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Thread: Two blown headlight bulbs 2009 R1200RT

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  1. #1
    Registered User dave39's Avatar
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    Two blown headlight bulbs 2009 R1200RT

    I was out on a day ride today on my 2009 1200RT. About halfway through the ride, the front headlight bulb warning light comes on. I check the headlights and see that both low beam head lights are not on. When I get home I remove the bulbs and see that, yes, they are indeed blown. The filaments are fried. Is this a typical or frequent thing that both bulbs would blow at the same time? The high beam and parking lights work fine.
    Last edited by deilenberger; 04-23-2013 at 03:08 PM. Reason: added year/model to title

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    Not at all unusual- reported by many.

    Bulbs tend to go out on startup when there is a current surge until filament temp stabilizes. And the resulting response on the circuit can easily take out a second bulb especially if it also has a bunch of hours of use..

    If you put bulbs back, I'd strongly suggest the 65W Osram H-7 Rallye. Its filament is a tiny bit longerthan most H-7 and less fragile at startup as a result. (It actually has an H-9 type filament, dsigned for the frequent dimming of high beams..It also makes 40% more light than the stock 55W bulbs with minimal extra heat.)

  3. #3
    Where to next ?? Turkus's Avatar
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    Once a year whether I need to or not....

    I lose my right side low beam about once a year.....almost like clockwork.
    I've switched to Sylvania Silver Star Ultras but it doesn't seem to make any difference.
    I use the "opportunity" to rotate my little-used high beam bulb into the right side socket and put the new
    replacement into the high beam.
    (That becomes the new/unused "spare" )
    Bruce
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    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by racer7 View Post
    Not at all unusual- reported by many.

    Bulbs tend to go out on startup when there is a current surge until filament temp stabilizes. And the resulting response on the circuit can easily take out a second bulb especially if it also has a bunch of hours of use..

    If you put bulbs back, I'd strongly suggest the 65W Osram H-7 Rallye. Its filament is a tiny bit longerthan most H-7 and less fragile at startup as a result. (It actually has an H-9 type filament, dsigned for the frequent dimming of high beams..It also makes 40% more light than the stock 55W bulbs with minimal extra heat.)
    Not uncommon - basically what racer7 said. The end.
    Kevin Greenwald - MSF RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer)
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  5. #5
    Registered User dave39's Avatar
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    Thanks for answers. Guess I can't complain. Those bulbs lasted for four years. I ordered a couple Osrams. After researching this a bit, I suspect I blew them at our coffee stop. My friend with a 1200R, new to Beemers, asked me how to turn on the flashers. I confessed that I couldn't remember. Refusing to pull out manual to check. I started turn on ignition several times and fiddling with all the light switches. We then started riding down the road and I noticed the light warning on the display.

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    Not sure how many starts you might have made in 4 years but that's a decent life. On my 08RT, I lost some stock bulbs a lot more quickly before deciding to upgrade headlights lows intially to the 65W Osram and eventually to HID...

    The Sylvannia Silverstars (and Silverstar Ultra) as sold in the US are not especially well regarded by folks who have experience with the various types of euro H-7s- which can be bought in the US but not at your local car parts place. The Silverstars are rated for about 1/3 of the run time of a std bulb so its not a surprise they didn't last longer...Of all the H-7 bulb types, that 65W Osram has the best output of what can run on stock wiring and will deliver same or better life than stock stuff. However, if you want a higher color temp (a bit bluer), one of the euro +50% or +90% types could be tried. It will likely also have shorter life and another drawback- the bluer color produces much more glare off street signs and back reflections in fog and rain..But if you live in a dry rural area you might like them..Understand that this type of bulb gets its rating from the highest output measured in a selected part of the beam and does not mean all of the beam area has that much more output. For that reason, some (me included) consider these marketing claims intentionally deceptive...

    HID conversion works pretty well in some BMW bike headlights (eg current RTs) but not so well on others. And the quality, ease of onstallation, etc of kits varies a lot. If you ever go that route, don't be surprised by any of that. You need adequate space for the extra components and wiring and some models don't have much...

    Be careful with replacement- those plastic bulb connectors are often extremely brittle from heat exposure (they are a poorly made part) and might simply disintegrate with too much force (for example, if you try to pull them with pliers). If they're toast, good ceramic ones are available on the web for about $7 each....

  7. #7
    Dave Nicholls 105258's Avatar
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    OSTRAM Bulbs

    The last set of Sylvania Silverstar bulbs I purchased were made by Ostram.
    Dave Nicholls
    Teulon Manitoba - Canada

    2010 1200RT

  8. #8
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by racer7 View Post
    Not at all unusual- reported by many.

