BMW Motorrad USA Supply Chain: Strike 2

Yup, the second headlight that was ordered to replace the defective one I received back on 17 July arrived yesterday and sure enough, it’s also defective.

motorcycle-brand-graphI was going to title this, WTF BMW Motorrad USA?  But, that’s hardly a new or original statement regarding what has become both a beloved and reviled brand.  Of course, I’m also a bit disappointed with the very nice folks at BMW Ducati of Atlanta for not looking these parts over more carefully.  I work 10 minutes away so it’s no big deal for me to return the parts, but if I’d ridden down from Dahlonega or Cartersville, got my part home and found it was defective… twice, I’d really be peeved.  Of course, these are the things you deal with when you do your own work.  Ultimately, it’s sad when you start to realize that as bad as Harley-Davidson is, they’re scoring higher marks than BMW, Can-Am, Ducati & Triumph.  Getting back to my headlight…


The 1st defective headlight, noting the 2nd one never made out of the BMW dealer: I knew to inspect it this time.

Whereas the first one simply wasn’t assembled correctly — most likely because someone in a bench position simply missed two pretty important steps before the lens was fixed in place with silicone — this one was damaged once during assembly and again most likely during shipment. In both cases, it took me about a nano-second to figure out that there was something wrong with both headlights.  On the first one, it was loose parts inside the sealed headlamp.  On this second one, it was a piece of broken plastic floating around inside the sealed headlamp plus a broken alignment pin / tab.


This is my old headlight, but the alignment pin / tab is that rounded protrusion half way between the two attachment tabs on the rear housing. The pin is about 2″ long, which makes a great lever if you’re looking to snap off a tab.

In regard to the latter, when I took the headlamp out of the shipping box (I’ll talk about that in a minute) and rotated it to check for loose parts, a small piece of chrome plated plastic with a right angle and a jagged edge was rattling around inside the headlight.  It appeared to be the same material and finish as the plastic chassis that holds the three different lights inside the headlamp, but from where it had broken off was a mystery. The more I looked the more I felt comfortable that it was inconsequential. However, while looking for where it may have broken off to confirm it was no big deal  I discovered one of the two alignment pins on the back housing had been broken and was flopping around: that was a bigger deal. Yes, it’s something that could be epoxy’d, but no one should be fixing $600 headlamps that should only cost about $200, max.  Moreover, all I really needed was the $50 glass lens that they don’t sell as a separate part, which is the biggest rub.

While the little piece of plastic that broke off from the chassis remains a mystery as to where it was before being snapped off, there’s no mystery as to why that alignment pin was broken: poor packaging.

For the second time I was simply amazed that the distributors loosely wrap these $600 headlights in some packing paper or plastic wrap and then drop them loosely into a box that’s large enough to hold the part, not necessarily a good fit… just close enough.  There’s nothing added inside the box like packing popcorn or dunnage to keep the part from sliding side-to-side or end-to-end or anything to cushion it from a top or bottom impact since the assembly in both cases was a little too tall for the box.  The $15 Halogen bulbs that you buy to replace the ones that come in this $600 light are packaged better!

So, no love for the BMW until the next light comes in.  I’m gonna bet the 3rd one will still have some type of defect even after everyone looks at it, probably with one of the lamps that I’ll find after plugging it into the bike at home.  But, that’s just my prognostication.

I offered to buy the 2nd damaged headlamp today for $200 and called it a win!  At this point I don’t need a perfect headlight for $600 to go on a 12-year old motorcycle that probably has a fair market value of $5,500; I just need a lens.  However, per BMW policy, the bad part has to go back.  On the bright side, the folks at BMW here locally have my back and have another headlight being overnighted that I’ll hopefully be able to pick up tomorrow.  Again, fingers crossed.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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