HID & Ducati 748, 916, 996, 998 etc. H3 Dip and H1 Main

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HID & Ducati 748, 916, 996, 998 etc which use H3 Dip and H1 Main (1994-2003)

How to fit slim line HID ballasts and get the best out of the Ducati's lights. This guide should save hours in working out where to put everything and where to route the wires.

Why is dip (low) beam so bad?

The Ducati's dip-beam pattern is created by a shaped piece of metal blanking off half the beam, which almost halves the light output. Over the years I have fitted various 'high output' bulbs, the best was a PIAA extreme white plus. This is sold as 100% more power eg. 110w output for 55w draw. This was still poor for fast night riding and nowhere near as good as the standard bulbed, twin H4 set-up, I had on my Guzzi.

Then HIDs came along....

These work like a florescent tube, and have two parts, the bulb and the ballast. The ballast fires up (strikes) the bulb at about 20 000volts then drops the voltage down to about 100volts keeping the bulb going. They are far more efficient and give out typical 300% more than a standard filament bulb and typical draw less power at 35watts.

In Jan08, I fitted some 35w-HID bulbs and slim line ballasts for high and low beam. They gave out great light, but, sometimes, after the initial strike they fail to keep the bulb going (about one in ten). Turning the light off and on again gets it working again.

For people in the USA and Australia the dip beam is kept on when main beam is switch on, so, not really a problem.

For the standard UK set up this is VERY bad, as, only one light is on at a time, low beam on then high beam is selected, the low beam goes off. When the high beam fails to strike there is no light! Turning low beam back on and if that fails too, it is not good...

This seems common for the slim line ballasts, as four out of six slim line set-ups, on various bikes, I have seen do this.

The simple work around is to convert the switchgear to work like the USA and Australian set-up.

The result is outstanding! Full beam is like daylight - in the UK ;)
Though going back to dip, is a bit like 'who turned the lights out'. So, this year ('09) I have upgraded the dip to a 50W HID, which is excellent, about the same as a standard car (eg. two H4's) from one bulb.

There is a lot of options for colour temperature, I have gone for 8000K dip and 6000K main. The 8000K at 50W is close in colour to the 6000K at 35W.

Fitting slim line HIDs to my Bike - 1998 748 BP

Ebay guides are limited to ten low res images, so, I hope they show enough to help.

What I got in the box:
Two HID bulbs and two slim line ballasts

Extra thing required:
Two relays, fuse holder, wire, PC jumper, double sided foam pads and cable ties (mostly from Maplins). Plus, the usual workshop tools, odds and ends and TIME!

Converting the switchgear

Unplug and remove left hand switch gear. This make soldering a jumper wire in the switchgear easier and also will help with routing the bulb cable later.

For UK bikes, solder a wire in the switch gear to kept the low beam on when high beam is selected (this is the same function as the pass switch). The use of a jumper is so this function can remove for MOTs. Use a small soldering iron (eg 14W) and be careful not to melt anything. Tucked out the way when screwing the swich gear back on the bike.

Remove side (both) and nose faring

Fitting the High Beam Bulb.

Fit the bulb, the rubber cover requires a small cut, about 5-10 mm long to elongate the existing hole to get the connectors through.

Fitting the Low Beam Bulb 

Fit the low beam bulb. A bit of work here, as the rear of the HID bulb is bigger than the standard bulb, so, the spring clip requires modification. Unscrew the tag that holds the spring clip in place

With some small pliers, straighten out the 'loops' so that these can be threaded though the two barbs and the tag screwed back in place. Be careful as the spring wire is brittle, so, slowly does it. I broke off an end trying to straighten it out.

Hold the bulb in place slip the clip in 'prong' end through the retaining barbs and then screw in the tag to hold the 'looped' end back in position. I also assembled the spring clip with the kinks towards the rider as it worked better for me.

Similar to the high beam the rubber cover requires a small cut to get the connectors through.

Fitting the High Beam Ballast 

To help route the ballast wire, loosen to radiator, there is no need to disconnect to water hoses or take the air box out. Note: Picture without the air box were taken during a cam belt change.

The high beam ballast fits near the battery. Be careful not to foul the throttle linkage. I wired in some relays and a fuses as the '98 Ducati used the switch gear directly to control the lights. Later models were fitted with relays, so, I concluded this might be a good idea. I also used double sided foam pads as well as all the cable ties to hold everything in place.


The second part of the slim line ballast can be threaded though to locate by the water tank

Route the wire under the main loom to keep the connectors out of the way and not foul up on maximum lock.

Fitting the Low Beam Ballast

The low beam ballast fits near the fan. The main thing to watch out for is getting the black box tucked around and underneath the frame, else, the fairing will foul it when re-assembled (later models may not have this problem) Run the wires up and bolt the radiator back in place.


Wait for night and enjoy! 

Disclaimer - The following is given in good faith, it is what I have done and it works for me, no liability etc is accepted. The modification may not pass a UK MOT and is therefore only off road/track use only. 


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