Headlight upgrades for ebikes with stock headlights?

Camasonian

Member
Region
USA
I‘m currently ebike shopping and all the models I’m looking at (such as the Vado 5.0) come with stock ebike headlights That are probably adequate for most urban uses, but I ride on some very dark unlit country roads and trails and will probably want to upgrade to a more powerful headlight like the Supernova M99 or something similar.

I know wiring an ebike headlight to a bike that does not already have a headlight is a complicated undertaking requiring taking the motor apart, etc. But I’m curious about swapping out an existing headlight with a more powerful option. What are the possible pitfalls to doing this and are there specific model upgrades that work better than others? It is an easy swap-out? Or am I better off leaving the stock light along and supplementing it with a separate and additional high-powered battery-powered light?
 
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Timpo

Well-Known Member
I‘m currently ebike shopping and all the models I’m looking at (such as the Vado 5.0) come with stock ebike headlights That are probably adequate for most urban uses, but I ride on some very dark unlit country roads and trails and will probably want to upgrade to a more powerful headlight like the Supernova M99 or something similar.

I know wiring an ebike headlight to a bike that does not already have a headlight is a complicated undertaking requiring taking the motor apart, etc. But I’m curious about swapping out an existing headlight with a more powerful option. What are the possible pitfalls to doing this and are there specific model upgrades that work better than others? It is an easy swap-out? Or am I better off leaving the stock light along and supplementing it with a separate and additional high-powered battery-powered light?
You would have to know your controller's specs.
I tried to get more powerful headlight, but I gave up because KT controller (common controller for Chinese ebikes) typically only has 6V.

The Supernova V521s (stock Vado 5.0 light) requires 5V, whereas Supernova M99 needs minimum 5V for lower end ones (Such as M99 Mini-25) but M99 Pro requires 24V minimum to 60V max.
So, if you're trying to go for brighter light, you want to make sure your controller actually outputs 24V or higher, not 5V.

If I were to guess, your Vado 5.0 does not have high voltage controller for headlight.
If your stock headlight is Supernova521s, which is rated for 5V to 13V, why would they give you a 24V controller?
 

Camasonian

Member
Region
USA
You would have to know your controller's specs.
I tried to get more powerful headlight, but I gave up because KT controller (common controller for Chinese ebikes) typically only has 6V.

The Supernova V521s (stock Vado 5.0 light) requires 5V, whereas Supernova M99 needs minimum 5V for lower end ones (Such as M99 Mini-25) but M99 Pro requires 24V minimum to 60V max.
So, if you're trying to go for brighter light, you want to make sure your controller actually outputs 24V or higher, not 5V.

If I were to guess, your Vado 5.0 does not have high voltage controller for headlight.
If your stock headlight is Supernova521s, which is rated for 5V to 13V, why would they give you a 24V controller?
Yeah, so probably the best and easiest solution is a high power Cateye or some other strap-on self-contained battery light to keep in the pack and pull out for occasional traversing of really dark areas. Rather than trying to customize the bike itself.
 

theemartymac

Well-Known Member
Yeah, so probably the best and easiest solution is a high power Cateye or some other strap-on self-contained battery light to keep in the pack and pull out for occasional traversing of really dark areas. Rather than trying to customize the bike itself.
Certainly safer than potentially voiding your warranty, but if that's not an issue for you, tapping into a 48v line is not that big a deal if you or a trustworthy and capable friend can splice and solder a quality connection. Don't use blade style taps or economy twist/crimp connections in a high voltage/high amperage line or you'll just create resistance and heat. Best bet, find an existing plug inline on an appropriate output, and buy/make a splitter to plug in that spot that splices right in the connector. A fuse is also necessary insurance against a frayed wire down the road. Either run a light that can easily take the full voltage of your output line, or better yet, add a small DC-DC converter to provide a nice consistent 12v or 24v matched to your light of choice.

If all of that terrifies you, just stick with the separate battery option. A third option if you have a USB port on your battery or bike is a simple accessory light like this to supplement the stock lights. I use this for the trails and rainy days when the stock light doesn't cut it. Bright and wide beam, but not a great headlight for busy traffic as it doesn't have a proper horizon cutoff line.

