How to: Keep your lights bright
If your bike’s keeping you in the dark this winter it may not be the bulb to blame
Be enlightened 1
Before you start, make sure know the type of lights that are fitted to your bike. The conventional bulb needs no introduction, they are usually straightforward to buy and fit. The various types of new LED lighting systems, however, need a bit more consideration. Check your user manual for specific instructions with regard to checking out faults because they can prove costly - an LED unit for a 2016 R1 is £740!
Rule out the fuse 2
If your lights have stopped working it’s not always going to be a bulb that’s at fault. It’s common for the lights to have their own individual fuse, so before changing the bulb, check the fuses. If the fuse appears to be OK then check the terminals, if they are corroded clean them with abrasive paper. The layout of the fuses and what they are protecting is in the manual and spare fuses are often located by the main fuse panel.
Banish the boot 3
Gaining access to your headlight bulb or bulbs will sometimes necessitate removing various covers and panels. With these removed you will often find that there will be a rubber ‘boot’ protecting the bulb and headlight from the outside elements, especially water. Disconnect the bulb connector and then carefully remove the rubber cover.
Assess the damage 4
There is usually a spring-loaded clip that can be a bit fiddly to work out. Patiently unclip it and remove the bulb, taking care not to touch the bulb glass. If there is no visible damage to the bulb check to see if it works by connecting it to an outside power source. If this test shows the bulb to be good, recheck the fuses and connectors.
Keep off the glass 5
You can check any bulb visually for a broken or burnt-out filament and quite often this is accompanied by discolouration of the glass. The same goes for halogen headlight bulbs, however you need to be careful not to handle the glass bulb. The slightest amount of contamination on the glass will cause a hot spot, so handle the base only.
Watt is the question 6
Only use good quality bulb brands and be sure to check the wattage and type is correct for your bike. This information is important as fitting an uprated headlight bulb with increased wattage is not only illegal but could also overload the bike’s electrical system. There are maximum wattages for tail, brake and indicator bulbs.
Give your lenses a close up 7
Most of the lenses, such as the rear light and indicators, can very easily be cleaned in a few minutes as they are usually retained by one or two self-tapping screws. Once removed, give the inside a good wipe with a clean cloth; any dampness or excess dirt could indicate that a rubber seal is damaged and needs to be replaced.
Cancel out corrosion 8
Sometimes a bulb failure can be attributed to corrosion of the electrical contacts. This is often caused by moisture creeping in through a cracked lens or damaged seal. Any corrosion can be dealt with by rubbing the contacts both on the bulb and the holder with wet and dry paper. It can be difficult to get to the bulb holder, so try wrapping some paper around a screwdriver for better access.
The type has to be right 9
When you’re replacing either a rear light or indicator bulb make sure that you use the correct type. At a glance the bulbs will have the same dimensions and often similar fittings, but a close look will show the twin filament of the tail and brake light bulb with its offset locating pegs. Also, indicator bulbs can have either orange or clear glass, so make sure you buy the correct style of bulb for your bike’s system.
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