High Intensity Discharge Headlight
for really bright nights
Douglas "Tiny" Richards
We have all wanted more light on the road at one time or other. Most answers increase the electric power load to the bike. A HID light puts out three times the light at three fourths the current draw of Halogen. Almost all the High ticket cars now come with HID light.
What is HID?
HID stands for High Intensity Discharge. It refers to lighting technology that relies on an electrical charge to ignite xenon gas contained in a sealed bulb. The technology of HID automotive lamps is similar to that of common vapor-filled street lamps. HID lighting doesn't have a filament but instead creates light by igniting an arc between two electrodes. HID lights get their name from the intense white light produced by the electrical discharge. HID lamps are also called xenon lamps, referring to a gas inside the lamps. HID general lighting has been used for years in sports arenas and stadiums around the country.
HID/xenon conversions can be done to almost all vehicles. There are a few limitations which are the following. High/low bulbs (two filament bulbs such as H-4, 9007 will lose their ability for High beam. This is because the HID bulb is only a one beam bulb it can not function as a dual high/low beam. Only one or the other. This is being worked around by Mounting a Halogen bulb beside the Hid bulb in the kit I purchased. I have also seen Two kits that in one pushed the bulb forward and back and one that tilted the bulb up and down to achieve a hi/low function.
Advantages over halogen bulbs.
- More light output. A 35W HID light source produced up to 3 x the lumens at the light source when compared to a 55W halogen bulb.
- Greater visibility. The combination of more light output and whiter color make for better visibility in most night time driving conditions.
- Longer Life. HID lamps will last, on the average over 3 times as long as halogen bulb, and they produce less heat.
- Easy Conversion. HID Conversion Kit is simple and easy to substitute for standard halogen bulbs.
Step One: Which Conversion Kit to get.
This is the hardest part of the whole project as their are many different types available these days. I chose a Kit made by Lonta (you may find the kit on Ebay) that had the features I wanted. A small Ballast with the igniter built in and a Halogen Bulb mounted along side the Hid Bulb that can be connected to the HI-Beam circuit. With most kits you lose the Hi beam. For the most part the Hi beam is unnecessary as the low beam puts out more than enough light. But I didn’t want to lose my Kisan PathBlazer high beam modulator. Remember with your single headlight you will only be using 'half' a kit so plan on sharing with a friend or selling the second bulb/ballast setup. My Cost was $162.00 as I shared a kit with a MeanStreak owner that used the other half. So unless you have two bikes to convert (or can buddy up with a friend for the project) you will have one set left over to sell. You could HID a Light bar instead.
What about HID's color?
The color of the light source is expressed as its color temperature. As the color temperature increases, the color of the light moves from yellow to white to blue-white. HID headlights provide light at a higher color temperature than standard halogen headlights, which gives them a crisp white appearance. HID lamps come in 4300K, 5000K, 6000K, 8000k, 10000k or 13000k. The difference is the tint from white through blue to Purple. As a reference, sunlight at noon is 5250°K. You'll want to make yourself familiar with the different hues to make your choice. Higher color temperature doesn’t mean brighter.
Step Two: Where to place the Ballast.
On my 1600 there is a pocket behind the Headlight Nacelle that the ballast fit beautifully. I drilled one hole in the plate to bolt down the ballast and fed the leads into the headlight. I’m sure there are many other places to mount it. The MeanStreak owner mounted his at the top of the radiator. It’s up to you. The leads can be extended if need be with thin gauge wire.
Step Three: Installing the Bulb.
To install your light you simply remove the headlight and detach the power plug to the Halogen bulb. You then pull the rubber boot on the back of the reflector that surrounds the bulb socket unclip the bulb and remove it. You then insert the HID bulb re-clip the fastener mount the rubber boot attach the Hi voltage leads to the HID bulb and the Hi beam leads to the Halogen bulb and reassemble the headlight. After starting the bike and checking that your new bulb works use a Philips screwdriver to adjust beam for proper road alignment and go have fun.
Additional Photos (click thumbnails for full size images)