Introduction: Motorbike Headlight LED Modification
This modification is as much about style as safety. Being seen by other road users whilst riding a motorbike is the most important safety consideration a rider should have. Some riders use there main beam instead of there dipped beam to aid being seen. But this of course not only annoys other road users, but is also dangerous as it can impair the view's of other road users. LED modification offers a bit of a compromise, the LED's make the bike way more visible than any halogen lamp can do, without blinding oncoming traffic.
Safety aside, they also look very cool and give a bike individualality.
This modification is simple to do with basic tools and supplies.
-as many LED's as you want (the LED's I use are 3-3.6volt. using 4 in series removes the need for resistors!!)
-light gauge wire (I used speaker wire)
-drill and bits the right size for a pilot hole and tight fit for the LED's
-fan heater (or electric oven)
-soldering iron and solder
-heat shrink sleeving
Step 1: Removing the Headlight Unit
This type of headlight consists of a sealed unit mounted to the front fairing and frame. Remove it from the fairing and frame so you are left with just the headlight unit itself. It will consist of a glass or polycarbonate front lens hot glued to a plastic back.
Step 2: Heating the Unit to Soften the Glue
A simple fan heater can be used to warm the glue which will enable you release the lens. just stick the glass lens against the fan heater and leave for 15 minutes. CAUTION it will be hot so use gloves to handle the glass. If your lens is polycarbonate then pop the unit in a electric oven on 120 degrees celcius for 10 mins. Put it on a baking tray on a shelf NOT on the bottom of the oven. with the glue now softened start to pull the two parts apart. use screw drivers to help, but do not lever to hard against the glass as it will eventually crack. Reheat if nessary to aid the separation.
You may ask "why do we need to take of the lens?"
Well with my unit the angle at which I needed to drill LED holes required drilling from the front, in some units there maybe a second "skin" so you will need to mount the LED's in that. It is also more accurate marking holes on the front as that is where they will be viewed.
Step 3: Marking Up and Drilling
It is most important to take your time and mark up where your LED's will go. When planning the layout look for any obstacles front and back and think about whether you can use them in groups of four, so you don't need to use resistors.
Mark carefully and stand back, look at the unit, does it look right?
If so then drill a small pilot hole first for accuracy then widen it to the size of the LED. I use 8mm strawhat LEDs and a 8mm drill bit makes a nice tight hole that they will snap into. (no glue needed)
Try to drill at 90 degrees to your unit, don't drill at acute angles or the LED won't fit snugly.
When drilling is finished blow out any swarf and give it a clean, you don't bits in the headlight when it's back together.
Step 4: Making the Wiring Harnesses
To run the LED's without resistors we need to wire them up in series, in groups of 4.
Cut short lengths of wire the right size to connect the LED's in series (see diagram)
Strip 6mm of the ends and melt solder into them (this is called "tinning")
Tin the ends of the LED's aswell, it helps them to bond quicker when you solder everything together.
Cut short lengths of heat shrink tubing to fit over the connections.
Solder the wires to the LED's as required, remembering to put the heat shrink sleeves on the wire first, so you can slide it down over the connection when the solder has cooled.
Leave enough wire to connect the groups back to the little "side light" bulb in the unit, this will be where we get our power!!
Step 5: Putting in the LED's
The LED's should pop into place and have a good friction fit. If not and they are a bit loose they use hot glue to hold them in place. I push on the back on the LED's with a large flat srcrew driver to push them in firmly.
Try to run the wires in a tidy manner, i drilled two addition small holes, one either side so to wires to the power went inside the unit. As the connector is going inside the unit aswell this made good sense.
Pull the wires out through the access hole for the "side light" to make the connections. cut of the old bulb and holder and connect the wires to your LED groups. Use a 12volt power source to check the polarity of the LED's before making the final electrical connection. I also poked a 10mm LED with a resister to run on 12V into the little hole the "sidelight" bulb used to go in. It won't do much but it will fill a hole!
Step 6: Putting It All Together Again
With all the wires tidied up its time to reassemble the unit, assuming that your LED's all worked!!
Make sure there are is no debris inside the unit and place the glass back onto the plastic back. squeeze them together then place the fan heater back onto the glass. I placed the unit on its back and tipped the heater onto it, so gravity will help put them back together. Let them heat for 15 mins then WITH GLOVES squeeze them together again the glue will easily rebond.
Put the rubber bungs and seals back in place to keep the dirt out. If you drilled extra holes for wires to enter the unit, then pop a dab of silicon sealant over them.
Put the unit back into the front fairing. If your screw holes are a bit loose then pop a bit of hot glue in the hole and when its cool redrill a new hole.
Put in all back on your bike and turn it on.
WOW!! it's a thing of beauty, just look at it and all done by YOU!!
Step 7: Before and After
You are now finished, so ride away and enjoy your day