Mass recall of Harley-Davidson motorcycles for faulty headlight bulbs

More than 31,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles have been found to have faulty headlight bulbs, and are being recalled for the issue to be resolved.

Harley-Davidson Sportster

HARLEY-DAVIDSON has been forced to recall 31,346 motorcycles as a result of a dodgy headlight assembly, which could lead to a loss of both headlight beams “and increase the risk of a crash”. 

Asphalt & Rubber has reported that those owners affected will be notified by Harley-Davidson, and it appears that there are 14 Sportster models with the issue, along with around 800 units that were sold as replacement headlights for motorcycles in the Softail, Dyna, and V-Rod range. It seems to only affect models sold in the States, but it could also be found in the UK and other markets. 

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Harley-Davidson headlight recall, models affected:

The full list of 14 Sportster models thought to be at risk for the issue is: XL1200C (2019), XL1200CX (2019-2020), XL1200NS (2019-2021), XL1200X (2019-2021), XL1200XS (2019), XL883L (2019), & XL883N (2019-2021).

The exact problem of the headlight unit is noted in the recall filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the USA as part number 68297-05A, listed as an issue with the interior of the bulb shield which may have been produced with a glossy/chrome finish.

If left unchanged, the bulb may heat up to such an extent that a hole can form in the tip, allowed sealed gas to escape and leading to a failure of the powered filament - and with it, the lights. Switching from low to high beam (or vice versa) would then cause the second filament to fail. No lights, big problemo. 

Harley-Davidson will notify owners of affected units, and will install a new headlamp bulb shield for free to rectify the issue. The recall has already commenced, but if you’re unsure if your motorcycle is at risk, get in contact with your nearest dealer and they’ll happily check for you. 

The full NHTSA recall notice reads


Harley-Davidson Motor Company (Harley-Davidson) is recalling certain 2019-2021 Sportster (XL) motorcycles and 796 headlight assemblies that may have been sold as replacement parts for 2005-2019 Sportster, 2005-2017 Softail, 2005-2017 Dyna, and 2005-2011 V-Rod motorcycles. The glass bulb within the headlight assembly may fail, causing a loss of both high and low beams.


Harley-Davidson will notify owners, and dealers will install a headlamp bulb shield, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin April 12, 2021. Owners may contact Harley-Davidson customer service at 1-800-258-2464. Harley-Davidson's number for this recall is 0177.