Story & Photos by: Rusty Baptist // UTVUnderground.com
Introduction by: Joey DiGiovanni // UTVUnderground.com
UTVUnderground.com is fortunate enough to work with some of the off-road industries best companies, and when it comes to off-road lighting we have a plethora of quality companies and products to choose from. Lighting technology has been changing and improving at an astounding rate since the introduction of the Light-Emitting Diode (LED) into off-road about 6 years ago. LED was not exactly welcomed by the off-road community upon its introduction. High Intensity Discharge (HID) ruled the roost and many were quick to point out that LED’s were not and would not ever be as bright as HID. Fast forward to today and its almost impossible to not find an off-road vehicle without some sort of LED on it and in the case of UTV’s its almost a given that if the machine has aftermarket lights they are surely LED products. Like many things in this world, the hot product today is obsolete tomorrow. LED is one of those products thats improving and changing as fast as anything in the world of technology and for those of us who like to play at night, these changes are welcomed.
In this article, Rusty Baptist of UTVUnderground.com installs a set of Vision X Optimus Series Prime 10w LED lights to his 2013 Kawasaki Teryx-4. Luckily today most UTV’s are coming factory direct with much improved lighting. However, in the case of off-road there is no such thing as too much light so we decided to take this stock T4 and juice it up with a set of these LED lights from Vision X to see how much improvement would be made. Rusty was the perfect guy for this test, not only is he an avid off-roader and 7 year veteran of the UTV sport, he is also a lighting engineer by trade having worked in the outdoor lighting industry for over 10 years. Rusty has worked to develop lifetime warrantied lighting fixtures and LED’s for outdoor architectural and landscape lighting so if anyone in our sport knows what it takes to build a long lasting and functional lighting product, Rusty does!
Vision X USA Optimus Series Prime, 10 Watt – 10 Degree LED – Install & Review
Recently UTVUnderground.com was contacted by Vision X USA to test and review a set of their new Optimus Series Prime 10w LED’s. Vision X claims this new light and reflector would produce a massive amount of illumination, eclipsing any other LED of similar size in the industry. Being that my brand new Kawasaki Teryx-4 had no lighting we at UTVUnderground.com found it the perfect candidate to mount a pair of fresh lights too and test how much of an improvement these bad boys would make to a stock car. Of course, we all know that some light is better than no light but we still wanted to see how these lights improved the night riding experience once installed.
Vision X shipped the lights and upon taking delivery and opening the box we were very impressed with the quality and styling. The large reflector and black wrinkle finish gave the lights a nice OEM look. We knew right away they were going to blend well with our factory cage. The Optimus Series Prime LED lights are square in design and roughly about 3″ wide and 3″ tall and has a mounting depth of about 2″. Each light weighs about 1.25 pounds. It offers proprietary IRIS reflector technology and “Prime Drive” for enhanced reliability and output. There are about 16 different ordering configurations to choose from in the Optimus Series so make sure you do your due diligence before ordering. You have options in color/finish, beam spread, and wattage as well as the ability to order them 1 at a time or by the pair. Ours came as a pair and in a “kit” that is supplied with a plug and play wiring harness. Each light has a U-Bracket style mount and comes supplied with the hardware needed to mount to any tab or bolt on bracket.
We decided the A-Pillars would be the best location for our new Vision X lights. We contacted Wally at SXS Outfitterz and ordered a pair of his laser cut A-Pillar mounts designed as a universal bracket utilized exactly for these types of lights. The bracket mounts directly where the cage bungs meet on the A-Pillar and utilize the factory hardware. The brackets come powder-coated black and their sleek design allows them to go almost unnoticed. We installed the brackets in minutes however during the process of mounting the lights to them I did run into a problem with the nylock nut (supplied with the lights) cross threading about 1/2 way onto the bolt. I was forced to cut it off and replace the mounting hardware. As is the case with all hardware, take your time when tightening!
Since I have not yet fully modified my Kawasaki T4 I did not want to cut in any switches into the dash until I fully laid out all accessories I plan to install. So I decided to wire the Optimus Series LED lights into my factory light switch so that when I flipped the switch to BRIGHTS the LED’s would also turn on. To do this I used my test light to find the 12v + wire for the high beams. This way I could run my low beam (stock headlights) and high beam (stock headlights and LEDS) all from this one control. For you geeks out there wondering if the factory switch would hold the additional load, 10 watts @ 12v = .83 amps so its no problem to add this load to the stock switch.
Vision X did a great job with their wiring harness. Not only does it use quality connectors, they also leave plenty of slack to run the lights to our mounting location without having to modify or lengthen. Its a rather simple install and the provided instructions really make it fool proof. Once I completed routing the wires and making all the connections it was time to test the lights. I pulled out of my garage and into my preferred testing laboratory which also happens to be my neighborhood. My street is about 1/8th mile long and has become the test ground of all of my late night off-road projects. I will admit however, that this lighting test was actually welcomed by the neighbors, our 0-60mph test, not so much.
My initial observation was that the power and punch of these lights were incredible. The lights had no problem illuminating my street and beyond and the narrow beams pierced through the dark night sky like a laser. We were left to wonder if the “pencil beam” 10 degree lights would be enough to truly help us through the desert? So with the lights installed and our street test complete we loaded up and headed for Glamis for some real world off-road testing.
Working in the lighting world for the last 11 years I am very critical of beam spread and beam quality. LED’s tend to have a discolored ring around the outside of the beam which could be a terrible distraction especially when traveling at excessive speeds. A good light for off-road could be described as a smooth light however to create a solid off-road night time driving solution you often need a “collection” of well placed and well angled lights. You want a pattern that does not leave concentric circles with dark spots in-between them, but rather a smooth connecting beam that lights up a decent sized area. We will say that with the single 10 watt diode and the IRIS reflector there is virtually no discoloration in the beam and the beam itself is rather smooth but VERY powerful!
At first I was not impressed with the usable beam once we got the T4 into the dunes. But after some adjusting of the lights angles I quickly became pleased with them. These little lights certainly pack a punch, and while we definitely appreciated the light they produced it was obvious that with using the 10 degree beam spread we needed more than 2 to achieve the ultimate lighting pattern. The pencil 10 degree beam needs to be used in conjunction with a flood style beam spread for maximum light. Distance of the light was not an issue, while driving I noticed my light bouncing off dunes 2 and 3 ranges ahead of me!
Lets get GEEKED OUT! Being a lighting guy I have access to some cool tools for testing, one of them is a Foot Candle Meter. What is a Foot Candle Meter one may ask? Well, its a tool used to measure Foot Candles. Ok, so whats a Foot Candle? A foot-candle is a measurement of light intensity. A simple google search could yield you a days worth of reading but in the end just know that it is a common way to measure the intensity of one light vs. another at the same distance away. So with my fancy lighting tool at hand I decided to compare the Vision X Optimus Series Prime LED’s to the stock “Halogen” headlights. With my meter 6″ from the lens of the STOCK lights I measured 800 foot candles. To prove how intese the Vision X LED’s were I was able to measure the same 800 foot candle rating at 15 feet away from the lens of the Vision X lights!! Its hard to beat an LED’s output especially when you consider how little amperage they draw from your system.
In all we were very pleased with this upgrade. We do feel that we need to combine these narrow beam lights with some sort of a wide beam flood light to fully reap the benefits. In some situations the narrow lights created a tight beam of light that was distracting especially when making sharp turns. But in the end, more light is better than less light and we were completely happy with our new Vision X lights on our Kawasaki Teryx 4!
You can check out all the technical data and options for these awesome lights at the Optimus Series Prime page at Vision X USA by CLICKING HERE