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Why use expensive lights?


waylap

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I've been admiring the different auxilliary light set-ups on RT's over the years and have always wanted to add them but the costs of the common ones always changes my mind.

It seems that PIAA and Moto lights as well as similar companies have price tags over $250.00 PLUS you have to buy seperate mounts for the mirrors, under the headlight or on the forks.

What stops you guys from buying the $50 or less driving/fog lights and mounting them instead? Am I missing the value here or am I just being a penny pincher?

 

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I had the PIAA 1253 yellow lights on my RT for 9 years. In fact, the new owner STILL has them on there. In that time, I never replaced a bulb. Not once. I rode to Torrey once with only one of them lit, but that was because I forgot to plug it back in when I took off my Tupperware to do my pre-ride service. Otherwise, I can't possibly tell you the incredible peace of mind I got from those driving lights. I was SEEN from the front and I never had to question it.

 

Sure, you can pay less. And for some it might be worth it. But I rode 90K miles with those things lit ALL the time and they never let me down. I believe that was worth the $200 I paid for them. Breaks down to something like a penny every 5 miles.

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Joe Frickin' Friday

My first set of fogs was a cheapo set, I think maybe $40. They were kind of a boxy shape:

 

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and they had crappy intensity/distribution.

 

The following spring I traded up to an expensive set of PIAA 1700's:

 

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Wider and flatter, they looked better AND they had better intensity/distribution of light.

 

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A year later I added PIAA 1100's above the mirrors:

 

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I had read positive reviews of their lighting performance, but the other factor was that they were very compact; this is a motorcycle, not a car, and so I didn't want a gigantic lens overwhelming the appearance of the bike.

 

So in trying to decide between a cheap set of lights and an expensive set of lights - the difference being a one-time expense equal to the prive of a set of tires, amortized over about 120K miles - I decided it was worth it to have good lighting that also looked good. In terms of overall motorcycle operating costs, that works out to about 1/6 of a cent per mile. Typical operating cost for an RT (including depreciation, fuel, insurance, maintenance) is about thirty cents per mile. Are you being a penny pincher? You decide. :)

 

No regrets.

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It's a question not just of cost, but of convenience. I have a machine shop at work, so I was able to fabricate my own aluminum brackets, to hold a pair of Hella Micro DE lights on the lower forklegs, a'la Moto-lights. See finished product here

 

hellaon.jpg

 

The lights were $65 on E-bay. But to mount them, I utilized the unused mounting points for the R1100RT style front fender on my RT's forks, and drilled them out to accept some brackets which I made from 0.187" aluminum and then spray painted black.

 

hellabracket.jpg

 

This gets mounted like so

 

hellamount1.jpg

 

To this bracket, I mounted the Hella mounting bracket.

 

hellamount2.jpg

 

Then the lights themselves

 

hellamounted.jpg

 

 

The illuminated Hella switch to control the lights now resides on the dashboard.

 

If you've got a machine shop to fabricate all this, you're ahead. If you do it yourself otherwise and don't put a dollar figure on your time, you're also ahead. But if you want to just buy something that fits, and doesn't require customization and extra time in fabrication, you shell out for those "expensive" lights, because all of this takes time. It all depends on your perspective.

 

I did this project "myself" this way partially because I previously owned a Harley and it was definitely "mine." I wanted something on my RT that nobody could buy - something unique, and this was an easy enough project.

 

By the way, 30,000 miles later I'm on the same H3 bulbs, and replacements are about 1/10 the price of a PIAA proprietary bulb. I also made my own wire harness such that I can fit 100w bulbs per side, no problem.

 

-MKL

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When I was a kid I used the cheapo aux lights on my cars. Once I tried PIAA's I never went back. Much better beam shape. And now HID's throw sunlight for less power!

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It should be noted that the decision isn't just between PIAA and a set of Pep Boys/Walmart cheapies. There are several very good but moderately-priced brands such as Hella and I'm yet to be convinced that a PIAA (proprietary bulb and all) is necessarily a better value than other less-expensive good-quality brands, but as others have noted YMMV.

