Frame vs. fork mounted headlight systems


16 replies to this topic
  • eastreich

Posted August 27, 2007 - 01:55 PM

#1

All of our bikes come stock with a fork mounted headlight, but I am wondering if this is the best way to go. I started my love affair with the dark with a 100w halogen bulb with the Honda glass lens in the stock headlight shell, and have “graduated” to an 8” HID racelight (and HID helmet lights).

Now, I don’t ride with the light all the time, but I have noticed a difference in the handling of the bike with and without the weight of the light up on the handlebars. It always felt a lot heavier on the bars with the light mounted to the fork tubes. Modern rally raid bikes have modest fairings with the lights mounted solidly to the bikes frame (think KTM Adventures) and even the old Honda NX650/Intimidator had the lights mounted to the frame.

With this train of thought in my head, I rough fabricated a solid frame mounting system for my racelight. I am hoping that this will lessen the weight feeling on the bars, giving me a little more upper body longevity in racing situations, plus it will be much faster to bolt on in the pits. I have another XR650R with a “conventionally” mounted 8” HID to ride this coming weekend so I can compare the mounting system pros and cons back to back.

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Old light mount (old pic of my bike, sorry!)

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New light mount

I am just curious as to what the rest of you think may be the better way to go for the headlight mounting, and if anyone else has used a solid frame mount for their headlight. I don’t mind experimenting with my setup, but if anyone else has attempted anything like this, it might be nice to save myself a few headaches down the road (if you know what I mean).

Thanks in advance for the input!

  • BajaBoundMoto

Posted August 27, 2007 - 03:10 PM

#2

For approx. the past 11 years the only type lights I've used for desert night races (like the 1000) have been double frame mounted types.
oh wait, scratch that, in '05 Baja 1000 we used a fork mount big single because of the course layout and that we were on a 250x.

Frame mount is nicer for fast courses. The light doesn't wiggle side-to-side on the straights and the light is pointed where the bike is going when sliding thru turns, you're steering with the rear wheel.

Fork mounts are nice when you have tighter terrain and corners you need to "turn" into.

If I'm not mistaken, the top guys who race Perry Mountain, Glen Helen, and the WA State 24 hour races all use fork mount types because it's tighter.
For fast terrain like Baja the top guys run frame mount. I do not think a 1000 has been won with fork mount since around '84.

The only thing I notice that might use some work on your set-up is to get the light back as close to the frame as posible, even if you need to make some steering limiters (shorten the range of motion side to side). Closer is of course good. Far out in front will negitively effect the handling.
it could be that way, maybe just the way the pic looks.

  • eastreich

Posted August 27, 2007 - 03:36 PM

#3

Part of it is the way the pic looks, part of it is the way I have it mounted.

Currently, at full lock I have about 1/4" of clearance between the fork tubes and the mount. With the USDs, the turning radius is already cut down. The mount currently is a set of brackets to fit the stock fork mount that the light came with. I wanted to retain the ability to reuse the light with the stock fork mount brackets if I had to. If I really like the solid setup, I will make a complete new headlight frame that will allow it to sit closer to the bike by approximately an inch.

I do ride a lot in tighter, slower, terrain, but most of my night rides also end up including at least one long stretch of non-paved road at stupid speeds. I also use HID helmet lights: I have a NiteRider HID Skull-Splitter setup. I think that this will help to make up for the lack of side to side movement with the main light.

  • Descalzo

Posted August 28, 2007 - 03:16 AM

#4

I'd be interested in seeing a detail shot or two (or a few words) of how you attached your new mount to the frame, construction, feedback, etc. (maybe a sketch?)

I seem to find myself out in the dark quite a bit & would love to copy your idea if it works well & you don't mind - just not "bright" enough to figure out these illuminating ideas for myself.

  • OUTERLIMITS

Posted August 28, 2007 - 06:32 AM

#5

I don't recall who makes it, but I saw a couple of weeks ago on line a company that makes a frame mount that also has a little tie rod set up that turns the light with the forks. Maybe the best of both worlds.

  • JackAttack

Posted August 28, 2007 - 07:22 AM

#6

I've always thought the frame mounted lights projected too far out over the front fender making them vulnerable.

If the bike goes down straight over the bars in a cartwheel I would think there would be catastrophic damage to the lights. It seems that with every team race I've been involved with, someone ends up cart-wheeling the bike (myself included).

I chose to go with the single 8" HID on the forks, tight to the bars for this reason. I found no heavy steering problems since most of the races in Baja are not tight and most of the steering is with the rear wheel.

:excuseme:

  • BajaBoundMoto

Posted August 28, 2007 - 08:42 AM

#7

I don't recall who makes it, but I saw a couple of weeks ago on line a company that makes a frame mount that also has a little tie rod set up that turns the light with the forks. Maybe the best of both worlds.

McKenzie Motorsports. Baja Designs is also selling the exact same thingie.

  • jesusgatos

Posted August 31, 2007 - 12:27 PM

#8

I don't recall who makes it, but I saw a couple of weeks ago on line a company that makes a frame mount that also has a little tie rod set up that turns the light with the forks. Maybe the best of both worlds.

