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Home made riding lights

By pikey - Posted on 25 May 2006

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

For those who are planning on building themselves a set of riding lights here is a handy site to gain a bit of info.

I've ridden Cascades twice and Manly Dam once with my home made 50 watt light (see photo's in the equipment section), so if anyone is up for a night ride midweek let us know.

Thursdays and Fridays are no good for me



I stumbled across this yesterday:

They sell parts (battery packs, HID globes, etc). Look on the DIY page, or have them build you one?

Out of interest, for diving HID lights are brilliant... well, if you want to light up the ocean like the sun, although I'd think a little impractical on your bike:

For DIY gear, this page looks vaugly useful too:

There are a few items here that could be adapted to the bike. I like the hiking options as they are waterproof and AA batteries. Low power consumption means that there should be ok life. Leds are also bright and shockproof. For $35 I thought I might give it a try.

With the lack of daylight at the moment I have decided it time to get into some night riding so I can squeeze some midweek riding in. First order of the day is to get some lights. I am not interested in building my own lights so I am looking at a commercially available offering. Doing a bit of digging around there is are a number of options:

1. Lamp: Halogen, HID, LED
2. Battery: Lead Acid, NiCa, MiMh, Lio Ion
3. Helmet or bar mount.

Reading mtbr the JetLites available in the US seem to get a good rating: JetLites

Any one got any suggestions/input on this whole light subject ?


Follow Robs link below to HID Technologies. They have an add in AMB for a LUMEN8R-10W HID helmet Light fr $395. Claimed equivalent to 35 watt halogen and burn time of 4hr. Sounds good but haven't seen any reviews.

I would also try two places before you buy as they both seem to be the cheapest around. If you can't see what you want send ALan an e-mail

and chain reaction cycles in the UK. There is a link to this one on the site somewhere.

Good luck

I planned on building my own lights... then i found this site:

As the names suggests, they are actually a battery company.. they just upgrade systems already on the market and put better batteries in them. Check it out before you buy anything (sorry if you already have... i just realised how old this thread is)

I bought a NitePro Elite upgraded with 6000mAh LiIon battery and 20W halogen globe. This cost me $AU170, including P&H. I'm extremely happy with it... it feels much brighter than 20W

If you have the extra cash to burn, they also have a 13W HID system for $US200, which i guess would end up being about $AU300. If i wasn't a poor student i would have bought this for sure.

Hi Leigh,

Jeff and I have both made our own lights but as you said your up for a comercial set. HID, Lio Ion batteries both Bar and helmet mount are the ducks guts $$$.

However, I still am waiting to see if my 50w halogen globe, lead acid battery rig is still not the brightest mongrel for only $80. I've since done three night rides (on my lonesome)and are looking forward to a group night ride soon.

So Leigh, with this one sided guide turn to the cheap side and allow Jeff and I to assist you and all interested in building thier own lights to come forward and rejoice in the feeling of a bright light and not a light wallet.

Greg ( Pikey)

What size battery do you use and what's the normal charge and burn times?


I get around 1 hour 20 mins burn time using a 12v 7.2 Amp Hour BRICK

I,ve also used a 4 amp battery and got about 40 mins burn time.

This site has some good hints


Surfing the web and found these cheap lights on torpedo7, a site I've not seen before. Won't be as bright as the 50 watters but for those of us without Gregs hands on skills, might be a good alternative.

On our supporters page, shamelessly edited to add the affiliate code - ED

The more I think about it, the keener I get on night riding, but just can't bring myself to spend $100s on halogens as they are old technology. I know I could build a mega-beam like Greg [ well, more like stand in his garage and drink beer while 'helping' him build one Eye-wink ] but that's not the point.

LEDs are coming on strong and I really think this is the way to go for lightweight long lasting stuff. I have quiet a nice dive touch that can be worn on the head (it's not LED, but has a tight, bright beam and runs for a while on 4xAA) so did a search of something that might go on the 'bars.

Found this guy's site:

Then read the K2 'ultimate' light article.... niiiice. Seems these K2s are in mass production very soon:

I mean, for $5 a pop, order 10 and run a pile in parallel! I reckon these should be driven from lithium ion batteries, most likely re-used phone batteries (which are ubiquitous sand cheaply available on e-bay and the like).

Any interest?

I ordered some MR16 leds last week from our site link, thanks Craig ( I think). Should have them soon.

Searched high and low for rechargeable batteries, need 12v for the leds and this is where I have hit trouble. Only need a 2AH to give me 4hrs burn time and 50% spare. Having alot of trouble finding 12v lithium ion or polymer, and the more I hear about the dangers with charging them I don't know that I want them strapped to my helmet of backpack.

Used the battery site in the states also on our linked on our forum page re home made lights, have exactly want I wanted and cheap as chips by Aussie standards. Ordered them online with my credit card, got an e-mail confirming the order advising I would be notified when they shipped and then a day later by UPS. Got another e-mail the next day, that being Saturday morning our time, telling me they were not going to ship the goods because they have been stung too much by international credit card fraud, this is despite having debited my card the full amount the previous day. I have replied by e-mail but they are obviously, I hope, closed on the weekend. Am expecting a response tomorrow am. Could avoid all of this hassle by going to the 1.2k 2AH lead acid battery but hell I wanted something that wasn't that heavy. Could also have avoided the trouble by just getting the batteries from battery world, but they wanted $70 for one battery and then another $120 for a smart charger, the only option if you want to prolong Nickel battery life. I was getting 3 batteries and an intelligent charger, waterproof switches and a couple of other connects for $130 US, which included an $60 shipping fee. Now just to get the product.

