I was looking for more visibility and possibly better night lighting.
A club member, Don Schmok, installed HID lights.
He is very happy with them because he is more conspicuous to incoming traffic during daylight and they were easy to install and reasonably priced.
Although they are very intense, he says that, once he adjusted their aim, he does not get flashed by oncoming traffic. That sounded like exactly what I needed.
Don got his from Trail Tech www.trailtech.com out of Seattle. The sell two HID kits for motorcycles.
HID MR11 which is the smaller and less intense version and costs about $150 per lamp.
They also sell HID MR16 which is larger and much more intense and is what Don bought.
A similar kit from PIAA with 2 lamps and 2 ballasts costs $1300.
On most HID kits you need to install a ballast in addition to the lamps, but on Trail Tech lamps, the ballast in integrated into each lamp. The power draw for each lamp is 13 Watts, which is 2 Amps, hence you do not need to install a relay for additional lights.
This makes the lights ideal for old Airheads with a limited amperage available for extra lights.
I bought 2 HID MR11 lamps, one spot and one flood. I mounted them on the bar supporting my Areoflow windshield. I selected a wire which was controlled by my ignition and wired in the lamps with an inline fuse. I was very happy with how the intense light beam made me more conspicuous to oncoming traffic.Although mounting the lamps on my Areoflow windshield bar was convenient and give me that classic triangle pattern for visibility the down side is they are below the famous R1100GS “beak”. The “beak” blocks most light pointing forward but I do get a lot more side lighting. Also, I find the light bluish and ghostly, so not as useful for night riding as halogen lamps would be.
After a few weeks use, the lens does cloud over because of the intense heat, but they still are very effective.
My main complaint is reliability.
My first pair lasted about 5 months. Trial Tech replaced them free of charge and suggested that I need to isolate the vibration from the lamps more. After much advice from Trail Tech, I mounted them in rubber grommets. I was very happy with them for about 2 weeks in the fall and 2 more weeks in the spring until they broke again. Don Schmok has had better luck with his HID MR16 lights. His have lasted 3 seasons and now one of his HID lamps is broken. He is still getting lots of light from the other one. Summary I really like the lights. Trail Tech was at first very helpful with advice and generous in replacing them.
Doug Prentiss firstname.lastname@example.org