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View Full Version : Is headlight protection necessary?



hcmiller52
11-18-2009, 03:17 PM
There are many vendors hawking acrylic headlamp protectors for our street bikes. These range from $40 to about $80. While they are correct in their assertion that this is far cheaper than a new assembly, I'm not understanding that these are necessary. I've driven/ridden over a million miles in the past 41 years and never had a broken headlamp/assembly.

Is a motorcycle more likely than a car to suffer a broken headlight/assembly from a thrown stone?

I don't want to be foolish for not buying this "cheap protection." OTOH, I don't want to be stupid for buying protection from a nearly non-existent hazzard.

tommcgee
11-18-2009, 03:19 PM
If I was catching a lot of stones, I'd go for extra protection, but I'm not and I ride my share of gravel roads.

texanrt
11-18-2009, 03:35 PM
I've driven/ridden over a million miles in the past 41 years and never had a broken headlamp/assembly. Is a motorcycle more likely than a car to suffer a broken headlight/assembly from a thrown stone,

Over the years I've had many windshields cracked by rocks and debris driving on Houston's freeways. Once it happened twice in one hour. :mad

Given my poor freeway experiences, I decided to add the headlight protection. So far I've only incurred a small scratch/blemish in the headlight protector. I don't think it was absolutely necessary to add the protector -- but I like that fact that it's there. I don't worry about debris or gravel roads as much.

OTOH -- I've ridden my HD around town for a few years and have never had a headlight/passing lamp lense damaged. But those replacements are much cheaper, too.

r11rs94
11-18-2009, 03:54 PM
Coming home from work one evening I heard something hit up front, but the bike seemed ok so I continued home. When I dismounted the bike I noticed that most (90%) of my headlight protector was missing. Someting hit it pretty hard, but there was no damage to the head light. A friend of mine, 2 years ago on his K-LT had a headlight broken. I forget the exact amount, but know it was in the hundreds to replace. I'm not saying a shield would of saved the headlight, but it proberly would of helped. I guess I'm saying while you may never experience a rock or debree hitting you head light, for the prise what do you have to loose. I've also had to friends on GS's have rocks go through there oil coolers. They both now have guards in place to help protect them. :thumb

roborider
11-18-2009, 03:54 PM
I get nicks and dings on my RT light cover (42k miles), but never anything requiring a replacement. The nicks and dings are the battle scars of riding and they collect on the fairing as well.

I would consider a cover only if I had issues locally (which I don't) or if I was going to Alaska or something like that where a failure is more serious. But for everyday use, that and an oil cooler guard seemed to be unnecessary for me.

texanrt
11-18-2009, 04:09 PM
I've also had to friends on GS's have rocks go through there oil coolers. They both now have guards in place to help protect them. :thumb

Yes -- I added the oil cooler guard immediately after discovering a couple of significant dings in the oil cooler fins.

PGlaves
11-18-2009, 04:16 PM
I have had stone holes (they look like those little craters in a window from a BB gun) on the headlights of both my K75T and R1150R. Both holes, of course, opened the reflector assembly up for moisture and dust. I patched the K75T with an acrylic windshield repair kit. I patched the R1150R with a few layers of heavy duty transparent packaging tape that can't be noticed. The hole can be noticed behind the tape though.

A couple of our bikes had heavy plastic laminate (sticky on one side) cut to fit and fitted to the lens. This stuff cost maybe $10 for enough to do two or three headlights. It is not as trick as the guards that go on with Velcro buttons because it can't be noticed but I think the sticky-sheet-stuff does as good a job of protection.

Even after two broken headlight lenses, I think the high-priced, conspicuous, guards are as much a farkle as they are protection - unless you are headed up the Haul Road, or some place similar - lots of trucks on loose gravel roads.

But you can hit a rock anywhere, anytime.

535IS
11-18-2009, 04:16 PM
There are many vendors hawking acrylic headlamp protectors for our street bikes. These range from $40 to about $80. While they are correct in their assertion that this is far cheaper than a new assembly, I'm not understanding that these are necessary.
Cheaper than new is one thing. Cheaper than used is another. My RS has that silly glass cover with the red lines on it and a rubber tunnel back to the headlamp. RapidRoy says he's broken two of those. I bought a spare off ebay just in case. It cost $75. That's about typical, so I'm sticking with OEM - from parted out RS & RTs. :thumb

41077
11-18-2009, 06:14 PM
$7.89 to replace the plastic cut by local shop as Parabellum no longer carries the part. Now on my bike without the fairing I've been lucky, if there was a product to protect it I would use it. Same for my car. Replaced two headlight assemblies at $145. a pop.

warredon
11-18-2009, 06:52 PM
There are many vendors hawking acrylic headlamp protectors for our street bikes. These range from $40 to about $80. While they are correct in their assertion that this is far cheaper than a new assembly, I'm not understanding that these are necessary. I've driven/ridden over a million miles in the past 41 years and never had a broken headlamp/assembly.

Is a motorcycle more likely than a car to suffer a broken headlight/assembly from a thrown stone?

I don't want to be foolish for not buying this "cheap protection." OTOH, I don't want to be stupid for buying protection from a nearly non-existent hazzard.

Are you sure they were acrylic, most of those I've seen lately are clear polycarbonate (Lexan). Acrylic doesn't have near the impact resistance as polycarbonate. When I bought my K1 it already had one on it, but if it hadn't I probably wouldn't have bought one. Mine has a bad crack in it from being hit, so from now on I probably will have some type of extra protection.

hcmiller52
11-18-2009, 07:02 PM
$7.89 to replace the plastic cut by local shop as Parabellum no longer carries the part. Now on my bike without the fairing I've been lucky, if there was a product to protect it I would use it. Same for my car. Replaced two headlight assemblies at $145. a pop.I really appreciate all the responses, particularly getting Paul Glaves to weigh in on the discussion. Thank you for all the comments. This comment notwithstanding, I'm breathing a bit easier about not buying these things for my bikes. They do seem like so much farkle. What I'm not understanding about this message is how is it you have had three catastrophic failures and most of the rest of us have had one or none? Where do you ride?

angysdad
11-18-2009, 10:45 PM
I've riden airheads since 1990. I just bought a K100 (Sept) and caught a rock in the headlight in the first week. My local BMW dealer (Canada) wanted $530cnd+tax for a new one. Looked on eBay...first thing that poped-up...headlight protector...:dunno I would have wanted one of these a few days earlier. Ended up finding a headlight in the UK for ?ú40 with shipping around $150cnd total. I ordered a protector!!!

hcmiller52
11-19-2009, 02:51 PM
I've riden airheads since 1990. I just bought a K100 (Sept) and caught a rock in the headlight in the first week. My local BMW dealer (Canada) wanted $530cnd+tax for a new one. Looked on eBay...first thing that poped-up...headlight protector...:dunno I would have wanted one of these a few days earlier. Ended up finding a headlight in the UK for ?ú40 with shipping around $150cnd total. I ordered a protector!!!It's good that you found one cheap, used. Still, the question remains, is a motorcycle more prone to headlight damage than a car? I have two lenses on my car and they'y be JUST as expensive to replace as on my bikes, yet no one is trying to sell me protectors for my car, hence my suspicion. I did have a product on my 1150 GS that's the same as Paul Glaves described - a thick self-adhesive film product. Easy to apply, guaranteed to work, and cheap. For my GS, the film was die cut. I'd go for that stuff if I could find it.

lkchris
11-19-2009, 06:01 PM
In 25 years and 75K miles, my RS has lost one headlight fairing glass.

And for all this time it's looked fine and not like something with a piece of plastic stuck on it.

No "bras" on my cars either ... same reasoning.

dpilot
11-20-2009, 05:02 AM
What kind of cars do you guys have?
My Volvo has tempered glass for headlight covers.
I suppose they would break if hit hard enough, but
after 3 cars and 300000 miles, i never even thought
of a problem .
Now you got me wondering.
JimV.

sailorlite
11-20-2009, 03:57 PM
From an "insurance" point of view, the protectors seem like a poor investment. If for $80 someone offered to replace my headlamp (parts only) if it ever in the future suffered a rock hit, I'd probably say no thanks, too expensive considering the risk.

But that's if I was fully rational. For some reason I did buy and install the dual-lock type on my RT - so far (20K mi.) it's never been touched except by bugs.

jireynolds67
11-20-2009, 07:22 PM
I have noticed the front turn signal lenses on my RT-P each have a small crack. I would presume these are from being hit by projectiles at high speeds on the highways. I don't know if I can get replacements but they are not causing a problem so I will just leave things the way they are for now.
Years ago, I noticed a small hole in the headlight lens on my 1986 Mazda 626. I don't know how long it had been there. I filled it in with some clear silicon and there was never a problem with it.
I noticed the other day, the right headlight lens on my Honda Civic has a small crack in it but all things considered, I guess I will leave it that way.

JAMESDUNN
11-22-2009, 10:24 PM
Headlight protectors are farkles....but very useful farkles. It may save your headlight assembly.

Zygmund
11-22-2009, 11:30 PM
I travel 3 states for employment and windshields get replaced (Rock) headlight lens get replaced (Rock) so i like having a cover on mine.....

:dunno

criminaldesign
11-23-2009, 05:17 AM
i've thought about rigging up a grate for the airhead bucket. more for a road warrior aesthetic appeal tho, added protection never hurts.

kewlmoose
11-23-2009, 04:18 PM
I consider the headlight cover to be insurance. I picked mine up from a club member used for about $40. Cheap insurance considering what a headlight assembly costs.

hcmiller52
11-23-2009, 04:47 PM
I consider the headlight cover to be insurance. I picked mine up from a club member used for about $40. Cheap insurance considering what a headlight assembly costs.I know, but this is - verbatim - the standard line for the standard reason for getting them. The protector for my '08 GT is a lot more than $40 and for protecting against something that may have .00001 percent chance of happening makes little economic sense. My comment when I started the thread was that in over 1,000,000 miles I never had a cracked headlamp and was wondering why so many are hawking protection.

Crow18
11-23-2009, 06:01 PM
I know, but this is - verbatim - the standard line for the standard reason for getting them. The protector for my '08 GT is a lot more than $40 and for protecting against something that may have .00001 percent chance of happening makes little economic sense. My comment when I started the thread was that in over 1,000,000 miles I never had a cracked headlamp and was wondering why so many are hawking protection.

This is one of those "Your Mileage May Vary" questions. Where I live they put gravel down on the roads when it gets icy, and vehicles kick up all sorts of crap for the next three months. I took a direct hit on my K75's headlight in the first 5,000 miles (my F650 came with a protector, so I don't know if it's ever been hit). In the course of a few hundred winter and spring commutes, my bikes and I have been hit by lots of rocks in lots of different places. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think in your neck of the woods they use sand and salt (and snowplows, too--what a novel concept).

You asked another question a while back about car headlights v. bike headlights and their relative susceptibility to rocks. I think, and I should be clear that this is pure conjecture, that bike headlights are in more danger because they are higher. Figure a car going about 50 mph could kick up a rock with enough velocity to do damage. If your car's headlight is 24 inches off the road surface, but your bike's headlight is 36 inches (again, I'm just pulling numbers out of hammerspace here), you'd need to be a lot closer in the car for the rock to hit your headlight. Probably tailgating distance, but I'd have to actually do some math to be sure. When you're in your car, do you find that rocks hit your windshield? That's probably closer to the right height.

The thing about buying a protector is this: unless something really big hits you, you will never know if it's done its job. If the $80 or whatever is going to eat you up inside every time you see the thing on the front of your bike, then it's probably worth living dangerously, at least until you do take a rock. On the other hand, if you wonder if every pebble that comes at you is going to be the one that costs you $500, maybe the $80 is worth it. It's your psychology. Me. I'm cheap: my K75 is patched with clear silicone and seems to be holding steady, but if I ever have to replace the glass I'll probably buy a protector at the same time.

hcmiller52
11-23-2009, 06:56 PM
This is one of those "Your Mileage May Vary" questions. Where I live they put gravel down on the roads when it gets icy, and vehicles kick up all sorts of crap for the next three months. I took a direct hit on my K75's headlight in the first 5,000 miles (my F650 came with a protector, so I don't know if it's ever been hit). In the course of a few hundred winter and spring commutes, my bikes and I have been hit by lots of rocks in lots of different places. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think in your neck of the woods they use sand and salt (and snowplows, too--what a novel concept).

You asked another question a while back about car headlights v. bike headlights and their relative susceptibility to rocks. I think, and I should be clear that this is pure conjecture, that bike headlights are in more danger because they are higher. Figure a car going about 50 mph could kick up a rock with enough velocity to do damage. If your car's headlight is 24 inches off the road surface, but your bike's headlight is 36 inches (again, I'm just pulling numbers out of hammerspace here), you'd need to be a lot closer in the car for the rock to hit your headlight. Probably tailgating distance, but I'd have to actually do some math to be sure. When you're in your car, do you find that rocks hit your windshield? That's probably closer to the right height.

The thing about buying a protector is this: unless something really big hits you, you will never know if it's done its job. If the $80 or whatever is going to eat you up inside every time you see the thing on the front of your bike, then it's probably worth living dangerously, at least until you do take a rock. On the other hand, if you wonder if every pebble that comes at you is going to be the one that costs you $500, maybe the $80 is worth it. It's your psychology. Me. I'm cheap: my K75 is patched with clear silicone and seems to be holding steady, but if I ever have to replace the glass I'll probably buy a protector at the same time.Thank you, Crow, for your well-considered response. I guess I really don't know if my car is less susceptible to headlight damage than a bike because it is lower. Could be. I do pick up a few nicks in my windshield - probably one a year - from thrown stones.

In addition to the cost, as a photographer, I note (since I have had one - on a K1200R) that light from the beam is somewhat scattered by having this piece in front of the light. It's pure, simple, optics.

Well, after reading all the above, I probably will break down and buy one, notwithstanding some of the downside.

41077
11-23-2009, 11:20 PM
"What kind of cars do you guys have?
My Volvo has tempered glass for headlight covers.
I suppose they would break if hit hard enough, but
after 3 cars and 300000 miles, i never even thought
of a problem .
Now you got me wondering."

It was the Volvo with 338,000 miles that has had the headlight rock smacked twice.
Here in Oregon they put gravel on the road in winter not salt. I had a half city, half rural commute for four years and that is when the car became a rock magnet.
Don't remember where I was when the bike got tagged, I think I was behind a log truck on the highway.