Distressed Motorcycle Headlight





Introduction: Distressed Motorcycle Headlight

About: Becky Stern is a content creator at Autodesk/Instructables. She has authored hundreds of tutorials about everything from microcontrollers to knitting. Before joining Instructables, Becky worked for MAKE Maga...

Here's a quick technique for distressing/aging a motorcycle headlight to better match your rat rod. My boyfriend's 1971 Yamaha XS650 bobber just didn't look right with the copper finish of its new headlight.

You will need:

  • headlight
  • painter's tape/masking tape
  • utility knife
  • sandpaper, about 800 grit will do
  • rubbing alcohol
  • towel or paper towel
  • gloves, eye protection, respirator and respirator recommended
  • protected, well ventilated area for painting
  • matte black spray paint

Step 1: Tape It

Tape off any areas you don't want to get paint on, like the lens, brights indicator, wires, etc. Use a utility blade to carefully cut around the edges of these areas, and press the tape down into any crevices.

Step 2: Sand It

Lightly sand the entire surface of the headlight can, rim, and mounting hardware. Fold the sandpaper and use the crease to get into nooks and crannies that will later catch the paint. After sanding, wipe the headlight with rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth to remove any debris in preparation of painting.

Step 3: Paint & Wipe It

Apply a thin coat of matte black spray paint to the headlight over a protected surface, then quickly wipe the paint away with a towel. Paint will settle in the crevices and on the sanded surface, leaving a dirty-looking, older appearance. Repeat until the desired effect is achieved. Then remove the tape!

Step 4: Install It!

All that remains is to install the headlight on your bike. Soldering is so fun! Thanks for following along, and I look forward to your feedback and bike stories in the comments!

Check out more of my motorcycle projects:



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    Hey, I thought that was an XS engine. Reliable beasts they are. I just got my XS650 going, original though.

    1 reply

    Also, very nice job, looks amazing.

    Beauty! They don't make bikes like that any more. Love the fuel level tube on the tank. Did that come from an espresso machine?

    Hell nice bike! Also, nice and easy project. Well done, I like those animated pics.

    Looks great!

    Instead of masking off the glass, you can just remove the bulb/lens. Super easy - just one bolt.

    What was the headlight ? It looks bigger than 5 3/4"

    Now thats a nice looking bike! I used to have an XS2-650 back in the 70s.

    You need to make more videos about this bike! I love the gas tank and a full picture f the bike would be nice!!

    haha sorry! You can see it at the end of the video. I'll find one and add it, thanks!

    Great techniques, Becky.

    I love the look of his bike. I'm kinda (I mean . . a lot) jealous!