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My Honda Rebel Blog: Memorable Rides
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

* November, 2006 blog * * October, 2006 blog * * September, 2006 blog * * August, 2006 blog * * July, 2006 blog * * June, 2006 blog * * May, 2006 blog * * April, 2006 blog * * March, 2006 blog * * February, 2006 blog * * January, 2006 blog * * December, 2005 blog * * November, 2005 blog * * October, 2005 blog * * September, 2005 blog * * August, 2005 blog * * July, 2005 blog * * June, 2005 blog * * May, 2005 blog *

"Changing the Headlight on a Honda Rebel"

Even though I have collected my share of tools over the years, I am in no way a wrench monkey. I would rather have dirt under my fingernails from gardening than grease from working on a bike or car. And I am living proof that just because you own a tool does not mean you are adept in its use.

And although I have some sympathy with the position of Phaedrus in Robert M. Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, my appreceiation for "Quality" comes from my brain, and not from skinned knuckles. Not that I think Pirsig didn't make several interesting points in his book. But fixing my own bike is not in my cards.

Still, when the headlight on the Rebel went out (for the second time), I decided to tackle the bulb replacement myself. I made this decision even though I had not been totally successful in this enterprise when the headlight went out the first time. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Back on June 10th (at mile 25,777) I was heading out for a morning ride. It was barely first light out. When I turned on the ignition switch, I noticed that the headlight did not come on. Normally, I run with my brights on all the time. The blue indicator light for the brights was glowing nicely. There was just no headlight.

I rotated the key back and forth, to no effect. I then thumbed the headlight dimmer switch to "dim" and the regular (low) beam came on. I was able to complete my ride, racking up mile 25,870. The low beam lasted about five days until even it went out. On that Thursday, I stopped by Stubbs on the way back from some depositions to get a replacement headlight bulb. I picked up a taillight at the same time, since that bulb is also always "on." When my first headlight had burned out back in September of 2006, the taillight had died shortly thereafter. It is a lot easier to notice a burned out headlight than a burned out taillight. In fact, it was Maria who noticed the burned out taillight last time. In my opinion, as far as making you visible to drivers is concerned, I worry as much about the taillight as the headlight. So this time I got both.

Changing the taillight on a Rebel is simplicity itself. You just use a small Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew the plastic housing, and pop the old bulb out and the new one in. The bulbs works pretty much just like the bulbs on a car. No problem.

But the headlight is another matter. A search of the web failed to turn up instructions on how to change the bulb on a Rebel. I am writing this article to amend that situation.

The Rebel has a single headlight case with a lens in front and a dual filament bulb. When you look a the headlight housing, you will see two holes with Phillips head screws inside recessed tunnels. Don't mess with these screws. They control the "up and down" and "side to side" "aim" of the headlight. If you start messing with these tiny screws, you will throw the beam adjustment out of wack. And you may loosen the internal housing for the entire lens. I speak from personal experience on this.

What you need to do is locate the two chrome hex bolt heads that are on the lower part of the headlight housing. On my 2005 Rebel, they are located a the five and seven o'clock positions.

With a 5/16" box wrench, unscrew the hex heads. Try to avoid the temptation to use an adjustable wrench. Such wrenches have the disgusting habit of lurching off the bolt heads at the most inappropriate times. The adjustable wrench then leaves a long scratch mark on your chrome. If you don't have a 5/16" box wrench, go buy one. They aren't expensive, and your chrome will thank you.

After you remove the bolts, lay each one on the side of the front tire corresponding to the side it goes back in. Then gently worry the outer housing off. Be gentle because you don't want to break the wiring from the bulb to the bike itself.

When you have the headlight loosened, firmly pull the wire "plug" from the center of the headlight assembly. Next, remove the rubber cover that surrounds the area where the bulb is. Once the rubber is removed, you can access the bulb itself.

There is a wire stay that holds the bulb in place. Looking at the sub assembly, you will see that the wire is a wiggly "c" shape. The middle of the wire rotates under a Phillips head screw on the left. One end of the wire is fixed and the other is held in place by tension and friction. Put on that end, and rotate this retaining wire away from the bulb.

Remove the old bulb. Take out the new bulb. I advise ou to keep your fingers off the glass of the bulb because the oils on your fighter may shorten the life of the bulb. This is just my theory, but it is based on experience with quartz halogen bulbs in outdoor lighting.

The bulb assembly has three tabs that neatly fit into three slots on the housing. This system makes it impossible to put the bulb in upside down. Once the bulb is in the housing, pivot the retaining wire back down over everything.

Next, reattach the rubber cover. Note that the word "top" appears on the section of the rubber cover that needs to go on the "top." To determine which end is the top, look at the writing on the outside of the lens. That will allow you to orient the "top."

Reconnect the plug to the bulb and you are almost done. Replace the housing in the headlight frame and retighten the two chrome hex heads. With luck, the headlight is still aimed at the proper distance ahead of the bike. Check this out in a darkened garage.

That's it. You are ready to ride. See you on the road. And don't forget to think.

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For the November, 2006, blog entries, click here.

For the October, 2006, blog entries, click here.

For the September, 2006, blog entries, click here.

For the August, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the July, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the June, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the May, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the April, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the March, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the February, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the January, 2006, blog entries, click here.

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For the December, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the November, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the October, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the September, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the August, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the July, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the June, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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For the May, 2005, blog entries, click here.

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*Note to Law Enforcement:

All statements of speeds on various streets are simple estimates, and solely for novelity purposes. Actual speeds vary, but are always lower. I'm sure that legal speed limits are never exceeded, anything in this blog to the contrary nowithstanding.

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