Motorcycle Headlight Protection Film
Scotchcal paint protection film is described in the two
articles listed in the right column.
Scotchcal is a
clear adhesive-backed urethane covering that is applied
over clean and smooth surfaces to protect the paint or
finish from scratches, nicks and dings.
protect motorcycle paint and finishes from scratches,
rubs, chafing, road grit and stone damage.
Scotchcal is relatively
easy to install, especially on flat surfaces or surfaces
with smooth, wide radii. Scotchcal is available in
several thicknesses; 8 mil (0.008") paint
protection film is generally used to protect painted
surfaces, and the 40 mil (0.040") thick headlight
protection film is used to protect headlights from stone
damage. See the articles referenced above for
information on where to purchase Scotchcal.
The manufacturer claims
that 40 mil (0.040") thick
Scotchcal film will help protect headlights from stone
or rock damage. The photo on the left shows a roll
of Scotchcal (right), compared to the thickness of a
U.S. one-cent piece.
X-Pel, a Scotchcal bulk retailer,
offers a 5-year, $1,000.00 "light protection guarantee"
against any damage if their Scotchcal is installed.
I'm not sure how about the details of the guarantee, so
make sure to read the fine print carefully.
Headlight protection film can easily be installed on round headlights;
curved or faired headlights are also relatively easy to
cover by making a pattern to use as a
Scotchcal is hard to
distinguish once it's on the headlight, which is a nice
feature. I've seen other motorcycle headlight protectors
made from what I assume are sheets of plastic or clear,
hard vinyl. These are usually attached to the
headlight via some Velcro "buttons" that must first be
glued on to the
In my opinion, the buttons make
unsightly and somewhat crude. These type of covers can also be
expensive, while a 12"x12" piece of Scotchcal can be
purchased for under $20.00, including shipping.
Headlights should be
protected against stone or road damage for safety
reasons and also because they can be very expensive to
replace. Taking the few minutes needed to install
a piece of Scotchcal headlight protection film can
provide peace of mind and it is a worthwhile investment.
We installed some Scotchcal
headlight protection film on the 6.5" round headlight of
this Triumph Thunderbird Sport. Installing the
film on a round headlight is very
easy, and the task should be well within the
mechanical ability of nearly every motorcycle owner.
The first step in any
Scotchcal installation is to
thoroughly clean the surface. I always have a
couple of bottles of Glass Plus around the garage, and
I've found it to be indispensable
for use on motorcycles. It doesn't contain ammonia,
and I've found it to be safe to use for just about any
I first cleaned the headlight with
Glass Plus and then dried it off with a clean paper
towel. Next, use some rubbing alcohol on a clean
paper towel to clean the headlight, removing any
leftover wax or grease. Make sure the headlight is
I've learned by installing
lots of Scotchcal paint protection film that a
super-precise cut with perfect edges isn't really that
critical for success.
Maybe I'm not the perfectionist I once
was, but it's hard for the average home mechanic to get
perfect cut lines, and it doesn't really seem to matter
that much because the product is so hard to notice after
it's been applied and has dried for about 24 hours.
I measured the Triumph's
headlight at 6.5" across, so I used a cheap protractor
and set it to 3.25". I scribed a circle on the backing of
the Scotchcal, and used a pair of sharp scissors to
carefully cut out the required piece of film.
6.5" diameter plate or round, hard circle was available,
I probably would have tried to use it as a guide for an
X-Acto knife, but a good pair of scissors and a freehand
cut works fine.
Scotchcal is shiny on one
side and has an adhesive on the back, and the adhesive
is covered with backing paper. The backing paper
must be peeled off to expose the adhesive. X-Pel
suggests that the 40 mil Scotchcal can be installed
either dry or wet.
I've always used the wet method
to install Scotchcal, so I figured I'd go with my
experience to install the thicker 40 mil headlight
protection film. But next time I think I'll try to
install it dry, because it seemed to take a relatively
long time to squeegee out the water and for the adhesive
To install it wet, use a
mixture of water, rubbing alcohol and a couple of drops
of dishwashing liquid. X-Pel includes a recipe for
the mixture in the instructions that are sent with every
Scotchcal purchase. I usually spray the surface
and then spray both sides of the film after the backing
is peeled off.
The idea behind a wet
installation is that the film can be laid on to the
surface and slid around, much like installing a decal on
a model car or plane. But for this application,
it's easy to center the round piece of film over the
round headlight, and it isn't really necessary to move
it back and forth to find the center, so a dry
installation may be easier.
After laying on the film,
use the squeegee provided by X-Pel, or a credit card or
similar device to squeeze out all the water, working
from the middle out to the edges. Eventually, the
water will get squeezed out and the adhesive will start
to do it's job. X-Pel suggests turning on the
headlight for a while prior to the installation to help
soften up the film; I started the bike and turned on the
headlight during the installation, and it got pretty
warm, but I'm not sure this really helped speed up the
Keep using the squeegee to
squeeze out the water, and eventually the edges should
start to set up. Use fingers or a cloth to hold
down any edges that don't seem to want to take a set.
I haven't tried installing
the film dry, but I imagine that the same steps must be
followed. It might be more critical to make sure
that the film is precisely lined up the first time, but
this method would probably mean that the edges will
stick much faster than using the spray.
As you can see from the
photos below, the headlight protection film virtually
disappears from sight after it's dry. The last
photo shows the edge of the film, which can be seen just
above the edge of the headlight.
Installing paint protection film or headlight protection
film is an easy task that has the potential of
protecting your bike for many years. It's better
to do this when the bike is new, or before the paint or
headlight receive damage, rather than regret it later
on. Protecting the paint and headlight could also
help maintain the bike's resale value.
More: Better than those plastic kits
that force you to glue little Velcro-like buttons on your headlight - this is
heavy-duty film that applies directly to your headlamp, no matter what shape.
Buy it in bulk and do it yourself at Xpel
| Planet Superbike has headlight
covers for racing | Professional installation with lifetime
warranty available in the Portland, Oregon area from Tim Walbridge at 503
MOTORING; call 503-708-4103
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