Quest for a brighter headlight with stock fixture / DOT bulb
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  1. #1
    Member praeses's Avatar
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    So, after a little highway trek at night on the TW200 last weekend I felt that the headlight was lacking. It was aimed correctly but once I met oncoming traffic my usable visibility shrank to near zilch. Compared to my sport bike I was somewhat surprised, and alarmed. I try not to out ride my headlight and look down to the right as typical however it was becoming increasingly frustrating. I did a little research trying to find out what would be the brightest bulb without going over 60/55w. I ended up ordering a Philips X-TremeVision from some place in Europe which ended up being cheaper than locally (as strange as it sounds). They threw in some indicator bulbs, although I had to wait a few days for delivery. From my understanding this bulb will be more prone to dying than a typical motorbike bulb for a few reasons, so I'm packing the old one as a spare at all times.



    My goal today was to figure out how I can get the most usable light out of the stock fixture using the bulb above. When I took apart the fixture I noticed something very strange which I ran into with a previous car, for some reason the headlight wire appears to be 18awg or maybe thinner. The wire itself appears to be decent quality copper however quite thin. I imagine it can handle the current fine however with noticeable voltage drop. So, I measured the voltage comparing at the battery and the headlight and noticed it going from 12.08V to 11.00V, a 1.08V difference or as 20.6% power loss. .84V from the positive side to the low beam, and .24 from ground. (Note, my battery isn't fully charged whenever I'm doing this, as I am draining it slowly). Also, the light coming out from this new bulb didn't appear to be much whiter than the one already in there.



    I decided I should run a parallel circuit with lower gauge wire. At first I grabbed the thickest stuff I had that was unused, it was 10awg that I had set aside to re-wire a fuel pump for the same reasons but never got around to it and have since sold the car. So after running it through and starting to pull the headlight connector apart it seemed a little silly trying to jam that thick of a wire in there. So I next found 12awg, and started to hook it up and figured the same thing, then I settled on 14awg for the majority of the run.



    I ended up using two standard 40A automotive relays from our equivalent of Radio Shack (The Source) since they were open and convenient, and a bunch of crimp on connectors from Canadian Tire, and an inline fuse holder with 12awg wire and a 10A motorcycle fuse. I located the fuse immediately after the battery then ran the 14AWG wire to the front of the bike. I split the positive off using 16awg to the relays, and from the relays to the bulb. I split the ground to the trigger side of the relays using 12 awg which was massively overkill but it was the only black I had handy. The positive triggers for the relay were just the old wires with new ends crimped on. The main ground was direct from the battery to the headlight socket using 14awg.



    After some crimping and soldering (although the heatshrink has yet to be shrunk) I did a quick test. The bulb appears to be whiter although it might be from the placebo effect but the voltage drop has changed significantly. As I have been playing around for awhile, my battery voltage has dropped to 11.88V and my 11.70V across the headlight. So a .18V difference (oddly similar number to before). I believe this translates into a 3.1% power loss. It seems like a decent improvement on paper although I'm not sure how much of that is transferred into usable light. If it ends up being 17% brighter I will be happy although I don't know if I could notice the difference without having another bike side by side. Speaking of which, I can't really take pictures between the two easily. I haven't started the bike up and rode around yet as I still have to take some pictures for this thread and tidy a few things up.



    While keeping the stock wires should I ever want to convert it back, the way I wired it is using the old ground and highbeam/lowbeam to each trigger to new relays. I went with this setup where the relays are separate for each beam rather than one to trigger the light and the other to trigger which beam. My reason is to reduce the connections between the headlight and the battery to minimize voltage loss and prevent me from getting stuck without a headlight should a relay die or disconnect. If I were to do it again I would just use high quality 16awg wire throughout rather than the cheap non-coppery wire I did end up using (although its nicely coated in high temperature silicone). The headlight connector is a bit of a pain to pull apart, I'm not sure where one would easily source replacement terminals should they get broken in the process, my only suggestion is to slide a very thin flathead screwdriver from the headlight side along the flat edge side of the terminal and press firmly. I used a very small awl-like tool and quite a lot of patience to uncrimp the terminal. They are quite flexible and may break easy.



    I noticed I'm too tired to word things cleanly, so I will tidy this up tomorrow with pictures and a bit of a re-write with hopefully fewer words. So far I'm feeling positive about this but I have yet to even fire up the bike.
    2008 TW200 Yamaha luggage rack w/small el-cheapo JC Whitney trunk and large tool tube, Jimbo Shield, re-wired headlight, Blaster Shock waiting to be installed.

    1989 TW200 Work in Progress

    1994 ZX6E (rebuilt transmission, then rebuilt replacement motor, then rebuilt transmission in replacement motor, fun fun) large JC Whitney trunk fixed to the back of a computer chair re-welded to make a nifty luggage rack

  2. #2
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    Sylvania Silverstar Ultra wired through common relays with 14AWG. Makes a big difference and 100% DOT legal.




  3. #3
    Senior Member RisingSun's Avatar
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    have you looked into a HID system?

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  5. #4
    Senior Member operose's Avatar
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    ITCB

  6. #5
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    HID conversions are not legal.




  7. #6
    Senior Member RisingSun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qwerty View Post
    HID conversions are not legal.
    really?

  8. #7
    Senior Member rm_hm's Avatar
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    Hid Kits





    http://www.coolbulbs.com/HID_faq.asp



    Are these XENON HID light systems street legal?

