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Thread: Headlight Bulb

  1. #1
    SEMUTA
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    Headlight Bulb

    I see that Bob's (and probably other places) sells headlight bulbs in higher wattages for early airheads, but states that it may stress the charging system more than it can handle. Seeing as the lighting on my bike is adequate at best, and that with the bright switch on, how much of a stress are we talking about? I don't run heated anything or any additional lights, though I may install some sort of running light kit soon, should I worry about killing my battery or just ride.

  2. #2
    ABC,AMA(LIFE),MOA,RA,IBMW MANICMECHANIC's Avatar
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    Before putting in higher-wattage lamp, you might consider doing a harness upgrade that uses a relay that supplies power directly from the battery with larger wires, for less loss. Also maybe a newer, whiter lamp as opposed to higher wattage. And remember to clean the inside of the lens and polish the reflector.
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  3. #3
    Anybody done a HID on an older airhead. Kinda been thinking about it.
    "Wow I didn't know BMW made motorcycles, Yeah I think Honda does too."

  4. #4
    Loose Cannon flash412's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manicmechanic View Post
    ... And remember to clean the inside of the lens and polish the reflector.
    I tried to polish a /5 reflector once. Two strokes with some silver polish on a diaper took the mirroring right off the brass. Dunno about /6. But *I* will never try to polish a relflector again.
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  5. #5
    On the Road
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    Head Light Bulb

    For What It's Worth: I had a 1994 R90/6 some 20 years ago that I change to a Halogen Head Lamp Bulb, 2 running Lights, An electric vest and pulled a trailer( With a disconect to unplug the Bike Rear Lights and only run the rear trailer lights, turn sign inc,on the trailer. I never had a problem with keeping the battery charged. I also had two large tail lights mounted on the tow bar,that were unpluged when towing the trailer.
    Jack Ethridge
    Ocale Fl

  6. #6
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manicmechanic View Post
    Before putting in higher-wattage lamp, you might consider doing a harness upgrade that uses a relay that supplies power directly from the battery with larger wires, for less loss.
    The only "loss" you can address is in the 4 inches from the contact plate at the back of the headlight shell to the headlight, and of course this is already negligible.

    The problem that will occur is melting of the connector block at the headlight due to increased heat from higher-watt bulb, and relay doesn't address this at all.

    Best to add auxiliary lighting rather than higher-watt headlight bulb.

    An Osram (NOT Sylvania) Silverstar bulb is same wattage and provides worthwhile increased brightness.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S

  7. #7
    Polarbear Polarbear's Avatar
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    Yep!

    Yep on the older bikes tak'in higher bulb wattage! Early to mid 70's models have good wiring that handles the load in most cases. My example is my '78 R100 that I have used 55/100w bulb for 10 plus years, without issue and currently have a 55/85 one in there, because it was all I could find. It turns out the 55/85 combo is plenty and then some. I was in Canada on a cross country run when the higher wattage bulb blew the high beam, but 10+ years was good life in one of those, I'd say! The relay suggested could never hurt, but I've never needed it on the older bikes. The wiring in the newer bikes is weenie stuff and a relay is required. I also have upgraded to an Omega 400+ watt alternator and happy to have it. The old alternator just wore out. Check all connections for good clean current flows and you'll be happier too. The really high output bulbs are usually found at specialty shops, like dune buggy, offroader, Jeep, 4x4 kind of places. Some regular auto parts houses have them, as in the case of my 55/85 bulb, it was off the shelf by Phillips or Sylvania, etc..NAPA had it! Happy Trails, Randy13233

  8. #8
    Registered User PeoriaMac's Avatar
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    Bulbs

    I've got a PIAA White Star bulb in the headlight of my 78 R100/7, and a halogen taillight. The tail-light's been in there for years....despite the fears of some that the plastic would melt.
    Going through the Blue Ridge in a fog some years ago, the rider following me said he was amazed that an old bike like mine had a brighter tail-light than the newer bikes.
    The PIAA bulb is said to draw 60/55 Watts, but produce equivelent light to a 110/135bulb.
    It's pricey ---42-bucks ---but I think it may have saved me from a performance award the first night I was going home from work and spotted a LEO a good ways off.
    Of course, this is for off-highway use only....

    Mac
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    Livin' Large On The Lake

  9. #9
    dlearl476
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    Quote Originally Posted by Semuta View Post
    I see that Bob's (and probably other places) sells headlight bulbs in higher wattages for early airheads, but states that it may stress the charging system more than it can handle. Seeing as the lighting on my bike is adequate at best, and that with the bright switch on, how much of a stress are we talking about? I don't run heated anything or any additional lights, though I may install some sort of running light kit soon, should I worry about killing my battery or just ride.
    Does a /6 have an H4 bulb OEM? If not, an upgrade to an H4 is worthwhile. I did it to both my /5s. Also, IMHO a Phillips Vision Plus bulb in the standard wattage is as good as any other higher wattage bulb, result wise, due to the "whiter" nature of the light produced. Not only that, the bulbs are much more durable than many high watt H4 replacements.

  10. #10
    Ikchris - where did you find an Osram Silverstar bulb? And why not Sylvania?

  11. #11
    SEMUTA
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    Great info, thanks. The /6 does have an H4 bulb, and the bright is bright, but really focused. There really isn't much spread at all. I think I might try a new, whiter bulb for now and a lens cleaning and maybe convert the flashers to runners to provide some good ambient glow. Maybe an LED in the back, too.

  12. #12
    The PIAA bulbs throw a different pattern than standard. The PIAA bulb has a brighter center at the expense of the edges. Thus the claim that they are equivalent to a higher wattage bulb. I run them with no complaints. YMMV

  13. #13
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulfinney2 View Post
    Ikchris - where did you find an Osram Silverstar bulb? And why not Sylvania?
    Sylvania Silverstars are Pep Boys stuff and have very short life. Their main claim to fame is that they're blue.

    for Osram Silverstar: http://www.powerbulbs.com
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S

  14. #14
    JohnP
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    bulb upgrade

    Concur with recommendations to keep wattage at recommended 55/60 but go with one of the newer, "whiter" light bulbs. Prepping for Vermont, I pulled off the headlamp lense of my '84 R100CS and GENTLY wiped (NOT polished!) a significant haze buildup off the reflector and the inside of the lense with windex and a soft cloth. Then replaced the standard Halogen H-4 with a 55/60 PIAA bulb from Bob's (the whitest version before it goes blue). The difference even in daylight is quite noticeable without the worry of overheating. Guys in our group to Vermont commented on it. Back in the day, Halogen was where it was at, but compared to the PIAA, Halogen looks dull and yellow like the sealed beams of old. Don't know about life. Having said this, it is hard to imagine that intermittant hgh beam use of a 55/100 would present much risk of meltdown, but the operative word is "intermittant".

    Cheers, John 105525

  15. #15
    Stage Crew beemerPhil's Avatar
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    Headlight Bulb

    I've been running a 100 watt hi beam for over 25 years- mostly Osrams I think- some with the std 55 watt lo beam and some with 80 watts. The charging system isn't the issue unless it's already compromised, or pretty well loaded with extra stuff(we're talking about a stock /6-7 280 watt system) and I've never seen the headlight plug melt, but the relay modification is essential to protect the headlight switch, which WILL get quite hot from the extra current. These switches are getting kinda hard to find- and they've always been pricey.

    In the twisties in Vermont, it's nice to see the deer sooner rather than later......
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