How to replace headlight bulb on Cali

September 3rd, 20171 Comment »

Philips MotoVision Low Beam on Moto Guzzi California VintageJust after reaching 20,000 miles on my 2007 Moto Guzzi California Vintage, the headlight low beam has finally burned out.  To try something different, I installed a Philips MotoVision bulb that gives off an orange color glow to get noticed by other vehicles as a safety measure.

I’ve continued to always ride with my auxiliary lights on ever since I swapped my auxiliary bulbs out years ago from 50W for 35W versions. They’ve helped keep my battery from draining, and yet they are still plenty bright.  In this case, they kept me visible when my main bulb went out during my ride to work.

As motorcycle riders, we know to do a quick check of the bike before riding, so I should of caught that before leaving the house if it was out.  I make it a habit when I’m stopped in traffic to glance at the reflection of my headlights on the back of the car in front of me to be sure my lights are all on. When I saw only my two auxiliary lights, I flipped on my high beam and finished my ride like that.

Changing a headlight bulb isn’t difficult on the 2006-2012 Moto Guzzi California, but as I usually do here, I’m sharing with you how I did it.  I also share which replacement bulb I chose, and other things I learned from performing this maintenance task myself.

The original equipment headlight bulb in my Vintage was an H4 Osram Bilux 64193 made in Germany. This is a standard automotive bulb. To try something different (in the spirit of hopefully improving my safety on the road) I decided to replace the Osram bulb with a Philips MotoVision bulb. The Philips MotoVision bulb is a high performance, vibration-resistant, Halogen bulb that was specially designed for motorcycles. Honestly, I never knew there was such a thing.  I suspect most riders aren’t aware of this bulb either.  Anyway, the main thing is that the MotoVision bulb is DOT compliant and provides “white light with orange effect” to help motorcycles stand out in traffic.

Philips MotoVision H4 bulbThe MotoVision bulb size 9003 (H4) that I bought on Amazon is made in Poland. It is rated 12V 67/60W. The original Osram Bilux H4, made in Germany, is rated 12V 60/55W.  Philips claims the MotoVision bulb gives up to 40% more white light for up to 50 feet longer distance than “standard” bulbs.

Combining the features of extra vibration resistance with increased visibility has convinced me to purchase it when I saw it on Amazon for less than $17 USD.  Note this is actually about twice the cost of the original Osram bulb, but for a simple do it yourself improvement that costs less than $20 USD, I figured why not give it a try.  The feature of the orange effect is something that intrigued me about it also.  Seems everyone is going for brighter white LED or HID lights these days, but maybe there could be something about this added “orange color effect” that could really help gain the attention of other drivers.

Just to clarify, the orange effect that the MotoVision bulb has is not very straight forward to describe. I mean it is not like changing to an orange colored headlight.  The light actually has a slightly orange-ish tint to it, not all of it, but you can see it in the reflector inside the headlight.  The orange appears as sort of a ghost-like image within portions of the mirrored reflector inside the headlamp.  I say ghost-like within portions because the orange-ish effect in the lamp housing seems to change and shift depending on the angle of view you have when you look at the front of the bike.  It is hard to tell any difference at all when looking at it from some view angles, but then it seems much more obvious when moving you viewing angle slightly.  Very interesting, but also very difficult for me to capture in photos or video to show you here.

So, what is the difference between a “9003 (H4)” bulb and a plain “H4” bulb (not 9003)? I briefly researched this to learn for myself.  What I gather is that a 9003 bulb has the same form, fit and function as H4, but it is supposed to meet a tighter specification for the light beam that it transmits. My understanding is that if your vehicle calls for 9003, then you are supposed to replace it with a 9003 bulb to maintain the integrity of the engineered light beam. The Guzzi’s glass head lamp lens has “H4” molded right into the front of it, so it can’t get much easier to remember what size it takes.  So, H4 can use 9003, but 9003 should stick with 9003. Any lighting experts out there, please comment below about this, I’d like you confirmation about that.

Guzzi Headlight Bezel AlignmentMoto Guzzi California Vintage Headlight PlugSo, when changing the bulb, always make sure to never touch the glass on the new bulb, same as any other Halogen bulb in your house or car. On the Guzzi, there is a single phillips head screw located at 6 o’clock on the chrome headlight bezel. The screw is captive in a clamp inside the bezel, so just loosen it several turns to allow the entire lamp to be pulled free from the lamp housing.

The rear of the lamp has cables plugged into it. There is one large connector for the H4 bulb that serves as high and low beam, and there are two smaller connectors for the 5W parking light bulb. While I technically did not need to do it, I went ahead and unplugged all 3 cables.

The H4 bulb is held into the lamp housing by a single U-shaped wire spring clip. The ends of the wire clip are held by two hook features on the lamp housing. Just move the wire ends out from under the hooks and the wire spring clip can then be pivoted open, allowing the bulb to be removed from the lamp.

I noticed the inside of my glass head lamp has developed a white haze film, which is kind of frustrating and makes the bike look old, and not in a good way. To see if I could clean that haze, I used a clean microfiber cloth and stuck it into the lamp. I was able to wipe the inside surface of the glass lens by moving this cloth with a chopstick.  Yes, I did use a clean plastic chopstick as a tool to carefully do this. I was able to move the cloth around the cast metal obstruction in the lamp until the glass appeared to be haze-free.

I later read that some people have used isopropyl alcohol (IPA) for this job, and that sounds easier, but the microfiber cloth worked ok for me. Also, I’m unsure what the alcohol would do to the rubber seal between the reflector and the glass.  Different types of rubber or silicone often can be affected by alcohol,  so the clean microfiber method seemed least risky to me.  By the way, my auxiliary lights seem to also have a white haze behind the glass, but I’ll clean them later since they are still bright.

Moto Guzzi California HeadlampAfter cleaning the inside of the lamp and using a hair dryer to blow out any dust specs, I then installed the new bulb and fastened the wire clip that retains it. I had removed the metal bezel from the lamp by removing the 8 wire clips in hopes that I could remove the glass lens from the reflector housing. It doesn’t work that way though.  There is a rubber gasket that seemed sealed quite well, so I didn’t dare try to separate the glass and reflector. I simply reinstalled the bezel with the wire clips exactly the same way and same position they were in before.

On a side note, I noticed that the Moto Guzzi headlamp (not the bulb) is made by Automotive Lighting in Czech Republic according to the label on the rear of the lamp reflector. Just out of curiosity, I looked up this company and found they are part of the large Italian automotive company Magneti Marelli, maker of the California Vintage’s fuel injection and ignition systems.

Reassembling the headlamp just required plugging the wire back onto the bulbs, and securing the single screw at the bottom of the bezel when placing the lamp into the housing.  It was pretty easy except for cleaning the haze from the inside of the lamp.  Be careful if you do that, you wouldn’t want to scratch or mess up the reflective surface.

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotoGuzziCalifornia.Com. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding and maintaining his Moto Guzzi California Vintage. John participates in local charity rides and also served as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for one of the largest annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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1 Comment

  1. John says:

    Just passed annual North Carolina inspection with MotoVision bulb installed. Wasn’t worried, just confirming no issues. Service department suggested that I use alcohol on a cotton swab to de-cloud the inside of my auxiliary lights.