Finally: motorcycle headlights that look around the corners
By Loz Blain
July 2, 2010
You can't accuse BMW motorcycles of lacking gadgets - with the latest and greatest Beemers packing quickshifters, traction control, integrated ABS and all sorts of other goodies, they're right at the pointy end of the pack. But as great as those features are, this one's so forehead-slappingly obvious and excellent that frankly it's a disgrace that nobody else has beaten the Bavarians to it. The (optional) Adaptive Headlight technology on the upcoming K1600GT finally solves one of the most annoying problems on pretty much every motorcycle - by tilting the headlight according to your lean angle, to light your way around a corner as you turn it, instead of having to ride into blackness. Bravo!
The problem is simple enough - to run a road-legal headlight, you have to cut off the top half of the beam using a suitable reflector so you don't blind oncoming drivers, giving you a flat lighting horizon when you're vertical. But when you dip into a corner and lean the bike over, that lit-up area tilts with you, and if you're turning left, the left side tilts downward until you're basically unable to see through the corner, like so:
It's not just annoying, it's a real safety factor if you do a lot of night miles. So BMW deserves unreserved praise for coming up with its Adaptive Headlight system, that senses your lean angle and uses a tilting reflector to aim the beam the way you're leaning. Hence:
Check it out in this promo video:
The K1600GT headlight also adjusts its pitch, allowing it to run a full HID Xenon beam without blinding oncoming motorists. So there's every reason to believe this will be the best stock headlight on the market, by far.
Hopefully, the day is not far away when ALL stock bikes will have a smart system like this. It sure beats my solution - retina-frying PIAA driving lights mounted beside the headlights and pointed upwards and outwards. Great for my visibility, but lord help any oncoming traffic - or any roadside wildlife that's not wearing SPF 30+ sunscreen.
More details to follow shortly on the new 6-cylinder K1600 touring series, stay tuned!