I'd like to see what that's all about. Any links or pictures?

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  • eastreich

Posted August 31, 2007 - 12:59 PM

#9

I'd like to see what that's all about. Any links or pictures?


Baja Designs P/N 61-0050 (XR650R), P/N 61-0055 (CRF450X)

500 clams. :eek: I think for now I'll keep working on my homebrew setup! But hey, I guess if you want to play, you got to pay. I like the articulating setup, but I will see after tomorrow night if I really miss the light moving or not.

But for $500, I can pick up a 3rd gen CR250R roller locally to start building a CR500AF. For me, I think that is money more well spent.

  • jesusgatos

Posted August 31, 2007 - 01:07 PM

#10

Oh, thanks. Here's a link and a picture for everyone else.

Posted Image

I'm a little bit confused as to what the point of that setup would be though. Is it going to make the steering feel lighter because the weight if off the bars even though the steering is still taking the lights along for the ride?

  • eastreich

Posted August 31, 2007 - 01:13 PM

#11

I'm a little bit confused as to what the point of that setup would be though. Is it going to make the steering feel lighter because the weight if off the bars even though the steering is still taking the lights along for the ride?


I would think that you would feel less at the bars, but with the extra mass to move you would still feel something. My guess is that it falls just about right in the middle as far as feel. With the linkage, I would also think that you could adjust the sweep of the light so that you could limit movement if you so desired. All kinds of options come into my head here. Maybe build one with a cam setup so that it moves minimally at speed when you are steering with the rear wheel, but move fully with the bars at low speed when you are near full lock with the bars.

I can see myself making something like this way more complicated than necessary!

  • jesusgatos

Posted August 31, 2007 - 02:47 PM

#12

I started a similar thread on race-dezert.

By the way, can anyone post a few pictures of the headlight setup on Honda's CRF450X from the 1000? I've seen some good ones posted before, but can't find them again.

  • OUTERLIMITS

Posted August 31, 2007 - 09:15 PM

#13

I can see myself making something like this way more complicated than necessary!


Yeah, for $500 I just don't see the value of overcomplicating what could be a simple set up. As noted above, the weight is still there on the front end, maybe more so with a set-up like that, but the selling point would have to be that you would not feel it as you turn the bars back and forth. Maybe I don't know enough about this, but I would think that the benefit would be in the tighter riding. Going flat out down some dirt road at speed or in a race probably not so much. But if you just have to have a set-up like that, twin 8" lights and all and feel you also need to have it frame mounted, then you might as well have it turn with the bars if the only penalty is a 1/2 pound like.

Wasn't it BBM and Surfnride that sported the Micky Mouse triple set up last year. How was that for handling or was it frame mounted?

  • eastreich

Posted September 02, 2007 - 09:16 PM

#14

Put the finishing touches on the mounting system. Pretty happy with the final results. Just need to get an anodizing setup in my garage going so
I can give them a pretty color: black!

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I pulled the mount back a little over an inch to get the light closer to the bike. I have also added studs for the mounting. Instead of fumbling with bolts to get it on, I felt it would be easier to fumble with nuts.

As for the riding, I put on a little over 70 miles in the dark on my desert/GP loop. It worked excellent. The effort on the bars was greatly reduced, and as the light sits higher than it did with the conventional fork mounts, the projection was much better. In fact, I can barely see the front fender anymore, so I will be ditching the black fender and be going back to red. In tight, twisty, washes you can notice the light not moving with the bars. I started the night with only one helmet light that was a spot beam. This was not the greatest. I later added on my second helmet light which is a flood beam, and with both helmet lights, the setup was near perfect. I also took a few soil samples (not intentionally) and the bracketry held up with no ill effects. I'm very happy with this setup.:thumbsup:

  • jesusgatos

Posted September 02, 2007 - 09:55 PM

#15

Glad to hear that's working out well for you. The only thing I'm not really digging is the brackets bolted to brackets. You know what I mean? Why not just cut off those tubes and make them bolt directly to the piece of aluminum that's welded to the headtube?

  • eastreich

Posted September 02, 2007 - 10:22 PM

#16

I made this with "brackets bolted to brackets" for two reasons: The first was so that there would be built in failure points; also why I used little puny 6mm bolts. I'd rather have it shear at those points in a hard crash than trash my HID assembly. I crash enough that I felt this was better for my wallet in the long run. Now that I have made this one up, I am going to machine out another set of brackets for spares. You can never have too many spares!

The other reason that I did not just cut off the original brackets on the light frame is for interchangability. I have a team competing in an upcoming 24hr race, and I felt that it would be beneficial, if needed, that I could bolt this light onto one of the other bikes if their light failed. The other guys on the team all use the fork mounts on their 450Xs. The bracket to bracket setup has not changed my original light assembly.

  • surfnride

Posted September 05, 2007 - 11:26 PM

#17

Posted Image

They were frame mounted. Posted Image





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