MX Trail Bike: Adding Off-Road Lights to Your Dirt Bike

Jan. 16, 2013 By Jaime Hernandez
Jim Ryan from Dual Sport Utah riding trails in Moab.

Ever ride your dirt bike during the short winter days and wish you had lights so you didn’t have to stop? How about early twilight, weathering through some foggy single track or a misty trail at your favorite ridding spot? Well, whatever your cup of Joe may be, you don’t have to stop riding just because the day goes dim.  Lights on your dirt bike can make ridding more enjoyable and safe any time of the year.

In this MX Trail Bike story we’ll show you the best way to illuminate the terrain with your dirt bike, whether it’s a two-stroke or four-stroke. The best part is anybody can do it, no matter how old the bike. The point is to get out and ride.

If you’re just joining our build, we are taking an older motocross bike and giving it new life by turning it into a trail bike. Up to this point we’ve been able to add body armor, more fuel capacity and range, along with lower gearing for tackling technical trails and steep climbs.

More MX Trail Bike Articles:
MX Trail Bike: Giving a Motocross Bike New Life

MX Trail Bike: Fuel & Armor Upgrades

MX Trail Bike: Adding More Torque & Traction

If you plan on adding any type of lights to your dirt bike you will need a good power source. The ideal setup is having a high-output lighting stator with enough power to excite a 55/60 Watt headlight.

Stators come in different shapes and sizes, specific to your dirt bike’s engine and power needs. The stator works with the flywheel and consists of copper wire wound poles that are stationary. The flywheel, which rotates with the engine crank, spins around the stator to produce alternating current (AC). It then runs up to the regulator-rectifier where it is converted to direct current (DC). Most motocross bikes don’t have batteries, but for those that do, the battery hooks into the regulator-rectifier, completing the electrical system.

Here is a sample of what a stator looks like once the side cover has been removed from the engine. In some dirt bike models, pulling the flywheel is also necessary, like on this two-stroke KTM 380 built by Eric Tabb on  For more on Eric’s bike, search keyword “Project Old School KTM.”

Most motocross bikes come with an ignition stator, powerful enough to only supply the ignition system. Some can be modified to work as a lighting-ignition stator by adding more copper wire winds on the poles. Places like Baja Designs and Ricky Stator can take your factory assembly and modify it to produce two to three times the power.

To learn more about your specific bike’s stator power output and electrical system, we recommend you research your owner’s manual. You can also check this comprehensive chart put together by Baja Designs that breaks down the dirt bike model’s stator wattage, in addition to modified output--when possible. 

Stator Chart Link


There are a few manufacturers out there that make good aftermarket headlamp housings and kits for dirt bikes. Each has its benefits and unique styling. It really doesn’t matter if you ride a two-stroke or four-stroke, as they make lights that will work with almost all dirt bikes. From halogen to HID, and now even LED, it really comes down to your lighting needs and wallet.

We decided to focus on a single headlamp and tail lamp, effective for trail and enduro riding. The Baja Designs Enduro headlamp was the best choice for our bike; it included factory style plugs that made it plug-n-play. We also like Baja Designs because of its proven and tested racing design, simplicity and ease of installation.

Here is an overview of what it took to make our motocross bike more enduro.

Since our KTM 450 MXC dirt bike came wired from the factory to run lights, it was just a matter of removing the number plate from the forks and plugging the Baja Designs headlight. The lighting-ignition stator was also already maxed out to 110 Watts, so no need for re-wind.

For those that don’t have wiring, you can either try to make your own harness or simply buy a universal one that will work for your bike. Once the stator and wiring is in place, the process of adding lights is the same.


We removed the dirt bike number plate to make way for the Baja Designs Enduro Headlight. The wiring was a little dirty, so we cleaned it up with electric cleaner, followed with some dielectric grease to make sure we had good contact.

The Baja Designs halogen headlight features a glass lens, H4 high/low bulb, along with a hi/lo-beam switch. Our model also features an optional 3w running light.

Once the headlight wiring is all hooked up, the Baja Designs headlight assembly is secured to the forks using rubber mounting straps. The straps are easy to put on and can be adjusted to different diameter fork tubes. Just stretch and hook it to the desired notch.

As part of the Baja Designs Enduro kit, we also added a rear taillight.  We used the universal Baja Designs LED Taillight, using a factory plug to work with our wiring. It features a super bright LED cluster that functions as a running light, brake light, and license plate illuminator. This model will fit almost any dirt bike with a rear plastic fender. We choose the LED taillight because it uses less power than an incandescent bulb and will survive vibration and shock much better.

Wiring is simple for the taillight, in our case Baja Designs included a wiring harness that matched our factory plug, making it plug-n-play. We just had to remove the seat and rear fender to work wiring through center of bike up to the connection point in front of the air box.

The rear fender taillight assembly is simple to install, but it does require some planning. We run a tool accessory kit on top of the rear fender, so we had to make sure our drill bit wouldn’t end up in the tool kit. Some careful measuring and planning goes a long way. Pre-drilling the rear light assembly made it easier to then drill holes onto the rear fender. We were able to do this with rear fender on the bike.

Baja Designs includes four Allen bolts and hardware to fasten the rear light assembly (black plastic piece) to the fender. Two bolts in the front and two in the rear will spread out the load and make it nice and secure.

Some of you may want to run brake lights on your bike. To do this, a brake switch will need to be added. Baja Designs makes one that goes on the rear caliper. It is actuated by brake pressure in the hydraulic system. Once wired, the rear light will illuminate brighter when the rear brake pedal is used.

The entire installation takes less than two hours. It takes more time to research your bike’s electrical system and lighting options. My experience with Baja Designs was great.  Diego, who handles Baja Designs’ motorcycle line, was able to get me the right wiring, parts and instructions to make this project a breeze.

Having lights on our dirt bike is great. Not only does it add functionality and extend its use, it also adds looks and style. We like having the option to ride early, late or anytime we please. The added weight is minimal, 3.2 lbs. for both lights (2 lbs. front, 1.2 lbs. rear). 

The safety factor is very much welcomed. Even when ridding in the middle of the day, if the weather turns dark, lights on your bike will help you see and let others take notice that you’re also on the trail. There are studies that show running lights help reduce accidents, we’re happy to take any advantage we can on and off the trail.

As for the Baja Designs LED Taillight, we really like the modern design and profile. The clear lens looks awesome, is visible during daylight and really comes to life in the dark.

Overall we are really glad we made the jump to adding lights to our bike. For the type of riding we are doing, this added safety and lighting performance gives us yet another tool for tackling the dirt with confidence. So if your riding less because of the short winter days or gloomy weather, take charge and electrify your dirt bike with a set of off-road lights.  You’ll be kicking yourself for not doing it sooner.

Baja Designs
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