Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Wilmington, NC, USA
Re: Hella Lights
Be curious to learn more but quality with Hella reflectors is a major problem to the extent that I no longer buy Hella lights. I have had many models on cars and trucks and every lamp (6 or 8 pair) had their reflectors fog up in humid climate. Cheap poor quality aluminized coating, I suspect. Some durability testing would be good for them to think about. Strange they can't get a durable coating on a metal surface.
I've also had too many of their lenses crack from road spray cooling in cold conditions (4 or 5 IIRC). Housings were using stock rated bulbs at the time so again, not acceptable quality of design. This has happened even with lamps mounted above headlight height. They do seem impact resistat, however.
I have had no problems with other Hella parts like relays, switches, ballasts and supplied bulbs but note that like a lot of traditional German gear, weather proofing gets little to no attention in most of their aftermarket stuff. That's pretty inexcusable for anything and unacceptable for a bike. And very odd for stuff coming fom a place that can be cold and damp a lot of the time.
Some German designs still use leaf springs in bulb holders that fail over time for tension loss due to vibration and age- that design is just plain stupid unless springs are made quite stiff but it sure is cheap to make. Not sure how much of this applies to Hella but they supply a lot of stuff in Germany. This is so common it is the first thing I suspect when a light goes out on a German vehicle- its as likely to be the spring as the bulb.
Am old enough to remember the 8" Cibie Oscars that were racing standards up to the 70s. Had a pair on my Z car's badge bar to keep deer from occupying my seat. (Often saw a couple hundred of the 4 legged rats in a 25 mile commute I made at night - really really scary because they fed along the road edge for a couple months in the spring - partly for new buds and partly for the road salt, I think. ) Good stuff-never had an issue with them. Bright for any period, at least until HIDs showed up. (H-1 bulbs may be a more vibration sensitive than an H-3 but watt for watt they work better) Painted the shells to match the car, too.
My RT has Trail Tech HIDs (30W, spot beam) with which I have had many bulb (4) and ballast (2) issues that the maker has fully covered under warranty while they fix their problems (bad reflector coatings and ballasts). I think they are now fully resolved but won't know until I get a few more months on them. There appear to be no other reasonably priced equivalents at present. I also run 65 W IPF H-7 bulbs in the headlamp, the BMW LED tailight accessory and Hyperlites. Don't like the 6000K and up bulbs for regular lamps- too much bounceback in fog which is predictable whereI live at some times of the year.
Accessory HIDs would be my primary interest for bikes - halogens are common, obsolete for many uses, and I see little need for additional offerings from Hella given the plethora of passable reasonably priced lamps from Asian brands, though custom installation kits that make fitting easy might be one possible product line. PIAA is pushing their luck a lot at their current price poInts for halogens vs competition so I expect them to loose share or price over time. I used their 1100s and noted that lenses pitted to worthlessness fairly quickly on a sportscar- changed to a Catz set which was a bit better, removing them for HIDs eventually. HID replacements for stock headlamps that include legal optics would also interest me- I won't do the illegal HID lamp changes some make.
LED running lights to fit the bike would also be of interest - not much sidelighting on an RT
In short, I think Hella needs innovation and quality at competitive prices at least as much as marketing - which has often been marginal in the US but that's another story. I know some of these ideas tread on what is DOT legal so some "marketing risk" and disclaimers need to be part of their thinking if they want to sell much to bikers. Most of their potential customers are riding sportbikes or Harleys/cruisers even though BMW owners certainly are into farkles.