Your motorcycle headlight is an essential component that helps you stay safe on the road. If you’re interested in doing your own maintenance, you may wonder if you can replace your headlights yourself. The answer is yes—and replacing your headlight is probably easier than you think. Plus, you’ll save money on labor. Follow this guide to learn how.
While changing a bulb may seem like a casual task, remember to put your safety first. Before you start working:
Having the right tools on hand helps any motorcycle maintenance job go smoother and helps protect your motorcycle investment. Stripping screw heads, breaking bolts, or scratching paint can counteract any savings you get from DIY maintenance or repair. The owner’s or service manual will specify the required tools, but here’s a list of tools and materials you’ll likely need:
Motorcycles come in a wide variety of styles and designs, from cruisers to hypersport bikes. Their headlight enclosures, bulb types, and access to the light also vary. Consult your owner’s or service manual to find your motorcycle’s bulb replacement specifications and part numbers.
In most cases, the best headlight replacement bulb is the factory-recommended bulb, including bulbs from brand names like GE, Sylvania, or several well-known motorcycle aftermarket companies.
If you want to upgrade to a brighter bulb, consider:
The two most common motorcycle headlight-mounting types are the classic individual headlight nacelle and the integrated fairing mount.
If your bike has fairing mounted headlights, your owner’s or service manual will detail how to access the headlight bulb. If your bike has external nacelles, there’s likely a trim ring holding the headlight in place with screws. Once you’ve accessed the back of the headlight lamp housing, follow these basic steps (the order may vary, depending on your motorcycle):
Halogen bulbs are made to handle the high heat produced by the light. If you touch a new halogen headlight bulb directly, the oil from your fingers can contaminate the bulb surface, cause uneven heating, and ultimately, lead to premature failure.
To ensure the quartz halogen bulb is free from contamination, wear clean, powder-free nitrile gloves when handling the bulb. Before installing, clean the bulb with a fresh paper towel lightly soaked with alcohol. Then let it dry fully on a clean, dry paper towel.
First check for corrosion. If you see corrosion on the electric socket or bulb electric tabs:
After you’ve completed those steps, or if you didn’t find any corrosion, apply a light coating of dielectric grease to the new bulb’s electric tabs before plugging it in. Be sure to keep the quartz clean.
The typical service life of motorcycle headlight bulbs can be long enough for you to take them for granted. Like any part on your motorcycle, headlights can wear out or fail at the least opportune time. In case of headlight failure while on a ride, it’s wise to always carry:
Doing your own motorcycle maintenance is one of the most rewarding parts of being a motorcyclist. Changing the headlight on your motorcycle is a fairly simple task if you have the knowledge and correct tools. The more times you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get.
Till next time, ride safe!