LED lighting has been a very popular add-on / upgrade for motorcycles for years now. They have often been used in “strings” to add accent lighting which may or may not be “your thing” (it is not mine). They also have been implemented as replacements and/or upgrades for turn signals, brake lights, running lights and in some cases even headlights.
I recently installed LED lights on my Ninja 1000 in my turn signal and running lights replacing the factory incandescent bulbs. I did this in the hopes of increasing visibility of my turn signals and my bike overall. So how did they do?
I’m surprised LED lighting usage hasn’t caught on sooner by motorcycle manufacturers but some did jump in early on. I believe that Suzuki was the first major manufacturer to use LED lighting for the tail/brakelight assembly on the 2003 SV650 and 1000 (please correct me in the comments if I’m wrong). The use of LED’s make terrific sense on motorcycles and here is why.
LED’s use less power to generate an equivalent quantity of light. Motorcycle charging systems are typically running close to their maximum output. There is some headroom for sure but for sportbikes, light weight means trying to keep everything as low mass as possible including the charging system.
Even on touring and adventure bikes, the charging systems can get taxed powering extra lighting, heated gear, and other electronic accessories. LED’s lower wattage consumption can help one eek out a bit more juice from their charging system when used to replace regular incandescent bulbs.
Vibration and shock is more prevalent on motorcycles compared to vehicles such as cars. Let’s face it, a 3,200lb car makes for a lot more mass that will absorb shock and vibrations from running down the road as well as the engine. LED’s are solid state devices meaning there is no thin, coiled wire to break when bounced around.
There is a downside to LED lights with that being their higher cost. This can range from two to three times the cost of an equivalent regular bulb to more than ten times the cost. So do the advantages outweigh the cost? I’ll answer that shortly, but first lets look at the bulbs in question.
Since I purchased my Kawasaki Ninja 1000 I’ve been making upgrades and adding accessories as most motorcycle owners do (we can’t help it, it is what we do). One thing I noticed early on was that the tail/brake lights were not very bright and noticeable. I addressed this with a set of Skene Designs lights, however, after installing these I noticed how the turn signals seemed like they could be brighter.
After doing some research I found the InteriaLED Motorcycle Can-bus Amber 10W LED Turn Signal bulb. That’s quite a mouthful! These bulbs seemed to tick all the right boxes except they were expensive at $50.00 for a pair with free shipping. But they did have good reviews online* and they were claimed to be bright.
The other factor is that these bulbs have their own internal circuitry to provide the flasher system the correct resistance. This meant no splicing of wires installing an inline resistor to make certain the turn signals flashed at the correct rate. Incidentally, these bulbs will work properly with newer CAN Bus motorcycles that will normally not work with LED signal bulbs due to the different resistance.
Once I received the bulbs I proceeded to install them in the rear signals of the Ninja 1K. The rear signal bulbs are easy to access so in case these turned out to be less than stellar I could easily swap them back out. Turns out there was no need. The Inertia LED’s certainly met their claims.
They are bright and have a bit more color saturation than the original bulbs making them more noticeable. The difference isn’t huge but it is significant. It is tough to show in photos due to their flashing but I may be back with some photos here once I have a good way to capture this.
I feel the results are good enough that I have just ordered a pair for the front signals as well. Yes, that is $100.00 in turn signal bulbs but I think they are worth it, but certainly not a bargain. They are brighter and work properly without cutting wires. Another factor though is that they will likely outlive the bike itself as LED’s generally last many times longer than regular bulbs.
*I would have provided a more complete review here but I didn’t realize until after I received these bulbs that webBikeWorld.com had already reviewed them. I’m not certain how I missed it initially seeing as I contribute reviews there but nonetheless. 🙂
You can check out all the details on these bulbs by heading over to webBikeWorld.com