Headlights can be a bit of an afterthought when you're looking for a new motorcycle. We pore over engine specs, chassis performance and electronic rider aids – but the simple job of lighting the way at night often gets missed Until, that is, you get caught out in the dark, darkness starts in December already around 17:00, and you find yourself relying on the pitiful, ghostly yellow glow that barely reaches the ground, much less shows you where that next bend goes.
If your motorcycle has a truly rotten headlight – mostly older motorcycles are serious offenders – the problem may be deeper than the bulbs. On some designs, it's the reflector and lens design which don't give enough illumination, and fitting a 'better' bulb won't help very much.
But for most motorcycles, you can swap the stock bulb for a high-performance variant, that'll give more light, as well as letting you choose a different 'color' of light. Of course, the boy racer in you will be crying out for that trendy xexon-blue, with no real reason, anyway there's no real harm in that. Lots of firms will sell you bulbs with a blue tint, as well as offering bulbs with an even more 'white' light. The choice, as they say, is yours – here's how to fit 'em. Find the bulbs. On some motorcycles, there are two bulbs, accessed from the rear, and covered with tight-fitting rubber seals. It varies from motorcycle to motorcycle, so look in the manual may be instructive. They're often quite fiddly to get at, so be prepared for that and keep your head cool.
First off, remove the electrical connector – it's usually a two-or three-pin job – then pull the seal off. Once you've removed the rubber seal, the bulb is normally held in place by a wire spring clip. This is a 'V' shaped bit of bent wire, which latches into a recess on the bulb housing. Hook it out – carefully – and it will hinge out, releasing the bulb. Remove the old bulb carefully, holding it only by the metal base and noting which way the base fits in. If it's blown, then bin it. But if it's in good condition, keep it as a spare in a safe place.
Check you new bulb has the same connection as the old one. There can be one, two, or three prongs on the base, depending on the number of filaments. Then, again without touching the glass part (it's actually made of quartz), locate the new bulb into the holder. Lining up the notches and slots carefully. The bend the spring clip back into place, and hook it into its notch.
Replace the seal, making sure any 'top' markings are in the right way, and that the edges are all tucked into place. Plug the connector onto the prongs (the same way as it came off) and you're done.
HOT TIP: Don't turn the light on to check it's working, and then immediately turn it off. This interrupts vital chemical processes that take place on the first lighting, and seriously reduces the bulb's life span. Leave the light on for a few minutes to let the filament 'bed in' properly.