Light is like horsepower for motorcycle riders—there’s rarely enough. The asymmetrical headlight on my BMW F 800 GS shoots out two decent beams that are fine for local nighttime use, but for serious night riding I want to command a phalanx of photons that will obliterate the darkness and erase any doubt of what lies ahead.
Since my GS shares a weakness with my former Kawasaki KLRs—wimpy electrical output—I need to mind my energy budget and not blow it all on lighting. A little research led me to energy-miser LED technology and the VisionX at (800) 994-4460 S1100 Solstice Solos. Encased in a small, solid-aluminum package, the Solos looked tough enough for GS-style riding, so I ordered up a pair.
Wanting to fill the dim distance with light, I chose two narrow beam (10 degree) units from a selection that also includes medium (15 degrees), wide (35 degrees) and an elliptical-lens model that throws a 15- by 45-degree beam. They all use just 10 watts each to create a claimed 900 lumens of lighting. That’s a small bite of the budget for sure…but how much light is 900 lumens? Though watts and lumens aren’t directly comparable, it’s roughly equivalent to a 60-watt bulb. Doesn’t sound like much, but harnessed correctly it’s enough to make you a believer in LEDs. And while the Solos won’t turn night into day, they fill in the shadows with bright white light, define the edges of dark, unlined roads and give me much more confidence for two-wheeling through the night. I rode California’s Westgard Pass outside of Big Pine on a moonless night and was very pleased to have the S1100s lighting the way through the turns. Likewise, they gave me a big boost of confidence when tearing down dirt roads after sunset.
The Solos are a tidy little package just 2 inches square at the front and 2.5 inches deep. The aluminum housing and faceplate protect the lens, the LED and the advanced electronics that minimize power draw, while also providing a channel on each side for mating one unit to another. VisionX claims the Korean-made lights are dustproof and will handle a bath up to three meters deep. The polycarbonate lenses are said to be unbreakable and vibration testing means the lights are moto-ready and should last their entire 50,000-hour lifetime.
Mounting the S1100s was simple, thanks to a well-placed bolt on the GS windscreen that works perfectly for the twin-axis, stainless steel bracket. I left the fasteners just shy of “gudentight” so I could aim the beams where I wanted to on the fly. That’s fine for pavement, but hit some washboard and you’ll be looking for a wrench. Crash testing—a low-speed biff in dust-covered ruts—failed to even scuff the S1100s in their protected position. VisionX provides pigtails with weatherproof Deutsch connecters to wire into your bike as you see fit. Crimp connectors or Posi-Locks are the easy way, and the way I would have gone since solder and I are mortal enemies, but my long-time riding buddy Jim Norris wouldn’t hear of it and was soon cutting wires and melting solder for me. A 15-amp handlebar switch from TrailTech (www.trailtech.net) eliminated the need for a relay for the Solos’ 1.5 ampere draw (at 12 volts).
Available in black or white housings, the Solos cost $119 apiece from various web vendors; check the VisionXUSA website for referrals. Whether you’re watching your watts or just want a wad of lumens in a rugged, compact package, the Solos are a top candidate. I consider them 20 watts well spent.
For more information: Contact VisionX at (800) 994-4460