Sam Manicom reviews the Denali DR1 2.0 TriOptic LED Light Kit

How’s your eyesight? Before you read on, I’d like you to do something for me. Close your eyes and count three seconds. One thousand and a bit, two thousand and a bit, three thousand and a bit.

My partner Birgit is significantly disadvantaged when she rides her motorcycle at night. Her eyes don’t adjust to changes in light quickly. Bright headlights coming towards her, then suddenly gone, leave her in virtual darkness. Recently we timed that she’s left struggling for up to three seconds, and at even just 50 miles per hour.

Many of you reading this will understand exactly what I mean. Some of you will have always battled with slow adjusting eyes, and some will have experienced increasingly slow light adjustment over recent years. For many of us, our eyes’ ability is affected negatively as we get older.

The fear of those three seconds of lost control turns the joy of motorcycling into an edgy affair, but it’s not realistic to never ride at night. Whether it’s breakdowns, late ferries, or too many viewpoints stopped at, sometimes there’s no choice.

It’s not only a night-time riding thing. Birgit’s night sight also affects her when she’s riding in and out of long, unlit road tunnels. A sunny trip to Norway brought that home; thankfully without a thump.

Then it dawned on me: she doesn’t struggle for the three seconds when she’s driving her car. It could only be because she’s sitting behind two much more powerful lights, so isn’t dealing with such a significant light intensity change.

A more powerful headlight bulb on the BMW R80ST didn’t make any real difference, so I started to research spot lights and quickly found a huge selection; some of which were cheap as chips. Some have systems that reviews said are difficult to fit, and many leaked! The selection was narrowing. Some have a significant power draw, and that was something we needed to look out for since she rides in winter with heated grips, heated waistcoat, and a GPS.

Meet the Denali DR1 2.0 spots. The kit is very well made and the fitting instructions are clear and logical. You don’t need to be a bike sparky to do it!

They came supplied with a set of True-Hybrid filter lenses which meant that we could adapt the lights to suit Birgit’s needs – everything from blasting a long beam down the road, to that flood of light immediately in front. Being easy to angle, we’ve set them so they don’t dazzle oncoming traffic. We directed them so that the offside spot throws light further down the road and the nearside with a filter so it casts a wider flood of immediate light to the side of the road.

The kit we opted for comes with Amber TriOptic lenses. These are designed to increase visibility in rainy or foggy conditions. They do that by blocking the blue tinge in light, which is what we see being reflected off spray. Birgit rides in all weather conditions so this is an important feature.

The Denali DR1 2.0 set offers two control options, both of which are activated by turning on the ignition (if you’ve wired the lights in correctly, of course).

Option one means that they are on, or off, if you wire them straight into the ignition.

Option two means you can control the intensity of the light. The DataDim Dual-Intensity Controller enables the DR1s to switch between half and full intensity with your bike’s original high beam/dip switch.

There’s also a three-position switch option available that allows you to manually control the light intensity independently of the bike’s high/low beam. I have to say that I like this option as it puts Birgit in full control of what’s happening. She’s mostly been using the lights automatically connected to her high and low, which means she doesn’t have to think about anything other than what’s in front of her.

The power the lights are throwing out is significant, even when dipped, which was the original three-second crisis zone. I’m certainly far more aware of Birgit in my mirrors now (when she lets me ride in front!) Mentioning rain and fog again, these lights have the reputation for being completely waterproof, and having seen the quality and style of the seals I can see how that works.

Here’s what Birgit had to say about the Denali DR1 2.0 lights:

Fantastic! I admit to being sceptical, but I’m amazed at how well these work. I’m actually enjoying night riding now! I can see incredibly well with the DR1s and the dazzle factor is absolutely not a problem any more. I feel far safer and way more in control. A bonus is that a quick flash of the spots helps me to make a point when inconsiderate drivers are heading towards me still on full beam. They soon dip!

Full beam comparison. Without (left) and with (right) the Denali DR1 2.0 lights.

The Specs
• LEDs 2 x 10Watt Cree XPL Hi
• Power draw – just 1.6 amps
• Beam distance – spot – 1,000’
• Beam width – spot – 75’
• Raw Lumens 2190
• Unit size – 3.7” round and 3.8” deep
• Mounting kits are available for frame, bash bars and forks

DR1 Kit Contents
• (2) LED Light Pods
• (2) Clear spot lenses (pre-installed)
• (2) Clear E-Mark approved True-Hybrid™ lenses
• (2) Amber spot lenses
• (2) Amber True-Hybrid™ lenses
• (1) HotSwap™ single intensity wiring harness with the capability of a plug-and-play hot swap to dual intensity without changing the harness itself
• (1) DrySeal™ waterproof illuminated switch
• (1) 7/8in handlebar switch mount
• (1) 1in handlebar switch mount
• (2) hinge mounts with M8 stainless steel hardware
• (4) Zip ties and (1) adhesive mounting square

UK Pricing
£299.99 from RG-Racing
+ £19.99 for the Amber TriOptic Lens Kit

Review by Sam Manicom