Have you ever been out on a ride, realised the sun is setting and you better get back home before dusk turns to night? I know I have had my riding fun ruined by impeding darkness, but what if there was a solution?
A simple upgrade, that could help keep you riding later, full of confidence, no longer fearing the dark.
LED headlights are the answer for many riders who no longer fear the dark, I have done the research and found the best options for your Harley.
Firstly how do you make a Harley Headlight brighter? There are a few options to make your headlight brighter, the first and most effective is to upgrade it to an LED headlight, which is also why it is becoming the most popular option.
Another option is to upgrade your headlight bulbs to one that has higher lumens, although brighter, the bulb is limited in its range.
So, others may be able to see you better, but you may not find it effective in lighting up further down the road, which negates its purpose for assisting your ride.
Another option that some riders turn to is to use a HID kit which stands for High Intensity Discharge. The lights emit a much stronger light than standard halogen bulbs. They do produce a strong glare however, and can easily be mistaken for high beams which can prove dangerous on the road.
LED headlights are the most popular option especially with advances in technology and some motorcycle manufacturers themselves turning to LED headlights as standard. LED headlights for motorcycles are also now far more affordable, which makes them a great choice.
If you need more convincing take a look at this video from Wilkins Harley Davidson, which does a side by side of Halogen vs LED headlights.
Secondly how do you install a Harley LED headlight? You don’t need to be intimidated by doing this modification yourself, it is a relatively simple process and one that you can do at home.
Most LED headlights kits will come with instructions and there are an abundance of videos on YouTube that show you how to do the swap like this one from BLOCKHEAD on his Sportster.
Sportsters were found to be the most popular Harley model for beginners on a previous post, I would stress that LED headlights for beginners is an important upgrade for riders. Being able to see and be seen is imperative. If you can’t be seen, at least be heard. We’ve also covered some of the best sounding Harley Davidson mufflers as well as performance exhaust to improve your ride.
Also getting your hands dirty and doing this simple upgrade will get you used to working on your own bike. It’s not for everyone, but it is a cool way to understand the machine you love to ride, after all knowledge is power. I’ve detailed a similar DIY guide for installing awesome aftermarket speakers on your Harley.
The following image shows just how simple it is to connect the wiring up to the adapter, this particular one is from the Sunpie headlight, I look at later in the article, but the easy connection to the H4 adapter is pretty standard across the board.
Failing doing it yourself, your Harley technician or any qualified motorcycle mechanic will easily be able to do this for you and it shouldn’t cost a fortune. While you’re at it, it’s worth checking out some of the top Harley batteries to power all your aftermarket accessories.
Lastly is it possible to convert your conventional headlight into LED? Yes, it is possible to convert your conventional headlight into LED but not necessarily the most cost effective way as LED bulbs require extra equipment such as a relay.
Further to this, wires may need splitting and this can void manufacturer warranty as you are altering the electrics.
LED headlight kits come with everything you need and a lot of the ones I have covered in this article fit in with the Harley aesthetics anyway, so the traditional look won’t be ruined by the upgrade.
Reviews: Best Harley LED Headlights
Right, I have compiled the best LED headlight options around for you to consider, so without further ado, let’s take a look.
- Value For Money:★★★★★
- Ease of Install:★★★★★
- Fit & Finish:★★★★★
The only thing that lets this LED headlight down is the fact it does not fit the 2002 Sportster.
Other than that this headlight kit from Wisamic is fantastic value for money and the rave reviews it has suggests it is as good as it seems.
It is incredibly easy to install with a plug and play system connecting to the H4 adapter directly.
It is compatible with most models in the Harley range and has a huge 50,000 hour lifespan.
It’s light specification is bang on with what is expected of a good quality LED headlight, with 2800 Lumens at 30W for low beam and 4000 Lumens at 45W for high beam.
The headlight is also shock and vibration proof, with the lights being held in a shock protective case. Also, worth noting that it is a waterproof kit. Moisture is likely to enter the casing, but no need to worry as the design allows for water to exit without any need to take the light off etc.
Style wise it is a good looking headlight, very subtle design and won’t distract from the moody, understated look of most Harley Sportsters. With that said it also won’t clash with the Candy paint schemes on some of the newer models either.
- Value For Money:★★★★★
- Ease of Install:★★★☆☆
- Fit & Finish:★★★★☆
The features of this LED kit make it the best LED headlight for Harley Davidson Ultra Classic, Street Glide and Road King and all other touring models with a 7” headlight in the line-up.
Suparee claim a whopping 400% increase in light from the standard Harley headlights and they seem to be able to back it up with the figures:
3,600 Lumens at 50W for high beam and 1,800 Lumens at 30W for low beam.
