The function of your bike’s headlight is simple – you turn it on, and voila – there’s light.
But the types of headlight bulbs is anything but simple – you’ve got both the tried-and-true quartz halogen bulbs to more cutting-edge LEDs types.
In this blog post, you’ll discover:
- Characteristics of halogen vs. LED headlights – the most common motorcycle headlight bulb types
- The pros and cons of each type
But first, there’s a question that needs to be answered:
What is a filament?
“This bulb has a twin filament”
In layman’s terms, a filament is a thin wire that glows when a heavy current flows through it – this is what makes the lightbulb glow.
Therefore, if a bulb has a “twin filament”, it has two of these glowing wires inside of it.
Halogen vs. LED Headlights
Quartz halogen lightbulb
Since iodine belongs to the halogen group, that’s why this type of bulb is called the “halogen lightbulb.”
If halogens are sealed within a glass bulb, they prevent the filament from bursting – a common problem with the previous tungsten bulb.
A quartz halogen bulb also has a stronger glow – assuming that you don’t put your greasy fingers all over it.
And I do mean that literally – if you fit a quartz halogen lightbulb, remember to avoid touching the glass with your bare fingers.
If you do this, a tiny amount of oil and acids from your finger will attach itself to the bulb, which then turns to steam once the bulb gets warm.
As a result, its lifespan will be shortened.
To get the point across, I’ll repeat it – if you fit a halogen bulb to your bike, make sure you avoid touching the glass with your bare fingers.
If you should touch the glass anyway, wipe it off carefully with a rag soaking in methylated alcohol before you fit it.
For example, the Super Socco TSX uses an LED headlight.
Light Emitting Diodes (or “LEDs”) consists of a small chain of small diodes with a small bulb on them. When a current passes through them, this bulb lights up.
What’s a diode?
Diodes (pictured to the right) are electrical components that force the electrical current to travel in one direction.
Think of them as a directional sign for electricity.
To put this into context, that’s 20 times the longevity of a quartz halogen lightbulb.
LED lights also light up faster than both tungsten and halogen lights. And if you’re concerned about design, LED lights are easier to change the look and function of.
The only real downside is that LEDs can be expensive – at least when compared to quartz halogen bulbs.
The silver lining however is that LEDs aren’t as expensive as they used to be – and with the added benefits above, it’s worth the extra money.