I have a 1998 883xl Sportster. The brake light keeps blowing out. I have recieved a tail light ticket and i have replaced it too many times in the last 3 months. The light only fires up when i press the brakes but will not stay on. This is a problem for riding at night.
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Probably a bulb/ rear brake switch combination. If your front brake switch is working, then half of the bulb is working. No taillight issue, probably a bulb. No rear brake light, probably the rear brake switch. Located on the lower right rear of the frame, behind the exhaust. Check for power on the orange/white wire at switch. If you have that then check for power on the other terminal of the switch while pushing on the pedal. The rear brake switch is hydraulically operated so you must have adequate pressure to activate it.
I take it it does not work foot or hand control. look for your brake light switch right side of frame rail usually a goldish color or silver color. it has two plug in connectors. Unplug and put a test light to them. apply either brake. If the light comes on then you have a bad brake switch. replace it. if you have foot brake and no hand brake light then it would most likely be the brake nipple in the hand switch. but you did not say so I assume no brakes foot or hand.
Have you changed your bars? Check the micro switch behind the brake lever in the housing. Might have moved a bit.
Check that both filaments of the brake light are good and one is not broken.
While you have the brake light cover off check the connectors into the main body of the light. On my Bob (same year) They all plug into there and can be unplugged easily and re-inserted. One might have not been put in all the way home on assembly.
Hope it helps.
if you have power at the harness pin but not the light then your problem could be a cut wire grounding to frame between connector and light. you did not say what kind of light you have. a regular filament light check the socket as they sometimes go bad due to vibration, if it is a led light, look for a bad componet on the circuit board like a open resistor or such. if you are handy with a soldering iron, you can repair it pretty cheaply.
I just had the same thing. The brake light actuarer in inside the brake lever on the bars. If the lever is worn, the actuator moves aside and the brake light stays on. Remove the brake lever and push the little black switch. If the brake light goes out replace the lever and actuator.