 

DiggyGun

Well-Known Member
Region
United Kingdom
City
Buckinghamshire
I‘m currently ebike shopping and all the models I’m looking at (such as the Vado 5.0) come with stock ebike headlights That are probably adequate for most urban uses, but I ride on some very dark unlit country roads and trails and will probably want to upgrade to a more powerful headlight like the Supernova M99 or something similar.

I know wiring an ebike headlight to a bike that does not already have a headlight is a complicated undertaking requiring taking the motor apart, etc. But I’m curious about swapping out an existing headlight with a more powerful option. What are the possible pitfalls to doing this and are there specific model upgrades that work better than others? It is an easy swap-out? Or am I better off leaving the stock light along and supplementing it with a separate and additional high-powered battery-powered light?
I looked at doing that and it got quite complex in the end. Eventually chose a USB rechargeable light. There is so much choice, we went with Moon.

That way, there’s no potential risk to your electrics being fried or voiding your warranty.
 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
It isn't just the controller voltage in the headlight circuit to consider. The current and wire size is also a consideration. Unless you plan on wiring a relay to use the bikes battery voltage, IMO, you're better off using a handlebar mounted light with it's own internal battery. If your bike has a USB port, there are many headlight models out there that will recharge via that port. I use this one from Olight:


Many cheaper models are also available.

When removed from the bars, these lights can serve a dual purpose for use as a handheld flashlight. This comes in handy when having to change a flat or do bike repairs at night.
 

Stefan Mikes

Well-Known Member
Region
Europe
City
Brwinów (PL)
I‘m currently ebike shopping and all the models I’m looking at (such as the Vado 5.0) come with stock ebike headlights That are probably adequate for most urban uses, but I ride on some very dark unlit country roads and trails and will probably want to upgrade to a more powerful headlight like the Supernova M99 or something similar.
@Camasonian: Ask your LBS about applicability of installing the Supernova M99 Pro for your new Vado 5.0. The matter is not simple, as that light uses a remote for high-beam. Your 5.0 might be not electronically/electrically prepared to deliver 27 W of power at 24 V for the high-beam. (Supernova is indeed a CAN Bus device, so it needs to communicate with the e-bike for high-beam, horn, and brakes). If you do it wrong, you might damage electronics in your Vado, leading to voiding your warranty.

My Vado (which is a special EU issue known as 6.0) has been specifically designed for Supernova M99 Pro. That light is the standard issue on the 6.0, and the high-beam switch is integrated with the Vado remote (the bottom thumb button serves this purpose). The new Vado 5.0 handles traditional 12 V headlights.

1633759262516.png


you're better off using a handlebar mounted light with it's own internal battery.
It is an excellent advice. I can recommend CatEye Volt 1700, which is even more powerful than Supernova in the high beam mode (1700 lumens), and its large battery keeps for many hours. The high beam is adequate for riding forest at night, and it only would not be enough if you rode an e-MTB over technical singletrack downhill in the darkness :)

When removed from the bars, these lights can serve a dual purpose for use as a handheld flashlight. This comes in handy when having to change a flat or do bike repairs at night.
Priceless application! As my e-bikes now are all equipped with good integrated lights, my external headlights only serve me as flashlights :)
 
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DiggyGun

Well-Known Member
Region
United Kingdom
City
Buckinghamshire
You guys ride with headlights on during daylight?
Yes. My R&M Nevo3 is set up so that the front light and rear lights are on all the time.

I also have USB rechargeable Moon front and rear lights that I use on a day mode double flash.

In the UK its safer to be seen.
 
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Rome

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Nice my light is plugged into the Bloks display via USB. I had the monkey link but I needs a satchel on the handle bar
 

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m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
I have gotten away from trying to mess with 48/52v powered lights. I've got juice-box-sized 52v 6ah packs that are perfect for this job, where they make for gigantic capacity for a headlight, and I still have dropped the concept. In addition to all the wiring you have to use and hide, you handicap yourself mightily by limiting your options to lights like that, which are nowhere near state of the art for bike lighting.

