Motorcyclists choose after-market products for a variety of reasons. They might be personalizing their ride. Or, are looking to increase safety or performance on the road. Many times, the desire is to upgrade factory parts to higher quality replacements. Recently, Custom Dynamics® saw a great demand for LED Light Bars for Air Wing and Air Foil Tour-Pak® Racks and Saddlebag Rails. The feedback from customers was that they wanted a light bar they could be confident in.
Before the Custom Dynamics® product release, there weren’t other aftermarket alternatives available. In fact, a few customers even tried DIY solutions. We wanted to offer a plug and play option that would outshine competition! Custom Dynamics® strives to offer new aftermarket LED products, accessories and fitments. Each design must provide a practical application with high quality, superior components. The result must be a product that meets the high expectations of our loyal consumers. Our new LED light bars for Air Wing and Air Foil Tour-Pak® Racks and Saddlebag Rails do that.
As we discussed in Rats Nest 101: A Tech’s Guide To Accent Lights and Make the ‘bright’ choice: LED Turn Signal Comparison, when considering your after-market LED choices, it can be like comparing apples to oranges. We put our product up against the factory light bar to see how the design and performance measured up. To provide an accurate and fair comparison, we evaluated each product on the criteria:
Design: General product details/specifications. All assembly components including the type and number of LEDs used. The design and assembly of each unit for durability and installation.
Visibility and Performance: the light output or brightness of the product. How the product performs.
Available Fitments: Available fitments based on the year, model and specific application.
Cost & Warranty: Price of the unit including extra costs required for application. Product warranty and warranty process as well as technical support.
The factory Air Wing light bar includes 24 LEDs that appear to be 5mm LEDs. The comparable light bar application from Custom Dynamics® also has 24 LEDs which are 5mm. Remember: not all LEDs are equal. Both light bars incorporate 5mm LEDs. Yet, the quality of the LED differs between the two products. To compare, we powered the factory light bar next to the Custom Dynamics® counterpart (PN: CD-LR-03). The difference in the light output is significant. With 13.5 volts applied, the Custom Dynamics® light bar outshines the factory unit.
The design of the light bar is also different, particularly the lens. The design plays a role in the performance of the product on the bike. It impacts how visible the light illumination is. On both units, there are facets across the part of the lens that sits in front of the LEDs. On the factory Air Wing light bar, the facets are approximately ½ cm apart. The Custom Dynamics® facets are further apart at approximately ¾ cm apart.
Both light bars function as a running light and brake light and are available with a Red or Smoke lens. The application is also similar; both units bolt to the underside of the luggage rack. Inspecting the factory light unit, black silicone is visible at the edge of the assembly. Most likely the silicone protects the wiring and/or provides a seal for the housing and lens. The hand potted silicone leaves the assembly looking unfinished. The components and design impact the light output and performance of the products. Let’s see how much they factor into visibility!
Visibility & Performance
The most common complaint is the brightness of the factory light bars. When it’s done right, LED Lighting on a motorcycle makes the bike more visible to other vehicles on the road. In turn, this also increases the safety of the rider. So, how does the design and components of an LED product influence visibility?
Kypresto (Top 100 Contributor) notes, “the concept of having a run/brake light at the same eye level as car drivers is valid, BUT if the light isn’t bright enough, then why bother?”.
The factory Air Wing light bar lens slants, angling in towards the LEDs. While this provides a low-profile look, it also takes away from some of the light output. Remember, both light bars bolt to the underside of the luggage rack assembly. The overhang of the luggage rack cuts off part of the visible illumination from the factory unit. Because the lens angles toward ground, illumination is only visible from lower viewpoints. One customer reviewer, ‘thomasnruth’ described this flaw almost four years ago.
“If drivers behind you are in an SUV, pick-up truck, van or tractor trailer, they won’t see the LED due to its angle”.
This is a point worth making. The Custom Dynamics® design maximizes light output and performance by considering these details. The lens on our light bar matches the contour of the luggage rack. It is more prominent than the factory lens, without appearing bulky. In turn, the light projects out from under the luggage rack making it much more visible.
