Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sylvania Silverstar Headlight Bulb

My ZR-7S has a notoriously dim bulb -- no, not the rider; the headlight. Electrics aren't my strong suit, but I believe a large contributing factor is the undersized wiring in the headlight circuit and the rather, well, circuitous route the juice must take from battery to bulb, resulting in a significant voltage drop. I hope to attack that problem this Winter by wiring direct from the battery to the headlight with larger gauge wire, and using relays to control the juice to the low and high beam circuits. In the meantime, I recently picked up a Sylvania Silverstar headlight bulb at Pep Boys for about $9. My ZR takes a standard H-4 bulb, 55W/60 so I went with the same wattage in the Silverstar. Installation took all of 90 seconds or so. I wore surgical latex gloves to ensure I didn't transfer any skin oil to the bulb, which would shorten its lifespan. I've ridden with the new bulb about a dozen times now, mostly in the dark/near dark as I don't see much sun during my commutes this time of year. According the manufacturer's hype, the Silverstar's color temperature is about 4000K (Kelvin), compared to about 3200K for a standard halogen bulb. Lacking a degree in Physics, I'll take Sylvania's word for it, but it doesn't take Einstein to discern that the beam cast by the Silverstar is very noticeably whiter than the OEM bulb. The whiter light makes it easier to see clearly; perhaps our brains translate optical input more accurately in light that's closer to "daylight" temperature? It also seems that the beam casts a little further, but without a side-by-side comparo it's difficult to tell. Another bonus is that I'm sure I'm now a little more visible to the other motorists with whom I'm doing battle. Bottom line: While not a cure-all for weak headlights, this is a cheap, easy upgrade that makes a significant improvement and increases conspicuity. Unless you're blessed with a bike that already has excellent headlight output, there's no excuse for not doing this simple upgrade. There are several other manufacturers selling these "hotter" bulbs, so they're very easy to find, too.

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