Denali D4 Spotlight Review

I’m told that, like my old BMW R80GS can be when it’s cold, I’m a bit of a slow starter.

I prefer to think that actually it’s more that sometimes I have a measured approach to life. This perhaps is a weird sounding start to my review of the Denali D4 spot lights but the point is that I was never a fan of spotlights until my partner Birgit tried the D2s on her bike. I’d thought of them as expensive toys. Bike bling! What a cynic!

The difference in Birgit’s riding style at night was phenomenal. And yes, I’m using that word appropriately. Being able to see far more, and for a far greater distance suddenly turned her into a rider with a night time smile. I also was very much aware of how much more visible she was to other traffic. She’s safer and has way more fun.

I bought an F800GS BMW to keep in the States for trips over there and kitting it out has been a significant part of the fun of owning her. When I was preparing to ride around the world on my ‘92 R80GS, I had a small budget and no clue.

But I’ve learnt a bit over the years so I knew what panniers and soft luggage I wanted, which screen, which protection bars (yes, I fall off) and having seen the D2s at work on Birgit’s bike I knew that I should seriously consider Denali lights for my F800GS.

I was absolutely impressed by the build quality to begin with. Through several months of riding with torrential rain days, Birgit’s Denali’s stayed totally dry inside. Many cheaper versions simply don’t, and you can imagine what happens next. The materials the Denalis’ are made of are quality. Not the risk of cheap brands that friends tell me break or crack at the first ‘off’. The mounting gear was sensible and easy to fit too. That’s a bonus with my rather poor level of mechanical expertise.

Birgit rides mostly on the road but I knew that I’d be heading off road at night so I wanted something with a longer range and a wider spread.

Denali’s D4s looked to be the go. At 8750 Lumens I knew they were going to be plenty bright enough for me to pick my way down dirt roads in the dark. Too often the buzz of the daytime’s ride takes over and leaves me still hunting for a wild camping spot when I should have already been tucked up in my tent, or at least sitting with a mug of coffee laced with scotch in front of a wood fire!

I’d been warned by some that the D4s were too bright for road use and that bothered me. I’ve seen riders who are lit up like Christmas trees and dazzling every other road user coming towards them. I didn’t want to be like them. It really wasn’t a problem though. The key is to angle them right. Enough light throw, but low enough that the beams didn’t dazzle.

Friends have ridden in front of me several times, at varying distances and have said that they were very much aware that I was there, but I wasn’t dazzling them. From my side of the rides, I could see every aspect of them and where some of the guys were wearing some reflective gear, I was lighting them us so well that I rather like to think my D4s were making their ride a safer thing too.

What are the specs? The best thing I can do is to take you straight to the Denali website and you can see for yourselves. Something I haven’t mentioned is the Datadim technology. This gives you far more controllability of the lights. You can set them to dim with your dimmer switch and to be on Full beam, with that setting on your bike. I chose to have the option for them to be either on, or off. There’s a simple switch for that. I also haven’t mentioned that you can get orange lens covers for the D4s. The orange is said to be far more visible to other traffic than the white light of the standard kit. Orange is also said to be more useful in foggy weather than the white light which tends to reflect back on the water droplets in mist and fog.

I can’t comment on that but I have ridden in 3 yard visibility weather up on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The spots saved us more than a couple of times! We were stunned by how many cars weren’t driving with their lights on. At least they could see us, even if we had no idea they were there!

Denali D4s and a happy Sam
Denali D4s and a happy Sam
One final comment from me. I’m now absolutely positive that I am safer on the road with these lights on. I lost count of the times when distracted car drivers only saw me because of the lights. Last minute bonnet dips told that story. Have they made me a lazier and less observant rider? Far from it. If anything, seeing those nose dips has dramatically underlined to me just how unobservant car drivers are. I’m even more tuned into what is going on around me.

In short. I like riding with spot lights. I like the throw of light. I like the increased visibility, in both directions. And I like that fact that being as well made as they are, they are going to be an excellent investment. Denali D4s – highly recommended!

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