Replacing the Low-Beam Headlight on a 2009 BMW R1200GS

Difficulty: Easy
Tools: None
Time to complete: 15 minutes or less

Temps hit the 40s this week, so I took a rare February ride after classes on Friday. My last stop was the local BMW dealer (Country Rode Motowerks) just to pop in, have a cup of coffee, and chat a bit. As I went to leave, my low-beam headlight blew out, signaled by a flashing LAMPF! code on my dash. How convenient! I shut off the bike, walked inside, and picked up a couple of bulbs, one to replace, and one for a spare.

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Changing out the headlights on the R1200GS is a piece of cake. The only thing that makes it even a little difficult is the location, in that it’s a little difficult to see what you’re doing. Low placement of work lights can aid this, as the headlight access is mired in shadow in an otherwise dimly lit garage.

The first step is the most difficult – removing the small, disc-shaped bulb cover on the backside of the headlight housing. I tried going at it from above – between the forks and the dash – but couldn’t get a good angle. My arms are long enough to get to it coming up from under the front fender, though, so that’s the way I wound up both removing the cover and putting it back in place at the end.

This is what you’re looking for:

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The cap twists off counter-clockwise less than 90 degrees. When you pull it off, make sure the o-ring is still in place on the cap. And don’t lose it! This keeps dust and water from getting inside the headlight housing.

Once you get the cap off, this is what you’ll see (only not as blurry, I hope. Sorry about that):

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See the brown and the yellow wire? The black piece they attach to slips straight back, right off the bulb. I ended up taking off the spring-clips first, but I think it would have been even easier to just leave them in place. The clips simply pinch together on the left side of the bulb, then swing to the right on a hinge:

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Once you have the bulb out, it’s time to put in the new one. Be extremely careful not to touch the glass of the bulb! Any residue, especially oil from your skin, will heat up and cause the bulb to fail. That’s one of the reasons I decided to wear my Mechanix gloves (the other being that it’s 29 degrees, snowing, and my garage is unheated):

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Putting everything back together is just doing things in reverse order. First, slide the new bulb into the opening, and then swing the spring-clip closed and latch both springs. Be careful not to pinch the wires running to the bulb connector.

Next, slide the bulb connector back into place:

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I recommend testing the light now, just to make sure it works. Don’t forget (like I did) that you need to fire up the GS to engage the low-beam. Even my copilot is happy!

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After that, it’s just a matter of putting the cover back on. Make sure that the o-ring is still seated correctly and that you tighten it clockwise as far as you can.

And that’s all there is to it. If only all repairs were this quick and simple.

11 thoughts on “Replacing the Low-Beam Headlight on a 2009 BMW R1200GS

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  2. I have a little problem . I pushed to hard when I has replacing the low beam bulb And the crome part (móvil part ) jumps out of level adjust . Now I have no idea how to fix it . it has a little hole with a ruber but I don’t know if that hole was made for put it back in . Have someone an idea ? 🙁

  3. I had no idea where to start, this was just what I needed. New bulb inserted and working. Hoorah. I love the Internet! Thanks for sharing your advice and pictures!
    Regards, Stonie – Wales, United Kingdom – no longer in the dark!

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  5. Excellent advice thanks. Pulled into a BMW shop in Tromso, Norway today after a six hour ride in the rain. The guy took pity and offered to fit it for me while I dried out a little. He must have had small hands because he was able to get his hand in around the back, whip the cover off and change the bulb in about a minute flat. Good people these Norwegians !

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