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

Real Classic - - Led Lighting - Pho­tos by Roger Slater

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

Right: In­ter­est­ing…

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