Do I really need
shades at night?
[November 17, 2006]
OK, here is another one of those questions. Is the PIAA Xtreme
White Plus H7 bulb really brighter than the standard H7 halogen
bulb? I have been wondering about this for a while since I
have thrown away my Wunderlich running lights for quite some time
now. I had electrical problems with the Wunderlich lights ever
since the bike's last software upgrade. So, I have been running
at night just with the standard headlight. It turns out the
standard R12GS headlight is pretty darn good.
Anyway, my thought is, if I can get the headlight on the 12GS bright
enough, chances are I don't have to add additional running
lights. So is the PIAA Xtreme White Plus bulb all that it's
to be? Let's see.
Here is the PIAA bulb compared to a standard Sylvania H7 halogen
bulb. The PIAA is definitely beating out the Sylvania standard
Standard Sylvania H7 halogen bulb, $17
PIAA Xtreme White Plus H7 halogen bulb, $42
Now here's the deal, I haven't compared the PIAA Xtreme bulb to the
Philips CrystalVision bulb nor the Sylvania SilverStar bulb. The
CrystalVision and SilverStar have the same specs as the Xtreme but the
CrystalVision/SilverStar might end up being brighter because Philips
and Sylvania doesn't rely on filtering to generate the high intensity
white light. My friend
the PIAA Xtreme White Plus bulb is a gimmick. The PIAA Xtreme
bulb does have a blue tint to them.
On the other hand, the CrystalVision bulb is clear. No colors at
all to the bulb that I can see on the internet images.
Here is a comparison of the bulbs from Sylvania and Philips.
You can get more information about this by going to the SUV Lights website.
The results for now. The PIAA looks to be doing its job. It
is brighter than the standard bulb but I don't know that it will hold
up against the CrystalVision and the SilverStar. I'll update the
page when I get the bulbs from the other manufacturers.
These pictures were taken with a Cannon EOS D30 digital camera with the
- ISO1600 film speed
- Shutter speed 350
- 4.0 F stop
Update [November 27, 2006]
Finally, a chance to try the lights out. 5:30PM and the commute
home was in the dark. Since the sky is overcast, the darkness
isn't as intimidating as usual (e.g. a lot of light from the city is
being reflected by the clouds). Nonetheless, the illumination
from the PIAA bulb is much better than the standard H7 Halogen
bulb. Areas on the ground that was once dim is now better
illuminated. I had one car flash me to check my light. I
flashed my high beam in response to prove that I'm on my low
beam. Soft far so good. I think the PIAA bulb is doing OK.
I just order a Philips CrystalVision bulb set from www.suvlights.com. I will
update this page further when I have the bulbs in my hands.
By the way, just in case you BMer folks out there haven't realized it
yet, the R12GS, and the K12R both use two H7 bulbs for the
lights. In other words, the low beam bulb is of the same type as
the high beam bulb. So if your low beam bulb is burned out, you
can always use your high beam bulb as a temporary replacement.
Now you don't have to run without lights when you really need a light.
[December 9, 2006]
At long last, I have all three manufacturers' bulbs: Philips CrystalVision, Sylvania SilverStar, and PIAA Xtreme White Plus. All
three are of the same category (max temp 4000 degrees Kelvin).
Here are the pictures of all three bulbs. This time around I set
the camera on a tripod so there is no shifting in the image. This
allows for an easy comparison among the three images. By the way,
all three bulbs have a blue tint to them. Some have more than
others. I think they all use some type of filter to get the white
light. Of course the PIAA is the most noticeable in terms of the
all three pictures were taken with the same manual camera settings as
before: ISO1600 film speed, 4.0 F stop, 350 shutter speed.
PIAA Xtreme White Plus
As you can see, all three are pretty close to one another. If
there are any hints of being brighter, it is ever so slight. My
camera's light sensor thinks the brightness goes in this order:
- PIAA Xtreme White Plus
- Philips CrystalVision
- Sylvania SilverStar
With my own eyes, I have to agree with the camera's light sensor.
The PIAA does appear the brightest (definitely no gimmick here).
However, I don't think you will loose out if you decide to use the
Philips or the Sylvania bulbs. The price points for the Philips
and Sylvania bulbs makes it more affordable to see the road at night
without killing your wallet. The real question is, "do you mind
spending the $ for just a little brighter light?" The phrase "a
little brighter" implies at most 5-10% brighter. If you don't
mind that little extra cost, get the PIAA Xtreme White Plus.
The competitors from left to right: Standard Sylvania Halogen,
PIAA Xtreme White Plus,
Sylvania SilverStar, Philips CrystalVision
So I've been riding for a while now. Some 3-4 months on the PIAA
Xtreme White Plus bulbs. It's good and all but in reality, like
my friend Minh says, it's not as bright as the Philips Vision
Plus. The proof was seen in the Death Valley '07 trip. I
was the lead of the pack so I had to blast my lights as much as I can
because we ended up riding at night. Well, in the process, the
PIAA bulb burnt out. I'm not sure if it's from the vibration or
it's just a short life expectancy. If it's from a short life
expectancy, 3-4 months is a pretty short amount of time for the
price. Not only that, once I replaced my bulb with the Philips
Vision Plus, it was a clear difference in the illumination. The
review above still stand for bulbs of the same class, but the Philips
Vision Plus is in a class all of it's own. The illumination is
far superior to the PIAA Xtreme. From here on out I'm going to
use the Philips Vision Plus.
Do I really need shades at night? With the Philips Vison Plus,
Written on: November 17, 2006
Last modified: March 19, 2007