How to Install LED Headlights
I am a late adopter of nearly everything. Maybe I have seen enough tech come and go that I wait patiently to see if the latest technological marvel sticks or withers. Remember anti-dive forks? Turbo-charged motorcycles? Hub steering motorcycles (Bimota Tesi, Yamaha GTS1000)? How about the first several attempts at reviving Indian? I think I have made my point.
In fact, just two years ago I upgraded to an I-Phone 4. No laughing please. When the first LED headlights came out I was skeptical, waiting patiently to see if they would pass the test of time or go the way of the Polaroid camera. I have tested the newest LED headlights by Cyclops Adventure Sports and I am a believer. If you have been waiting to jump on the LED bandwagon, now is the golden age.
Heck, if I can do it…
Cyclops Adventure Sports was started by Daryl VanNieuwenhuise’s desire to ride more, even if that meant at riding in the woods at night. He used his experience as a tool maker to create precision crafted, bulletproof LED light housings to light his path and the rest is history. Travis Pastrana used his products for the Baja 1000, so I guess they are good enough for me.
This is a family run business in Kent, Washington, which means when you have questions or need product support a real person answers the phone, most likely someone with the same last name. Which also means questions get answered and things get done, not something that happens if you buy your LED headlights on Amazon or eBay. Please don’t do that.
Bike Bandit also carries LED headlights from brands like BikeMaster, Headwinds, XK Glow, Piaa and Rivco which likely perform similarly, but i’ve not had the opportunty to test them yet. Regardless of where you get them, here is how to jump on the LED bandwagon. I think it’s here to stay. This is the H4 LED headlight kit from Cyclops. High quality, all metal construction, tiny driver and even H6m bases for you Honda riders.
Step 1: Gain access to your headlights. This might mean removal of your front fairing, depending on your motorcycle.
Step 2: Remove protective rubber boots. Many motorcycle manufacturers have rubber boots that protect the headlights from dirt and debris. Peel them off and set them aside for re-installation later.
Step 3: Remove your headlight bulb. This varies by manufacturer, but mine have a small retaining clip to hold the bulb in place. You can see it pivoted out of the way.
Step 4: Install the LED headlight bulb retaining ring. Notice that this is just the retaining ring without the bulb. This is where LED headlight bulbs may differ from halogen. Also, this gives manufacturers the advantage of including different bases to match different bikes. My Honda requires H6m bases, and Cyclops has them if you need them.
Step 5: Screw in your LED bulb. This will go into your base and lock in with a twist.
Step 6: Trim the dust boot. Remember that dust boot you removed earlier? It is likely too big to fit around the cooling fan of the LED headlight, which keeps the LED cool and happy. Trim out a center section of the boot until you can install it on your headlight housing while also allowing crucial airflow for the LED fan. Here, you can see the center section I cut out from my dust boot.
Step 7: Hide the LED driver. The small electrical box that came with your LED headlights converts your bike’s electricity into a workable voltage for your LED. Use some double sided tape and find a convenient place to attach the driver to your inner fairing. The one from Cyclops is so tiny you could hide it anywhere.
Step 8: Plug in your headlights. Yep, just plug them in. The connection on the end of the driver will plug in to your stock wiring. Then, put your front fairing back on and you are done.
Here are my test results. For comparison sake, I installed just one LED headlight on my test VFR’s dual headlights. I put the LED headlight on the left side and kept the halogen bulb on the right side. Then, I found a long stretch of road with a very slight uphill grade to do a side by side comparison, blocking out one bulb at time to compare them, literally, side by side. The results exceed my expectations.
Halogen on low beam: Pay attention to the guardrail on the left, the shrubs on the right and the reflectors in the distance. Notice the guardrail and shrubs are in the dark and you can only see one reflector.
LED on low beam: Look at the guardrail on the left and the shrubs on the right. These were in total darkness with the halogen beams. The Cyclops LED beam illuminates them completely in a bright white glow. Safety! Also, notice how many more reflectors can be seen in the distance. Imagine if those were the eyes of an animal. Remember, this is only one LED installed in my left headlight. Imagine if I had both LED bulbs installed. Bambi wouldn’t stand a chance.
Halogen on high beam: Notice how narrow the patch of light is. Also, pay close attention to the guardrail and side reflectors on the left hand side of the road. Only one is visible. Still not convinced? Just look back and forth at the comparison photos for a while, like one of those cartoons where you spot the difference between the two drawings. I loved those games. Keep comparing the photos and you will never use halogen bulbs again. In any vehicle. Expensive you say? Try hitting something at night. That, my friends, is costly.
LED on high beam: The light is wider, whiter, illuminates more of the guardrail and more of the side reflectors as well as the shrubs on the right hand side that not halogen bulbs left in the dark.
By the way, see the last reflector on the right hand side? I measured the distance: it was 1/3 of a mile away.
Still not convinced? Just look back and forth at the comparison photos for a while, like one of those cartoons where you spot the difference between the two drawings. I loved those games. Keep comparing the photos and you will never use halogen bulbs again. In any vehicle. Expensive you say? Try hitting something at night. That, my friends, is costly