Let there be (more) light

Let there be (more) light

It could be the start to a brighter and safer bike riding experience.

US headlight company J.W. Speaker recently introduced a smart motorcycle headlight as an aftermarket fitment for round-shaped headlights.

Called the Model 8790 Adaptive Low Beam LED Headlight (yes, we know it's a mouthful), the 7-inch diameter headlight illuminates the sides of roads as you bank your motorcycle into dark corners.

Traditional motorcycle headlights focus directly in front of the motorcycle.

Riders, who frequently ride into the night on unlit roads in Malaysia or Thailand, will understand that once you take a corner on your motorbike, the sides of the roads quickly fade away into darkness.

Unless you own a pricey BMW tourer, which comes equipped with a smart headlight system, you're forced into riding in the dark.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

This new headlight, sold online for roughly US$800 (S$1,140), works by detecting a motorcycle's lean angle.

As you bank into corners, extra LED lights fire up in the direction you're leaning into.

So you will always have reference points - the sides of pavements or the lines separating road lanes.

The raised visibility levels will make for better awareness of the surroundings.

Of course, the system is not as sophisticated as the headlights found on high-end cars from brands like Mercedes Benz, Audi or BMW.

A few years ago, these marques introduced smart car headlights that brighten roads without blinding oncoming cars or those ahead of you.

By using a series of sensors, these smart headlight systems track oncoming vehicles and adjust light output at the blink of an eye.

The US-made Model 8790 is a simpler system.

You can programme a dozen start-up sequences to suit your fancy. It has a die-cast aluminium housing and produces a 1150 lumen output at high beam and a 750 lumen output at low beam.

Fitting the Model 8790 is equally hassle-free. Just hook up to the bike's original headlight connectors.

According to gizmag.com, which did a review of the system, it's a 15-minute job.

Now, I can hear some riders already sounding off that any adjustments or modifications to a motorcycle headlight system in Singapore is illegal by Land Transport Authority (LTA) standards.

CONCERNS

Granted, LTA is concerned that the use of aftermarket lighting kits may cause unwanted glare to other road users, causing a danger to them.

Improper installation of headlight bulbs may also cause a fire.

LTA's mantra has always been to follow the motorcycle manufacturer's original lighting recommendations.

But I'm hopeful.

I'm banking on one day when some motorcycle manufacturer decides to light the way with a safe and smart headlight system like the Model 8790 as standard equipment for most motorcycle models.

Or perhaps, a local distributor here could take up the challenge to homologate this aftermarket system, just like how aftermarket exhaust pipes have today become common.

We wrote to J.W. Speaker with some questions about the Model 8790.

The company told The New Paper it is currently coordinating a press release for the new product.


This article was first published on January 31, 2016.
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