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Ok, I see the logic. I like the looks of the PIAA 510 but wonder if it's too large asthetics wise for the above the mirror mounts on an 04RT. The square and rectangle ones don't seem like they would look right. Anyone have photos of the 510 or similar round ones? I'm thinking maybe with the black housing.

 

Oh! Also, what do I need Fog pattern or Driving pattern?

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I would just pose the question "Are they for looks or illumination? That would answer it for me. I've found that seemingly expensive items aren't such if one gets a cheaper product doesn't like it and ends up buying a replacement that was probably not initally selected because of price. All of this being said it would be wise to decide just how much illumination one needs then get the best ones you can't afford. I'm PIAA guy but there are other brands that are good as well.The best advice I can offer is to attend any rallys or local rides and see what others have done and ask if they would do it differently next time. just an old geezers $.02. Cheers, RT

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Ok, I see the logic. I like the looks of the PIAA 510 but wonder if it's too large asthetics wise for the above the mirror mounts on an 04RT. The square and rectangle ones don't seem like they would look right. Anyone have photos of the 510 or similar round ones? I'm thinking maybe with the black housing.

 

Oh! Also, what do I need Fog pattern or Driving pattern?

 

Do you drive in a lot of fog?

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It should be noted that the decision isn't just between PIAA and a set of Pep Boys/Walmart cheapies. There are several very good but moderately-priced brands such as Hella and I'm yet to be convinced that a PIAA (proprietary bulb and all) is necessarily a better value than other less-expensive good-quality brands, but as others have noted YMMV.

 

Agreed. My example was PIAA-focused as that's what I have experienced. As you point out, there are many quality brands that provide durability, compact size, good beam pattern and in the case of non-PIAA's, less expensive bulbs.

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Why use expensive lights?

 

I don't. My first set of lights were from H.F. which are pictured on Mitch's 1100 RT. The cost was $20. I then purchased Ruby and put a set of Wal Mart small yellow fog lights ($15) under the oil cooler. Not long after that I purchased another pair of lights from Auto Zone ($30) and mounted them below the mirrors. They definitely have improved my lighting beyond the bike but I mainly purchased these lights to BE SEEN. Both pairs of lights use the SAME dichroic lighting that Piaa uses. The total cost was $75 and after 3 years not one bulb has burned out. Oh yeah, bulb replacement cost is $5 or less vs. $25-$50 for Piaa bulbs. I will say Piaa makes a very good product but for my use I cannot justify $300 for a pair of lights. The least expensive Piaa I have every seen is $160 and that is for the 004XT lights.

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I had a pair of $19 fog lights from Wally world for several years. They worked out fine - light was good, bulbs didn't burn out... However, they were kinda cheezy: they rusted prematurely, and the wiring provided in the kit was barely enough to run around inside of the fairing (Luftmeister on a R100/7). They were marketed for cars, so wiring them there would have been impossible.

 

My 11rs had motolights already mounted when I got it, and they're nice solid lights. They work great, look great, and are bombproof (a little too bomber, if you ask me). And I'm not sure the light pattern is $366 better. $150 maybe.

 

Generally, I'd avoid the $20 wally world specials, but beyond hunerd bucks or so, you're paying for *uber* quality, brand name, or convenience.... On cars that I've had, I usually mount Hella or Bosch fog lights, and they're worth every penny driving home after a ski trip....

 

 

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I couldn't decide between Motlights and PIAA 1100's.

So I added both.

I'm seen and can see much better at ohdarkthirtee.

Motos always on, PIAA's situational.

 

For illumination, where you mount is very important, higher generally allows greater field of vision.

For conspicuity, how much light and angle of illumination is important. I use the 50W Moto's and they are brighter.

If you want better lighting, HD is the way to go.

Personally I've found the "expensive" lights worth every penny.

A motorcyle is not a very friendly environment for chep bubs and fixtures.

My two sets have over 130,000 miles combined on them with no issues.

