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Thread: Is headlight protection necessary?

  1. #1
    Rally Rat
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    Question Is headlight protection necessary?

    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.

  2. #2
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    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.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!

    -Tom (KA1TOX)

  3. #3
    Registered User texanrt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hcmiller52 View Post
    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.

    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.
    Texan RT | Houston | IBA
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  4. #4
    You stupid, fix it! r11rs94's Avatar
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    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.
    The thing about traveling is, you never want it to end and you can't wait to get home.
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  5. #5
    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    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.
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
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  6. #6
    Registered User texanrt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r11rs94 View Post
    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.
    Yes -- I added the oil cooler guard immediately after discovering a couple of significant dings in the oil cooler fins.
    Texan RT | Houston | IBA
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  7. #7
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    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.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
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  8. #8
    535IS
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    Quote Originally Posted by hcmiller52 View Post
    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.

  9. #9
    Midnight Rider 41077's Avatar
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    Well worth it.

    $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.
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  10. #10
    warredon
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    Quote Originally Posted by hcmiller52 View Post
    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.

  11. #11
    Rally Rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by 41077 View Post
    $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?

  12. #12
    angysdad
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    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... 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!!!

  13. #13
    Rally Rat
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    Quote Originally Posted by angysdad View Post
    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... 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.

  14. #14
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    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.
    Kent Christensen
    21482
    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

  15. #15
    dpilot
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    Is headlight protection necessary?

    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.

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