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Have you ever wondered what it is that makes your headlight glow?

The short answer is either a good-old-fashioned quartz-halogen or a futuristic LED light.

But what are the differences between the two?

Tune in to discover:

  • The differences between quartz halogen and LED headlights
  • Pros and cons of each type
  • What a ‘filament’ is
  • Something you MUST know before you fit a quartz halogen lightbulb to your bike


Hello, and welcome to another episode of 30-minute motorcycling – a podcast for those riders who are at the beginning of their own Dual Wheel Journey, where you’ll discover something new about how your motorcycle, moped, or scooter works – in less than 30 minutes.


And just like a light switch in your home, the function of your bike’s headlight is simple – you turn it on, and voila – there’s light.


But the types of lights that make the light happen are anything but simple. 


On one end, you’ve got the tried and true quartz halogen lights, and on the other, the more cutting-edge and futuristic LED lights. 


But what are the differences between the two – and what are the pros and cons of both types?


That’s what this episode is all about.


First, however, we need to talk about “filaments,” – as this is something that you’ll come across any time you’re dealing with lightbulbs of any type.


For example, you might look for a new lightbulb, and you discover that it has a “twin filament.”


But what is a “filament?”


To put it simply, a filament is a thin wire that glows when a heavy electrical current flows it. It’s this thin wire that makes the lightbulb glow.


So if you find a twin filament lightbulb, it means that it has two of these glowing wires inside it.


Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about quartz halogen lightbulbs.


This type of lightbulb has been around since the 1970s and contains tungsten and iodine – the latter of which belongs to the halogen chemical group – hence why this lightbulb is called a “quartz halogen lightbulb.”


The most significant advantage of a quartz halogen lightbulb is its long longevity – thanks to the fact that the halogens are sealed within a glass bulb, the filament won’t burst – something which was common with the previous tungsten bulbs.


A quartz halogen bulb also has a stronger glow – of course, that’s assuming that you haven’t put your greasy, oily fingers all over it.


What am I talking about? Well, if you fit a quartz halogen lightbulb to your bike, you must avoid touching the glass with your hands.


If your finger comes into contact with the glass, a tiny amount of oil and acid will attach itself to the bulb, which then turns to steam once the bulb gets warm.


And this steam isn’t good for the bulb’s lifespan – in fact, it will be shortened because of it.


I’ll say it again because it bears repeating – if you fit a quartz halogen bulb to your motorcycle, moped, or scooter – avoid touching the glass with your bare fingers.


If you happen to touch the glass anyway, remember to wipe it off carefully with a rag soaking in methylated alcohol before you fit it.


So that’s what quartz halogen lights are – so, what about LED lights?


About 5-10 years ago, LEDs were mostly used to turn motorcycles into mobile light shows. Today, however, they’re becoming more and more common for headlights.


As an example, the Super Socco TSX uses an LED headlight. 


LEDs or “Light Emitting Diodes” consist of a small chain of diodes with bulbs on them. Similar to a filament on a quartz halogen bulb, once an electric current passes through these diodes, they’ll light up.


And in case you’re wondering what a diode is, it’s an electrical component that forces electrical current to travel in a specific direction – think of them as a directional sign for the electrical flow.


The biggest advantage of LED lights is that they use 50% less energy and have a long lifespan – some can last as long as 20,000 hours.


To put this into perspective, that’s 20 times the longevity of a standard quartz halogen lightbulb.


LEDs also light up faster than both tungsten and quartz halogen lightbulbs – and if you’re concerned about design, LED lights are often easier to change the look and function of.


So what’s the downside? Well, LEDs can be expensive – at least when compared to halogen bulbs.


There’s a silver lining, however, and that’s that LED lights aren’t as expensive as they used to be – and with the added benefits above, it’s worth the extra money.


And those were the differences and the pros and cons of both quartz halogen and LED headlights.

I hope you enjoyed listening and above all that you discovered something new.


Until next time, keep your helmet on, and your eyes on the road. Bye!