Light it Up: LED Lights on Your Ride
New technology to light Up your ride and hopefully your life.
Light up the Night
I was sitting in a bar in Daytona Beach, just off of the main strip. The place was decorated with a racecar/biker motif that can only be done right in that city. Two custom, dragster style bikes sat inside the bar in front of a huge window. Outside, a rainstorm had just passed and the strip was coming alive again to embrace the summer night. The street was still wet and a breeze was blowing in over the ocean waves. I heard the familiar rumble of a Big Twin out prowling, then I saw it. An ice blue chopper rolled by with ground effect lights mounted under the frame. A blue light glowed under the bike, reflecting in the pools of water slowly drying on the asphalt. I tapped my friend on the shoulder and said, “Hey Steve, you gotta see this.” The bartender must have seen me pointing out the window as the blue glow faded off in the dark. “That’s nothing, check this out,” the bartender said as he made his way around to one of the drag bikes. He reached over and flipped a switch lighting up the bike’s frame with an acid yellow glow. That night I fell in love with neon lights.
It was 1997 and vehicle under glow kits were comprised of cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) tubes. CCFL tubes are actually fluorescent bulbs with glass casings. Until that moment in Florida, I had never seen anything like that on a motorcycle. Back home in Texas, ground effects kits were blowing up in popularity, lighting up the streets underneath low riders and dropped pick-up trucks but no one was mounting them on Harleys. I came home, determined to light up the bike but my budget and the limitations of placement on my old motorcycle kept me from realizing my dreams of illumination.
Imagine the Possibilities
It’s been twenty-two years since I saw those cold cathode tubes lighting up the summer night in Daytona Beach. Technology is ever-changing and LED light kits are commonplace, blasting colors on chrome in every corner of the world where Harleys roam free.
XKGlow is an Illinois based company that develops LED lighting kits for motorcycles, cars, trucks, off-road vehicles and boats. The company was started in 2007 by a team of automotive and motorcycle enthusiasts that saw a potential to make motorcycle lighting brighter, more durable and interactive. The company created the first smartphone-controlled motorcycle lighting system in the United States. XKGlow’s big gun is the XKchrome Bluetooth lighting series. The product is currently in its third generation and is renowned in the biker community for its advanced app features, plug-n-playability, and an array of components.
Blinded by the Light
Interactivity is a feature that you just can’t get with cold cathode fluorescent lamps. XKGlow light kits allow bikers to select different color patterns from any combination of the sixteen-million visible colors in the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) spectrum. Riders can also use their phone’s camera to sample colors from the world around them. In addition, the XKGlow LED controller app features a fully customizable series of holiday and mood themes. Independence Day is right around the corner and bikers with XKGlow kits can ride in any parade with the July 4th Patriotic Preset flashing fireworks for the crowd.
Out of the Darkness
Installation was always a concern for me. When I was in my twenties, I was worried about the power supply needed for CCFL lights. With LEDs, some kits require the lights to be attached to the motorcycle’s wiring harness. XKGlow provides a lifetime warranty for their accent lighting products. The XKGlow lightning system is wired directly to the motorcycle battery and is independent of the bike’s wiring harness. All of XKGlow’s LED kits are plug-n-play and waterproof. Another advantage because some LED kits only claim to be water resistant or waterproof based on limited exposure to moisture.
So ironically, despite my personal lust for light, I’m still in the dark. I’m unsure that a light kit would match the style of my bobber and I think I may just have to wait until I break down and by the bagger, I need for long trips. So why do some of us go toward the light while others ride in the shadows? Of course, personal preference is a factor. Some people love bright colors while others prefer their rides to be more traditional. Another consideration is the bike itself. If your machine is dressed in chrome, colored lights are going to light it up like Christmas, a clear statement that your ride is loud and proud. Light kits are also a great way to show off a custom paint job after the sun goes down. XKGlow also manufactures RGB running and passing lights as well as a color shifting headlight conversion bulb kits.
Beacon of Light
It’s not just for show. XKGlow lighting systems offer a feature that turns all of the bike’s accent lighting into a brake light when the rider puts the squeeze on for a stop. This lights the bike up red, making sure everyone can see that you’re coming to a stop in the dark. Whether you’re a fan of LEDs or you’re an old school rider that won’t even put turn signals on your sled, there’s no doubt that nothing is going to get more attention than the roar of a V-Twin matched with a light show.
For help with routine maintenance and repairs, visit the HD Forums How-To section.