LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection


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LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by WingAdmin » Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:49 pm



Two years ago, I pulled the HID headlights out of my GL1500 and replaced them with a set of SoCalMotoGear Pathfinder LED headlights. I did this for a couple reasons:

- HID headlights, while extremely bright, spray light in every direction, blinding oncoming drivers
- You can't use a headlight modulator with HID headlights

I had two choices to go with: SoCalMotoGear Pathfinders, or Electrical Connection's LED headlights. I actually mounted several different lights in a brand-new 2000-model GL1500 headlight housing and took photographs of the Pathfinders, halogen, and HID headlights, which you can see here: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=32942

What I didn't post was a comparison of the SoCalMotoGear (SCMG) LEDs and the Electrical Connection (EC) LEDs. I did actually test the two against one another at the time. They were fairly close in terms of light output, but the pattern of the SCMG units seemed tighter, while the EC units put more light up high where it wasn't needed. I picked the SCMG units, and posted a review of them (see link above).

It's now two years later, and many things have changed. What was state-of-the-art in LED technology back then is archaic and underperforming. Prices have also plummeted - two years ago, a pair of LED headlights was $150, they are now hovering just under $100. I decided it was time to try a newer set of LED headlights and compare them to the older ones. This time around, I selected the current EC units, for a couple of reasons:

- SCMG had advertised that they were using Cree LEDs, and were exposed for actually using cheaper (not as good performing) LEDs and claiming that they were Cree.
- The current EC units use Philips Lumiled ZES LED chips, which are currently the state of the art when it comes to LEDs.

I have written a full review of the new EC LED headlights including a video review with live nighttime riding footage. Here I will post some pictures illustrating the differences between the old SCMG units using two-year-old technology, and the brand new EC units.

To do so, I used the highly scientific method of shining them onto a white beach towel. :) I set up my DSLR on a tripod, set it to manual mode, and manually set the ISO, aperture and shutter speed, to make sure the camera was not automatically adjusting and altering the images due to the brightness. I left the old SCMG LED in the left side of the headlight, and put the new EC LED in the right side.

The first thing I noticed, to my dismay, was that the new EC headlight appeared, to the naked eye, quite a bit less bright than the two-year-old SCMG headlight. It is also a slightly different color - a bit less of a blue tinge to it, closer to a true white color. However, my dismay quickly evaporated when I realized that the reason the EC headlight appeared less bright is because it was much better at focusing the light out the front of the headlight enclosure (like it's supposed to) instead of spraying outward in every direction. The light output is supposedly about the same, but it is concentrated.

Here are the unaltered photographic results - you'll notice that all of the images appear as if the light is higher on the left hand side. This was actually due to my camera tripod being not quite set level, sorry about that. The upper cutoff line was in fact level for each bulb.

Image
This is the SCMG low beam, shining from the left side of the headlight. Notice that it does have a very bright center section, a fairly clear and defined upper cutoff, and not much off to the side. I've learned that in order to light up the road, the headlight has to be lifted so that the bright center section shines down the road - which means the upper, dimmer section is blinding oncoming drivers.


Image
Next we have the EC low beam, in the right side of the headlight. Notice that the bright area is much more concentrated, and bright right up to the cutoff, unlike the SCMG unit. This is exactly what you're looking for. There is an interesting triangular dark section in the bottom of the image, I suspect this is from the shape of the LED itself.


Image
And here is the main reason I ended up disliking the SCMG LEDs: the high beam. The high beam on these LEDs is utterly useless. It is concentrated like a spotlight far too high up, and does nothing except illuminate the treetops half a mile ahead of you. If you adjust the headlight downward so that the high beam actually illuminates the road, it means that when you switch to low beam, it is now shining on the road about 10 feet in front of you, again useless. I ended up almost never using the high beams on my SCMG LEDs because of this.


Image
Here's the high beam of the new EC unit. Exactly what you want - still illuminating the road, but the cutoff is gone, so it raises the light output to shine well down the road (and not the treetops).


Image
I then removed the SCMG LED from the headlight and installed the new EC units in both headlights. This is almost exactly the same as we saw with the single low beam light, but just much brighter.


Image
Here are both EC LEDs in high beam - just a massive, searing amount of light. This is going to make a huge difference over my old SCMG lights. Once I get on the road and get some sample video, I'll write up a full review.



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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Wingsconsin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 8:44 am

I will place my vote and confidence in the EC LEDs I have in my GL1800 ;)
Nice review - Thanks for doing all you do to serve the Goldwing community.
Postings are my opinions based on experience and acquired knowledge.
Your results may vary. Universal disclaimers apply.


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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by mybaybe » Wed Aug 01, 2018 11:29 am

thanks so much for the post on LEDs, my question is? where can I get some for my 1989 and a 1996 GL1500. and what is the stock or part number.
Is there anything else I need to get, like an adapter kit for the new LEDs? or is it plug and play

again thank you so much for the post
glenn walker

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by GoldWinger » Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:26 pm

Hi,
as I`m still on H4 I would like to turn over to the LED.
So for me it is also the Point of interest where I can get the EC LED and do I need some Adapter.

Thanks from Germany

Roland

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Mh434 » Wed Aug 01, 2018 1:22 pm

Excellent information, WA!

I, too, switched from H4 to SCMG LED's a couple of years ago, and I agree, the aiming of them is nigh on impossible. The reason for that is because both emitters were exactly the same distance from the reflector, which is NOT the case in the H4 bulbs they're replacing. This means that the focusing is wrong - you can have a focused high beam, or low beam, but not both.

In my case, I aimed the high beams correctly, and used a pair of LED spot/fog lights (wide pattern), aimed where the low beams should be, to fill in the pattern. I advised SCMG of this failing (complete with photographs, diagrams and precise measurements to document the issue) and note that in their newest offerings, this has been corrected. It amazes me that this slipped by the engineers who designed them. Presumably, they examined H4 bases, overall size, etc., but failed to notice the spacing difference in emitters.

I'm glad to hear there are newer designs out there, with higher output. To me, high beams are important, as I have to travel a narrow, twisting, heavily forested, deer-laden 2-lane at night, often. The "long view" is essential to survival here!

I'l be taking a look at the new offerings, now!

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by WingAdmin » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:42 pm

GoldWinger wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 12:26 pm
Hi,
as I`m still on H4 I would like to turn over to the LED.
So for me it is also the Point of interest where I can get the EC LED and do I need some Adapter.

Thanks from Germany

Roland
No adapter is needed, they will plug right in place of the old bulbs. I will write up a review showing the installation process soon when I get time.

You can get them from Cyclemax, which is where I got mine: https://cyclemax.com/inc/sdetail/gl1500 ... /83/302834

Make sure you get the right kit - the 1998-2000 GL1500's need a shim to work correctly, and that kit is a couple dollars more to include the shim.

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by support4pc » Wed Aug 01, 2018 7:50 pm

I too made the switch a couple of years ago to the SCMG and will now be making the switch yet again to the newer style as I also had issues with the High vs low beams. Also for those of us that have not made the move to 1500's or newer they also work quite well in a GL1200, unfortunately they come in a set of two but this means I'll have a spare if anything goes wrong:-).

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by MikeB » Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:05 pm

One thing not talked about is where did you tuck the two Power Regulator Modules for the headlight bulbs?
They are large and I did not see a way to mount then behind the headlight in the headlight well.
If you passed them through the hole in the fairing behind the headlight assembly, what did you attach them to to keep them out of the way of the forks?
MikeB
Tacoma, WA, USA

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by support4pc » Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:08 am

I was able to tuck it above and behind the headlight within the housing and it's worked fine for me but again I have a GL1200 so it only uses one LED headlight.

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by WingAdmin » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:37 am

MikeB wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 4:05 pm
One thing not talked about is where did you tuck the two Power Regulator Modules for the headlight bulbs?
They are large and I did not see a way to mount then behind the headlight in the headlight well.
If you passed them through the hole in the fairing behind the headlight assembly, what did you attach them to to keep them out of the way of the forks?
Good question. My last set of LED lights I pushed them through the hole in the back, and zip-tied them to the wiring harness there to keep them out of the forks. That was a LOT of work.

On the EC LEDs, they are smaller, so I was able to just push them up and off to the side, and they fit in behind the headlight, between the headlight and the fairing.

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Stew » Wed Aug 29, 2018 9:31 pm

I've just about talked myself into getting these EC LEDs, if I already have the H4 headlight adapter shims to run standard H4's that's all I'd need for them to fit in my 2000? Any other trimming, cutting, modifying needed to fit them? Other than presumably trimming the tabs to fit the shims? Thanks for the great info!
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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by WingAdmin » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:17 am

I have now posted a full review of the new EC LED headlights including a video review with live nighttime riding footage.

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Rwilkerson » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:43 am

I own an 02 GL 1800 and also have SocCalMotot's the newer one's have changed from the ribbon heat sinks to a metal fin type. I am happy with the lights and have only been flashed once when my lights were set up for a load. Once I changed the setting never have had a problem. As for high beams love the way they light up road signs visible for 1/2 mile and have no idea what it will light up on the roadway as I do not do much night riding. I plan to keep what I have till replacements will be required. Could be years from now. And it is almost impossible to change the high beam. If I should win a new set them maybe I would consider my own testing. Until them will take the thought "if it works don't fix it".
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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Rednaxs60 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 10:38 am

Rwilkerson wrote:
Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:43 am
I own an 02 GL 1800 and also have SocCalMotot's the newer one's have changed from the ribbon heat sinks to a metal fin type. I am happy with the lights and have only been flashed once when my lights were set up for a load. Once I changed the setting never have had a problem. As for high beams love the way they light up road signs visible for 1/2 mile and have no idea what it will light up on the roadway as I do not do much night riding. I plan to keep what I have till replacements will be required. Could be years from now. And it is almost impossible to change the high beam. If I should win a new set them maybe I would consider my own testing. Until them will take the thought "if it works don't fix it".
When I owned my 1800, the OEM head lights were the best I had seen on a bike - low and high. Rode a lot at night and had lots of illumination. IMO, Honda got it right with the 1800.
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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Rwilkerson » Sat Sep 01, 2018 10:57 am

I would agree with you with one exception they can not take to much vibration, (rough roads) if one goes out the other will follow. Only had my bike less than a year when mine died. Good thing had my fogs or I would be been without lighting. I assume the led will last many times longer. That is the advantage I feel is important.
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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Mh434 » Sat Sep 01, 2018 12:18 pm

Some motorcycle-type H4 halogen bulbs were "ruggedized" (filaments better supported) compared to automotive ones, specifically to deal with that issue. I used to use automotive ones anyway, as they were about 1/3 the cost and lasted almost as long as the motorcycle bulbs.

LED's, on the other hand, are inherently stronger than even the "ruggedized" H4 bulbs, as the emitters are mounted directly to a circuit board, they're not subject to anywhere near the extreme heat cycles as H4 filaments, and do not degrade nearly as rapidly as halogen filaments.

They're vastly more efficient, producing far more illumination per amp used, and vastly less waste (i.e., heat).

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by captaindan » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:24 pm

Upgraded my low beams on my 06 1800. Very happy. Looking to do the same on the high beams soon. Thanks for the review on these lights.

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by John Verburg » Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:47 am

Thanks for the review, and I am sold. But, I have two 75 Gls both with vetter fairings. Does anyone have any experience with modifying these. Would it not be nice if this set would work for both bikes, since they only use one bulb?

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Mh434 » Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:48 pm

If your bikes have headlights with replaceable halogen bulbs, one of the 1988-1997 kits will do both of them. They mimic the light pattern of the H4 bulbs (but are far brighter), and will fit with no modifications to the bike at all.

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Corkster52 » Wed Oct 03, 2018 8:17 pm

Scott, thanks for this excellent review. I just ordered my set directly from Electrical Connection. I hope I get the shims I need :? I almost can't wait to get them installed and show them to my somewhat snobbish SoCal light owner buddies..lol

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Re: LED Headlight Comparison: SoCalMotoGear vs Electrical Connection

Post by Trekkor2003 » Thu Oct 04, 2018 10:31 am

Thanks for the review. In 2015, I purchased the Socal lights for my 2010 and have been happy with them. I was tempted to go with the ECs but couldn't find any reviews at the time. I don't drive at night very often, but I did find them very helpful this year in the mountains outside Denver. I was heading back to Blackhawk after a concert at Redrocks. The twisty canyon road was very visible. I do wish for more light to the sides down low. As I got older, my peripheral vision has weakened. More light in the bottom corners would be nice. I haven't had any oncoming cars flash me for blinding them. I have them adjusted low. I only have them in the low beams. The original high beams add more light down the road like normal.



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