About LED lighting and the law
For LED vehicle lighting, like in so many other areas, the laws and regulations governing their usage appears to have not kept up with the fast pace of technology. Some multi-coloured ‘boy racer’ style applications clearly go against a number of aspects of current legislation such as the colour of the lights, their visibility and positioning on the vehicle.
However I have not been able to determine clearly whether LED lighting upgrades to the tail, brake and indicator lights etc. on classic motorcycles fall within or outside of the law in any particular country. This currently seems to be a very grey area from what I can make out.
Most of the UK Standards and legislation I have come across talk about vehicle lighting only in traditional filament lamp terms such as the required power ratings (wattage). In many ways, such requirements aren’t really even applicable to conventional filament lamps any more as modern designs may give significantly improved light output and beam patterns compared to their older counterparts of the same wattage.
LED lights are vastly more efficient than filament bulbs and hence give much greater light output for a given wattage, so it is impossible to compare the two types based upon power ratings alone. The beam is much more focussed from an LED whereas a conventional bulb emits light in all directions. The colour and spectrum of the light output can also vary greatly.
All of these factors make it very difficult to determine whether a LED light upgrade is strictly legal or not for a given vehicle application. Most vehicle manufacturers are now using LED lighting as standard because of the significant benefits they provide over conventional lamps. They have the funds and resources to get each of their new lights type approved rather than just following the standard (and perhaps outdated) guidelines.
I have designed the LED lighting boards which are offered for sale on this website based upon all of the applicable requirements I have found in UK law and legislation, to the best of my knowledge and ignoring specifics such as bulb wattage which obviously don’t apply. However I cannot guarantee that there is not some document out there which I have yet to find which makes this type of LED light upgrade for classic motorcycles either definitely legal or strictly illegal. I guess that this is the same for the other thousands of after-market bulbs and lights that are out there, but I just wanted to make this clear.
I wish I had the legal knowledge, funding and experience to be able to tell you in no uncertain terms that a given product is definitely 100% legal for road use in a given country. However this is sadly not the case and hence the following disclaimer. If you know any different, I would be very glad to hear from you!
This is very important information, so please read it carefully!
The LED motorcycle lighting units that I have made available for sale on this website were designed by me for use on my own motorbike and I make no claims or promises regarding their appropriateness, legality or usage on any vehicle in any particular Country, Region, State or Province.
I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am not in any way, shape or form an expert in the laws and regulations relating to vehicle lighting in any Country, Region, State or Province. I therefore am not in a position to provide any advice to the legality or otherwise of LED lights.
My LED lighting have not been tested against any British, European, or other country’s Standards and I make no claims as to their legality or conformance with any specified requirements. They are not E-marked, not kite-marked and not verified against any other Standard or document. They are therefore offered for sale on this basis for off-road usage only and it is your prerogative how you chose to implement them on your vehicle.
Installation and usage of these LED lighting units and their associated accessories on your own vehicle is taken as your acknowledgement that you have verified their suitability, appropriateness and legality in your own country or state. Usage is purely at your own judgement and risk and I accept no liability whatsoever.[disclaimer]
is it legal to drive in india with LED lighting on the body of your motorcycle?
Hi Vedant. I guess it depends upon what do you mean by on the body of your motorcycle. Do you mean coloured LEDs lighting up the engine and under the bodywork? That’s probably not strictly legal anywhere, depending upon which policeman stops you! But I can’t imagine there are too many problems with converting the existing lights from bulbs to LEDs. James 🙂
Randomly found your site whilst looking for regs on running lights on motorbikes. Another gray area…
However, having dealt with much legislation to do with lighting and the highway regs in other areas, I can offer some guidance.
As your mods are “after sales” then it is the duty of the MOT peeps to ensure that your LED lighting is acceptable for safety.
When your insurance asks for modifications to the vehicle, you must get clarification that the LED lighting is not an issue or not considered as a modification. – I got in to an issue where I stated that a more efficient exhaust I fitted is AKA a modification as it is outside the book specs of the vehicle. But when I stated that it didn’t make the car faster but saved on fuel, they were OK with this.
Legally; you must assume that you need to convince a Magistrate that the lighting is acceptable.
The legal issue isn’t LED’s, it is Wattage Vs Lumins. At the time the rules were set it was assumed that a tungsten filament lamp will produce “X” amount of light all over the place apart from the fitting for the lamp. This has a perceived amount of light per angle degree (or cone) of view.
The problem is that the “Wattage” to “perceived-amount-of-light-per-angle-degree-(or-cone)-of-view” ratio doesn’t work any more with new Tech. However Lumins do.
“Lumins” is the measurement of candle power for a given arc of view.
You don’t need to know this value. but you can create evidence your LEDs are acceptable to a Magistrate.
Get an accurate Multimeter and a “Light Dependent Resistor (LDR)” from Maplin, CPC, RS (sorry all UK sources), connect to your meter to measure resistance and clamp the LDR as a set position (say 1 metre) from the assembled lens and in a dark room take a reading before illumination and during illumination and compare both LED and incandescent lamp readings.
Take readings at multiple angles from the centre line of the bike.
If the LEDs are below the incandescent readings then deal with, if the readings are above (and as there is nor regulation I have found for this upper limit), be sensible, if people go blind every time you shove on the brakes then, bad news.
As an example LED Traffic Lights are perceived to be 20% brighter.
Hope this helps. M
Hello I stumbled across this page when trying to find weather led spotlights are allowed as they have a magnifier…
From what I understand after reading the now accessible mot guidelines is; if you are fitting a led bulb in a halogen headlamp where the lens has beam angle markings built in for filament lights, then it is not legal as this scatters the light causing ‘hotspots’ and could potentially dazzle other drivers… If you are fitting a bulb in a lens that has no markings or beam angle built in then there is no problem as long as the projection of the light is in the required limits for headlamp aim specified by the mot regulations.
Using leds in a new housing built for led use it perfectly legal if the light falls within the headlight aim regulations stated on mots. You must have one position (side) lamp, one dip and one main beam at least, if youre fortunate to own an older motorcycle where position lamps were not standard you dont need a main beam either.
Also as a side note modifying led housings with a magnifying lens on the front to fit non led bulbs is also a grey area where it is down to the mot tester, if they think the beam is too scattered or the beam is lighting up he rear of the housing then technically its a fail.
Thanks Curtis, useful info. Can you post a link to the MOT guidelines you mentioned please? Are they available online? There are certainly a lot of grey areas as regulations rarely keep up with new technology.
My own “safe” approach is to assume that putting LEDs into lights not designed for them is bad, as would putting filament bulbs into an LED housing. LEDs and filament bulbs have vastly different light outputs and hence the light must be designed for the ‘bulb’. Similarly, cheap LED light units bought from China off eBay (for example) probably aren’t going to be great…