My search started on the ADV Rider forum for a H4 headlight LED bulb. Had no idea of the online marketing deceptions when shopping for a bulb. as well as what to really look for and this is what I've learned so far
All reflector housings are designed around the halogen bulb dimensions and placement and thats why the LEDs up till now have never really work as good as the halogens for beam pattern focus, cut-off and glare.
Until just recently they are much closer to copying the same size and location that the halogens are placed at by reducing the middle web which puts more light to the horizon and less on the road right in front of you that creates glare . The problem with glare is that is causes your eyes to dilate and reduces your ability to see in the darkness farther and better.
You would have to all but contact the manufacture for this info, but looks like all the new bulbs with this new design are advertising it to help sell there bulb.
Therefore when looking for a bulb, LEDs emitters that are located with the same locations and dimensions that the halogens are at are the best bulbs available today
I researched some sites for DOT and Lumens testing but after learning how each and every bulb regardless of testing is going to have a different result in each and every different type of reflector housings, it seamed like its not worth throwing into the mix when looking for a bulb. But there are some basic types that offer a better DOT compliant type beam
And I have bought 2 different bulbs now that I feel have just as good of a Cut-Off point as the standard halogen bulbs do.
Somewhat DOT legal H4 type bulbs for cut-off and glare ON LOW BEAM to on coming traffic are ........
Side mounted LED Emitters with Shields under the low beam emitter (high beam off)
Up/Down mounted LED Emitters with ONLY top led emitter on at low beam (bottom led emitter off)
Top mounted LED emitters that have both low & high beam emitters on top (facing up)
Any bulb that lights up the bottom half of your housing will create glare and no cut-off point to on coming drivers.
Three sided LEDs are terrible, Light will be everywhere and anywhere and they can not create a cut-off point with that type design. (blinding oncoming cars) But great for off-road only.
And of course depending on the quality and design of the bulb. Knock-off vs Name Brand
Even when using the above type bulbs
Not sure if this apply's to Projector housings. I only researched Reflector housings (my bike)
Best LEDs /
During my search and reading comments (100 plus)
Phillips "ZES" Lumileds emitters are rated the best right now
Cree "XHP70" emitters are rated second
Then all of there previous models "XXXX"
There are more, but these came up the most while searching.
Then all the Knock-Offs LEDs
Some are now adjustable for rotation as well as Focus (slide in & out)
E-Bay & Amazon may have bulbs with Phillips or Cree LEDs in them at half the price but the Knock-off brand lights do not hold the exact dimension tolerance for position of the LEDs like the Name Brand manufactures hold. .010 of a inch will diffidently effect the beam focus, just like a adjustable Mini-Mag light works. Therefore, Knock-Offs with Phillips or Cree or No-Name LED emitters are likely to have Terrible beam pattern and very poor cut-off and glare. Compared to a Name Brand Bulb
Unfortunately you cant really trust the Lumens rating .
Lumens ratings from Name Brand company's with Name Brand LEDs are close to the stated lumens because they care about there name and reputation, but depending on the current or late design of the bulb usable Lumens will differ . Never found one comment or YouTube test where the Name Brand bulbs were over rated . But, I saw plenty of actual YouTube tests where Knock-Off brands did not have half the stated Lumens
ADVERTISED RAW LUMENS ..............................
If you've ever looked into LED lights, you've almost certainly read the term "lumen." It is the standard unit of measure for how well a light source will illuminate objects. Because output is typically one of the major factors people use to evaluate light-emitting diode lamps, many manufacturers prominently display this figure on product literature and boast of high lumen numbers.
What these manufacturers may fail to tell you, however, is that those big numbers are actually the raw lumen output rather than the effective lumen output.
The raw lumen output of a light is actually a theoretical value rather than an actual measure of useful light output. Manufacturers calculate raw lumens by taking the number of LEDs in a light and multiplying that by their maximum output rating. For example, if a light uses 10 LEDs that have a maximum output rating of 100 lumens, the raw lumen output would be 1,000 lumens.
No photometric testing is necessary to come up with this number - it's just simple math. The reason that raw lumens should not be relied upon for evaluating LED lights is that they don't take into account real-world factors that can decrease the light output as much as 75 percent.
The other major factors reducing raw lumen figures are the current used to drive the LEDs, optical losses, and assembly variations. Driving a higher current through an LED will produce more light, but it also make the LED hotter, thus creating thermal losses and shortening the life of the LED.
Coupling the optical losses with assembly variations, and you've got an additional 20-50 percent decrease in light output that the raw lumen figure doesn't account for.
And again due to clever marketing we will never really know how good the light is.
Effective lumens is an actual measurement of light output that does take into account all of the real world losses we've just discussed. Measuring the effective lumen output of a light requires the use of high-tech photometry equipment.
To illustrate a practical example.
LED Light #1 has an output rating of 2,000 raw lumens and 1,000 effective lumens.
LED Light #2 has an output rating of 3,000 raw lumens, but only 500 effective lumens.
