Replacing marker light bulbs

It’s riding season here again!  This is just a basic quicky on replacing your turn signal marker bulbs on the new sportsters.

Noticed one of my driving lights was out, however it DID work with hazards or with the turn signal.  Since these are duel element bulbs, one of it’s elements was burned out.

Just buy a 2-pack of these bulbs (about $5.00).

Next, just put a small flat head screw driver in the little notch on the amber lens.

Then just tap with a mallet (or hammer) and she will pop right off.

Twist the old bulb out, push and turn the new one in.  Turn the key and test.  Once good, pop the lens back on.

You done!
Should be the same method for the rear bulbs as well.

Better Lighting

I love my sportster.  The fact that she is one hot sexy machine does not mean things cannot be improved on her.  I did most of my practice riding in the daylight hours for the first few months.  Although once I ventured out into the night with her, in the state she came fresh off the factory floor – it was a scary thing.  My light would stop dead about 30ft in front of my bike leaving complete darkness beyond that point – if your going 40mph or faster.. that’s not much reaction time.

Maybe it’s a “48” thing.  Or maybe no one checks the angle of the bright torch before handing off sportsters to customers.  Either way, something had to change.  Sure, high-beams work great but cadgers and other bikers wont appreciate you coming head on.

There seem to be lots of options out there for bikes and lights.  Some get really expensive and involved.  I decided to find the cheaper alternatives to lighting sportster bliss.

Free:  ‘aim the light’ 

This is quite simple.  Take your bike to a level spot, where it’s dark.  I then used a 2×4 size piece of wood to sit under the kick-stand and pointed my handle bars straight.  Turn on the key and sit in the seat.  Pick a spot where you can see the light stop on the ground.  Get out a wrench and a socket wrench.  Loosen the bolt on the right while holding the nut with the wrench.  Loosen just enough that you can pull the lamp up a few degrees.  Sit on the bike and check.  Do this a couple of times until the light just disappears and gets rid of that abrupt edge of light that you had before.

Then of course tighten the bolt and your good to go.  Just this alone makes it all ok.  No need to do anything els, although of course I have too. 🙂

$17.00: H4 Sylvania bulb  

After talking with the guys at the HDforums, it seems a great alternative bulb really hits the spot.  It’s not expensive and fairly easy to install.  So on with it.

The h4 sylvania bulb is a wonderful alternative to the stock bulb as it puts out more light.

When opening the package, but sure NOT to touch the bulb itself with your fingers.  Your human grease will make the bulb die a premature death.  Also, keep the package to put the stock bulb back into for a spare incase you need one again.

Fist we unscrew the bolt found at the bottom of the assembly.

This chrome ring will pop off when you pull it from it’s sides – careful not to let things drop!

Unplug the wire harness from the bulb.

Then peel the rubber from the assembly – it’s tight so just work on it. It’s just a sealer for dirt and to keep the inside of the light assembly clean.

Next, just unlatch the holding clamp out.

Swap with the new bulb and re-attach your retaining  (no touching the bulb!! )  clamp to secure the bulb.

Push down your rubber sealer and be sure to align the two arrows.

Plug the wire harness back into the new bulb.

Now just align your tabs and put things back into place and screw in your clamp.

Once I installed the bulb, I noticed the light emitting was much more “white”.
So with under $20 and a little bit of your time, you can have a great headlamp that will make night riding the wonderful bliss it should be.


1000 miles of services

Well we just passed the 1K mile marker on the sportster.  It was a fun and happy 1000 miles of pure bliss.  By now, i can feel the clutch needing an adjustment and since we have to change the oil, it’s time to go all synthetic. After doing the oil change, it’s time to do the others on the list.  Most of these other things are just making sure bolts are tight, lights are working and nothing is leaking.

I know the dealership will charge anywhere from $200-$350 to do this 1K mile service. With a few basic tools and know-how, you can do it yourself.  Also, doing it yourself will make you more comfortable around your bike and allow you do save money.   So, let’s do that.

Oil changes:
I don’t have a bike lift or bike stand as of yet and there isn’t much clearance under the bike for an oil catcher.  So I bought  an oil catcher locally and we hope it fits under the bike, if not I’ll  have to order one that will fit.

Here is the important parts needed:

After doing much research and learning I choose to go with full synthetic.  It cost more up front, but realistically is better for your bike in hot weather and you don’t “have” to change your oil for 5K miles with synthetics  (even though I probably will change before that anyways 😉  )
A lot of guys like the Amsoil oil.  I could not find it locally and went with Mobile1 all around.  Highly recommended from other bikers and it’s rated way up at the top.  Also going with Mobile 1 primary gear oil for the gear box.   You will need 3qt for the oil change (2.5qt really) and 1qt for the gear oil.  We also went with the K&N oil filter (or the chrome version).  This oil filter is just as good as the official Harley filter, but also has an extra feature that caps the oil to keep oil up in the top of the head when the bike isn’t running.  Plus, the K&N filter comes with a socket “nut” that allows easy installation and removal later.  It’s only about $5 more than the HD filter. Worth it in my opinion.

If you haven’t yet, you should really consider buying the official Service Manual for sportsters (this one is for all sportsters and will work, only difference through the years is carb vs EFI).  But if your running an 09 or newer, this is for your sportster).  If you want to get exact search here. The service manual is a step-by-step guide for pretty much any repair/check/fix on your ride and if you want to do things on your own to save cash, you need this.  ALSO a great addition to the service manual is the FixMyHog DVD.  It’s just like an expert walking you through each step!

Other things needed or recommended for the 1K service include:
replace engine oil and filter (see above)
inspect oil lines and brake system
inspect air cleaner (I have a K&N, we are good)
inspect tires (get a cheap tire gauge – 30psi front/36psi rear for solo riding)
check wheel spokes (video how too)
replace trans(primary) fluid (drain and pour 1qt into the inspection hole)
check clutch adjustment (video walk-though)
check primary chain adjustment (video walk-through)
inspect and adjust rear belt and sprockets (info)
inspect and lubricate jiffy stand (kick stand is good)
inspect fuel lines and fittings
check brake fluid level (look in the little reservoir window- throttle side grip)
inspect brakes
inspect spark plugs (discuss)
check operation of electrical equipment and switches
check engine idle speed
adjust steering head bearings (video how to test starts at 1:07 )
inspect shocks
check critical fasteners
inspect exhaust system (tighten)

Main items I actually focus on:
– change oil/filter and primary oil
– adjust the clutch – mine was starting to not shift smooth sometimes
– adjust throttle cable – mine is a bit loose with too much play (video how to)
– of course check tires
– wash her

After doing my service with full synthetic, I noticed she ran smoother, cooler and quieter. I had lots of metal shavings on the primary plug, this is normal on a newer bike.   Ended up at harbor freight and bought a torque wrench for $17.00 and a 5/8 deep socket for spark plugs.  I didn’t have an oil filter removal tool, so my arm hurts today but luckily the new K&N filter has a “nut” on it for next time.   I need a bike lift.  I did end up using a 2×4 size piece of wood to set the kick-stand on so the bike was more level – this really helped and gave me more room to work on her this time.