to convert his vehicle to Xenon HID he must purchase completely new Xenon HID headlamps. The reason for this is that the existing lens and reflector are designed around a Halogen filament bulb, working to very precise tolerances. If one places a HID "burner" (bulb) in the headlamp, the beam pattern will not be correct, there will be glare in some places and not enough light in other places within the beam pattern."

So, in other words no HID unless the vehicle (actually the light unit) has been specifically designed for use with HID.

Full text can be found here.



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Putting HID lights in a reflector designed for incandescents is illegal, whether or not you've done it or have had good or bad experiences doing it. From a pragmatic point of view it may or may not be an issue with regard to other road users. In my opinion it's illegal for a reason, not least due to the major differences between a correctly designed HID reflector and a correctly designed incan. reflector.

If you're having headlight problems then try some LED auxiliary lights. you can get units which will kick out a lot of light (I have one which will comfortably double the light output of the headlight) and wire it to come on with the high beam. If you've got low beam issues then its a bit trickier to make it better whilst staying legal and safe (for other road users).

http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/bulbs/Hid/conversions/conversions.html

http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/bulbs/Hid/disadvantages/disadvantages.html
 

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Here's one to get you riled. If you find the headlight of a 650 not bright enough, you're going too fast...........
Light blue touch paper and retire:D
 

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without going in to the minefield as to whether HIDs are legal or not.
It's not a minefield. It's very clear. Retro-fit HIDs, under the conditions I described above, are illegal to use on UK roads.
Aftermarket HID (Xenon) headlamps

I have them on my 1150gs and it passes it's MOT with no problem and wasn't an issue when the old bill had a word with me a few months back.
It may well pass an MOT test at the moment, but when the new regs come in regarding HIDs, that may no longer be the case. I expect the old bill had got other things to worry about rather than whether your HIDs were factory fitted or retro-fitted at the time they spotted you. If you were arrogant and being an arse at the time, and they were Traffic, you can bet they'd have noticed but probably won't have done anything more than offer 'words of advice'.

as Boris says get them adjusted correctly and they are no worse than any other bright headlight and makes the gs a damn sight safer to ride at night.
Get them adjusted and you can minimise the dazzling light overspill, but the cutoff is not as sharp as an incandescent. It's physics. The light isn't from a single filiament source. It's emitted throughout the body of a small container of gas and the container is bigger than a conventional filiament. Because the light is emitted over a larger volume, the light is being produced outside areas it would be with an incandescent source. This means the cut-off isn't correctly defined without the correct reflector/lens combo and overall light overspill is worse even than with a high output conventional bulb. It's not the output that's the problem, it's the poor cutoff and excess overspill with lenses and reflectors that are not designed for a HID source.

If you can't stop in the distance you can see to be clear ahead at night, slow down. Don't fit something that dazzles other road users and then justify it by saying it's not really that bad 'cos you only get flashed a couple of times a year ;)
 

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On my old 600 TA I got some bulbs from Moto-Seve which claimed to be 70% brighter, not sure it made that much difference but it did help a bit. I also bought some Ring Aux lights from Halfords and wired them into the side light wiring, this made a huge difference at night and made me more visible during the day.
 

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So you're riding along in the dead of night and the headlight bulb pops --------- surely the first way to go is aux. lighting as this can be arranged to give adequate lighting when the afore mentioned happens.

Hate to admit it but replacing the headlight bulb at least on the 650 is a pig even in a workshop, try it on a dark road at night almost impossible, and how long will the new bulb last when you've had your fingers on it.
 

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I fitted a extra bright headlamp bulb from Halfords in my 650 Alp and it made a very marked and welcome improvement on the standard bulb. As I'd read on here people saying these don't last as long I bought a spare which lives under the seat. The bulb is still working fine about 18 months and many thousands of miles later and I've never touched the spare.

Replacing the headlamp bulb on the 650 is not difficult. I did it the long way round first time, removing gubbins from underneath (can't remember details now, I think it's in the Haynes manual), which was not difficult but time consuming and not something i'd want to do by the roasdside in the dark. However, now I've seen how it fits together I'd have no trouble doing it again by hand from above (I think I tried it when I'd done the first change) without removing anything else (and I've got big, very undainty, hands!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the replies, and the inevitable legality discussion!!

I'm going to avoid HIDs in this case. My bike is my daily commuter to work as well as for fun at other times. The last thing I wont to happen is to get pulled by the police for having an illegal headlight on. It may be unlikely, I rarely see a policeman on my normal commute, but I don't want to take the risk of a fine and points!

Also I commute unlit roads and if I'm blinding a vehicle coming the other way then they may put their lights on full and blind me in return!!

I've ordered myself a pair of Osram Nightbreakers on order. Once they arrive I'll get them fitted and then I'll also check the headlight alignment to see if that's correct.

Cheers again.

Karl
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wow!
The Nightbreaker makes a huge difference. I barely needed to put the lights on full on my way home from work last night. Most of my commute is on unlit country roads so I feel a lot happier now.

Thanks for the tip,

Karl
 

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I stuck a couple in my car and was very impressed by the difference. Much whiter light too. About to do the same with the bike - are they H4?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
They're H11's on the 2010 XL700 Transalp.

I bought mine of Ebay, from the car section - you get a better price buying a pair in most cases as opposed to the bike dealers selling you a single bulb!
 
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