Arguably, there are two areas of lighting that are critical for motorcycle riders; the ability to see where you are going and making sure that other road users can see you.
Advances in lighting technology have made both much better today than they have ever been but there are still steps you can take to improve them.
First and foremost is seeing where you are going. Many bikes nowadays come with LED lighting for greater light output and penetration with reduced power consumption and they also use Day Running Lights to highlight your presence to other road users.
Generally, there isn’t much to be gained upgrading here, except by adding additional lights for use in fog or heavy-traffic conditions, perhaps. However, older bikes using traditional halogen-style bulbs can often gain vision with uprated bulbs, producing more light for the same power consumption.
Related: Best motorcycle headlight bulbs
Similarly, you don’t need much illuminated vision behind you but people need to be able to see you, so upgraded bulbs or switching from halogen to faster-illuminating LEDs can often improve people’s response to your brake lights.
It is also possible to add brake lights that will automatically illuminate when you roll off the throttle or flash when you brake heavily like modern bikes and cars.
We also know that moving objects attract attention better than static ones and the car-style of progressive indicators is now finding its way into bikes, to give an even better indication of a rider's intention to change direction.
Here is a selection of upgrades we think could help you see the way.
These auxiliary lights come with a yellow cap so that they can be run as white or yellow auxiliary lights, depending on the conditions. They can also be programmed to be on solid, flash together or flash in turn.
They are designed to fit ideally on engine crash bars, for example and onto tubes and come with the necessary wiring loom, switches and control button. They use three LED chips in each lamp to push out a quoted 3500 lumens for 50,000 hours of use.
Denali LED Module
Not cheap but a very serious piece of kit, this 5.75-inch replacement unit for sealed-beam lamps on older bikes (thereu2019s a seven-inch version available too) is designed to be a direct swap and is DoT and E-marked for road use.
It features a halo day running light and twin LEDs for dipped and for main beam use. Apparently, it will produce three times the light of a normal headlight or twice that of an LED unit and project light 500-525ft ahead of the bike.
Osram Nightbreaker Bulbs
These H7 bulbs will fit older bikes using traditional halogen-style headlights and will, according to the manufacturer, produce up to 150% more light than standard bulbs. The light itself will also be whiter for greater penetration into the darkness ahead of the bike, potentially lighting the road up to 150 ahead. Also available in other designations of bulb, including H1, H3 and H4.
Barkbuster LED Lamps
The LED strips from Barkbuster are designed to mount to the companyu2019s handguards and offer increased visibility in use as well as acting as indicators, assuming the correct relay is employed to give the right flashing rate.
They are E-marked for road use as both position lights and indicators and each features 15 LEDs over a length of just under three inches.
Fans of sequential indicators made popular by certain German car manufacturers (not everyone is) can get the same looks and feel for their bikes with these aftermarket lights.
Using 12 LED units per indicator, they move out from the inner edge and are a direct replacement for LED indicators, though normal bulbs may require a resistor. They are designed to fit a 10mm mounting hole so they should work with a number of bikes and they feature two wires – live and earth. The price is for a pair.
Itu2019s not just the bike that can benefit from additional lighting to make you more visible; your clothing can too. German kit manufacturer Held has developed the HLS system, where four fibre-optic strips are fed by LEDs powered from a USB power block and two white strips fit into compatible clothing on the front and two red ones on the back. An interesting concept.
Givi Stoplight Kit
Just like cars and vans use high-level brake lights to appear visible through vehicles, giving valuable additional warning time, then bikes can too, if they are fitted with a Givi topbox. Designed for the V56 range of topboxes from the Italian manufacturer, the lights replace reflectors and offer extra visibility of you to road users behind, which can only be a good thing.
LED Rear Strip
For builders of custom bikes or riders just wanting to update an older bike, this LED strip comprises four functions in one; tail light, brake light, left indicator and right indicator. The unit is 200mm long and comes with a wire for each function and a common ground and is flexible to allow it to follow a curve on the rear of a seat or bodywork.
LED P21 Bulbs
For older bikes, these LED replacements for P21 bulbs (indicators or brake/tail-lights) feature projections in line with their axis (for tail or brake lights) as well as perpendicular to their axis for indicators, for example. They illuminate quicker than usual incandescent bulbs and draw less power but historically, have been dimmer for inline use but these should do the trick.
LED Numberplate Bolt
Another item great for custom builders or anyone wanting to update their look are these LED numberplate bolts. Looking like a normal bolt from directly behind, they shine a bright LED light across the number plate from the recessed and hidden LED chip. Wires run down the centre of the threaded portion so they offer a clean and classy look.