Whiter - Brighter & Safer Headlights For Your Zero - Mike Mas

Hey Guys - living here in the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia, when it gets dark these narrow winding roads can be quite a challenge. I generally take a 25 mile ride to the ď2 WheelsĒ Restaurant in Suches, Ga in the evening and hang out with the guys, so its not unusual for me to come home after dark. The one feature I miss most on my Zero is the lack of whiter and brighter headlights. In this overview, Iíll cover how I achieved this goal and Iíll talk about some basic Proís and Conís of halogen and Lcdís as a choice.

Headlight Choices - Since the Zero uses a standard H4 bulb, there are a hundreds of headlight options, some just a plug and play and others requiring some modification. Headlight lamps are basically broke down to three major categories:

Halogen - For economical cost reasons, a basic halogen lamp is what youíll find in your Zero and most other manufactures bikes and vehicles. Halogen lamps are ďJust OKĒ when it come to brightness and distance however have a fairly long life and are easily found and replaced. The draw back of the ďBasicĒ Halogen lamp is its yellowish color and limited ability to light the road at night.

Halogen Xenon HID - This bulb has been my choice for my cars, trucks and a few of my bikes. The Halogen HID is manufactured by Sylvania which uses proprietary xenon halogen gas technology to provide the light and performance of a HID lamp (high Intensity discharge). The ZXE bulbs offer a nice white light and in most cases offer 50% more light than the standard Halogen lamp. Because of their easy ability to find, low cost, white light and increased brightness, this is the lamp I chose for my Zero.

LED - Or light emitting diodes are very popular since they offer pure white light and longevity, some Ledís are published to last up to 15,000 hours. In the past, LED lights have been reserved for higher end cars and bikes. The Indian Roadmaster comes with led headlights and fog lamps as does my Honda NM4 also has led lighting stock from the factory.

Thereís even a so-called ďAdaptive Led HeadlightĒ for motorcycles from JW Speaker which retails for over $800. For the most part, adaptive headlights are a myth for bikes. No they donít move the beams like some cars do but rather turn on and off different ledís, so as your bike leans over in a turn, a processor detects the angle and turns on different sets of Ledís on either the right or left side of the headlight lamp depending on how far the bike leans to ďhopefullyĒ look in the direction of travel. The problem is the headlight assembly is still looking only straight ahead so the additional light is just flooding the side of the turn. In retrospect - a good HID or led low beam light that floods the shoulders will accomplish the same thing without this outrageous cost. While its up to each guy to decide his spending, for me they are out of the question and would be painful to pay $500-$800 for a headlight up-grade.

Not all Ledís are Equal - While Ledís do last a long time, their associated wiring and circuitry may not! Donít be fooled with some of the Internet ďLife-TimeĒ warranties on Ledís since I found many of these dealers only have a P.O. Box, and they know youíre not going to write a letter !
Keep in mind that some Led upgrades require special adapters, resistors and such. Iíve seen threads where guys actually cut their factory wiring in their bike to install them, donít alter your wiring since it can lead to problems with the Zero's processor if it detects a different headlight voltage or load it could misinterpret the circuit as open or over-loaded and throw a code. Most important, when purchasing replacement lamps, make sure they are the same wattage as the original to prevent possible heat damage to the plastic headlight housing and lens.

Halogen HID Improved Distance over Ledís - A HID lamp will have improved distance when compared to a Led lamps display design. Many replacement Ledís have only two elements which radiate light on only two areas of the headlights reflector where a halogen & HIDís radiates a full 360 degrees, so more light is focused on the reflectors to project further down the road in an even amount of lighting, unlike LEDís which provide unwanted lobs of spilled light commonly seen when using them.

The Main Headlight - Since my high beam quit working on my Zero, rather than reinstall the same dull stock halogen H4 lamp, I researched what was available in both LED and halogen and opted for the Sylvania HID Attitude - Xenon Fueled Halogen lamps Iíve been using. These retail for around $75 for two lamps, my local parts dealer only charged me $46 with tax for the pair, so my cost was less than $25 for my upgrade. These lamps can be easily found at your local auto parts outlet, Amazon or at some larger Wal-mart outlets. These bulbs are rated at the same exact wattage of 55/60 watts so your electrical system is happy. These white and bright lamps are DOT approved and street legal for your bike. In addition, they are warranted for a full year at any parts store.

HID Attitude Performance - As I mentioned, these Xenon Fueled lamps will be around 50% brighter than the standard halogen bulb so there is an amazing difference in what youíll be able to see after dark. In addition, the lamp is white in color with a 4200K temperature when compared to the 3000K temperature of the stock yellow bulbs.

Changing the headlight lamp on your Zero is a breeze - you simply remove 4 hex screws on the lamp assembly, place a rag on your front fender to avoid scuffing then pull the lamp forward to revel the power plug. Slide the rubber boot back then gently rock the power plug back and forth to separate it from the lamp. Next, there is a white nylon retaining ring which youíll turn counter-clockwise and the lamp lifts right out of the assembly. Perform the reverse to install the new lamp being careful not to touch the glass surface with your hands since there is some contact grease on the pin connectors.

I would like to mention that when I went to change out what I thought was going be a defective lamp, I found the bulb was fine. Evidently when the headlight was factory assembled, one of the clips in the 3 prong plug had moved back making the connection intermittent.

Once you get this lamp on your Zero youíll wonder how you ever lived without them. The beam is now super bright and as white as a LED lamp. On these two shots below I show both the low and high beam results. As you can see, the light is very white. In the high beam shot you could spot a deer at 200+ yards away with ease, note the mailbox reflector and the beam going much further down the road.

Check out these two images of my bike on my driveway. The reason I used this location is because my driveway is jet black and as you know the worst situation for lighting since there is no reflected light to take advantage of. The low beam is virtually flooding both shoulders of the road and the road is saturated in light.

The high beams are awesome, in the second image you can see way past the fence and road to the trees across the field in the back ground. This is where the Halogen HID lamp exceeds the LED because it has the ability to focus at longer distances, something the LED cannot achieve. Also keep in mind, this is; ďhigh beam onlyĒ since the Zero shuts off the low beam, yet the shoulders are still perfectly lit.

For the same token these lamps will help you at night - so will they help you during daylight hours because you will certainly be more visible as well. In conclusion, for the economical price of $25 this lamp offers security plus it makes it night driving so much easier.

Before I wrap, I wanted to share a tip I found for carrying a small bottle of water on your Zero and have it totally concealed. This little canvas water bottle bag is available at Walmart for around $10 and will slip right in the void behind the headlight assembly. On the bottom of the bag there is a Velcro strap, just warp it around the brake line or a wire to secure the bag. This is really nice when you want a quick drink without stopping.

Headlight: 1- Sylvania H4 HID Attitude - Xenon Fueled ZXE 60/55W

Enjoy - Mike Mas