Mark Rowell· Registered
This is true as different lamp designs are more or less efficient. For instance, those "rugged use" "heavy duty" incandesant bulbs use a thicker element to resist breaking when they get knocked about but they usually put out less Lumins compared to the "regular duty" lamps....BTW, light output isn't directly related to electrical power (watts). For example, compact fluorescent bulbs put out the same amount of light (lumens) with far less power consumption than incandescent lights. So perhaps the manufacturer was indicating that their bulbs could produce more light output than a standard halogen 55W bulb without using more electrical power. Obviously, this would require different bulb design.
Different manufacturers also have their own proprietary (secret) gas within some bulbs to enhance their efficiency. Halogen is one example.
The efficiency and ruggedness of the incandesant lamp is also a factor of what the material the heating element is made. Tungsten is used in higher output and higher quality bulbs. Tungsten Halogen bulbs are near the top of the heap.
Waldo also talked a little about the "temperature" of the bulb and that too can influence how well you can see with lights putting out the same wattage but being designed to work at a different temperature, measured in Kelvin. Lights operating at the higher Kelvin temperature are whiter or take on a blue tint near the top end of the scale. Those operating at a lower Kelvin temperature take on a yellow tint.
If you ever noticed on-coming traffic and how some lights have a blue or yellow tint to them? The blue lights could either be high intensity discharge (HID) lights or from regular incandesant bulbs with a blue coating on the bulb. If they are bright, they are HID. If they are dim, they are coated and I would avoid these as they only decrease the light output in order to give it a blue tint.:no: The temperature can help or hinder how well you are able to discern details in the distance at night, and what works well for one person may not for another.
Another factor in maximizing your light output is to have the lamp element placed in the correct position within your Wing's headlight reflectors. The bulbs recommended by Honda are made to be in the correct position so if you are thinking about changing to another design, I would measure the distance from the base of the old and new bulb to see if they are about the same. This is a problem for those going to HID setups as those bulb change this demension significantly. This misalignment tends to "unfocus" the beam and spread the light over a wider area. The Wing headlight is designed to keep most of the light out of the eyes of oncoming traffic and this is lost when that demension is altered. That performance criteria is federally regulated but I doubt you will get pulled over for that violation. Instead you will just seriously piss off oncoming traffic if it is really bad.
My recommendation is to park right next to someone (use your center stands) who has a different bulb in their Wing and take turns using your high and low beams while shielding the other bike's headlight with a towel. Evalute not only the light intensity but its color and focus. Being on a dark road that is tree lined will help gage light "spillage" due to poorly focused setups.
IMHO, the Wing has some of the besting lighting of any bike on the market and is adequate for most riding situations. I know the Iron Butt crowd have needs in excess of most other riders but I have complete some of those rides (saddle sore, bun burner gold) safely with the standard Wing lighting system.
I am not trying to discourage you from improving your Wing lighting but I hope I gave you some good advice to make sure you are making it better and not worse. My recommendation would be to stick with an incandesant bulb designed to plug-n-play in your stock headlight socket (H-7) and ask your friends what they use and why. I wouldn't go too much higher in wattage draw, but your Wing is somewhat over designed so going from a 55/90 watt to a 55/100 or 55/110 will probably not blow fuses, burn wires or connectors IMHO. Replacing the bulbs is a PITA so you also want something that will be reliable as well as bright. Good luck on your quest.:thumbup: