Bikes / Lights

Comparing HID Lights For Bike Use

By: Alex Bristol

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HID Lights Comparison

Night riding is a stressful activity for most riders. It becomes more difficult to see road hazards, and other motorists have a harder time seeing you. This can prevent a lot of riders from going out at night, which is a shame as riding at night can be very therapeutic and good fun.

Luckily, there are ways around this. HID lights are a popular choice when it comes to illuminating the road you’re on. But, how good are they really?

We’re here to compare HID lights with led lights as well as some other type,s so you know exactly what you need and what’s going to give you the best nighttime riding experience.

HID Lights

High-Intensity Discharge is an overarching term for a gas-discharge light. They are the oldest type of electrical light. 

Among the common types of HID lights are mercury vapor, low and high-pressure sodium, and metal halide lamps. Other less common variants include ceramic metal halide and xenon short-arc lamps.

We most often see HID lamps used in the lighting of large areas, such as street lamps and floodlights in stadiums. They provide a whiter light and are twice as efficient as halogen lights. This is a factor that’s very important for locations where constant high-power lighting is required.

Similarly, to LEDs, HID headlights offer brighter light than halogens, at a higher level of efficiency which is the main reason for their common use in headlights. 

  • HID lights provide a wider and more tunable beam pattern than LED lights.
  • To avoid blinding oncoming traffic, many riders use auxiliary LED lights only off-road or in rural areas. Make sure you check your local laws before you buy auxiliary lights if you intend to use them on the street.
  • It’s worth considering if you ride in remote areas. Repairing lights in a developing country may be easier with HID. Also, if you don’t ride off-road, then the extra durability and weight savings of LED lights may not be as important to you. In that case, you may consider saving money with HID lights.
  • Around a third of the energy emitted by HID lights is infrared, so in terms of lighting output, this is entirely wasted energy. 
  • HID lumen output can deteriorate significantly as the bulb ages. Some HID bulbs produce 70% less visible light after only 10,000 hours of operation. 

LED Lights

LED stands for light-emitting diode. Unlike halogen bulbs, LEDs don’t have a filament that the current is passed through. Instead, an LED transfers current through a semi-conductor.

One advantage of this form of light generation is that by adjusting the material properties of the semi-conductor, one can adjust the frequency of the emitted light, thus changing its color.

LEDs have been in use for decades. You’ll see them on your cellphone, laptop, and other various things. Their small nature and low power consumption make them perfect for such applications. Additionally, in low current applications, they also generate minimal heat.

  • LEDs have an extremely long lifespan relative to every other lighting technology. New LEDs can last 100,000 hours or more. The typical lifespan for an HID bulb, by comparison, is 10-25% as long at best (10,000 – 25,000 hours).
  • LEDs are extremely energy efficient relative to every other commercially available lighting technology. There are several reasons for this to include the fact they waste very little energy in the form of infrared radiation and they emit light directionally.
  • Very high light quality.
  • Low maintenance costs
  • LEDs require far fewer accessory lamp parts.
  • LEDs can be designed to generate the entire spectrum of visible light colors without having to use the traditional color filters required by traditional lighting solutions.

Don’t Forget About Halogens

It’s widely accepted that HID and LED bulbs are far superior to halogens. Unfortunately, due to a large price disparity, manufacturers are still installing halogen bulbs in the majority of new cars. As such, HID and LED technology for headlights is only available on more expensive vehicles, or as an extra.

However, while LED headlights and HID bulbs are better in quality, many still prefer the Halogen lights as they’re much easier to access, renew, and overall they’re more practical.

The halogen headlights are of low cost, dimmable, and can be easily replaced. Even after the introduction of newer technology many motorists still prefer halogen headlights. Halogen headlights are the most easily accessible lights the world over.

Apart from the low price halogen bulbs provide the advantage of bright white light which is warm. The majority of drivers agree that the light produced by a halogen bulb is perfectly sufficient and comfortable not only at night but also during storms and rain. The halogen bulb doesn’t flicker, and the bulb warms up within seconds making it a firm favorite, especially amongst cyclists and Motorcyclists.


HIDs have been around for over two decades and are well understood. LEDs are newer to the scene but are overtaking HIDs in popularity and technology.

When it comes to brightness, LEDs are king. HIDs do very well, and some can achieve LED levels of illumination, but generally, the LED will win. However, the difference in brightness may not be something you care about or even notice.

On the color spectrum, HIDs offer a wider selection, everything from 3,000K to 30,000K. LEDs are more limited with an available range from 3,000K to 10,000K. However, regardless of what’s available, most people will choose a color in the 4,000K to 6,000K range as these are the colors that best mimic daylight, and offer the best night-time driving results.

HIDs produce light in the infra-red spectrum along with visible light. This is beneficial for people in colder climates as it assists in melting snow and ice, which may otherwise block up headlights. On the other hand, LEDs do not emit infra-red light.

HID and LED kits are available at a range of prices. When comparing products with similar performance characteristics, HID kits can be up to half the price of LED kits but this is mainly due to the LEDs being newer so this has room for change and is likely to in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which headlight is best for bikes?

This one is up for debate, HIDs are probably better for rural areas due to the wider light, whereas LEDs are considerably brighter. However many still favor Halogen lights. This all depends on personal preference and the whereabouts you’ll be riding. Personally, I would opt for Halogens or HID for bikes and you’ll find that this is the general consensus with bike users.

Which lights are better HID or LED?

When it comes down to it the winner between HID Vs. LED is LEDs, their specs are noticeably better than HID and they’re the up-and-coming new kid on the block. They won’t be for everybody though and the HID still has its perks.


If you’re trying to decide between a LED or HID conversion kit for your vehicle, we suggest going with LEDs. New developments in LED technology have made them both affordable and superior sources of light for your vehicle.

However, as with most things, it’s always up for debate and down to personal preference. Do your research and buy the right kind of light that best suits your situation.

Good luck, and don’t forget…

Keep pedaling!