If you were basing your decision solely on,, raw lumens, Light #2 would be the clear choice.
Yet your actually getting 500 less lumens output.
Some company's just flat out lie but there's another way to tell the actual Lumens
Better to trust the Watts rating / There is a Industry standard or 80-100 lumens per watt. But the better LEDs can put out 150+ lumens per watt.
10 watts will be around 1,000 Lumens
18 watts will be around 1,800 Lumens
30 watts will be around 3,000 Lumens
So Red Flag when you see a bulb rated at 6000 Lumen but see a 25 watt rating
If your bulb has a Fan, then its using 3-5 watts to run it
So deduct that from the watt rating when figuring actual lumens
Advertising / Even if the lumens rating is correct you still gotta do the math ...
6000 lumens stated on a 2 pack (2 bulbs) = 3,000 lumens per bulb / 1,500 lumens on low beam / 1,500 lumens on high beam.... That's Only about 500 more lumens than a stock halogen bulb !
6000 lumens stated on a 1 pack (1 bulb) (motorcycle specific) = 3,000 lumens on low beam / 3,000 lumens on high beam
Or they split up the watts for each beam . Low beam may have 2,500 lumen and high beam may have 3,500 lumen
Exception is if they have the / both low and high beams on at the same time design for a different type beam pattern but they will reduce the watts as not to 60 watts being used but could get up in the 4,000 to 5,000 lumen output lite
Heat Sinks Temps / Heat is what kills LEDs.
Fan type run @ 90 degrees
Braided Strap run @ 140 degrees
Solid Fins type run @ 180 degrees
LEDs with 2500 lumens+ better to have a fan type
The Name Brand bulbs with the Fan - The Fans will out last the LEDs
Knock-Offs Brands the Fan's - The Fan's are failing before the LED'S on some (30%)
Living in the back country I needed 2 LED bulbs for two different bikes, with 2 different type housings. 1 oval and 1 rectangular . I learned for the rectangle housing only the Side Mounted LED emitters work the best . The up/down bulbs do not. A lot of light is wasted using up mounted LEDs due to the flat top design of a rectangle housing. but again, It also depends on other some factors as well like LED Design and placement
My search was done using these priority's.
No 1 absolute... Sharp Cut-off point to on coming drivers
Top Name Brand Manufacturers. You get what you pay for 9 times out of 10
I don't include price when it comes to Safety . Riding gear, Tires, Braking, Lighting.
Design and placement of the emitters as close to the halogen bulb
Even the best LED emitters with a lot of Watts are useless without being in the right location
Also, Avoiding multi-sided, to large/many, Un-Shielded, Thick middle web, ect'
Rotation of the bulb is something to look for as well if Fixed or Adjustable
Just looking at the bulb can tell you a lot.
Raw lumens rating "at each setting" (low/high beam) is the starting factor for brightness
Your never going to have a bright LED with a bulb that already has a low Raw Lumens rating
Quality and the most current Name Brand LED emitters
Top brand emitters can use a higher percentage of the Raw Lumens
While cheaper emitters will typically make much less use of the Raw lumens
Fan Type heat sink
Heat is what kills LEDs and well as reduce's lumens output the hotter they run
Color / K (Kelvins)
Going lower than 5500K will also reduce the lumen output on a bulb with the same Raw Lumen rating
And I'm buying a LED for more brightness so having a higher K (Kelvins) rating comes with the deal
All above things & for usable light (1st post)
Actual Pictures, Videos, Reviews, & real life visuals
I did my first 20 mile test rides on both my bikes last night after deciding which bulb was better for which bike and don't think i could go back to halogens ever again. The safety factor with the brighter LEDs is twice that of a halogen.
The newer LEDs that are designed right have as good of a good cut-off point to on coming drivers as the halogens do now in my opinion. I would not use one if they did even for the better safety visibility to myself. They might notice slightly more glare due to its a brighter light, but they are not being blinded by the beam like the older LEDs or poorly designed ones will. AS LONG AS YOU BUY THE RIGHT BULB !
As far as doing reviews ...
Along the same lines as not using Raw Lumens Ratings for deciding on a bulb.
Also, Reviews, Pictures & Videos should not be used when looking for a LED
What there Picture or video looks like is not what your going to actually see.
And if they show a dark back road or half lit city or flat land vs wooded area, ect'
The written comments are actually better information but still ...
Any review is only useful if you have the exact same bike/housing and wanting the same kind of beam for your personal preference.
This is what I noticed while reading reviews, And now first hand experience after installing two different bulbs in the same bike
I also put each of the two different bulbs into my two different bike's. One with a Oval housing and One with a rectangle housing and had Totally different results using the same bulb,
Therefore I would give totally different reviews for the same bulb.
Total brightness (Lumems) didn't change much but Beam Pattern, Cut-off point, and Usable light did.
So ya, You really don't know how good LED is until you try it in your bike.
And why i came up with my priority list for my needs to make my best guess