So you took your new Versys 650 for a ride in the evening and were unimpressed with the stock headlights? I know the feeling.
There are several ways to deal with this, such as purchasing OEM or aftermarket auxiliary lights, but I figured since I have a headlight, why not make it serve its purpose? Cyclops Adventure Sports makes LED lights and kits for many motorcycles, but they do not officially support the third generation Kawasaki Versys 650 at the time of writing. Turns out they simply never got a chance to try it out so I decided to purchase a pair of their standard H7 bulbs and give it a go.
Long story short, it works. Requires some adjustments but they are fairly minor.
Let’s see the results first:
I think it’s worth the effort. The images were taken after adjusting both the stock and the LED lights to the correct position. Straight from the factory the stock lights were a lot worse than shown because they were pointing at the sky and not anywhere near the road.
Now let’s install the lights!
First we need to remove the headlight from the bike in order to work on it.
- Remove the small plastic cover under the windshield. It is held by 2 bolts and 2 black plastic tabs, and then it slides down and out. It’s not necessary to remove the windshield, as long as you slide it up to the highest position.
- Remove 2 philips screws on the side of the headlight mounts.
- The side fairings have to be removed too. Each side fairing is held by 2 small bolts to the fuel tank, one larger bolt at the bottom, 3 plastic tabs, and 4 plastic grommets. You should also disconnect the turn signals. Press on the little tab and gently pull it out.
- With the side fairings off, you can remove another 2 bolts holding the headlight to the bike.
- The headlight wiring is neatly zip tied to the bike, remove those zip ties and unclip the connectors.
- The headlight is now held by only 2 grommets. Gently disconnect them and take the whole assembly to your work table.
Installing the bulbs is almost plug and play.
There are only two issues to fix:
- The metal clip holding the bulb in place does not have enough clearance to fit with the LED light’s fan.
- The rubber boot comes too close to the fan, potentially impeding cooling. I spoke with Cyclops about it, and they said it should be ok if there is more than 1/2 inch of clearance, otherwise the bulbs could fail prematurely. My imprecise measurements suggest that it’s borderline so I decided to let the fan stick out from the boot.
So let’s do it! Start with one, repeat on the other.
- Remove the rubber boot covering the bulb housing and disconnect the wire going to the bulb.
- Unhook the clip holding the bulb and remove the stock bulb.
- Take the LED bulb out of the packaging and remove the circular base by twisting it gently as described in the manual included with the bulb. While you’re at it, read all of the instructions. Pay attention to the way the LED bulb installs onto the base as you would have to do this later on by feel.
- Place the base into the same place where the bulb used to be. Keep in mind which way you put it in (right side up) so that later on the bulb can be installed into the base.
- Gently widen the metal clip to the point where each arm is close to the outermost edge of the base.
- Now you need to patiently manipulate the arm that locks the bulb so that the inverted-U at the end of the arm ends up on the other side of the hook. This way that inverted-U end doesn’t get in the way of the fan when installing the LED bulb. You can do this in a number of ways. I chose to straighten out the second half of that metal arm and gently pivot up the inverted-U end so that it hooks in cleanly.My clip ended up looking like this when finished:
- Cut a hole in the boot so the fan can stick outside. I did this by taking one of the bases from the LED bulb, painting the edge with a marker (any colour will do) and then quickly pressing it into the centre of the boot. This stamps a circle of the correct size into the boot. Then just cut it out with scissors.
- Pull the wire connector out through the hole you just cut. Ideally I’d have the whole wire outside, but I did not want to redo the connector. There is no neat way to remove it from the boot.
- Fit the boot back on and gently insert the bulb through the centre hole till it goes into the base and then twist it to lock into the base. Practice locking the bulb in the base before putting on the boot so that you know how much pressure to apply. You can verify that it’s on correctly by looking at the bulb from the other side of the housing and making sure the tabs align and there is no more room for them to twist.
- Connect the Cyclops bulb wire to the adapter wire sticking out from the centre of the boot.
- Check that the boot sits all the way on top of the plastic housing.
Once you’re done with both lights, familiarize yourself with the knobs for adjusting the headlight beams. I have two of these bikes in the household and both came with suboptimal beam settings from the factory.
Mount the headlight back on the bike and install all the fairings by following the disassembly instructions in reverse.
As a final step, adjust the beam position. To do this, place the bike so that the headlight is about 25 feet away from a vertical surface such as a wall or a garage door. Measure the distance from the ground to the headlight bulbs, and put two markings on wall – one at this distance, and another 2 inches lower. You want to make sure the low beam hits around the lower mark, and the high beam hits around the higher mark.