341 Jean Street
Dear Mr. Jones:
We have received your letter of February 20, 1996, with respect to a motorcycle headlamp system that you are developing. Under your system, the headlamp is rotated about the beam axis and in a direction opposite and equal to the banking angle of the motorcycle when it is in a curve.
In its simplest form, a 5-inch motorcycle headlamp is used. A variant allows the lamp to pivot on a vertical axis. A third form "uses multiple miniature quartz reflector lamps commonly used for slide projectors and display lighting." You are interested in learning "how this device could comply with current federal regulations."
The Federal motor vehicle safety standard that applies to motorcycle headlighting systems is 49 CFR 571.108 Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment . Table III of this standard directly incorporates SAE Recommended Practice J566 Headlamp Mountings, January 1960 , and applies it to motorcycle headlamps. It requires that "headlamps and headlamp mountings shall be so designed and constructed that . . . (3) When the headlamps are secured, the aim will not be disturbed under ordinary conditions of service." From your description, it would appear that aim would not be disturbed as your simplest design only rotates the lamp around the beam axis, thus permitting this design. However, the design that allows the lamp to pivot on a vertical axis would disturb horizontal aim within the prohibition of the SAE language quoted above.
In addition, motorcycle headlamps must comply with the specifications of Standard No. 108, none of which permit a lamp of the nature of your third variant.
If you have further questions, you may refer them to Taylor Vinson of this Office (202-366-5263).
Samuel J. Dubbin Chief Counsel
Enclosure ref:108 d:4/16/96