Friday, June 20, 2014

Retro Bicycle LED Headlight Construction

This week I worked, little by little, on a vintage-style headlight making use of modern, LED technology. The concept was simple in theory, but somewhat more difficult in execution: bring the guts of a modern, 1200 Lumen LED into the shell of a 1959 Miller headlight. The completed light would go on the 1958 Raleigh Sports four speed.

I took the LED unit itself out of the LED light fixture and clipped the wires for the power connection. They're a simple two wire set. I cut the Miller's stock reflector dish so that it would let the smaller, back portion of the LED slide through, but hang up on the larger front part of the LED frame. I then secured it using a combination of JB Weld and hot glue. The JB Weld forms a strong bond while the hot glue forms an "instant set" preventing the parts from moving while the JB cures. Next, I found the location of the switch terminals in the LED circuitry and soldered one wire to each terminal.

 The way the light works is simple- when the two terminals are connected and then disconnected, the light turns on. Repeating the connection and disconnection causes the light to cycle through each of its power settings. If the connection is made and left on, the bicycle goes into hazard flasher mode. My connection will preserve all of that functioning.

All I am doing is outsourcing the connection from the stock, "push button" switch to a retro switch in the shell of the miller light.

At that point, I have the LED in the dish and the switch ready. I clipped the power cord of the LED shorter and mounted the battery connection head from the LED's cord into a hole on the bottom of the Miller shell. The hole had to be modestly enlarged. Glue and a snug fit secure the connector in the shell.


Finally, I reassemble the shell parts and mount the light.

The light is set up so you can easily remove the rechargeable battery without having to mess with the light. Just disconnect the battery, and take it to an outlet.


When you're ready to ride again, reconnect the battery and strap it into the lamp bracket on the bicycle. It fits nicely.


  1. Hi. Sorry if this is a bit off topic, but it seemed as good a post as any to bring it up. Would you happen to know of a source for the two piece clamp that fits between the light and the Heron bracket? I look at eBay from time to time, though I'm not sure I'm using the correct terminology in my searches, but never really find anything. I also asked Yellow Jersey about them, and their response was "we're looking for a new supplier." If you had one or two you'd be willing to part with, I'd be interested in discussing that further. --Scott in PA sdloveless(at)gmaildotcom Thanks!

    1. If I can't find an original English-style lamp bracket on eBay, I'll buy one of the Chinese-made 12v/6w generator sets on eBay or Amazon, some of which do have the English-style headlight brackets. They're not as good as the originals, but they do work OK.

      These sets are the ones with the English-style lamp bracket and the cheap bullet headlight and plastic tail lamp.

      I use the bracket with the better lights on my bike and save the cheapo headlight/tail light for parts. The parts from those cheapo lights sometimes do interchange with the older stuff and make for workable spares.


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