ChopCult Pictorial: Headlights


If you're in the dark about motorcycle headlights, consider the bright ideas these builders executed with their machines. Retro or repop, bone-stock or custom to the bone, practically any bucket you find will make a great headlight if you apply some thought and elbow grease to the process.

Well, almost any bucket. Skull headlights will always be lame.

This ChopCult Focus feature may short, but we think you'll find it illuminating.

Sorry—could't resist.



Stacked rectangular headlights were de rigueur in the '70s. I personally like them when the top light is set up as the high beam on a two-way switch. Function AND fashion never killed anyone.



Nervous Nellies will undoubtedly ask, "Is an amber lens on the front of a vehicle legal or prudent?" To them I say, "Who cares?" This headlight looks badass, and when the bike you ride has a raw springer and T-bars, its headlight better look at home in such surroundings. Mission accomplished on this package.



Another double stack, this time with a second triple tree as a combination fork brace and lower headlight bracket. An OCD OG could breathe a little more style into this set-up with some heat shrink and hardare, but you can't fault the man who secures his tool bag with a bungee cord. This bike is built for the long haul, and double headlights are there to show the way.



Wiring is every self-conscious chopper builder's nemesis. Old salts with an eye for period-correctness sometimes opt for cloth wire to add retro authenticity to their electrical beehives. This gentleman eschewed such puffery in favor of the hot rodder's old standby: split plastic robot arm. I'd probably jetison the idiot lights on the top tree to clean up the area behind the bucket, but I love the alloy ears that hold the light to the fork stanchions. A little long, perhaps, but definitely stout and elegant.



There's a lot of monkey motion going on beneath the headlight and behind the chrome horn on this rideable antique. I'm not hip to what it does, but I'll guess it's some sort of adjustable ride height and/or damping system. Experts, please feel free to weigh in.



This gentleman heeded someone's advice on the subject of detail and fasteners. There's nothing special about this headlight bucket per se, but the cleanliness that surrounds it pulls the whole package together.



A case study in repurposing that which is humble to build something that is personally extraordinary. Rebar, a forged eye hook and what looks like an old Army shovel come together to form a rock-solid if not wholely sanitary faring and headlight mounting system. Bullet dents are a nice touch. Kudos, Mad Max.



No one will convince me these Crime Scene Chopper headlights cast sufficient light between their brightwork bars to provide adequate visibility in nighttime riding, but they look cool as hell. This fellow minds his P's and Q's in the work shop, and it shows.



Tidy, tidy, God allmighty, this is a sweet cockpit. The Bates repop headlight is nondescript, and that's as it should be in surroundings that include the Joker Machine master cylinder, clip-ons and triple-tree detailing seen here. The last thing I'd throw into a mix this solid is a headlight bucket with too much flash or filigree. Well played, sir.


Picture 1

Steering stabilizer? Check. Bug-splattered fork stanchions with rich triple-tree patina? Check. Jeff Goldblum flyball headlight? Hell yeah. I thought this was the coolest headlight in the world until I saw the next one…



Hey Raider Nation—stop talking about your shitty football team and look at this headlight. It's awesome.



I don't know what's cooler: this elegant glass lens in an understated chrome bucket, or the Indian head nickel embedded in the gas cap. Details make the difference, and this bike's got plenty.



With a name like Electroline 54, this art deco light housing with amber glass lens has to hail from the middle of last century. A fog lamp off a pre-WWII motorcar, perhaps, or maybe a marker light off an old locomotive? Dig around long enough in grandpa's garage and the jewels you find might surprise you.

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Comment with Chopcult (21)

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 07:59 am

damn i need to step my game up.

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 08:12 am

that last one in bad ass! i need one,...or two

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 09:04 am

Clean headlights always look good, and people don't notice. But they will notice a bunch of colored spaghetti coming out of the buckets ass....
Nice article!!!

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 10:28 am

im with dale. i rewired my bike so i could have 1 cloth wire running out of my headlight

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 10:42 am

Nice seeing these little rays of light. Getting closer to finishing up my project and still haven't decided on lighting but this sure helps with some ideas. Got to say I love the rebar and shovel set up.

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 11:25 am

I love the fly eyeball one. So cool.

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 11:28 am

nice commentary - fully agree with each one! mad max was cool but #9 gets my vote for super sano! Extra Triple as a forkbrace is such a straightforward idea - begs why didnt I think of that!

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 12:05 pm

nice old headlights are cool, i always try to run something old and funky on my shit boxes,
but i also like to see at night!
the best way ive found is to take the little bulb out of the headlight and stick in of those fancy pants LED replacements in there or find a crazy multi led off like ebay..from china..seems to make it a hella brite.

just my .02

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 03:57 pm

I took a gamble on an ebay 50s Unity light and received one of the nicest looking brass authentic patina lights I've seen. Now I'm building a bike around it.

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 04:34 pm

I just changed my bates repop, same dinky light everyone I dug out an old '70's light and fabbed up the mounts and got her running today.. cool lights here

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 07:10 pm

radical feature....

these photos are so rad.

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 09:30 pm

Damn, I need to get my hands on my first donor case to making my own sweetness.

Commented on 5-14-2010 At 10:40 pm

i got lucky and found a sweet pair of rectangle lights to run on my bike,,cant beat the way stacked lights look..

Commented on 5-15-2010 At 05:45 am

nice work, headlights are my swap meet must have.

Commented on 5-15-2010 At 05:49 pm

Damnit. I thought I had everything together to put my bike together for the 2nd time this year... Now I want to redo my headlight. Thanks a lot, jerk. Good article though.

Commented on 5-15-2010 At 06:04 pm

word, The Flyball is crazy also like the amber lenses, great job.

Commented on 5-17-2010 At 07:38 pm

very nice, great pics. i agree that a headlight can make or break a it attitude.

really wanna get a double square headlight set up...with the direction i'm going...i can see them in my future

Commented on 9-13-2010 At 04:49 pm

Bug splater is always a nice touch!

Commented on 11-10-2010 At 09:21 pm

This feature is awesome. This is a gold mine! Keeping doing it with more stuff!

Commented on 11-12-2010 At 03:53 pm

2 points:
A) i need a different lens!
B) from one "wurd nurd" to another, i gotta say your wrighting was as enjoyable to read as the prettiest lights were to look @.

Commented on 11-20-2013 At 02:36 pm

any one know what a electroline 54 shell is made of ? I would like to chem strip the one I have and nickel plate it... mag wont stick to it.


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