There’s a simple way to boost the brightness of your old bike’s lights without upgrading its entire electrical system. Roger Slater shows us how
It is a sad observation that the number one cause of motorcycle / car collisions over here in the USA is the preponderance of motorists who simply drive directly into the path of a motorcycle rider. The standard excuse is ‘I didn’t see him, Officer.’ Road safety studies have concluded that the best way for the motorcyclist to mitigate these collisions is to use very bright lights and brightly coloured clothing, including white or silver helmets.
For many years I have stuck to these recommendations, which so far have paid off. Personally, I find that a pair of ultra-bright spotlights also get the attention of dozy, not-looking motorists. But even a regular headlight uses quite a bit of electrical energy, which can be an issue with old bikes. There’s a substantial reduction in power consumption with LEDs. Changing the headlamp bulb alone saved enough power to power my heated riding gear.
The current (two-wheeled) love of my life, my lovely Enfield Bullet, needed attention in that regard. For reasons no one understands, the Enfields sent to the US are inflicted with a lousy 5¼” diameter headlamp that, despite its 12V sealed beam high wattage design is as dim as a Toc H lamp.
What I needed was a plug-and-play complete set of LED bulbs specifically for the current Enfield. Online searches of American suppliers resulted in vendor questions about part numbers and application and other timewasting minutiae. Time to get onto the experts on t’other side the pond: enter Paul Goff. Despite making my enquiry at a weekend, I received a response from Paul very quickly. Yes he could supply replacement LEDs for every bulb on the bike.
My first conundrum was the aforementioned
M Mouse silly headlamp that even Paul had never heard of. I had to toss this out and replaced it with a genuine Joe Lucas 7” rim, and an all-singing, all-dancing, right dip, three terminal, H4 light unit. Just a few days later postie arrived with a packet full of really strange looking motorbike bulbs.
The headlamp bulb is a simple H4 plug-in, as you can see in the photos. I initially changed one sidelamp bulb to get a comparison with the glow-worm on the opposite side: wow! Case closed.
Next was the stop/tail bulb. The result was the tail lamp is now brighter than the former brake light. The LED brake light is now ultrabright. Paul does have LEDs for the winkers but they require a redo of the indicator solenoid. That fact, combined with the low potential power saving because of the intermittent nature of indicators, meant I left them undisturbed.
All in all this has been a very worthwhile update at modest cost.
Plug and play. The new H4 LED headlamp bulb
This is the US-spec 5¼” sealed beam. Why do they fit this? Roger is unhappy with it!
At least the light can be adjusted
Another view of the revised assembly. Looks almost like something from the 1960s
Above right: And the brake light is even brighter!
Right: Now that is much better. Righthand dip as well – handy in the USA
Left: Note the H4 three prong plug
Let there be light!
Above left: One brake light LED
Above: The obverse. Observe the cooling fins