Introduction: Easy DIY CREE LED Headlight Upgrade for Your Motorcycle
The H4 CREE LED headlight kit I am using came complete with 2 ballasts, 2 -25W Cree LED bulbs, cooling fans,and easy to follow instructions. The kit showed up in less than 5 days after ordering and was VERY securely wrapped. The best thing about this whole kit was that it was very much Plug-And-Play. You simply mount the ballasts, install the bulbs, and plug in to the existing headlight connectors. It was literally that simple. Another nice thing about the kit is that the LED bulbs actually draw less power than the factory bulbs. The Cree LED bulbs are rated for 1800 Lumens (very similar to the light output of car HID headlights in say, Mercedes Benz and Lexus automobiles) and the color temperature of the bulbs is 5000 K (compared to standard car HID's at 4300 K).
First off you need to remove the upper cowl. Once you have the upper cowl off the bike and a pile of parts on the floor you will need to go have a rest and grab yourself a beverage of some sort. This can be thirsty work and we don't want anyone to become dehydrated during the process of installing farkles on their motorcycle.
Removing the headlight is as easy as removing the four screws that attach the headlight to the back of the upper cowl. Remove the headlight from the cowl and find some place safe to set the cowl so it does not get stepped on, dropped, bashed, scratched, or otherwise damaged.
You need to remove the existing bulbs from the headlight housing. Remove the big rubber gasket on each side of the headlight and you will see the bulbs are held in place with spring clips. Release the retainer clip swing it open and remove the bulb.
As you can see from the pictures, and you may have already discovered from previous headlight replacements, the factory bulbs (and the headlight housing) have positioning tabs that are set in different locations than a standard H4 bulb. The same thing can be said for the Cree LED bulbs. This leaves you with an interesting choice. You can either remove the two lower tabs (the narrower ones) tabs on your new LED bulbs and let them sit in the housing, or you can install the bulbs using retainer rings. When I purchased my bike, it already had a set of retainer rings so I removed the tabs from the Cree bulbs and inserted the bulbs in to the housing as
per usual. SEE, I told you this kit was simple to install. (I may have voided the warranty on the bulbs mind you as they are now, quote un-quote, modified).
Pass the LED bulb wiring through the center of the large rubber gasket and then re-install the gasket on the back of the housing. So far, not much different than installing a regular H4 bulb, RIGHT, well, here's is where it changes. Now that you have the bulb installed and the wiring for the bulb hanging out in mid air, you have to install the cooling fan. This part can be a bit tricky to accomplish as the big rubber gasket sticks out above the bottom of the bulb. I found the easiest way to get this to work was to hold the bulb power wire and push it down against the gasket on one side of the bulb and center the fan on the threaded bolt sticking out on
the base of the bulb and CAREFULLY screw the fan base on. The metal on the fan base is not exactly thick so be careful not to cross thread it when you screw it in place. This was probably the most annoying part of the install and it took more than a couple tries to get the threads started whilst holding the gasket and the wiring for the bulb out of the way.
Now you have to figure out where to install the ballasts that provide the power to the LED bulbs and the cooling fans. The ballasts are not overly large but they do need to mounted securely, and let's face it, motorcycles are not known for there vast quantities of FLAT surface areas in behind the fairings. The length of the wiring for the bulbs is about 10" long in total from the ballast to the rear of the bulb so there is a reasonable amount of wire to find a location and I chose to mount the ballasts to the side of the headlight housing for sake of ease, location and basically because it was the largest FLAT spot I could come up with.
I attached a couple of squares of coroplast to each side of the headlight housing with 3M rubberized moulding adhesive tape. This is the same kind of double sided tape that car manufacturers use to adhere mouldings and emblems to vehicles so it is quite strong and flexible. I used the coroplast to space the ballasts away from the housing a bit to make the ballast clear the edge to headlight housing. I also thought that if the ballasts were to get warm (or HOT) that it would provide an air gap on all sides of the ballast. As you may notice from the pictures I have installed the ballast at a slight angle compared to the coroplast. At first I installed the ballasts square to the rear face of the headlight housing and then installed the fairings only to discover that the ballast on the left side of the headlight interfered with the main wiring harness loom on the back of the gauge cluster. DAMN, that was a PIA, especially after I had done such a tidy job of measuring the coroplast squares, lining up the ballasts to make sure they looked almost like they belonged there, and installing the fairing. For some reason the left side of the fairing protested lining up properly when I went to install the upper cowl, and after a little searching with the flashlight I discovered why. So I peeled the ballasts back off the coroplast and re-installed them on a bit of an angle, so that everything had it's own personal HAPPY SPACE. It doesn't look as nice as the first time I installed the ballasts but at least everything clears and the wiring harness doesn't rub on the edge of the ballast.
Now that you have everything installed you are ready to re-install the headlight in the upper cowl. With the ballast on the side of the headlight and a bunch of excess wiring hanging out on the back of the headlight housing, I thought Uh-Oh, what to do with the bulb wiring and the cooling fan wiring as I did not want them to get caught up on anything either during or after the install. I discovered that the there was a space between the fairing and the post that the headlight attaches to so I ran the bulb and cooling fan wires behind the headlight housing mounting flange and that used up the excess wiring length and made everything look a bit more, well. tidy. The ballast power connectors that plug in to the factory wiring harness for the headlights do not have to be run in the same place as the bulb and cooling fan wiring and just hang as shown in the picture.
Once everything is buttoned up on the back of the headlight housing you can re-install the upper cowl on the front of the bike. Be sure to check that none of the wiring is obstructed or pinched, and that none of the new parts interferes with anything else on your bike. The only thing on my bike that is not factory on the upper cowl is the LCD volt meter installed on my gauge bezel, but if you have any other parts installed on your bike you may need to check clearances here and alter the installation accordingly. I ran the factory wiring for the headlight connectors behind the black plastic shield that frames the inside area behind the front wheel. The connectors sit just behind the hole in the upper cowl for the factory turn signal openings and are easy to connect after everything is installed.