In the relentless pursuit of perfection, the slogan used by Lexus automobiles, is a kin to what I see from many Harley riders in their quest to improve upon, in their minds, various aspects of Harley Davidson MOCO motorcycle designed parts and features.
There is no better place to read about and/or see this unfold than on one of the many “Harley related” on-line forums. You will find countless individuals and vendors attempt to squeak out more HP and torque from the engines, improve the handling characteristics of their motorcycles by adding aftermarket shocks and front suspensions and reduce frame flexing by adding a stabilization device and more. My favorite reading comes from the Harley customers / riders that add parts (Timken) and/or decide to true their crank and weld them down to improve the robustness and reliability of a MOCO produced engine due to the MOCO’s decision to reduce specifications to .0*12 – don’t recall the exact number of zero’s, for crank run out. I’m really puzzled by this one as the MOCO has been building engines for over 100 years, longer than any motorcycle brand on the planet, and they made a decision that it’s okay for their engine cranks to wobble more today, then they did 10+ years ago. If it is true that having a trued crank, welded and having better bearings will add to their engines resistance to scissoring cranks, less wobble in the crank and increase reliability, I just don’t understand why it’s not done at the factory. I think everyone would be okay paying for such a robust engine from the factory right? Case in point; the more robust SE compensator is now standard right, why not bullet-proof the crank? Sorry for the rant………..
So, why do Harley riders continue to do what they do – looking to improve an iconic motorcycle manufactures design that meets all of the safety, regulator (EPA) and DOT standards across the planet. Is the need for improvement our perception of design flaws or weaknesses? Well, I believe I addressed a weakness that bothered me for years – Road Glide lighting. I am one who believes the better cages can see me and I can see them increases my odds for safety on the road. In addition, I like to identify other objects on the road like a deer, a 2X4 or sink hole – you name it, as quickly as possible to increase reaction time.
Preface; I am not a light engineer, I’m only a rider. I have taken off my 2008 (traded) and 2009 CVO Road Glide fairings so many times, I can probably take one off in my sleep. I tried the Sylvania and PIAA halogens bulbs first – better than stock but not happy. Then I tried at least 3 different HID systems, not just bulbs but the entire ballast and wiring systems. The HID ranged from 4,300K - 6,000K. The HID’s were far superior to the halogen bulbs and I was a happy camper. Then I, like others, began “jonesing” for a LED option for the Harley Road Glide. Harley Davidson and the aftermarket have LED headlights for the FLH touring line but not for the FLT. Then comes forth a motorcycle mechanic by day and High Definition LED Road Glide light tinkerer by night, known as Big Jim from www.Holeshotchoppers.com
. Big Jim took an innovative approach to match together a set of HD LED lights, with a custom made bracket and wiring harness, and thus the first, that I know of, usable HD LED Road Glide light system is born.
In my relentless pursuit of perfection, I ordered and received the first set (#001) of Big Jim’s HD LED Road Glide lights and installed them hours after the USPS driver pulled away. Below are my initial observations / review of these HD LED Road Glide headlights: Using a rating scale from 1 (being bad) and 10 (being bad ass)
General Installation / Instruction: rating 9
A Cave Man can do it. The instructions supplied with the HD LED Road Glide light kit is very clear. Additionally, Big Jim was at the ready during my install and told me to call him directly if I had any problems. There may be minor revisions to the instructions but very good first pass at writing installation instructions.
Plug & Play: rating 8
I give the headlights an 8 rating because they are not 100% plug & play. The bracket has to be enhanced by transferring the 3 adjusters from your factory headlight housing to the Holshotchoppers housing. You also have to drill a hole in your fairing glove box to mount the volume knob (really cool by the way). So my 2 points off are for those reasons alone as the rest of the kit is plug & play. The good thing is it took me no longer than 10 minutes to drill a hole and remove and install the 3 adjusters. The wiring harness is spot on……….
Illumination and beam focus: rating 10 for Illumination / 8 for beam focus
As mentioned, these light have a volume knob (dimmer) that allows for adjustability of the LED brightness. After doing some testing on the road and in my driveway, I believe I have my headlights at approximately 80% of the brightness for everyday use. Turning the lights all the way up is essentially equal to switching on high beam, which works off of the factory high beam switch. The light output travels as far as the HID’s but I think these LED’s are more piercing. I plan to meet up with a Street Glide rider with a Harley LED (single headlight) within the coming weeks and will try to do a lazy man’s comparison with pics – more to come on this.
Robustness: rating 9
Holding the Holeshotchoppers light in one hand and the factory headlight in the other, you can feel the quality of the Holshotchoppers light kit. The factory housing seems flimsy by comparison. I won’t go into details here other than; the material Big Jim used is very stout.
Aesthetics / fit & finish (what you see once installed): rating 10+ (if I can give more, I would)
These are the most striking pair of motorcycle headlights I’ve ever seen, not just on a Harley Road Glide, but ever. I just can’t get enough of looking at them. They make the front end of the Road Glide look high tech, unique and menacing all at once. Those twin pods enclose 3 distinct HD LED’s that just draws your attention. I can not tell you how many jaws dropped when I was riding around, at the Dealer or out showing friends. 100% of the people I spoke with wanted to know if these lights were available for their bikes. Selfishly, I wish I remain the only person in my state with these lights but that may not be Big Jim’s plan – they are way cool looking. By the way, Big Jim mentioned that the bracket can be painted to match your bike or any other color a customer may want but I think it looks best in black.
Cost: rating 7
This was tough to rate as it is not fair to judge these HD LED Road Glide lights against HID’s. HID’s have been adopted for cars and motorcycles far longer than good LED's, let alone HD proprietary LED’s. Holeshotchoppers retail these lights for $750 and many riders will say; I can get HID’s for a fraction of that cost. Other riders will say; I can go buy better halogen bulbs for a fraction of the cost of HID’s. Then there’s riders that would say their factory Road Glide lights are great and don’t understand what all the fuss is about. So, I rate the cost as a 7 because, $750 is still a lot of coin (to me) for motorcycle lights. But if you factor in the original cost of the HD LED @ $649 and realize the R&D that went into the bracket and harness and general production cost for the kits, the cost is more appreciable.
Customer Service: rating 10
I’ve had the chance to speak with Big Jim and think he’s a man that will stand behind his product. He is willing to listen to feedback and has been really good keeping me and others informed about the progression of these HD LED Road Glide light kits. Additionally, Big Jim was ready at his phone if I needed help during my install – good stuff.
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