I will keep all advised of what happens. In the mean time give me a couple of days to get the leds (coming down from Queensland) and I will let you know how bright they are.


I will

I was looking at building some LEDs lights to fix to my helmet earlier in the year, I only got as far as searching the web, but I came accross this site selling LEDs and lenses. I havn't ordered any though.

While on the subject, where would be a good place to test my lighting? I picked up a pair of 10W halogens on sale in the UK as the days were getting longer, and I am planning to fix my old cateye torch sytle light to my helmet for when I look down. I am only familiar with the Dam and Oxford falls and I am not sure if they will be up to the single-track. Any advice from regular nocturnal riders would be appricated.

OK, So I found yesterday that one could buy 20+15 dual halogens, with 8Ah battery for around $280. This is a Nitepro Pro-Elite and looks a nice light. It's not HID, but is a lot cheaper than those too. Sadly it looks like LEDs may be a way off, but you never know how long this discussion will go on for Eye-wink

Anyhow, here's what I'm thinking for some parts to make comparable to the Nitepro, fro Jaycar:

SB1706 x 10. These are 2000mAH AA Ni-MH batteries. $29 for 10 of 'em gives you a whopping 20Ah at 12v.

MB3512 x 1. $55 for a charger that can do all 10 batteries above at once.

Lead Acid route:

MB3517 x 1. $20 for the charger.

SB2486 or SB2490 x 1. $20 or $45 for 7.2Ah or 18Ah respectively.

Globes are cheap as chips, so all that's left is finding some decent housing. I'm erring on some outdoor lighting from Bunnings, it would have to be $50 for two to make it worth your while not buying the Nitepro, because on top of this one has to factor in some sort of bottle/bag carrier (I'm thinking 10 AA batteries can be slung in a bag under the top tube).

Adding this up, all of a sudden the home made stuff isn't look such a bargain I guess are my thoughts. But we'll see what halogen housings can be made.

Having said all that, I just ordered some el-cheapo lights on special from

$88 delivered for 5+10W with upto 5.5 hour burn time. Probably not much cop, but should do for a first forey into night riding. Will let you know how they turn out.

Rob, your calcs are slightly out. 10 2000mAh AA 1.2v batteries connected in series does not give you 20 Ah battery. it gives you a 12V 2Ah (2000mAh) battery. This will give you very little burn time running 15 watts of light. 15watts / 12v gives you a draw of 1.25 Amps per hour, so a 2Ah battery will give you 1.6hrs burn time assuming you get maximum use out of the battery, which I am led to believe very rarley happens. At a minimum you should allow for about 20% unusable capacity. I should know as this is the battery back I've just received from the states. A couple of places here could do them but I was quoted between $60 and $105 for them assembled as a single pack. Be wary the AA from Jaycar at that price don't have solder tabs on them so you then have the problem of hooking them up into a single battery pack. You can get a 10 x AA battery holder but then this starts to get big and is extra $'s.

Be patient my boy, I've almost finished building my lights, just looking for a small auto reset 500mAh thermal fuse to protect my $30 LED lamps. Should have a working light by the weekend, I hope.

You know - this is what you get from having those thoughts early in the morning. I was thinking about it walking to the office and figured I'd made a stuff up... to get 6Ah @ 12v one would need 30 of these in a 10x3 series/parallel connection, right?

People people people

All this talk of puny little 5 watt/15 watt LEDS

$70 and a bit of coaching (for free) gets you an imitation of my MEGA BEAM 50

50 watts of pure domestic halogen power. Its so bright that the beam warms the ground as I pass over it and if the grounds moist enough you can notice seeds starting to shoot!

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Power

Greg, Greg, Greg,

Your MEGA BEAM 50 simply won't burn long enough for that too happen.

Not to mention the fact that with the heat it generates you are taking an ignition source into the bush!! NPWS won't let you ride at night with that on your head during bush fire season, besides wood and heat usually equals fire!! Thats not to suggest I think your nogging is made of wood, just the mounting block:-)

Sure they may be puny, in fact they are only 1.9 and 3 watt each, but I have a feeling they will do the job.

COME THE 7TH DAY YE OF LITTLE FAITH SHALL BE SHOWN THE LIGHT....... Shit thats a bit biblical isn't it, sorry all, I mean the 7th of September, Terry Hills, meet 7pm, I believe thats the next full moon. (No need to move this Rob I will be putting a ride thread on the weekly bulletin)

[Indeed he has. Reply to Terrey Hills here pls - Ed]

Rob, I really can't tell you that one, that secret shall go to my grave, nuh sorry mate I just don't know. I think the secret is whether they are connected in series or in parallel but am not 100% sure which it is. I am pretty sure connecting them in series increases the voltage not the amp capacity, hence my 10 1.2v AA in series give 12V but the Ah stays the same. Give Battery World at Artarmon a call and ask them.

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