Installing a set of accessory spotlights is a practical and aesthetically pleasing way to enhance your cruiser’s appearance, as well as augmenting its OEM lighting. It’s also a relatively inexpensive upgrade, easily performed by anyone that can follow written directions. Nevertheless, like any project that involves moving electrons from end of the bike to another, it must be done properly, or there’s bound to be tears.
PIAA offers a clamp kit that...
PIAA offers a clamp kit that lets you hang the lights anywhere you can find room. The kit includes everything you'll need, including the wrenches.
Stylistic considerations aside, spotlights fall into four broad categories: Fog lights; driving lights; long-range lights; and flood lights. Since the last two are for specialized applications, like off-road racing and nighttime construction work, we’ll concentrate on the ones most typically used on motorcycles; fog and driving lights.
As the name implies, fog lights are designed to illuminate the road under adverse atmospheric conditions, in particular when rain, snow, dust or, yep, fog, makes it difficult to see. Typically, fog lights produce a beam that’s between 35° and 50° wide, though some of the more aggressive fog lights can reach 90°, and go roughly the length of your standard low beam, though some of the high power ones can extend up to 600 feet.
Because fog lights produce a wide, short, beam pattern, their light isn’t reflected back at you by airborne particles (at least not when they’re properly mounted), so for optimal effect, fog lights should be mounted as close to the road as practical and wired to work in conjunction with your low beams. As a side benefit, the wide light of a fog lamp helps illuminate the edges of the road, especially in corners and tight bends, which makes them just as handy on clear nights.
…while fog lights are great on those nights when fog comes creeping in, they’re not nearly as useful on clear nights when you want to howl at the moon, or just get where you’re going without wadding yourself up on some murky road.
Driving lights are used to supplement your OEM high beam. As such, they project a longer, brighter—though somewhat narrower—beam than fog lights. Many of them can project a 20° beam over a mile, and some can produce 170 watts of power, though lights of that intensity aren’t intended for street use.
Driving lights work really well at illuminating distant objects, and they’re also pretty good at blinding oncoming drivers, so if you decide a pair of Retina-burner 1000s are they way to go, use them with some consideration. Driving lights can be mounted just about anywhere you have room for them, though higher is always better and legally, they have to be dimmed with the high beam, so properly installed ones are always wired to work only in conjunction with the high beam.
There are also some dual-filament versions, like the PIAA 525 series, that incorporate a fog and driving function in one light, which comes in handy when mounting space is at a premium or you just don’t want to clutter up your bike with a lot of lights.
Picking the right lights takes some consideration, and obviously, for the majority of us, that includes the aesthetics. Since that’s an entirely subjective thing, I’m not going to comment, except to say choose wisely. Bling is as out of place on an adventure bike as a set of 8 1⁄2 -inch rally lights would be on a cruiser.
First, consider what type of lights will do you the most good. Under most circumstances, I prefer driving lights to fog lights. As I mentioned, while fog lights are great on those nights when fog comes creeping in, they’re not nearly as useful on clear nights when you want to howl at the moon, or just get where you’re going without wadding yourself up on some murky road. But who knows—maybe you spend a lot of time riding across the moors on damp nights, or live in Seattle, in which case fog lights might be the better choice.
If you decide on fog lights, I’d recommend avoiding the traditional amber lens versions. Without entering into a lengthy debate on their effectiveness during inclement weather, I can tell you that many manufacturers are moving away from amber because it reduces the amount of available light on clear nights.
The fuse block is wired to...
The fuse block is wired to the battery and a good ground, the relay hung from a convenient mounting bolt.
The spotlight wiring harness,...
The spotlight wiring harness, visible below the white wire, needs to be run as cleanly as possible
Mounting the lights to the...
Mounting the lights to the crash bar is always a popular option. Make certain the wiring is routed away from anything like exhaust pipes that'll damage it.