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Hello Everyone,
My name is Veronika. I commute on a 2013 Ninja 650 in southern California. I commute year round no matter what the weather: rain, wind, heat, cold. (I have a long commute, 110 miles a day, and I am too impatient to drive a car no matter how bad the weather is).

I am currently having a debate regarding upgrading my stock headlight to an HID or LED. I want something brighter, about 60% of my year round commuting is in the dark.

Here is the catch, I am looking for the fine line between brighter and too bright. Being in so cal, I am allowed to lane split, which I do, approximately 95% of the time. (I commute on the 91/55, 5 and 15 so I literally am lane splitting 95% of the time).

My concern with a headlight being too bright is it blinding or catching too much of a drivers attention and them swerving into me while I pass between the cars. I dont know if you have ever been riding and had a car with the bright *** bulbs get behind you, its a killer, totally blinds you from the reflection in your mirrors. I dont want to be this jack *** and I dont want to get hit because of my head lights.

Does anyone have experience with either HIDs or LEDs who may be able to offer their opinions?

Thanks,
Veronika
 

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HID is the way to go. Living in southern CA as you do you you know the place is the land of HID (many way too far into the blue spectrum). HID will be significantly brighter, but as long as you keep them/it aimed correctly it will not be a problem. I put an HID on a BMW years ago and commuted daily in the dark morning. I was never flashed by anyone who was bother by the light even though it was WAY brighter than the stock one.

LEDs have a distinct disadvantage when it comes to headlights...they don't work well with the reflector that is part of the headlight assembly. They may be very bright, but the light is not focused. HID bulbs work well with the headlight reflectors. Their light pattern is very similar to the halogen bulb you have now only much brighter, and most importantly they put the light where it is useful.
 

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I lane split here in Los Angeles, and I have HIDs. You can aim your headlights down. I have mine aimed so that the cut-off of the hid beam is lower than the side-view mirror of most cars.

HIDs are the best, especially for night driving. The road is fully lit and I can see potential issues more easily.

As for being blinding, I think it is better to be seen than un-seen. And if your light is blinding, the drivers will look away from your lights and possibly target fixate on something else (e.g., not drive towards your lights).
 

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I lane split here in Los Angeles, and I have HIDs. You can aim your headlights down. I have mine aimed so that the cut-off of the hid beam is lower than the side-view mirror of most cars.

HIDs are the best, especially for night driving. The road is fully lit and I can see potential issues more easily.

As for being blinding, I think it is better to be seen than un-seen. And if your light is blinding, the drivers will look away from your lights and possibly target fixate on something else (e.g., not drive towards your lights).
"...better to be seen than un-seen..." This part is obviously good, but you never want your light blinding anyone.

I made an observation a while back on another board that it seemed to me that it was more difficult to judge the speed and distance of an approaching vehicle with the high beams on, even during the day. One particular response was from a fellow who was an expert in the area of lighting and optics. He confirmed and provided a technical explanation on the phenomenon. We all know that having lights shining in your eyes is very distracting/irritating, and at a minimum your night vision is adversely affected for a short time.
 

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I have LED headlights, and I haven't had any issues with anyone with flashing their lights at me. I also added LED turn signals. They do require a resistor. On the front I used surface mounted lights and turned the standard turn signals into running lights, which added to the front visibility.
 

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My personal experience with HID lights was not good. They came on my '08 KLR and would blind everyone. They don't work well with the OEM headlight reflector.
If I were in your situation, I would add additional lighting to the bike instead of brighter headlights. Additional lighting helps distinguish you as a motorcycle. Mondolights MM10 are good LED running lights and can be mounted in several locations to help light up the road, and make you more conspicuous. Also, Skenedesign Amber LEDs that are run/turns will help with the cars noticing you. They even have a feature that will flash them to get attention, and they always have a slight flicker that gets you noticed.
 

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Not sure if its too late, but I figured I'd chime in here. I have experience with HIDs and LEDs (on my current and previous cars). First off, if you upgrade to HIDs, please use a projector housing. If you do not want to blind oncoming traffic, or traffic in front of you, then you would need a projector type housing. That is why on most professional HID setups, they replace the housing to a projector housing. The reason being is because of the nature of reflector headlights. Though, yes, you can aim a reflector housing to have a lower cut-off, it really is only designed to work with halogen bulbs, due to the way halogen bulbs emit light. The reflectors will help focus the intensity of the halogen bulbs to a particular area (under the cut-off). However, HIDs do not emit light the same way halogen bulbs do. Projector housings are designed to focus the light from the HID to a particular area under the cut-off line, such that light is focused. If HIDs are placed in a stock OEM reflector housing, the light pattern will scatter everywhere and blind oncoming traffic, resulting in less output directly in front of you. Any auto manufacturer will pair HIDs to a projector housing.

As for LEDs, I'm not too sure about the emission light pattern, as I know you can buy them with different degrees emission. However, LEDs, for the most part, emit light relatively straight on, thus rendering the reflectors useless. I'm pretty sure that is why cars with LEDs also use a projector like housing.

Hope this helps, and good luck with your purchase.
 
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