Light up my life!
Laranzo Dacres, Gleaner Writer
Inspired by the 2001 release of the blockbuster movie Fast and Furious, underglow lights quickly became super popular on Jamaica's streets, said Paul Cole of King Midas Mufflers. However, although the craze was short-lived then, the trend has risen from the ashes to again become sought after by local bikers as well as motorists.
"When you have something that seems common, there is no attraction to it, so you have to change up di thing so you can stand out," said Lyndon 'Rock' Thomas, car and bike owner. "When I put my personal touch to the idea, even if someone 'roll up' with a machine like mine, I will draw more eyes because mine is just different," he continued.
These underglow lights add personality to a car or motorcycle and turn heads, especially when they are driven at nights.
Thomas has customised his red BMW 325i Coupe and his 2006 Yamaha R6 motorcycle, having added 16 volts-powered LED flexible light strips, which is a form of LED underglow lights.
"I put five of the strips on my bike - two on each side and one on the chain guard," Thomas said.
The strips line the door jam, the underside of the trunk and underneath the dash board of his car. They look similar to pepper lights and are available in different patterns with a pair costing about $5,000.
According to Cole, his company - King Midas Mufflers - sells LED lights which are contained in glass-type tubes and powered by 12 volts, at a cost ranging from $12,500 for a set of four LED lights up to $20,000 for the neon-type underglow lights.
"The underglow lights can be easily connected to the vehicle by the driver and run off the car battery," Cole noted.
However, if the vehicle is low to the ground and is driven too fast over a sleeping policeman, the lights could get damaged as the glass tubes might shatter. "These lights are not as durable and flexible as the strips. One of the advantages of the lights in the tubes is that the driver can change the colours of the lights by remote control and even set them to flicker to the rhythm of the music of choice," Cole explained.
In fact, he said the lights are water resistant and replaceable.
"If the lights go bad they can be replaced, either in their entirety or by section," he added.
The lights have become popular among owners of motorcycles as well. "It's already a trend!" said Matthew Harvey, motorcycle technician at Malcolm's Cycle World. "People love the glamour and the glitter, so the lights have become very popular."
Harvey said that the LED lights for the motorcycles are sold according to the length and the quantity at an average of $5,000 per foot and are available in a wide range of colours.
"The lights are very flexible so people choose to install them in the most unusual places on their bikes," Harvey said.
For the motorcyclist, the average installation cost is about $2,000 but the overall fee would depend on whether the owner would wish the lights to be automatically illuminated when the bike is switched on, or by an independent power source.
In the meantime, Thomas is enjoying the attention he gets from the underglow lights he has put on his BMW and Yamaha motorbike. "The attention is just crazy!" he said.