It is a more expensive headlight kit than the Sportster LED light kit, but that is expected as Harley touring models are significantly bigger and more expensive too than the Sportster. This is offset by it’s incredible lifespan which is said to be good for 50,000 hours.
The kit is an easy fitment of plug and play too to either a H4 or H13 adapter. However, for some models there may be some drilling needed to secure the kit.
Included as part of the headlight is Left and Right turn signals, low beam, high beam and an Angel light.
The customer service direct from Suparee from reviews I have read, seems to be good and responsive. So, any issues with fitting the headlight you can rest assured that the manufacturer is on hand to help you out with any queries.
- Value For Money:★★★★★
- Ease of Install:★★★★☆
- Fit & Finish:★★★★☆
The Truckmall headlight and fog light kit comes with a 12 month guarantee and a projected lifespan of 50,000 hours.
It is a smart, classy looking headlight that will fit the Ultra Classic, Road King, Street Glide and Softail Deluxe among other models.
Installation is a simple plug and play system. It’s best to check for your specific model against the checklist, as a few models will require a H4 or H9 adapter.
This headlight kit is rated at IP67 for waterproofing and is dustproof. It can work at temperatures of -40° to 80° which makes it a great option for touring bikes.
The light output is 4600 Lumens on high beam and 3300 Lumens on low beam. The light is 6000K of white light so it gives off a bright natural light feel.
- Value For Money:★★★★☆
- Ease of Install:★★★★★
- Fit & Finish:★★★★☆
The Akmties LED headlight kit offers something a little bit stylistically different for the Road King. With a lined light painted bright red. It adds a certain style to the headlight and will certainly pop with black paintwork particularly.
It is a complete headlight and fog light/indicator kit suited for may of Harley touring models. For specifics it’s best to check your model against the checklist.
50,000 hours lifespan, waterproof and dustproof design and a light is made out of poly-carbonate for toughness, increasing its durability.
The main headlight gives off 3240 Lumens at high beam and 1620 Lumens at low beam. The side lights give off 1440 Lumens worth of light.
A plug and play system makes the installation process easy and Akmties claim it will take just 15 minutes to install on your bike.
What about Harley Davidson LED lighting options?
Well, Harley have started to do their own branded LED headlights. They will of course fit exceptionally well, I would expect them to fit each model in the line-up exactly to perfection and look stylistically as fantastic as the traditional headlight.
They have any information on the website in regards to how bright the lights are but I would expect them to be on the same scale as the other LED headlights reviewed above.
The downside to getting your LED headlight directly from Harley? The price.
As always with Harley’s aftermarket parts there is a premium and in the case of LED headlights some of the options are 10 times or even 20 times that of the above LED headlights. Some of the headlights listed on the Harley-Davidson website retail for over $800. Why am I not surprised?
If they are worth it, is a question that only you can answer.
What To Consider When Upgrading to your Headlights:
Which is a better option LED or HID?
I think LED headlights are superior to HID and here is why:
- They are more energy efficient
- HID kits are less expensive than LED kits. But, LED’s last longer with an average of 30,000 hours compared to 2,500 hours of HID kits
- They light up instantly whereas HID can take a few seconds to achieve optimum brightness
How Many Lumens Should an LED Headlight Have?
The average output is between 2,000-4,000 lumens. This varies greatly and you can see numbers of 10,000 lumens on some kits.
The number of Lumens is not the only thing that should matter when considering your LED headlight. It isn’t the only thing that affects the brightness of the headlight. The number of LED bulbs, their size, colour, and temperature which is measured in Kelvins, are all factors to consider.
Color temperature refers to the appearance of the light given out from the bulb. It is based on the numeric scale measured in Kelvins.
The higher the color temperature, the cooler, more energising the light will be. So for LED’s that essentially means the higher the Ks the whiter and brighter the light will be.
Normal halogen bulbs in headlights tend to sit at around 4000K. LED headlights hit the 6,000K mark which is a huge increase in color temperature. This alone will affect how bright the light is.
Is It Legal to Use LED or Xenon Headlights on My Motorcycle?
Legalities vary in different places, so it is best to check your own governing laws.
As a rule of thumb if the headlight kit has been approved for use on the road then it is perfectly legal to use. This approval is generally giving in the form of a DOT safety rating.
Generally headlights are allowed to light up several hundred meters of road ahead, but just how bright and far is the variant, between locations.
LED technology has been around for a really long time, but it is only more recently being adapted for car and motorcycle use.
It is a brilliant, efficient way to light up the road, to see and be seen.
There are several good options available for all models of Harley Davidsons which I have covered in this article and more will start to appear on the market.
Make sure your headlight kit is approved for road use, get it fitted, then get out and ride with no fear of the night sky putting a stop to your ride. As mentioned on a previous Harley post “Freedom is not given, it’s taken.”