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Fightingpiper

It was all about value for me. I wanted to be seen better but I had a limited budget so I went with $15 Wally World lights. They use the same halogen bulbs motolights use and can be picked up at any big box store. Also I didn't have to purchase any mounting equipment since they attached nicely with the fender screw. I purchased a couple of the units because I know they will eventually fail but if I get 2 years from each kit I have 4 years of service for $30.

 

Here they are...

 

lights.jpg

 

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Calvin  (no socks)

I put a set of Hella Micro DE Hid driving lights on when they came out.. approx $700. They may have come down since then...The best accessory I ever installed. I fabricated a set of quick disconnect mounts so I could sleep at night... :grin:

Used them on long ovenighters. Sold them with bike and miss them now. I will get another set.

I remove cheapies from cars all the time when they are traded in... Just give em away or throw away...

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Ok, I see the logic. I like the looks of the PIAA 510 but wonder if it's too large asthetics wise for the above the mirror mounts on an 04RT. The square and rectangle ones don't seem like they would look right. Anyone have photos of the 510 or similar round ones? I'm thinking maybe with the black housing.

 

Oh, Also, what do I need Fog pattern or Driving pattern?

 

you could split the difference and add one of each.

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I would check with Pep Boys while you are looking. They seem to have a better selection than what I have seen at Wally World lately. The pricing is from $20-$30 a pair. A total no brainer IMHO.

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I originally tried a set of the $20.00 Pep Boys, they looked OK out of the package, however once mounted it was clear I got what I paid for. The amount of light produced and focused was disappointing. Frankly, at night it seemed to make little or no difference at all if they were on or off. Earlier this year I bought the PIAA 1100X and the mounts from Cycle Gadgets and again I got what I paid for. They are a quality product that met my expectations.

 

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I've been admiring the different auxilliary light set-ups on RT's over the years and have always wanted to add them but the costs of the common ones always changes my mind.

It seems that PIAA and Moto lights as well as similar companies have price tags over $250.00 PLUS you have to buy seperate mounts for the mirrors, under the headlight or on the forks.

What stops you guys from buying the $50 or less driving/fog lights and mounting them instead? Am I missing the value here or am I just being a penny pincher?

 

I've got a set of $40 PIAA fog lamps under my oil coolers (improvised Home Depot bits brackets), and a set of $16 Autozone "Off Road Lights" on my front forks (also improvised Home Depot bits brackets). Both provide plenty of additional light when needed. I use the Off Road Lights as my conspicuity lights. They're plenty bright enough to burn a hole in the dark, too. . . What were you saying?

 

P

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I mounted Moto-lites on the forks of my RT shortly after I had installed a pair of cheaper Kuryakyn lights on the forks of my K1100LT.

 

Two years later, the Kuryakyn lights are rusting, the glass has cracked (from vibration but not from a strike) and the wiring is starting to corrode. This despite the fact I do a quarter of my driving on that bike. In the same time, the Moto-lites look like they did when they came out of the package.

 

You get what you pay for.

 

 

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Put a pair of Pat's brackets on my RT and mounted Hella FF550's I bought from flea bay for $40 brand new.

 

Very satisfied with set up.

 

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Please note that I was down hill on my drive way before you start telling me that I will blind every on coming driver. I have one set on the centerline, one in the ditch. Have never had an oncoming driver flash me. However, when I turn them off and have just my BMW high beam it seem like I'm driving in the dark. Very scary to have that little light.

 

Not knocking the PIAA folks. Just saying there are bright alternatives. I do have some new PIAA bulbs from my K 1100 LT if anyone is interested. Send me a PM

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Axe,

 

The pinstripes on your white/blue bike look great. Can you share some full size picture's of the bike? I remember when you posted the first pics of your bike. The pinstripes really bring out the lines of the fairing. Very nice!

 

R1200PICS006.jpg

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If you did none of the labor yourself it would cost about a grand to have one painted in two colors start to finish. I saved some $ by removing all the tupperware and prepping it for painting. I also did all the post painting wet sanding, buffing and added the pinstripes.

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