LED Tail/Brake/Turn Lights

Since I’ve owned these KZ’s, I’ve tried a bunch of 1157 and 1156 style LED replacement lights.  Honestly, most of them suck.

Why try LED lights?  Some people say they are brighter.  I assure you most are not.  Maybe because they draw less power from your old motorcycle wiring harness?  This is likely true.  On the other hand, you might have an analog brake light failure indicator that will now think the light has failed, since it can no longer sense the current draw back there…

Many LED light vendors go on and on about their lights being bright.  Okay, they might *seem* brighter in the dark or at dusk (when all those photos seem to be taken), but in direct sunlight, LED’s are just plain harder to be seen, especially when used as a replacement in a stock lense cover.  The light actually needs to be *brighter* than standard to overcome this challenge.

I can’t remember where I got my first set of standard 24-LED bulbs for turnsignals for my first 750.  Some place off eBay, I think.  They are kinda crappy, but they are ok as long as you look at them straight-on (though not as bright as non-LED), since all 24 of the LED’s point straight away from the socket.

Then, I bought some “wide-angle” 24-LED turnsignal bulbs from superbrightleds.com for my second 750 (to try and solve the straight-on-only problem), and they are worse than the others I have.  In hindight I know why:  these are slightly rounded and spread out the light to fill a reflective lense (with 18 LED’s facing straight back, and 6 LED’s radially mounted); but the early KZ turnsignal sockets have no reflective backing.  Here’s what you need to know – these type of LED replacement 1157s are basically crap.

Anyway, to cut to the chase…. in all of my testing with different lights, I actually have come across a couple LED’s that actually are bright… *really* bright… In my opinion, they are as bright or brighter than regular 1157’s.

So as a result, here are the only L.E.D. tail/brake/turn lights I’ll use and swear by:

Of course, there are size and heat limitations involved when using these unusual replacement lights.  The 3W Luxeons get very warm (but have not harmed my lenses yet).  The large cluster may not fit in your socket or your housing.  So there are caveats, but I have been using both of these (as tail/brake) on a couple bikes for about 5 or so years now (at the time of this writing) with no problems so far…

5 Comments

  1. Chris

    I was reading around and found a post saying you want more headlight power without using too much, perhaps you could pair some LED turnsignal/tail light with a higher power headlight. LED’s take MUCH less power than the stock style bulb. (which I’m not going to fail at spelling)

    So if you (i’m just throwing numbers out)use 300 watts of power, and 100 is ign. 100 is headlight and 100 is tail/turnsignals perhaps you could reduce the tail/turnsignal to 25-30, then you could use the other power to run the headlight…

    now this gets us into ‘what the wires are rated for + 30 years of corrosion’… but that’s a story for another time.

  2. Steell

    Ok, I went to the website you recommended and bought $70 in bulbs (5).

    Now where can I find a reasonably cheap waterproof voltmeter to monitor the voltage? Preferably analog, although digital will work.

    Getting real close to EFI install, gotta find some electrical power.

  3. Biquetoast

    @ Steell –

    $70! Oof. Well, they *do* last a while, so I hope it’s worth it. But yeah, it’s a great way so scavenge power back from the system.

    About the voltmeter… I bought a L.E.D. Battery Gauge by Kuryakyn from Custom Dynamics. Unfortunately, the most important two LEDs (green ones) burned out after about a year. It was good while it lasted, but now is kinda’ useless…

    If you do happen to find a reasonable (read: good but cheap) analog one, please post back. That’s what I want too…

    – ‘Toast

  4. Travis

    I wonder how your 3W Luxeons compare to these 6W 1157s at Canadian Cruiser Customizing:

    http://canadiancruisercustomizing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=4&products_id=24

    I bought a pair of 1157s for my taillight and splurged on the Afterburner Bullets for my turn signals. Haven’t gotten a chance to try them out yet, but hopefully they do show up well enough in daylight.

  5. Biquetoast

    @ Travis –
    I *almost* flagged your comment as spam due to the URL in the body, but I have to admit I’m actually personally curious about this light. I have been nothing but disappointed about almost every LED tail light (except those I mentioned in the post), but since the one you mentioned here is quite different (6W, eh? Really…), I’d like to know what others think…
    Thanks!
    -‘Toast

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