This is a post which may fit better on my Norton page but the same mod will be done to the Hornet so I am putting it here. I am keeping the Hornet faithful to the original but blending a show bike build Vs a rider. Anything that is not original will be able to convert back to stock. Upgrades to the wiring, lighting and an aluminum tank are a few additional deviations being made.
During the past several years four people I know have been lost to car-motorcycle accidents. It rarely fails that I have to avoid “the car not seeing the motorcycle” every 2-3 years. The last time was when a car turned left in front of my Norton which I almost hit. The LED headlight and taillight (detailed on my Norton page) are attempts to stay alive on my bike. LED’s also have the attraction of drawing less power than standard bulbs. The draw for this bulb is reduced from 5 amps to .5 amps for the headlight and should eliminate the need for the headlight relay I have used in the past to keep power out of switches.
The first bulb I purchased was a “Show Chrome” brand H4 Halogen replacement for $52 USD. It had a hi-low beam capability that I thought was a good idea to have. I purchased it and hooked it up to my system and found I had high or low but not both. I also had to reverse the ground and power wires (due to the positive ground of my bike?). A negative ground system would work fine as I checked the bulb with a power supply and it worked properly using negative ground. I decided to go ahead with high beam only as my intent was to become more visible to cars and draw less current. My night riding is very minimal.
I purchased an automotive receptacle and Lucas bullets so I would not have to cut up my stock wiring harness. The next hurdle was fitting the H4 bulb to the standard shell. I kicked around purchasing an H4 headlight but wanted to use the standard Lucas shell so I could convert back to stock when I take my bikes to local shows. Not wanting to cut up my $52 dollar bulb I purchased clones on ebay, with no low beam, for $10 each – from Hong Kong (this turned out to be a mistake - see the update below) I cut the H4 mounting plates to fit the standard bulb Lucas headlight reflector and made a compression spring to hold it in place.
The original H4 left, my custom cutup center, and stock Lucas on the right.
The LED fit to the Lucas reflector.
The LED from the front. It is visible but not too noticeable.
My custom spring.
The system works great and the bulb is bright white compared to the yellowish Lucas bulbs. (See the October update below on using resistors to absorb voltage spikes). This should make me more visible to those offensive four wheelers hell bent on taking me out. The LED simulates an 80W bulb while the factory was 55W on bright. As noted before the amp draw dropped from 5 to .5. My Lucas wiring and switches will appreciate that. One final benefit is that LED’s don’t mind vibration. A stock headlight bulb lasts about fifteen hundred miles on my BSA. They usually don’t burn out but short the filaments which does nasty things to how the bike runs – backfiring or complete shutdown. I will put some miles on the modification and post how it goes.
My Norton on the left with its Lucas bulb and the BSA on the right with its new LED. The LED is brighter and has a white light that should be more visable to cars. I think it will be a better night bike too although I may offend people with the lack of low beam.
June 2015 - Update: While the $52 Show Chrome bulb has held up for 4 hours on the road so far. The Hong Kong knock offs gave up the ghost in the first hour and both fell apart; one on the Norton and one on the BSA. I ordered 2 more of the $52 bulbs. Lesson learned. I will post an update if the Show Chrome bulb fails as well. One observation is that the LED's run as hot as traditional bulbs. After a half hour drive they are just about too hot to hold on to.
The Hong Kong bulb wasn't up to the challenge of the paint shaker BSA
(or smoother Norton)
August 2016 Update: The show chrome bulbs are still going strong. I have recently done significant Lucas Wiring trouble shooting which is detailed on my "1970 BSA Lightning" page. In this foray I have replaced my stock alternator with a high output Lucas unit. The impact on the lights is significant as they are much brighter than with the stock unit. Check out the page for more details.
October 2016 Update: I learned a $52 lesson about LED bulbs this weekend as I burned the one up on my 1970 BSA. After consulting with the Electrical Engineer at work I learned LED's hit a threshold and fail, unlike incandescence bulbs that are more tolerant of voltage spikes and will keep burning brighter. I had recently updated my charging system with a high output alternator and new Podtronics unit and went battery free. The battery acts like a resistor and absorbs voltage spikes. Without the battery the LED took the voltage spike and burned out. I will put resistors in line with all of my LED's, battery or no battery, to prevent this in the future. I will add more information about this when the resistor is installed. The Norton LED is still working fine after 2 seasons of use.
Part of the learning process....a scorched LED. Resistors will be added to prevent this in the future. An update will follow this winter when I make the modification.
June 2017 Update: This winter I completely rewired the BSA Lighting. Everything in the system was updated and it was switched to negative ground. I have approximately four hours on the LED bulb and it has not yet failed. Ideas for why the previous bulb failed are that the starting capacitor failure proceeding the LED failure damaged it, or the LED bulbs don't like positive ground battery free systems. If the new setup fails I will provide an update.
Electrical upgrades can be found at: