Bicycle Headlight Shelf Lamp




About: Urban and mtb biker , mad scientist , i make lamps and furniture with old bike parts

Hi everybody , i'm from italy and i love bikes. I ride 'em , fix 'em and create stange object with old parts.

You can find some of them here:
                                                            (it's in italian but the photos are self explanatory)

or here:

The goal of this project is create a shelf lamp that is simple to build , cheap and effective.

While encouraging people to build things , i have remember you to always put safety first when using tools and managing electrical devices , if in doubt ask for help but don'risk.

This is my first instructable, so i hope you'll enjoy , and remember to vote for the contest!

Now let's see what we need.

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Step 1: Things You Need

You'll need:

- an old brake caliper (a rear one is better as it has a shorter thread, if you find a front you'll need an M6 x 25mm bolt)

- an old bicycle metal headlight (the larger , the better)

- a spring (i used one from a saddle, lenght is unimportant as we'll cut it)

- an M6 Nyloc nut and washers

- a tin can or jar cap or metal sheet (not in picture)

- a GU10 led bulb (a 3w or 4w is fine)

- a GU10 socket with wires

- a power cord with a switch and plug (choose the right one for your country)

- a short piece of heat-shrink tubing (not in picture) or pvc electrical tape

- a zip tie (not in picture)

Essential tools:

- 8 , 9 , 10 and 11 mm open spanners (you'll probably need only the 9 and 10)

- pliers

- flat screwdriver

- pincers (to cut the spring)

- ruler or vernier caliper

- electrician scissors

Useful tools (will make your life easier):

- Bench vise

- Half round hand file

- Disc grinder or dremel with cutting and sanding tool

- soldering iron and solder

Step 2: Disassemble and Cleaning

In the picture you can see the caliper disassembled, the stock spring (not pictured) was removed as the brake cable nut and stop.

It is not strictly indispensable to disassemble the whole brake, if you've found a clean rear one, you can simply unhook the spring from the caliper arms , and rotate it upwards , so the arms can move freely.

The internal parts of headlight must be removed too , we'll keep the triangular spring that was holding the original reflector in place, if your headlight doesn't have one , you can make it bending a bicycle spoke with the pliers.

The tin can or the jar cap , must be large as the headlight or more.

Step 3: Caliper Reassembly

In the picture you can see the caliper reassembled with the original pivot bolt and washers , if you have a longer one , you can use the M6 x 25mm bolt instead , keeping the bolt head in the front.

Step 4: Spring Hack

Hook the spring to one hole and with the caliper closed, measure the lenght needed to sit between the holes.

If the holes are too close (less than 3 cm) , replace the brake pads with thicker ones, or put a washer between the pad and the caliper arm.

Using the flat screwdriver and the pliers, bend the spring 90 degrees.

Cut the spring using the pincers or the disc grinder, leaving a coil for hook.

The key is to make the spring as short as possible , you'll struggle more hooking it to the holes (removing temporarily one pad can help) , but it will make the clamp stronger.

Step 5: Headlight Assembly

Now you can put the headlight body on the pivot bolt , aim it the opposite side of the spring.

If you used the M6 x 25 bolt , put some washers or an M6 nut between the caliper arms and the headlight as a spacer.

Tighten the nyloc nut so the headlight cannot move freely , but still can be moved by hand with a little force.

Step 6: Led Bulb Assembly

Now we need to cut one or two (depends on the thickness of the tin) , rings out of the tin can or jar cap.

Take the diameter of the headlight cap inners as in photo , using the vernier caliper or the ruler, that will be the outside diameter of the ring, in my case nearly 60 mm.

For the inner diameter , measure the clear part of the led bulb , usually it's between 36 and 41 mm , depending on the brand.

Cutting the tin, can be tricky , protect your hands with gloves and use the electrician scissors carefully.

If you want to cut prefect holes in thin metal sheets , sandwitch it between two pieces of wood and clamp all in a vice, then use a drill with a hole saw bit.

Burr the sharp edges using a hand file, sandpaper or dremel.

Put the tin rings in the headlight cap , the bulb, and with the help of the screwdriver, push the triangular spring in place, as in photo 2.

Step 7: Electrical Connections

Once you've done with the bulb , it's time to connect the wires.