    Every country and jurisdiction has its own rules and regulations governing the use of automotive lighting. XENON H.I.D. lighting systems that are supplied with the vehicles from the factory are DOT / E approved. The same OEM manufacturers that supply all the major car companies of the world also make our kits. NO XENON H.I.D. lighting system available from any source is DOT / E approved if installed outside of the factory. These kits are not street legal for use on public roads as they are. As a result, we officially endorse the kit for exhibition and off-road use and will only sell the kit to be used for these purposes. We are not responsible for customers who violate the terms of sale in which they will assume all responsibilities for any unauthorized or unintended use other than exhibition or off-road use.









    http://www.gixxer.co...ad.php?t=199776



    Installing HID's into a vehicle not originally equipped with them from the factory is technically illegal. Practically speaking, you stand little chance of being cited for them provided you educate yourself on the requirements of HID lighting and take the necessary steps to ensure you have the right equipment and adjustments to keep it safe. That is, make sure your vehicle's headlight assembly uses an appropriately designed projector lense (as opposed to a reflector), and of course that your headlights are properly aligned after installation. Many newer vehicles use projector lenses because stock halogen bulbs also benefit from the "light shaping", but having just any old projector lense does not necessarily ensure that the beam pattern will be correct. It is absolutely essential for HID's to give the light output a sharp cutoff line to prevent blinding oncoming traffic. As HID's become more popular, aftermarket projector housings are being produced for some vehicles.



    The Department of Transportation (DOT) states that improperly-installed HID's are getting a lot of complaints. Vendors will usually include a disclaimer that they are intended for offroad use only, but it's no secret that people don't follow this rule. Now, there are a lot of aftermarket automotive parts that qualify as illegal but aren't strictly enforced. Logically, the safety implications of blinding oncoming drivers are more serious than, say, an exhaust that exceeds the legal noise level. So the DOT has actively gone after vendors of HID conversion kits, threatening monetary fines if they continue selling them, and consequently there are now fewer places to buy them.









    http://www.squidoo.c...d-kit-and-bulbs



    Although you can and probably will install a set of DOT approved HID Bulbs in your vehicle without ever being bothered by the law (as long as you stick with 4300K to 6000K),

    your headlight setup will still not be truly "legal".





    http://www.dot.gov/a...4/nhtsa4304.htm



    To date, NHTSA has investigated 24 HID conversion kit suppliers; all investigations have resulted in recalls or termination of sales.



    �These illegal lights are a potential hazard to those who share the road,� said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge, MD. �And we will continue to pursue those offering them for sale and violating the law.�



    Companies that sell, import or manufacture non-compliant equipment could face substantial civil penalties, NHTSA said.









    http://www.advrider....ad.php?t=566655



    Here is what is stated on 1 Off Motorsports website:

    The truth is, installing ANYTHING into a vehicle that was not originally equipped with them from the factory is technically illegal. This includes aftermarket exhaust, headers, and all types of modifications that the D.O.T did not test (and get paid) for. However, we are selling these kits for OFF Road, race and exhibition use only. 1 OFF Motorsports by no means encourage breaking the law, please use safely. There have been little to no verified accounts of anyone getting pulled over and cited just for having them on. 1 OFF Motorsports recommends that you make sure that you have the appropriate headlight assembly for your vehicle and that your headlights are properly aligned after installation. If you are again not comfortable please take it in to a professional.









    http://www.ford-truc...street-use.html



    NHTSA has threatened to fine sellers of "HID conversion kits" $10,000 per kit sold. You CANNOT install a HID bulb in a headlight designed for a halogen bulb. There is no way you can control the light output properly and you end up blinding oncoming cars and you cannot see properly yourself. Read the fine print on some of these websites selling them..not legal for on-road use....where else do you use a car? They are an illegal & unsafe install."











    http://www.sigmaauto...m/HID/x5kit.php



    All H.I.D. (High Intensity Discharge) components sold on this site are strictly regulated for the following purposes only - provided that it is legal to do so:



    • OEM automotive replacement
    • Off-road, show and track automotive use
    • Consumer & commercial illumination (indoor or outdoor)
    • Horticulture (freshwater & brackish plants)
    • Aquaristic (macro-algae & coral reef)
    • Laboratory / educational research
    • Medical, dental & other professional applications


  9. #8
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    There are HID conversions for some vehicles that are legal. They include new composite headlight assemblies, cost about $500 per pair, and are only for low beam HID with halogen high beams. HIDs do not like to be flipped on and off..




  10. #9
    Member praeses's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qwerty View Post
    Sylvania Silverstar Ultra wired through common relays with 14AWG. Makes a big difference and 100% DOT legal.


    The DOT Legal was my main concern



    I did find though comparing both the Philips headlight and the Sylvania Silverstar Ultra new out of the box, the Philips was slightly brighter. I'm not sure about the colour though, which is "whiter" as I'm not great at discerning when they're that close. The re-wire definitely helped much more than I expected. I tested a bit with the lower gauge wire, anything thicker than 14AWG is overkill as I did not really read any increase of voltage at the headlight. It looks like the loss is occurring mostly in the relays and contacts which are already spec'ed at about 10x the current handling. I'm still thinking 16AWG From start to end is probably the best compromise but I'll leave the 14/12AWG where I have it.
    2008 TW200 Yamaha luggage rack w/small el-cheapo JC Whitney trunk and large tool tube, Jimbo Shield, re-wired headlight, Blaster Shock waiting to be installed.

    1989 TW200 Work in Progress

    1994 ZX6E (rebuilt transmission, then rebuilt replacement motor, then rebuilt transmission in replacement motor, fun fun) large JC Whitney trunk fixed to the back of a computer chair re-welded to make a nifty luggage rack

  11. #10
    Banned qwerty's Avatar
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    I've heard good things about the Philips Xtreme Power. Supposedly equivalent to Silverstar Ultras. Both keep wattage to the 55-/60w range, same as stock, but provide improved output. Both are prices ~$40/pair.




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