In 1999, when my 2000 FXD was manufactured, halogen headlights were pretty much de rigueur. But I soon found that that they didn’t quite do the job while I was riding at night. I tried a series of higher-candlepower H4 bulbs until I found one that didn’t melt and cause the low beam to go out. But I was still never satisfied with the results, especially as I experience age-related deterioration of my night vision.
Harley-Davidson has offered LED headlamps for several years, but it was the Daymaker that finally caught my eye. The Daymaker is now, according to Harley-Davidson, a “world lamp” meaning that along with its DOT compliance in the U.S., it passes ECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) safety testing. More applicable to us American riders, Harley also learned from previous light development to design a more robust light pattern with additional LEDs.
LED headlamps are brighter and whiter than incandescent (including halogen) lights, appearing more natural to the rider. There are actually two types of Daymaker LED headlamps sold by Harley-Davidson, and Seth Braverman, parts consultant at Harley-Davidson of Southampton, Massachusetts, explained to me the difference between the traditionally-styled “reflector” Daymaker LED headlamp and the more futuristic-styled “projector” Daymaker LED, which is the one I selected. He explained that the projector-style Daymaker’s D-shaped optical lenses—one for low beam and three for high beam—produce a crisper, more defined, longer beam pattern on the road, as compared to the reflector-style Daymaker which casts a broader and shallower beam of light. The projector-style Daymaker is better suited for higher-speed riding and riders doing long highway trips, and the reflector style is more suited for back roads and those who do not do a lot of highway riding. That said, either LED headlamp is a significant improvement over the stock headlamp, and I would most likely have been just as pleased with either one.
Comparing the low beam of my OEM headlamp (upper left) with the low beam of the Daymaker LED headlamp (upper right), and the high beam of the OEM headlamp (lower left) against the high beam of the Daymaker (lower right)
The Daymaker 5-3/4″ LED Headlamp Kit comes in black, which is perfectly suited for my blacked-out Dyna. (Both this product and the 7″ version come in chrome as well as black.) The Daymaker comes with a one-year limited warranty, but according to everything I’ve heard from Harley dealerships, the headlamp’s reliability is excellent. To protect the headlamp from nicks, pits and scratches from road debris, Seth suggests acquiring a sheet of 3M clear protective shield and cutting out a circle to fit. It’s non-permanent and can be washed and waxed like any other plastic part on the bike. He also states that when matching with auxiliary lights, that you keep within the same LED headlamp type; reflector with reflector or projector with projector; otherwise, the beams can actually overlap.
Although removal of the old headlamp and installation of the new one is quick and even easier to change than swapping out a bulb, I took my Dyna to Tramontin Harley-Davidson so that I could take some photos. Brad in Tramontin’s service department loosened the trim ring clamp screw and nut and removed the trim ring, then unplugged the entire headlamp assembly from the wiring harness connector block to remove it. No external ballast or additional wire harness is required. Brad then plugged the headlamp connector of the new LED lamp into the wiring harness connector block inside the headlamp bucket and installed the new gasket, provided in the headlamp package, around the LED lamp. Then he placed the new headlamp into the bucket and replaced the trim ring, making sure the slots and tabs in the headlamp, adapter ring and trim ring were aligned. Long ago I’d installed a H-D Headlamp Trim Ring, which is larger than the stock trim ring, and I was pleased to find that it still fit over the new headlamp and under the eyebrow. Plus, no beam alignment was needed since we never moved the headlamp bucket.
We did some before-and-after tests against the service department’s garage door, and the results were impressive. And there is a chart explaining the science behind the halogen-to-LED comparison on the Harley-Davidson website. But it wasn’t until I rode the bike at night after the install when I really began to appreciate the difference. I could see much farther ahead than with the old headlamp, the sides of the road were well lit, and the normally-dark space right in front of my bike filled in nicely with light. The low beam stays on even while the high beam is activated, but I rarely needed to use the high beam, which was a welcome change from the stock headlamp. An added bonus is that my bike is much more visible to oncoming riders. I believe the Daymaker headlamp is one of the best purchases you can make for your bike.