The word "billet" has been used quite liberally in the world of motorcycling, mostly due to the rise in popularity of custom bikes and their builders.
The word has several meanings in English, which probably has added to the confusion. For example, one definition for billet is the place where a soldier is assigned to sleep.
A billet is also "an oblong square, supposed to represent a sheet of paper folded in the form of a letter".
Or how about "a baton or club, of material other than rock, used to detach flakes from an objective piece by percussion".
A machinist's definition might be something like "a part made from solid metal that has been machined, forged, rolled or extruded into its final shape".
This is -- or should be -- the classic motorcycle owner's definition of the word that has instead come to define just about anything made of metal.
For example, I recently found a blister pack in a motorcycle shop that held two plastic auxiliary motorcycle lights. Sure enough, the package boldly proclaimed them as "Billet Driving Lights".
The best that can be said about these "billet" parts is that they were at least chrome plated.
True billet parts can be expensive to manufacture, and the need for rapid development and large quantities has stretched the definition of what can truly be described as billet.
Since there's no "billet police" around to monitor the usage of the term, we'll probably be stuck with the confusion for some time to come.
As an ex-machinist, this is unsettling to me, but there's nothing I can do about it; billet has come to mean anything that looks like it could be made from a billet.
The 48 LED billet turn signals shown here were designed and manufactured by Radiantz and were provided to us by Custom Dynamics.
They are marketed by both under the names "Billet Dogeyes" (Radiantz) or "Dynamic Clusters" (Custom Dynamics).
We've reviewed several other LED lights that were either designed or manufactured by this dynamic (pun intended!) duo; see the column on the right-hand side of this page for links to those articles.
"Billet Dogeyes" combination turn signals do meet the machinist's definition of the word.
The Billet Dogeyes are large machined and chrome-plated housings that can be used as primary or auxiliary running lights, turn signals and brake lights.
The clear LEDs and the clear lens have a custom look.
The outer ring of 24 LED lights are yellow when lit, acting as the turn signal.
The inner core of 24 clear LEDs serves as the running light and the LEDs are red when lighted, becoming brighter when the brakes are applied.
The billet turn signals are 58 mm in diameter (2-5/16") and 21 mm thick (3/4").
The installation instructions recommend mounting in a semi-flush orientation, so only the 5 mm high, chrome plated trim ring will show.
But they have such a nice all-over chrome plate finish that there's no reason why the entire assembly couldn't also be mounted on some surfaces, like the back of a pair of hard saddlebags.
Although the semi-flush mounting option is probably best, and gives the lights a factory look, the downside is the 1.75" hole that must be drilled to install them in this configuration.
Whether or not the lights are mounted flush, it will also be necessary to drill two 1/8" holes for the mounting screws and one central 1/8" hole for the wiring.
The threaded holes in the back of the trim ring (Photo 2) are hidden from the front view, but the holes go all the way through the back of the body, or "puck" (Photo 3).
Four stainless steel studs are provided with the kit (two each of different lengths).
These are designed to screw into the back of the trim ring and through the body for mounting. The studs are secured by supplied Nylock nuts to complete the job (Photo 2).
The Allen screws on the trim ring require a 3/32" Allen wrench. The instructions don't list the size of the Allen wrench, and it took some head scratching before I realized that a 2.5 mm Allen wrench (0.0984") wouldn't work.
The 3/32" Allen wrench, which is a very close 0.09375" does the job. I haven't used inch-sized tools in so long I had to really dig around in the toolbox to find the correct size, but 3/32" it is.
The bottom line is that if you don't mind drilling a 1.75" hole in your fender or saddlebags, flush mounting gives the lights a custom look. But if you're queasy about drilling a big hole, the entire light can be surface mounted by drilling three 1/8" holes.
The center hole is used to route the wiring and two on either side of the center are used for the studs to attach the light, which will stand out about 3/4" from the surface.
I chose the latter option to mount the lights on the back of the saddlebags of the BMW R65.
Wiring the lights is easier than mounting them; the black wire is the ground or earth, red is for the brake light, yellow is for the yellow LED directional lights and orange is for the running lights.
Splice the corresponding wires into the bike's lights using Posi-Lock connectors and you're all set.
I figured it was a good idea to have some type of quick disconnect in the wiring so that the saddlebags could be quickly removed when necessary.
The disconnects are shown in Photo 5; they are the same type of connectors used on familiar products like the Battery Tender and other motorcycle products.
While I was at it, I purchased a variety of different types to have on hand in the webBikeWorld garage.
They have single, dual, triple, quadruple and other types of connectors, available with either 8" or 42" leads.
The billet turn signals are also available as red-only LED running lights with brake lights or amber-only LED running lights with turn signals.
In this configuration, they're known as "Billet Circles or Puckz" by both Radiantz and Custom Dynamics (Note: As of November 2007, Custom Dynamics no longer carries the Radiantz brand).
The billet turn signals in this review are also available without the chrome plated body as an insert for round turn signals. These are known as "Dogeyes".
It's not easy to photograph LEDs or motorcycle lighting, but the quality of the light and the chrome plating are very good on both of these products and, in fact, on all of the lighting products we've used that are manufactured by Radiantz.
The LED lights used in the billet turn signals are very bright and they have a crisp appearance when viewed through the clear lens.
The lights are slightly more directional towards the head-on view, probably due to the increased depth of the lights made necessary by the mounting.
The yellow ring of LED lights around the outside edge of the lights is a slightly different yellow/orange than most turn signals, but they show up clearly.
The combination of running light, brake light and the yellow turn signal all contained in one unit is a very nice package that can prove useful to custom bike builders and for an auxiliary light source to any motorcycle.
The LEDs use very little power and can be easily spliced into the bike's existing wiring. The LEDs are clear until lighted, which is a cool feature.
The Billet Circles use the same chrome plated body and mounting. The LEDs are completely red and act as a running light and brake light combination.
These are very bright and work very well as auxiliary lights on the back of a pair of hard saddlebags.