Slide the power cord into the headlight body , usually they have a hole in the bottom, if the hole is too narrow, make it larger with a drill bit , a file or whatever you have laying around, just remember to deburr the hole.

Put a zip tie on the cable , for stress relief, and slide the heat shrink tube in the GU10 socket wires.

Strip the wires and, using the soldering iron , connect the each wire from the socket to each power cord wire.

Put the heat shrink tubes over the weld and using a cigarette lighter (or the soldering iron tip) , seal the connection.

If you don't have a soldering iron , you can connect the wires in many other ways you can find here:
or use a strip connector outside of the headlamp (advised).

Step 8: Final Assembly and Variations

Now you can connect the GU10 socket to the led bulb and put the headlight cap back on.

In the photo you can see the lamp completed.

You earned yourself a cold beer.

Plug the power cord and test the lamp, is it working?

Ok, now find a place to hang it, you can fix it to an horizontal or even vertical shelf , the clamp should be strong enough and the rubber pads will help keeping it in place.


If you need a dim light , you can simply use the original reflector and bulb (6v 2,4w) and a 6v power supply.

Hope you enjoyed this instructable , and remember to vote for the contest !

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    28 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Very nice job !


    1 year ago

    a stunning build! thanks for sharing!


    3 years ago

    this is so cool! thanks for sharing!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Nice use of brake calipers as a spring clamp. I will use idea this someday. Thank you.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    What a great lamp. I'm in the process of building a desk lamp from an old bicycle headlight myself. So during my research I came across your instructable and just posted it in my newest collection: upcycled desk lamps.


    6 years ago

    Love it


    6 years ago on Introduction

    so awsome! i'v got some spare road brakes, i think i'll make some!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks to all for the kind words.

    Vincent7520 , you need a dynamo , but you'll have to pedal a lot to produce enough electricity.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice idea !
    Great instructable : everythings (or almost) comes from a bicycle : this is very neat.

    But how do I get to pedal for producing electricity ?… ;)))


    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is an excellent idea and I love the design. However, as this is using a metal bike lamp, the metalwork really should be earthed and a three pin plug used. Alternatively, use a 12v LED spot with a 12v mains adaptor.

    5 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes , to be completely rule compliant, the earth cable is a good idea, but if you do a good job in isolating the connections and stay away from water, the 2 pin plug is generally enough.
    I don't like external adaptors , as they use (a little) energy when not used.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I've always wondered, why the white cable, and the ground terminate in the panel in the same place. Redundancy?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Good question. The neutral (white in your case) is joined to earth at the local substation. Otherwise the power cables (live and earth) could be at any voltage wrt earth, especially if they were hit by lightning or just static. However, due to the current traveling through the neutral wire from the substation to to the house and the fact that the neutrel wire has resistance, this will create a voltage on the neutral wire in your house. Therefore, the neutral is bonded into your house earth which is earthed locally, via an earthing stake or metal water pipes.
    I once lived in a house where the neutrel was joined to the metal mains water pipes as earth. This was fine until the mains water.pipes were replaced with plastic pipes by the water board and I started to get tingling type shocks off the water taps on finger cuts. When I put a meter to the taps, they had a voltage of about 40v ac to earth, not enough to kill but enough to cause the tingle. Re-earthing it to a proper earth cured the problem.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I came across a similar situation to wobbler. The earth connection to the earth electrode in my son's house had been broken. My son started to get a tingle shock every time he touched the kitchen sink which was bonded to the electrical earth of the house. It was only a static charge that built up in the earthing system with no where to go except through somebody who touched the sink, but if a faulty piece of electrical equipment had been plugged into the mains system of the house, it would have simply been leathal! Finding and fixing the main earth cable was of course the cure.

    Now, my point is, if you are not totally sure what wobbler and I are talking about, then I would suggest you do not know enough about mains electricity systems to make this lamp with mains bulbs. Instead, as has already been suggested, use a mains adapter power supply to take care of the mains side safely and use low voltage LEDs in the lamp.

    I think the concept of the cycle lamp is an excellent idea, and makes a really good looking item, but my advice is don't risk killing somebody. Every uear 20 people in the UK are electrocuted by their bedside lamps or radios, and those are the ones that are made by the manufacturers!


    6 years ago on Introduction

    the whole light is cool but I really like the clamp idea