    Bulbs tend to go out on startup when there is a current surge until filament temp stabilizes. And the resulting response on the circuit can easily take out a second bulb especially if it also has a bunch of hours of use..
    While this is true and may be a contributing factor, I'm not certain this is the root cause for the RT, since other R1200x bikes don't exhibit short headlight life. My R1200R is still on the original headlight bulbs (H11's) with 64,000 miles on them. My guess might one of two possibilities:

    1. A housing that doesn't ventilate the bulb well causing heat buildup

    OR

    2. Perhaps a marginal connector to the bulb, lowering the operating voltage (and we have enough cases of melted down bulb connectors that something is going on there.)

    The reason for the "OR" is - one sort of negates the other. The halogen bulb cycle requires the quartz bulb envelope reach a temperature adequate to burn off any filament deposits, which are then redeposited on the filament extending it's life. So if the bulb is running hot, that should extend the life (although if it's running TOO hot, that may not be true.) And if the bulb is running at lower operating voltage then designed for - the bulb may not be running hot enough to fully enable the halogen cycle.

    One thing to look at is the appearance of the burned out bulbs. If there are a lot of black deposits on the inside of the quartz envelope after they fail, I'd be looking for a low voltage condition. If the bulb has no deposits on the inside of the envelope, the bulb may be running too hot (with use - there are always some minor deposits on a halogen bulb.)

    GS's experience bulb failure at a much higher rate than the R1200R (but I don't think as high as the RT).. wonder if the GS and RT use the same bulb? If so - it may be a case of a bulb that isn't rugged enough for the environment it's being used in.

    I wonder what the experience of people is who have replaced the BMW bulb socket on the RT with a more robust design is? Anyone?

    EDIT: I see we have a thread about a melted GS headlight connector: http://forums.bmwmoa.org/showthread.php?68117
    Given that both the GS and the RT are "difficult" to access the connector - it may be a case of a loose or only partially pushed on connector causing the meltdowns.. or? Same bulbs? Are they both using H7's?
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
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  9. #9
    na1g
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    With that kind of mortality rate it's a good thing they are easy to replace. Provided you have a rubber arm, fingers like ET and x-ray vision.

    pete

  10. #10
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    GS and RT both use H-7 for hexhead (and I think for camheads also)

    Don't think BMW plastic shells have any heat issues inherent to design- they're a good deal larger with more volume and ventilation than any housing Ive seen that caused problems (and those took seriously up-watt bulbs for the problems to surface).

    A pair of well usd Osram 65W H-7s on my shelf show very correct operation of the halogen cycle exactly as you describe it- an almost completely clear bulb envelop with clear re-depostion pattens uniform on the filament length. Both also show oxidative discoloration of the metal base indicative of sustained high heat exposure...

    Don't have a lot of experience with H-11- only used it in a couple experiments in a Lexus years ago. Its a fairly normal newer halogen design- short compact axial filaent in a wider envelop, typical output at 55W a little under 1400 lumens, etc. Off the top if my head, I don't remember what drove the original design of the type so don't know about its comparative virtues and issues. The H-7 was the first new design after the original H-1 and was enabled by a change in euro regs. It took over 30 years from the H-1 being available in Europe before halogen headlights were legal and oem in the US.

    I wonder if some of the GS issues are tire related and usage related. I remember back to the 1970s when I put a halogen driving light on top of the headlight on an enduro I owned and the vibration caused by off road tires on pavement shortened bulb life -even though I had used a couple rubber washers and stays to try to damp them..

    Loose connectors can easily cause bulb failures- often from voltage changes. But the metal spade connections can still be tight in a disintegrating plastic connector shell- at least until its pulled off and put back on- so it may be tough to get solid data on how much a funky plastic shell impacts headlight life. Clearly anyone replacing a BMW plastic shell would be well advised to buy a ceramic one instead..
    Last edited by racer7; 04-23-2013 at 06:04 PM.

  11. #11
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    Lights burning out

    After replacing several bulbs I now try to shut the bike off with the key rather than the kill switch. I say that because it turns the lights off. To many times I shut the bike of with the kill switch to check a map or get a drink of water, only to see the lights are still on. I believe a tremendous amount of heat is built up in the lens housing if we forget to get the lights turned off right away without cooling air going across the face of the lens. If you feel the lens after leaving them on to long you will see what I mean.
    Thanks for listening!

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