For those who are not familiar with the RT, you may read this and think....what's the big deal? Those who ride RTs will know and sympathize... (yes, it's an RT thing).
On Friday while riding home from a pre-Rolling Thunder event in Fredericksburg, VA, I glanced at the instruments and noted my "headlight out" indicator illuminated. Of the three headlights, I had last replaced the high beam (center) and left side bulbs most recently. My right side headlight bulb was last replaced nearly five years ago. I spent the rest of my ride home repeating over and over in my mind..."please, don't be the right side bulb!"
I pulled into my garage, dismounted and checked my headlight..... NO!!! It was the right side bulb which was out!!!
Oh well, time for the equivalent of telling the secretary to clear the calendar because I'm going to be busy for a while. I took off my riding gear, retrieved a spare headlight bulb and settled in for a long, arduous struggle. I squeezed my much too large left hand into the dark recesses of the right side fairing. After a few moments of working with only my fingertips, I managed to dislodge and remove the weather cover over the back of the right head light socket.
Squeezing my hand back into the confining spaces, I fumbled blindly for what felt like the plug on the back of the bulb. Once found, again working only with finger tips, I wiggled the plug free and carefully pulled it out as far as I could and tucked it out of the way. Next, after finding by feel alone the two prongs on the back of the bulb, I felt slightly over to the right of the bulb for the right side retaining bracket. Surprisingly, I managed to release it on the first try. Shifting my fingertips back to the left I searched for and finally found the left side bracket.
Remembering the last time I changed the right side bulb, I needed to be careful the bulb didn't fall free when the second retaining clip was released. The last time, the bulb fell free and I heard it fall into an obscure recess somewhere in the headlight housing or faring. It didn't land on the concrete because I would have heard the glass bulb hitting the concrete floor, nor did I find it after an extensive search around the motorcycle and the garage floor. As far as I know, the remains of a burnt out headlight bulb still ride with me on my motorcycle to this day.
Anyway, having found the second retaining clip, I used one finger tip to hold the bulb in place while I worked with a second fingertip to release the clip. After several attempts, I managed to work the clip free while still keeping the bulb in place. Carefully grasping the rear prongs with two finger tips, I extract the bulb, being careful to not snag the bulb on the retaining clips, lest the bulb be dislodged from my finger tips and end up joining the previous bulb in some dark, unreachable, unknowable recess.
Having successfully removed the expired bulb, I again forced my hand back into the confining space, feeling for the two retaining clips. Having found the clips, I gently wedged them upwards into the space above the light socket opening. With the retaining clips out of the way, it was time to insert the replacement bulb. Squeezing my hand back into the right side faring was now trickery than before as I had to hold a light bulb by its two prongs, as securely as I could between two finger tips. Having blindly maneuvered the bulb through the too small circular opening in the rear of the headlight assembly, I leaned forward, stretched as far as I could to peek around the front of the motorcycle to visually guide the bulb into the mounting hole (the only part which can be done visually). Ignoring the protests from ligaments and joints complaining about not being designed to bend in such ways, I managed to properly seat the bulb after a couple of attempts.
With one fingertip holding the bulb in place, I groped blindly for first one and then the second retaining clips I previously wedged out of the way. After a few moments of struggle, I managed to un-wedge both and let them drop back into place behind the bulb. Still holding the bulb with one finger, I managed to work the right side clip back into place. With the first clip locked back in, things are now simpler as I no longer need to worry about the bulb shifting out of place, or worse yet, exiting the headlight assembly completely in a futile quest to find my long lost first headlight bulb.
It didn't take too much longer to secure the second retaining clip. With the second clip in place, I tucked the wiring back through the circular opening until I found the plug. Holding the plug between my thumb and middle finger, I search with my pointer finger until I found the top prong on the back up the bulb. Fumbling around by feel alone, it took several attempts to successfully, blindly align the sockets in the plug with the two prongs and secure the plug to the back of the bulb.
Pulling my hand back out of the confining space, I breathed a sigh of relief... the hardest part was over, one final step to go. If squeezing my empty hand into the right side faring was hard enough, doing so with the weather cover in my hand only complicated the task. Squeezing all the fingers of my left hand into a point, while grasping the weather cover with my fingertips, I again forced my hand into the void. As the weather cover extends forward of my fingers, I could not feel for any obstructions and could only hope I didn’t bump something which would dislodge the weather cover from my fingers. Unfortunately, I bumped something and lost my feeble grip on the cover. I heard it fall, but it didn't drop through to the floor. It was now resting somewhere in the black void of the right side faring, behind my headlight assembly. Did it by chance find my missing headlight bulb?
After a few moments of groping, I finally located the cover over to the right, nestled between the frame and the fairing. Prodding at the cover with a single finger, I managed to dislodge the cover to the point where I could again grasp it with my fingertips. Gently lifting the cover, I carefully maneuvered it into place and after a little bit of blindly shifting it around, I felt it settle into place. Finding one of the tabs on the cover I pushed gently but firmly until the cover rotated clockwise and locked into place.
Extracting my now scraped up and cramping left hand I was finally finished! How long did it take to complete this dreaded task, known to make grown men tremble in fear at the prospect of such an undertaking? Ten minutes..... a personal best!!! I had been fearing the worst.
(....as I said at the beginning..... it's an RT thing.)