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Replacement headlights for vintage bikes

This is a discussion on Replacement headlights for vintage bikes within the Technical forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Hey everybody. I spent several hours yesterday researching replacement options for our CB175's 5.75 inch headlight, and have come up with a few options. 1. ...

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  1. #1
    Senior Member lovethosetwins's Avatar
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    Replacement headlights for vintage bikes

    Hey everybody. I spent several hours yesterday researching replacement options for our CB175's 5.75 inch headlight, and have come up with a few options.

    1. The obvious, buy the replacement at 35-40 dollars. The obvious drawback is the price tag for a dim ass old bulb...

    2. Replace the stock sealed beam with a halogen unit for about 9 bucks from most auto parts stores. The plus is ease of procurement, and the price is nice. Drawback is I would have to epoxy some tabs (I guess) on the back of it so that it would mount correctly into the stock bucket. The plus of course is it would be brighter. Also the wattage is about right for the stock setup.

    3. Replace the stock sealed beam with a halogen sealed beam replacement unit from Hella that takes H4 bulbs. This is nice because H4 bulbs come in many different wattage combinations, even up to 100 watts which of course would consume all if not more power than the bike even generates. They do make a 35/35 low high capsule though which brings it up from the stock 25/35 output. This would mean a nice bright low beam, not to mention its halogen which is brighter from the get go. The drawback here is the same as #2, I would have to epoxy some tabs on the back of the unit to get it to mount correctly. Also these units cost anywhere from $30-50 depending on where you shop. The benefits are obvious, if the light burns out, new capsule for 14 bucks or so and less of a hassle replacing it. They also last typically longer than the stock sealed beams do. Another benefit is modern design technology has made beam spread and reflectivity inside the unit much better in every aspect. Compare the headlights of an old VW bug to that of a new one and you know what I mean.

    All the above options would be to retrofit the stock bucket with new(er) tech. The next option is also attractive...

    4. A guy on Ebay has replacement buckets that have 5.75 inch units with H4 capsules, in a chrome bucket with trime ring etc etc, the entire unit, with the correct 6.5 inch spacing on the mounts for $69 dollars. The same benefits of option 3, but no fabbing required, no muss, no fuss, and it means I wont have to fix the big ass rust hole in the original bucket. I would of course fix it in my spare time anyway as I'm a big fan of original equipment, even if I don't use it. As the original mounting ring is very rusty as well, this is most likely the option we will pursue.

    Now, having said all that... As H4 capsules come in many different wattages, I could step up the wattage of the headlight to a 55/65 etc, and replace all the signals and tailight with low wattage LED lights. This of course costs an arm and a leg at $20 a piece, unless you make them yourself for ~$5 a piece. If memory serves, standard 1156 and 1157 bulbs consume about 7.5 watts a piece, so that would mean a savings of 3 bulbs worth of wattage, 22.5 watts, then take a couple watts for each LED replacement, giving back 16.5 watts of power to the rest of the system. This means a 55 watt H4 would only consume 3.5 extra watts of power in that setup. Of course you could always keep the headlight 35 watts, do the led conversion, and then probably not have a flickering headlight at idle as well...

    Thoughts? Opinions? I reply with the hella model numbers if anyone wants them, but you can search for 5.75 H4 and they will come up. You can get these at off-road stores or buy online much cheaper.




  2. #2
    Member liam's Avatar
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    have a read of this as well, http://www.danielsternlighting.com/t...nversions.html
    the guy sounds authoritative, but i have no idea of the validity, but worht a look

  3. #3
    buckandaquarter's Avatar
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    He is not talking about converting to HID, only modern Halogen H4 bulb.

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    Member liam's Avatar
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    yeah, fair enough, also, i guess all the options include the reflector as well as the bulb.
    ignore that then.
    whats the difference in effectiveness between stock, halogen and HID? anyone tried all three on the same bike?

  6. #5
    buckandaquarter's Avatar
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    Stock vintage bulbs are both dim from old design and low wattage. WELL MADE H4s abosutely rule from a cost/light output standpoint. The H4 bulb is desined to work with a lens that has a distinct cutoff pattern. I have a Hella on my GL1000 and the difference between that and the sealed beam halogen was immense. I also install them on all of my BMWs that they fit. Once again, huge improvement over the auto parts store sealed beam lights. HIDs are rarely worth the cost of proper conversion, but have some advantages (lower power consumption with more, whiter light.) As you read in that very well written article, though, cheapo conversions are bad news. You would ideally want to cannabalize an entire HID headlight from a car. This is now cheaper than you might think because so many cars come with them now. I have a set from an Audi with flaky ballasts. The owner was annoyed to the point that he converted to non HIDs - it was cheaper to buy 2 new regular lights than one ballast from the stealer.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Pinche Chingadera's Avatar
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    Or you could always cut off the back of the stock headlight and jbweld the housing of a H4 unit from a newer unit. I've got the same issue with my CL175 as there's no way in hell I'm dumping that much for a crusty ass headlight. In my CM400, I used the stock housing and made a 7" foglight that uses a H4 bulb fit inside of it. Works like a charm. Yeah I only have just one beam (hi or low determining how you wiring it up) but if my bulb goes out I only have to spend a few bucks for a new bulb over 20-40 on a whole new headlight.
    Once your dead, life just ain\'t worth living.

  8. #7
    Member Spyderlock's Avatar
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    Who's the guy on ebay with the $69 headlight set up?

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    Member xs650joe's Avatar
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    You can get a chrome headlight with halogen bulb from Mike's XS for $45. If you spend $50 you get free freight so throw in a $5 tool or something and you're all set. I'm running one on my rd350 and it works great. It say's you may have trouble fitting all the wires but I didn't have any issues.


    CO-OH Vinmoto
    nothing to see here...please move along

  10. #9
    Senior Member lovethosetwins's Avatar
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    Mike's has a 6 1/4" inch and a 7" as well.

    http://www.mikesxs.net/mikesxs-elect...ategory_id=2.5

    The one I found on Ebay is from Slick's

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...m=270290922046

    Don't have the cash just yet though. The main reason I'd go this route is because of the work involved in getting th eold bucket back in shape. This one on ebay has the correct M10x1.25 mounting holes, proper spacing, etc. It just doesn't have a highbeam indicator. Like you really need one anyway...

  11. #10
    Senior Member lovethosetwins's Avatar
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    Ok so I got the headlight from Slick's off ebay. HE has more too. The manufacturer is Kanadu (at least it says that on the headlight lens, looks like a Hella logo..). The chrome is very nice, the metal is of a decent gauge, not flimsy thin cheapy stuff, the hardware is nice. Comes with a rubber boot on the bulb mount and a pigtail / socket and H4 bulb. The spacing on the mounts in back is 6.5 inches, perfect for our CB175, and the mounting holes are M10x1.25 (same as stock). New signal units and stems can be had from K&L lighting who is carried by parts unlimited and I believe tucker rocky.

    So there ya have it. I'll post pics as soon as I get 'er together and have it shining. I'm going to replace the signal lights with LEDs to get the necessary wattage back for the light. Keep your fingers crosssed I don't cook anything

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