Amping Up Visibility

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In dim light, anything a motorcycle enthusiast can do to increase visibility makes them more safe. You can ride a bright-colored motorcycle and wear gear that reflects or at least has reflective stripes. Fluorescent colors seem brighter in dim light because they absorb short-wavelength light that we can’t see and send it out again at a higher wavelength that we can pick up. Add reflectiveness, and you’ve made yourself much more visible.

In addition to neon-colored reflective gear, you can add reflective tape to your motorcycle. Spots for tape include the front of your forks and, in general, anything that sticks out such as panniers or tall windscreen. And don’t forget wheel rims so cars can see you as you cross an intersection at ninety degrees from them.

In addition, there are some things you can do with lights that will help other drivers see you that instant earlier that makes all the difference.

Switch to LED lightbulbs. Incandescent bulbs are bright, but LED lightbulbs are brighter. They may allow you to see farther and they will make you more visible from other vehicles. Using an incandescent bulb with higher wattage drains power from your bike and adds heat. LED bulbs use less energy and don’t generate as much heat. They do reduce resistance and that can affect your flasher. You may need to change your resistance flasher to an electronic flasher.

Change your brake light flasher. You can get flashers that cause your brake light to flash several times when you hit the brake, then stay steady. This gets more attention from following vehicles than a steady light. You can either add to or change out your brake light to add this feature. If you don’t do that, you can also just tap your brakes to get the attention of following vehicles.

Modulate your headlight. You can get a headlight modulating kit that will cause your low beam headlights to pulse. This gives you extra attention from oncoming drivers—though it may annoy them. Some advocate using high beams at night, even in the face of oncoming traffic. This might cause drivers to “return the favor,” and that could blind you momentarily, so it’s a debatable idea.

Add lights. You can find lights that are made to help you see farther or to see better in fog. You can also add single bulbs or strips of bulbs in a variety of colors. Some even let you change colors from your smart phone. Honda did a study that showed drivers were twenty percent more accurate about an oncoming motorcycle’s speed and ten percent more accurate about it’s distance from them when the motorcycle had lights arranged to resemble a human face. Think eyes and mouth, at least. Eagle Leather has closeout sales on a huge variety of auxiliary lighting kits. Ask your expert in the store or email ( or phone (253-1-800-972-3572) what will work best for you.

Always have a spare. Carry spare bulbs and don’t forget to pack extra fuses. You may not be able to find a place to buy them at night, especially out in the country.

Check your brake and turn-signal lights to be sure they work.

Clean your lights of dust and gunk. Clean your side reflectors and be sure they are intact.

As winter closes in, with shorter and cloudier days, riding in dim light might be necessary. Please share with us on the Eagle Leather Facebook page any tips and tricks you have that might make other riders more safe.

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