Instead I do cordless rechargeable lights and, once per week, when I get to the office I charge them all up in the morning on a USB hub. All my lights are used daily and all of them have to be daybright as I use them for running/warning lights day and night.

Blinkies increase the conspicuity (I was surprised: thats a real word) of a rider but studies have shown they also degrade a motorist's ability to track your motion. So I use both. A center blinkie and two solids as wide apart as I can put them.

Recently I graduated up to Knog lights, which are the brightest I can find - but they cost. Two Knog square-type Blinders are my solids. A Big Cobber set to eco mode is my blinker. Its a sharp, intense regular blink. Note the Knog Blinder checkerboard version has a mode that is a form of an irregular blink that studies have shown are more noticeable than a regular blink. The excellent Bontrager Flare RT has an irregular blink built into it as well and I have one of those on a different bike. At US$65 it too is pricey but a hospital visit costs more.

PXL_20210802_024036308.jpg


On the front of the same bike, I use two Niterider Luminas, set far enough apart and with their mounts 1 click outboard to spread their beams just a tad (without separating them). Thats a good wide beam for the street. In between them is a white flashing Big Cobber set to eyesaver mode (shuts off the top 1/3 of the beam so it doesn't blink in your face). The Big Cobber is the only brand of blinkie that is powerful enough not to get drowned out by two steady lights set just beside it.
PXL_20210802_023932081.jpg

On a different bike that sees more use in rural areas, I do the same thing in back, but in the front I use my sort of new favorite economy beam. Branded by Victagen but sold under multiple names. Like the Niteriders it is also detachable for use as a hand light and has so much capacity it can be used as a power bank for your cell phone (a USB plug is included on it). Niteriders are fantastic but expensive. It is flanked by two $15 Blitzu Gator 390's that are also set one click outboard. They're cheap, bright with good beam patterns and the battery is decently long lasting when set to its low value (which is plenty when used as a supplement like this). As such, I have one good bright beam forming the point of a spear, and two more beams widening out my field of vision - this kind of flexibility is why I no longer bother to try and solve a lighting need with just one unit. This is a $50 total solution.

also, look down in the lower right corner. Thats where the blinkie goes, separated from the main beams so it doesn't get drowned out. A Knog Blinder again. Set to eco mode which is a sharp, short flash.
PXL_20211030_164800330_cropped.jpg


Lastly, on a bike with basket bars, I used two of the double beams, one on each side of the rack. You can see a centered white blinkie. This is a Night Provision front light that is set to blink. These lights are CHEAP and really bright. The battery lasts a full week of use so I used them regularly on a commuter. I have maybe a dozen sets and I relied on these for years before I recently decided to step up to the Knogs. the rears are sold in twos and I put one on each side of my rack, oriented up-and-down, just like you see the square Knogs in the pic above. Another one oriented side to side is the blinkie in the back, center. In a pinch, these are the best budget daybright running/tail lights I have ever come across.

PXL_20210529_201439985_lights.jpg


Look closely and you can see two widely-spaced unused mounts I fashioned on the top bar of the rack. Also there are two of the Gator mounts in the center just above the blinkie. the outboard mounts are just there unused, but the two in the middle I can use if riding in the boondocks to give me a nice spread-out illumination pattern. For $30.
 
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mjeds

Active Member
Region
USA
12v power supply and any 12v light you want. I use a Jeep 7" off-road LED light bar, have tried some motorcycle driving lights as well, like the output and aesthetics of the bar better.

12v power packs: this one lasts me 8-9 hours with the below light.
mine: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VX3S4M2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
powerpack.jpg

light bar:
led bar.jpg


switches:
switch.jpg

DC port and wiring: from led bar to power pack

I have a Y splitter going to the tail light as well:

connector.jpg


oh yeah and brackets for the light:

these fit multiple size bars, just buy the size you need:

 

6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
Northeast Pennsylvania
Another option is to use a cordless tool battery with an adapter. Most LED's will work with these 18 - 20V batteries.


This one is for DeWalt but adapters are also available for most other brands.

I always have a few charged for tool use and just grab one for the bike when I need it. I also use them as range extender batteries to power the bike as well.
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
Speaking of light bars, here's one that will work directly off of your ebike battery with no messing around with any separate batteries. Input voltage range is 9-60v DC so I had it plugged directly into my 52v main battery via a simple Y plug terminating to an XT60, with a basic inline switch. This is the light I was talking about above when I said I worked out using small 52v batteries for an external lighting setup. I ended up just feeding off the main battery and dropping the use of an external since there was no need and the light didn't eat much.


The problem with those light bars is they have no cutoff. So they're illegal on the street for good reason as they blast light forward smack into oncoming drivers' eyeballs. Local cops will be more than happy to pull your ass over for using one without a cutoff of some kind. They sure weren't shy with me. You need a cutoff just like a legal headlight. Which I created with some L brackets, a bit of aluminum flat bar stock and some tape, followed by focusing the light down enough so the 'cutoff' did its job. The bulb - even though its an LED - gave off too much heat to just tape over the top half of the lens. Tried that. Note the cooling fins on the casing they are there because they are needed.

IMG_20181231_102404.jpg
IMG_20181231_102254.jpg


This kind of light is meant to be mounted on roll cages and such. I fashioned a mount out of a couple of them along with a handlebar extension, angled back so the weight of the whole assembly didn't cause it to tip forward. You can't over-emphasize how much a 40w LED light is overkill. Its fun for awhile but really I found I can get a better result with smaller lights suited to the intended purpose. Those 2-beam self-contained lights in particular are perhaps even more useful than this thing was.

I'm sure I could do a better job on the cutoff but I reached a point where the effort wasn't worth the potential gain and I moved on.
 

mjeds

Active Member
Region
USA
never had an issue with the cops in L.A., I do get drivers flashing me once in awhile and could careless seeing the massive amount of morons running HID or even LED bulbs in Halogen housings with no cutoffs and scattered light everywhere that blinds everyone.

only issue I have every had with the LEOs is my speed, I use several residential back streets that have a speed limit of 25mph and on a few occasions have been "informed" I needed to slow down (was doing 30+), but they didn't cite me.


now tell me about that clamp you are using to secure that light..
 

m@Robertson

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
never had an issue with the cops in L.A., I do get drivers flashing me once in awhile and could careless seeing the massive amount of morons running HID or even LED bulbs in Halogen housings with no cutoffs and scattered light everywhere that blinds everyone.

only issue I have every had with the LEOs is my speed, I use several residential back streets that have a speed limit of 25mph and on a few occasions have been "informed" I needed to slow down (was doing 30+), but they didn't cite me.


now tell me about that clamp you are using to secure that light..
Yeah I got popped twice within a week. This is one freaking incredibly bright light though.

I used a short handlebar extension that looked like this, angled back. From the side it was maybe at 2 o'clock ... 1:30 ish? The rightmost pic, zoom in on it.

61DfDEqxNiL._AC_SL1000_[1].jpg


Then I took a pair of these bar mounts


Jammed them together side by side, the mount on the light is a big wide slot. Just barely wide enough so I could take those two mounts, jammed side by side, and slide two bolts thru, clamping the light to them both so I had a very wide base of contact both on the light and the bar. n Zoom in on the leftmost pic and you can see the two bolts just above the Jones label on the handlebars. I did need to use the rubber spacers to fill in for the handlebars being smaller but they were included with the bar mounts.

The assembly also braced itself against the separate handlebar extension that I used to mount my second display (2wd bike so dual displays, one per motor). If I had wanted to (and it needed it) I could have connected the two via zip ties as the light assembly was heavy so a good solid bump would move it forward some. Thats why I angled it back, which only solved about 90% of the problem.

It is also elevated like that above the bars on purpose as the higher up I could get it, the larger swath of pavement I could light up.
 

mjeds

Active Member
Region
USA
ok,, I tried those mounts, didn't work with my light.

I had the bar extender, didn't care for it. I found the brackets I posted above, they are ok. my OCD has me wanting something a little cleaner.