Superwhite vs. Clear
Lumiko Heliolite vs. Candlepower H4
Torrance, California, July 29, 2002
My headlight's low beam finally gave up the ghost a few days ago, which gave me a good excuse to try out some new modes of illumination. When I bought my SV used over a year and a half ago it came with an aftermarket bulb of indeterminate manufacture. I took the opportunity to buy two new H4 bulbs, a super-white and a clear one, and compare their luminous virtues against each other.
First up was a Lumiko Heliolite H4 100/55W high/low beam blue tinted bulb, costing me $21.95. It turned out to be disappointing; my previous bulb was a 60/55W but even so, with a lighter tint it emitted far more light out than this bulb. The high beam was uneven with many hotspots and projected a narrow tunnel of light with diffracted light spread out on the sides. The low beam was by all accounts inadequate. The light had a greenish/blue tint to it which I found to be adsorbed easily and reminded me of that light in bad horror movies that never really revealed any important details until it was too late.
Continuing my quest for better lighting led me to look for a clear bulb of the identical wattage. It's surprisingly difficult to find any sort of clear H4 headlamp in motorcycle shops around LA. But I continued on undaunted and found a Candlepower 100/55W for $15.49 and popped it into my bike. I took the scenic (well, as scenic as industrial South Bay can be) route home from the office after dark and wow, what a revelation! I realized what I had been missing out on ever since I got the bike. I never had a non-tinted bulb and had never been getting the benefit of the full illumination that it was designed for. The spread of light, whether in the low or high beam, was wide and evenly distributed.
The only concern that I had about using this type of bulb was the high beam; the wattage rating in the low position is identical to the stock bulb, but the high beam's 100W rating is considerably higher than the stock 60W high beam. I checked with a couple of people that had experimented with high-powered lighting with the naked SV 650 and they assured me that there wouldn't be a problem using a 100-watt high beam, especially with the intermittent use that it gets. I double-checked the wires feeding the bulb, and while the housing got warm, the wiring was cool to the touch.
Calvin "Hackfu" Kim and I held a brief, but technically packed discussion about the differences between the bulbs while we snapped some digital pics. I'll dispense with the incredibly technical and physics-laden details, but if you think about it intuitively, it makes sense. If you pump the same amount of wattage through 2 filaments it produces the same amount of light inside the vacuum of the glasses. However, in one, the light must pass through a blue tinted glass capsule, effectively filtering out a significant portion of the visible light, and in the other one, light passes freely through the glass.I realize that people purchase blue tinted bulbs from a purely aesthetic point of view, in that they make a brilliant white light (at least from the oncoming traffic's perspective, a lot of good that does for the rider). But to me, sacrificing a lot of functionality and possible safety in the name of fashion (and for more money at that) isn't worth it.
Lumiko Heliolite H4 Halogen
Blue tinted, super-white style
Watts: 100W high beam/55W low beam
Note- sold for off-road use only
Candlepower H4 Halogen
loves freedom and long walks on the beach
Watts: 100W high beam/55W low beam