When to Replace Your Motorcycle Headlight

When to Replace Your Motorcycle Headlight

by Chris Rutter October 29, 2020

If you don't have enough light while riding your motorcycle in the dark, you'll be in danger. People often take for granted the ability to see other vehicles, obstructions and the road until their headlight's bulb goes out in the middle of nowhere, far from home. Luckily, by paying attention to some warning signs your bulb is in danger of burning out, you can prevent this situation from ever happening.

Stay safe on your bike by knowing when you should replace your motorcycle headlights and learning how to install new ones. 

How to Know When to Replace Your Headlights

A few warning signs let drivers know it's time to replace their headlight bulbs. Headlights that are out, dim or flickering are all factors indicating the need to replace your bulb.

Learn more about these warning signs below.

1. Headlights Flickering

If your light has started flickering off and on, that's one significant indicator your headlight bulb is reaching the end of its lifespan. Damaged or worn-out bulb filaments will often cause this issue. A bad connection or harness can also be the culprit, so it's usually a smart idea to inspect the bike to see what's causing the flickering.

Flickering headlights can be dangerous while driving at night or in inclement weather, as they can distort or reduce your visibility. If a damaged bulb is causing the flickering, it will likely burn completely out soon after the phenomenon begins. Since you probably don't want to ride your motorcycle in the dark, replace the bulb at the first sign of flickering.

2. Headlights Dimming

Dimming is another major indicator you need to replace your headlight. Dimming light is a natural byproduct of a bulb getting older. Since a dimming light won't provide riders with enough illumination, it's best to replace bulbs before they burn out entirely.

Replace bulbs before they burn out.

3. Headlights Burning Out

Burned-out headlights are the surest sign you should replace your headlight. A burned-out bulb can't produce any light. Driving without a working headlight can lead to wrecks and accidents. As such, riders must immediately replace burned-out headlights, and never drive when it's dark and the lights aren't functioning.

If your motorcycle has two headlights, it's also essential to note that you should replace both if a single bulb goes out. When one headlight dies, it's likely the other is also nearing its service life. Replace both headlights to save time and make sure the still-functioning headlight doesn't burn out while you're on the road.

Don't Wait for a Light to Burn Out

Though lights can burn out without notice, it's best practice to replace your headlights as soon as possible. When you notice lights are flickering or dimming, it's time to replace the headlights. Even diminished lighting can cause you to get pulled over or get into an accident, so switch out the older bulbs for new ones.

How Long Should a New Headlight Last?

A new headlight's lifespan can vary widely, based on the light you choose. Four common types of headlights include tungsten-halogen, xenon, HID and LED. These lights have major differences in how long they last. To give you an idea of the differences between them, take a look at the average lifespan of each:

  • Tungsten-halogen: 500 to 1,000 hours
  • HID: 2,000 hours
  • Xenon: 10,000 hours
  • LED: 30,000 hours

As you can see, there's significant variation in the average lifespan in each type of bulb. LED lights are becoming more popular among riders due to the high level of lighting they offer and their superior lifespan.

How to Replace Your Motorcycle Headlights

You can probably replace your motorcycle lights on your own.

If you like to work on your bike and perform basic maintenance tasks, you can probably replace your headlights without much difficulty. Follow the steps for replacing motorcycle headlights below.

  • Prepare the bike: You probably don't want your motorcycle to fall over while installing the new bulb. Before you begin the replacement process, set your bike on a flat and stable surface. Hold it in place using another person's help or a kickstand. These steps should stop your motorcycle from falling forward due to a heavy pull from a ratchet or screwdriver.
  • Loosen screws and bolts: With the bike secured, you can reference your manual to find out which bolts and screws you need to loosen to access your headlight bulb. As you remove these screws and bolts, ensure you place them in sequential order, so you can tell at a glance how to put them back into the bike. To keep track of smaller screws and bolts, it's a good idea to place them on a clear, flat surface or a piece of paper.
  • Disconnect the bulb: Remove any coupling barriers or covers protecting your bulb. Having done so, you should be able to disconnect the bulb, taking care not to break any glass in the process. While attempting to remove the bulb, you may feel some resistance. If this happens, grip the base of the bulb and loosen it. Before you insert the new bulb, remove any residue left in the socket. 
  • Connect new bulb: With the old bulb out and the socket clean, insert the new bulb into the socket. Next, replace the steps listed before in reverse order. Put back the coupling and cover, then retighten your screws and bolts in the appropriate location. Once the new bulb is in place and you've reinstalled all the parts, turn on your bike and headlights to make sure the bulb is working. 
  • Prepare for next time: Since headlights are so crucial to your safety on the road, it's a good idea to keep a spare bulb or two in your garage in case of a light burning out prematurely. You can even keep the lights and tools needed for replacing a bulb in your bike's saddlebag to make sure you have immediate access to them whenever you notice your light is starting to dim or flicker.

Replace Your Headlights With Lighting Products From Fat Head Cycles

Replacing or upgrading your motorcycle headlights should start with investing in high-quality bulbs from Fat Head Cycles. We're proud to offer our customers various LED lights to improve their visibility on the road and reduce the frequency of changing burned-out bulbs. 

Browse our collection of Harley-Davidson custom lighting products to find one that fits your bike and style. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Replace your headlights with lights from Fat Head Cycles.

Chris Rutter
Chris Rutter


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