Lighting for off-road motorcycle racing is always a bit of an adventure. Most race bikes don’t come with lights and each model is a little different. Every set up is, to one degree or another, a custom set up. Over the course of my racing career, I’ve used a wide variety of lights and technologies. Each evolved a little from race to race as we learned through successes and failures. In the early days, it was a standard KC HiLiTES large reflector driving light with a halogen bulb. We thought it was amazing, and it was for the day, but when HID technology became available we knew a change was necessary. It was a pretty easy transition as we used the same basic equipment, but added the HID bulb and the necessary electrical components. The end result was a brighter light that used considerably less power. We’ve used some variation of that light for many years but once again, new technology was available.
Enter LED lighting-
Over that last couple years, LED lights have started to appear on our competitor’s bikes and we’ve even ran a couple small add-on LED’s on our HID powered light. This year, with the annual 24 Hours of Glen Helen endurance race approaching, my team and I decided it was time to once again evolve. We needed LED’s lights that would give us a more compact, lighter weight system that consisted of multiple components. This would eliminate any single point of failure and allow us flexibility to configure the light pattern by adjusting lights independently.
We spent some time looking at options, finally deciding that the KC HiLiTES 3” LZR CUBE was the right choice. We could run four cubes mounted in a quick release frame on the front of the bike. We could aim each CUBE independently and separate the power supply into two independent systems so if a failure occurred only 50% of the overall light would be affected. Anyone who’s lost their headlight at high speed on a motorcycle knows why this is important. I have, and to say it’s a terrifying experience would be an understatement.
Now that we had figured out what we needed, things came together quickly. We experimented a little with a few different ideas, but ultimately decided to mount the lights to the sides of the frame and add some horizontal supports to tie everything together. The result was simple, compact, and lightweight. For power, we utilized the existing lighting circuit from the motorcycle to support two of the CUBES and a 9000Mah battery for the other two. Two of the lights together only draw a little over 3 amps so we would only need to swap the battery every 3 hours. That could easily be done during a pit stop for fuel.
My team wound up having a great race with the bike only stopping for scheduled pit stops. The lights worked perfectly in what is surely one of the most extreme environments imaginable. The whole team was thrilled with how well the lights worked and the fact that they were absolutely bullet proof. In any racing environment, the proof is in the performance and it this case the measurement is the lap times. In the past we’ve seen night time’s increase about 10% from those during the day. With the new light, we dropped that to only 5%, a huge improvement and proof that our riders were able to ride at nearly the same pace day or night.