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Fibre Optic Lasers coming for bikes

Bright, long-lasting LED lights may now be standard issue on modern motorcycles, but the next generation of illumination is already under development – lasers. Some cars have already have laser headlights, which offer a brighter light even than the latest LEDs, illuminating the road up to 600 metres ahead. So far they haven’t made it onto bikes, thanks to bulky packaging and a high price, though BMW showed a K1600GT with prototype laser headlight in 2016.

However, we could see laser lights on motorcycles before too long, with two major manufacturers having submitted patent applications which look like serious production options. Both Honda and Yamaha are developing systems which place the bulky laser unit under the seat, rather than try and squeeze it into the headlight unit itself.

Honda’s system would use two lasers – for main beam and dip – and LED bulbs for everything else, but Yamaha’s more recent patent refines this is, needing just one laser unit for all the lights. It uses fibre optic cables, enabling it to split the light to the headlight, tail light, indicators and so on, as needed.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, welcomed the prospect of brighter bike lights. “After years of being dazzled by modern car headlights, particularly on large SUVs, it might be a nice change to have a reverse situation. Which is a potential problem, of course. As someone who still uses vehicles with incandescent bulbs with H4 halogen 60/55 watt headlights, I have doubts as to the necessity for lasers, it’s all a bit ‘Star Wars’ in urban environments, is this supposed to reduce the need for street lighting, one of the great safety improvements of the last half century?”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of BMW