Motorcycle Headlight Focus
The reasons I am starting this thread are—
1) A lot of morons now-a-days ride their bikes, with high beam focus so high that either they are searching for UFO’s or gonna take-off next moment.
2) These kind of people think that by flashing an upwardly focused high beam, they can beat the oncoming guy into submission.
3) These kind of people always ride on low-beam, because high-beam is focused too high. Obviously they will not be able to see obstacles a bit far off and are not only endangering their own lives, but others also.
4) Even two wheeler manufacturers are also least concerned about this aspect of two-wheelers. I still remember, the owner’s manual of my dad’s “lambretta 150” had a detailed diagram and write-up for properly focusing headlight. I have not seen such a thing in the user manual of any two-wheelers now-a-days.
5) There is no rule/standard in india, that dictates- how to properly focus headlights.
6) Most of the riders don’t know- how to set the headlight focus correct.
7) If the headlights are not focused properly, you will either be-not able to see ahead properly or create problems to oncoming vehicles, thus creating danger.
So, now we know the reasons, next is the objective-
Objective of this thread is to spread knowledge about –where your headlights should focus, to get maximum illumination and least glare and then discuss about it.
There are two things-
• How to focus &
• Where to focus.
How to focus: We will not discuss this in detail, as this information is easily available in your owner’s manual. Kindly read it. There is generally a screw / nut or a knob either exposed or hidden – which you have to turn, to focus your bike’s headlight. In my pulsar there is a screw hidden inside headlight fairing which is to be turned by a long screw driver. Other bikes will have similar arrangement.
Where to focus: This is the objective of this thread. First of all you need to find a place, which is flat and level, and has a wall in front of it. The land or surface should be flat upto 25-30 feets from wall.
Remember, you should check / adjust the focus of headlight with one person sitting on it in rider’s position, because, you will need your headlight, when you will be riding it, and weight has its effect on focus as suspension will compress a bit with you sitting on it as compared to unladen position. The bike must not be on center / main stand or side stand and should be perfectly vertical to ground.
Now, there are several ways to adjust it-
1) Place the bike 25 feet from the wall directly facing it at 90 degrees. Measure from the center of the headlight to the ground with you or one person sitting on the bike.
Now go over to the wall and mark one line at the same height above ground, and another two inches lower. Use a carpenter's level to draw a horizontal reference line.
Switch on the headlights and mount the motorcycle. The low beam's upper cutoff point should rest right on the lower line. Because most bikes have combined high- and low-beam reflectors, setting the height (and checking to see that the beam is centered along the bike's long axis) is about all there is to it. But if you have separate high beams, make the center of the high beam land on the upper line. That's it. In any case, high beam should not be focused above the upper line i.e. center of high beam should be on upper line.
2) In second method, you place the bike 17 feet from the wall. The rest of the things are same as 1st method.
3) Third method is the one followed in germany.
Set the bike 10m (32.8 feet) away from a wall, measure the height of the center of the headlight (with someone sitting on the bike). Then adjust the headlight so that the lower beam’s reflection on the wall is 25 cm (9.85") below the height of the headlight.
4) Fourth method is MOT method: MOT means Ministry of Transport U.K. This method is very confusing according to me, and provided here just for reference purpose. If you wish you can visit the links below to know more-
MOT Manual for Motorbikes 1.6 Headlamp Aim
MOT UK car and vehicle MOT information equipment car servicing parts and spares - headlamp aim
Now, which one is to be followed?
That depends on your personal choice.
MY RECOMMENDATION - - is a variation of 1st method. Everything is same except that instead of focusing the way it is mentioned, you should focus in such a way that center of high beam is approx. 50 mm (2 Inches below the headlamp height. The reason is-
a) It creates even lesser glare to oncoming vehicles.
b) In india, the roads are not as good as in western countries, so you need some light on road also, instead of everything going straight ahead, and our bikes are also not as fast as majority of bikes available abroad (wild wild west).
c) Another thing is, that if high beam is exactly level to headlamp, the light will go up slightly when there is a pillion onboard, so adjust it in such a way that even with a pillion, light should not go up, even slightly.
d) And even with a 2 inch dip, when riding solo, sufficient amount of road will be lit to ride at good speeds.
Along with vertical adjustment, you should also check horizontal alignment, i.e. light should go straight ahead, not little bit right or left.
After you have done the horizontal and vertical alignment, it is always a good idea to go for a ride in night to check if its working fine, and while you are testing it, ask somebody to sit as pillion, and again check if there is too much deviation and its manageable or not, if not you should re-adjust little bit if required.