LEDs are inherently directional. LEDs emit light in a particular direction (unlike incandescent bulbs). This means LEDs are able to use light and energy more efficiently. However, it also means that sophisticated engineering is needed to produce an LED design that shines light in the proper direction.
Facets on the lens contribute to visibility/illumination, they are what carry and project the light out. They help focus and guide the light in the right direction. The number, location and design of the facets affect how bright the light appears on the bike. The Custom Dynamics® light bar illumination is consistent and rear facing. Due to the design of the unit, almost all the light focused on the target area, behind the bike. Facets that don’t aim the light, will impede the light output and performance. The factory Air Wing light bar facets disperse the light rather than focusing it. The result is uneven illumination throughout the factory light bar. This amplifies the already very directional characteristic of the LEDs inside the assembly. A flawed facet design hinders the perceived illumination and performance of a product.
The light output of the factory Air Wing light bar pales in comparison to the Custom Dynamics® version. Below you can see the factory Air Wing light bar illuminated high intensity for brake (Left Side). Next to it, the Custom Dynamics® light bar is powered low intensity for running light. The design and components of the Custom Dynamics® light bar are superior. Even on a lower intensity, the Custom Dynamics® Air Wing light bar is brighter than the factory Air Wing light bar.
In another test, it continued to outperform the factory light bar. Below the factory Air Wing light bar and the Custom Dynamics® light bar are both illuminated high intensity for brake. The light output of the Custom Dynamics® light bar is far superior.
Custom Dynamics® offers a larger variety of fitments not available through any other manufacturer. For example, Custom Dynamics® offers a plug and play application for Freewheeler® models. There is a custom, hard-wired application available from the factory. But it is not plug and play nor is it model specific. The Custom Dynamics® light bar applications are plug and play (except for one). The Air Foil Luggage Rack/Air Wing Sissy Bar Upright LED light bars are not 100% plug and play. Yet, the 3-wire installation is still very straightforward. We provide everything for the installation, including Posi-Tap™ connectors. There’s no cutting or splicing into stock wiring. Plus, this generalizes the fitment to include Sportster, Dyna, and Softail models! Before the Custom Dynamics® product release, there weren’t other aftermarket alternatives available.
Cost & Warranty
The Custom Dynamics® light bars are competitively priced, if not less expensive than the factory equivalents. Plus, the factory applications don’t include all the installation supplies that are necessary. A factory light bar may require installation supplies or a model-specific wiring harness, not included with the light bar itself. Custom Dynamics® provides everything you need for installation.
The main difference is the warranty. The factory Air Wing LED light bar is only backed with a 1-Year Limited warranty. Custom Dynamics® offers the best warranty program in the industry. The light bars are all backed with a Lifetime LED Warranty! Plus, we offer the best customer support in the industry. With a lot of fitments and applications available, customers may have questions. Our team is available to answer questions, place orders and provide product information.
While the Custom Dynamics® light bar is plug and play, the added benefit of Custom Dynamics® is the support team that’s available. Custom Dynamics® policy is to resolve every phone call, email, or concern before we go home each night. Technicians are available to answer questions and coach installers through installations. Technical support is available throughout the process. Before, during or after installation our technicians are available to help!
Custom Dynamics® new LED light bars for Air Wing and Air Foil Tour-Pak® Racks and Saddlebag Rails outshine the competition. Our loyal customers are already taking advantage of the high-quality upgrades. One customer, ‘Roadkill’ provided his review of our product on Sep 24, 2018.
I just replaced my stock H-D™ luggage rack light with this new CUSTOM DYNAMICS® light. WOW what a difference. The Harley-Davidson® stock light was barely visible during the day and the way it was angled downward made it difficult for drivers to see. Not now, I wish I could attach before and after pictures to this review.
While ‘Roadkill’ wasn’t able to provide pictures, we hope this comparative analysis shines a light on the differences.