How far should a motorcycle headlight shine?

Do you think your headlights are dim and not lighting enough the road ahead of you at night?

The low beam of a headlight should illuminate approximately 30 feet of the road ahead of you. Headlights on full beam are much brighter, extending the light beam to 400 feet. However, depending on your motorcycle’s age and headlamp type, you will experience a wide variance in illumination.

How far does a motorcycle headlight shine?

It depends on the type of headlight you have fitted to your motorcycle. Most motorcycles use bright Halogen bulbs and can efficiently emit enough light to reach 400 feet on full beam.

However, there are a variety of headlight bulbs available that will give increased illumination over a longer distance.

H1 bulbs are single filament bulbs and emit less light than other bulbs on the market.

H4 bulbs are bright in some cases, as stated by Philipps, are 150% brighter than an H1 bulb. H1 bulbs are dual filament and halogen-based.

If your bulb is dim, try a Xenon bulb, Xenon bulbs use a mix of Xenon and halogen to produce a crisp white light.

How far ahead should my headlights shine?

As far as possible, when adjusted correctly is the honest answer, so a lot will depend on the type of bulb you are using.

A standard headlight bulb will reach approximately 110m, while a 150% brighter bulb will illuminate a staggering 190m. Incredibly, you can achieve a further 80m of illumination by changing your headlight bulb.

Some bulbs are even more robust such as HID bulbs. However, it’s not a simple case of swapping bulbs over; you will need to replace the headlamp unit to comply with the highway code.

What is proper motorcycle headlight adjustment?

All motorcycle headlights are only tested on low beams for the annual MOT.

There are two standards, headlights at 850mm centre line from the ground and above 850mm. The MOT tester will check the height and decide if the light pattern is correct for your motorcycle.

Gone are the days when you could adjust your headlights to startle drivers and then back off half a turn.

You can make adjustments yourself; you will need someone to sit on the motorcycle upright, place the motorcycle 25 feet away from a flat wall and measure the same 850 mm. If the light is high, adjust down and vice versa.

How do I aim my motorcycle lights?

It is a simple process, measure to the centre of your headlight with someone sitting on the motorcycle, and the motorcycle is upright. 

Take that measurement and mark on a flat wall, use a spirit level to extend to the line for around six feet.

Move your motorcycle 20 feet away and switch on the dipped beam. If the beam is above the line, adjust until the top of the light is touching or just over the line.

This is the correct alignment for your headlight.