Long-term test: Suzuki V-Strom 1000

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It’s been a busy yet enjoyable time with the V-Strom 1000 since I was handed the keys in March 2014. We’ve herded over 200 cyclists from London to Huddersfield, shown up sportsbikes round Silverstone and even rode to the tip of the Sahara in Tunisia.

But with the nights closing in the V-Strom has been pressed almost exclusively into the more mundane, less glamorous job of commuting as the odometer ticks ever closer to 17,000 miles.

Although the days are starting to get slightly longer, much of my riding is still done in the dark after work, and being visible to others and able to see where you’re going are pretty important.

So the V-Strom dipped beam bulb couldn’t have picked a worse time to blow. Armed with a new, improved bulb from Halfords, I decided to fit it myself.

Now, on most adventure bikes I’ve ridden, there is nothing obscuring the cover over the rear of the bulb. Just remove the cover and you have access to the bulb. Not so with the V-Strom – the whole instrument panel has to be removed.

The panel is connected via two 4mm allen bolts in the bottom corners and two fairing clips at the top. The next job requires the help of a friend. With the instrument panel prised out of the way the wiring for the 12v socket and dash need to be unclipped. These are connected securely and the clips can be quite fiddly, but they do come off.

With the dash off you now have access to the rear cover, which simply screws off, revealing the rear of the bulb.

The bulb is held in place with a wire clip and a couple of screws. First, unhook the wire from the connectors, undo the left screw and the clip will pivot out. It’s under a lot of tension so it’ll most likely spring out if you’ve not got hold of it tightly. You can now remove the blown bulb.

Installing the new bulb is where it starts to get a little awkward. Position the new bulb as best you can, then prize the wire clip back into position before re-tightening the screw. It’ll take a few attempts – make sure not to touch the glass of the bulb. The grease from your fingers could create hot spots on the glass and increase the chances of the bulb blowing.

With the bulb securely fitted it’s simply a case of retracing your steps. Reconnect the wires to the bulb, replace the rear cover, reconnect the wires in the rear of the instrument panel, then replace the instrument panel itself and tighten the screws. Turn on the ignition and bask in the glow of your new headlight.

It was a task that proved to be as fiddly as I imagined – mostly down to the wire clip – but the big surprise was having to remove the instrument panel. It’s not something I’ve come across before when changing a bulb, but it didn’t make it any more difficult. I opted to spend a little more money and brought a brighter bulb, which is definitely an improvement over the standard item and money well spent.

Liam Marsden

By Liam Marsden

Former MCN Web Producer