Introducing a product today from Custom Dynamics, suppliers of high intensity LED devices for your bike. The Radiantz “Tail Star A” LED Retro Kit for the Road Star (and V-Star) is a direct plug in replacement for your taillight’s bulb. Cool retro styling and the surprise benefit of increased visibility to other road users is what it’s all about and this little number delivers that in spades!
- Ease of Installation: 10/10
- Installation Time: 5 to 10 minutes
- Mechanical Aptitude Required: Beginner
- Tools Required: Medium Phillips head screwdriver
- Quality of Instructions: Excellent
- Quality of Product: Excellent
- Supplied by: Custom Dynamics
- Reviewed by: RoadStarMagazine.com (this review is subject to the following disclaimer)
LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, are becoming more and more common for bikes and in addition to the purty cosmetic ones you see lighting underneath the tank we are now seeing them as replacements for safety indicators. Benefits with LED systems is they draw a lot less power from your bike than you would expect and they last just about forever. In regards to safety indicators, the Radiantz Inc. LED Retro Kit from Custom Dynamics is one such product and is a direct replacement for the bulb in your taillight. Other than just looking plain cool it also increases your bike’s visibility which means increased safety on the road and you know we like that!
I was very impressed with the build of the Radiantz Inc. LED taillight and fears of moisture damaging the circuit board were quickly dispelled. Although you can’t really tell by the picture, the entire circuit board is encased in waterproof silicon which means no water or dust will be able to make its way onto the circuitry. Another good thing to note is LEDs also draw much less current than the stock bulb, so if you have an electrical system that is borderline in capacity then the use of LEDs will help you regain some juice. Lastly the circuit board is also vibration resistant and because the LEDs are 100% solid state there are no filaments to burn out or break. Oh and did I mention a five year warranty?
Initially the look of the taillight took a little getting used to but, I quickly came to the opinion that the tombstone shape is a cool one indeed with very obvious retro stylings. No doubt it would look better housed in a proper tombstone setup, but I did find that when following the bike on the road it actually appeared as if there was a real tombstone taillight in place. Alternatively if you had a clear taillight cover I think it would look fantastic as the LEDs themselves are clear when the bike is turned off and they are red when operational. Another thing I found is when I was following the bike the LED taillight is VERY obvious and there is no doubt when brakes were being applied and that impressed me no end. I’ve followed Road Stars with stock lights in the past and depending on the conditions of the day if you aren’t looking at the right time it can be difficult to tell if the person ahead is braking, that is until you’re right up their clacker…
The thing I was impressed the most with was just how much more noticeable the taillight is with the Radiantz LED kit. A big part of this is that the LEDs sit right up against the plastic of the lens cover so it becomes viewable from any angle. Something to note here is that LEDs emit minimal heat so there is no fear of the plastic lens melting, as can happen with replacing the stock bulb with a stronger one. Now the following images attempt to show you just how obvious the LED taillight is when in operation and this is when I also found how much the stock taillight lacked in visibility depending on where you were looking at it from!
Illumination in the shade
In the shade the lights are obviously more noticeable than in direct sunlight, although you can see how the LED light shows itself a lot more.
|Brake Off ~ Shade||Brake On ~ Shade|
Illumination in bright sunlight
Unfortunately the bright sunlight washed out the brakes from the Brake Off image, but let me assure you the LED was a lot more obvious than the picture shows. The opposite applied to the stock light because I couldn’t actually tell if it was on or off. In the second picture you can see that despite the bright light that washes out the previous image you would have to be blind to miss the LEDs. The stock light was a little more obvious than when the brake was off, but if you were a cager you could easily miss it lighting up to indicate the bike in front of you is slowing down. Not cool.
|Brake Off ~ Direct Sun||Brake On ~ Direct Sun|
Visibility at different angles
This is where we see how the different angles can affect how viewable the stock light is. The first picture is taken while getting down quite low, so you are in direct line with the light, but you wouldn’t normally be that low unless you were driving a go-cart… The second image shows how the stock light practically disappears from anything but a direct view to the rear, and as you can see the LED setup is as obvious as ever. Go and try this experiment for yourself, stand off center from the rear of the bike and get someone to operate the brake. It’s even worse in bright sunlight.
|Brake On ~ Low View||Brake On ~ Side View|
Something else to be said for LEDs is that they illuminate approximately 20% faster than conventional bulbs. Because LEDs illuminate faster, this may provide improved reaction time for vehicles approaching you from behind. Sure it doesn’t sound like much but at 65mph. this equates to approximately 17 feet of reaction distance that is gained and with the Roadie being just over eight feet long this is a difference of two bike lengths! Something to think about.
With some LED systems you need to add load equalisers to your electricals but that is not the case with the Radiantz taillight system as it’s a direct plug in replacement for the stock bulb. I should mention there is a version of the Radiantz taillight with built in indicators and for that one you DO need the load equalizer.
Anyway, installation is a very simple affair and merely involves: removing the taillight cover and pulling the bulb, plugging in the LED’s connection and then screwing it all back together. You will find it easier to have the bolts through the taillight cover with the LED board sitting on top of that and then marrying the whole lot to the fender, just a little less fiddly that way. Simple, no splicing, no wiring, just pure plug and play.
At $124.99US the Radiantz LED Retro Kit for the Road Star is an expensive item, but for the obvious lighting benefit to other road users, plus the tres cool factor, it’s very hard to beat. The LEDs are also good for 100,000 hours of continuous operation so that along with a five year warranty this will be the last taillight you have to buy. As mentioned earlier, a clear taillight lens or proper tombstone housing would really compliment the setup, but even with the stock Road Star lens cover it looks mighty fine to me. You can find the Radiantz Inc. LED Retro Kit at this **direct link** on the Custom Dynamics Website.