Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interlude: A Comprehensive Guide to Replacing the Headlight Bulb of a 2008+ KLR 650

"When working on a motorcycle, you will invariably get stuck.  When this happens, take a break and remove yourself from the situation.  Drink approximately 6-12 beers.  The problem will remain, but you will no longer care."  - MM:  Zen and the Art of Drunken Motorcycle Maintenance

If, due to Google's organic search results, you arrived here with the intent of replacing the head light bulbs of your KLR650, I implore you to reconsider.  It is simply not worth it.  Take my advice and just sell the thing.  It will save you a really big headache.

Accessing the headlight of a KLR 650 is more difficult than teasing an orgasm out of a eunuch.  The Clymer manual reads like the blueprint of a Rube Goldberg machine.  Direct quote from the manual:
1)  Headlight Inspection/Replacement:  To access the headlight, remove the front fairing.
2)  Front Fairing:  To access the front fairing, remove the rear fairing.
3)  Rear Fairing:  Unscrew anything you can see, put the screws in a little pile, unscrew anything exposed by the first round of unscrewing, and repeat a few times until the motorcycle is sitting in a pile on the ground.
4)  Root around the pile and find the light bulbs, throw the old light bulbs away, reassemble by reversing steps 3 to 1.
It took my hours to replace the headlight bulb, WITH help and WITHOUT beer.  I considered duct taping a flashlight to the windshield or just, like, wearing a miner's helmet at night.  I considered becoming a mechanical engineer and revisiting the headlight problem after getting my degree.  

I did my best to follow the Clymer instructions.  I removed the fairings, which included hex bolts.  I do not understand the logic of randomly intermixing regular bolts with hex bolts.  (Is "hex bolt" even a word?)  Once the fairings were off, the lights are inconveniently housed in some sort of device that required more unscrewing.  As I was, at long last, removing the actual headlights, it dawned on me that I shouldn't be mashing them into the cement floor, but only after scratching the hell out of them.  

By the time I replaced the light bulbs, there was something like 500 screws scattered throughout my designated parking space.  I had my doubts I would ever get it back together again, and even if I did, I just sort of expected the whole bike to fall apart the next time I rode it.

Once I reattached everything, I turned the key and smiled when I saw the headlights shine against the wall of the garage.  I walked to the front of the motorcycle to inspect my handiwork.  Only one of the two headlights I replaced was working.

I sat down and cried.

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