LED Motorcycle Headlight

Picture of LED Motorcycle Headlight
In order to reduce the power consumption of the lighting system of my electric vehicle, I took it upon myself to change all of the lighting to LEDs. When it came to replacing the incandescent 18 watt 310 lumen headlight bulb, none of the drop-in LED replacement bulbs looked good to me.
Also none of them offered output levels that were comparable to or better than the bulb I was trying to replace.
So I shopped around and decided to make my own. The approach I took was probably more complicated than what most of you will actually need, but since I put both available options in one headlight I can explain how to implement both.

LED headlights are not DOT approved, so use at your own risk. The one I made was installed on an electric moped.
This guide assumes you will be using an input voltage between 12 and 14 volts. If you are using a different input voltage or LEDs of different ratings than what is indicated in this write-up you should use an LED Calculator to determine what resistors you need to use.

I would recommend this LED Calculator

The cost of this project ranges from $15 to $65 depending on whether you are making a new headlight from scratch, or adapting an existing fixture to use LEDs. This is primarily meant to be an introduction and overview of the options available for making an LED-only headlight.
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Goatherd110 months ago
What did you search for on Ebay for the headlight fixture? Obviously something waterproof. Or did you order sacrificial standard headlights?
ToesNose1 year ago
Thank you Capt. Slug!!! Great instructions Woots!
mika.ch041 year ago
sir can i make this type of headlight with 5mm and 1w power led?
can u plz help me with resistance i m little confused with calculator.
plz tel me the resistance for 5mm and 1w led.
and how much 1w led i can add with 12v battery..

Willie_CN1 year ago
Hey!Guys.If you have any needs for motorcycle LED lights,contact me.
ganpool2 years ago
ShaiGar5 years ago
This Instructable is very interesting. I've got a SYM VS 125 scooter and I'm looking to make the headlights more powerful, with a better view of the road and surroundings (there are morons in Darwin, NT, Australia who like to walk on the roads wasted, or just throw their children onto the roads in front of government vehicles for compensation money) so I'm going to try this at home before attaching it.
CaptainSlug (author)  ShaiGar5 years ago
Using LEDs to supplement the existing headlight will be quite beneficial. If you use "Daylight" or "Cool" white high-power LEDs they can make road signs and anything even slightly reflective much easier to see.
The Royal Blue used to have some UV in them and they really did make road signs glow at a distance. Unfortunately, I think they might have taken the UV out of them now and blue in the UK is illegal on the road.

Im Ned from Manila, just want to know if this would work on my scooter if my headlight is running on AC not DC?

You would need to rectify the AC to DC using a bridge rectifier (you could use four single diodes, but for the cost of a bridge rectifier, it's probably not worth it). Here's an example:

You would connect the alternator to the two AC symbols (doesn't matter which way round) then the rectifier would provide DC +/- on the other two terminals.

Then you can run your scooter and measure the DC voltage on the outputs and then calculate the number of diodes and resistor values as shown here by Captain Slug.

There is a rough idea of how to do it here:

Although this is for a bicycle, the circuit will be the same, you'll just need the correct number of LEDs and dropper resistors.
CaptainSlug (author)  nedlloydcaypuno4 years ago
No, you would need a driver/adapter
wobbler2 years ago
Great Instructible and a professional final result.

Only comment is in reference to (6000mcd = 6 candela = 6 lumens). Candela and lumens are different and there is no direct link between them. They are not equal. Lumens measure the total light output, candelas measure the light per unit of angle, so two LEDs with the same lumens can have different candelas due to having different beam angles. Candelas will more effectively measure the brightness within the beam., If however you are comparing two different LEDs with different beam angles, you can go to the following page to use a calculator to calculate the apparent beam brightnesses in candelas from lumens:

or here:
CHAMPt3 years ago
Have always wanted to do this, and this filled in pretty much all the gaps I had to figure out a good plan of action. Good explaination and write-up!
pufftmd23893 years ago
nice.. i can see the last time you have replied here was about a year ago but still, like the idea and still cant find any LED motorcycle headlights anywhere easily so i am making my own.
plan on using one of these, hopefully it will work out well.
-Syrus-3 years ago
Thanks a bunch!

Great piece of engineering, simple but effective.

mrlunna133 years ago
I bought 250 Super White LED's for 10.00 USD on eBay. They were from China but absolutely cheap and work great, plus you can buy ANY color in the rainbow.
I did a head light and turn signals for my motorized bicycle.
Great instructable.
dolulob3 years ago
You did put it in your disclaimer, but I would once again like to point out, that this is highly illegal in pretty much every country!
Calorie3 years ago
This is cool, and I have thought about it in the past. I use to have a Honda C70 Passport. The headlights were anemic to be mild. I thought about somehow substituting in LEDs but never gathered the courage.

There is know an after-market stator which produces 90 watts!

If I could I would of installed flamethrowers instead of LEDs, but such is life. Nice Job.
Hello CaptainSlug, can I use a 100 5mm LED array to produce a beam of 1500 lumens? Where I live we do not get any Crees or Rebels. And will I get the same distance with the 5mm LEDs as I will get with the Cree? 
You won't get the intensity of distance you're after. If you need more than 300 lumens then you will need to look into high power LED lamps. I would recommend ones made by Vision X. Their "Solstice Solo" units can output 800 lumens while drawing only 8 watts.
How many meters ahead can you see with the led Headlights? 
Thank you : )
But could you please upload the photo of the led head lamps brightening the road. Please : )
Great instructable!! Does your high beam illuminate the entire road ahead?
Could you please upload an image of the headlights illuminating the road. So that I can understand the power of these little LEDs. Thanx in advance.By the way Merry Christmas
Since I published this instructable there are now significantly more powerful LED headlights available. This one in particular is brighter than a 21 watt incandescent headlight.

The unit I made in my instructable would still be fairly useful for a bicycle, but just can't match the output of an 800 lumen unit.
Great looking 'ible! How's the projection with the LEDs versus the regular bulb?