Riding Your Motorcycle at Night and How to Stay Safe

As motorcyclists we already get the rough end of the stick when it comes to being seen by other motorists during the day. But when the sun goes down things get even worse with reduced visibility, more tired and drunk drivers on the road and those suffering with night blindness having to be contended with. So how can ride your motorcycle at night and stay safe despite the fact you’ve got one less headlight and are a heck of a lot smaller than a car?

Be Seen

Black looks good, hence why the most popular colored motorcycle gear is black by a huge margin. Bikes with a black color scheme are also among the most popular. What’s also black? Nighttime is black, which means being head to toe in black leather when riding at night is the equivalent of wearing camouflage in the jungle.

If you’re determined to don black clothing, make sure that it has reflective patches on it – preferably on the chest, elbows and back that will illuminate when light is shone on it. For your bike, get some reflective rim tape on the wheels.

But also be creative. Shark Helmets recently released the SKWAL, a standard looking helmet that contains green LED lights both front and rear to improve visibility. Japanese motorcycle gear firm RS Taichi has a number of innovative products including backpacks and shoulder bags that contain lights which will provide a further light source to bring other drivers attentions too.

Assume You Are Invisible

While you should assume you haven’t been seen both day and night, it’s during the evening that it’s far more likely to be true, especially when at even moderate distances the only thing that someone will see at night are headlights. Because you have just one headlight, it’s not difficult to see how your bike’s visibility can just merge into the car behind you – causing a potential accident when someone pulls out too soon.

In most developed countries, accidents occur twice as often in the night as they do during the day. Additionally, night blindness becomes a factor as well as the fact that because visibility is reduced in the dark, reaction distances are far worse. It is also the time of day when both tired and drunk drivers are more likely to be on the road.

For these reasons, approach every intersection with caution. You should be covering your front brake lever religiously and your lane positioning also becomes critical.

Riding Your Motorcycle at Night and How to Stay Safe

Be Noticed

One of the best strategies to be visible while riding at night is to be a little unorthodox. By that we mean do things that will hopefully get drivers attentions. When slowing down, ensure you’re doing so by braking rather than engine braking and coasting, otherwise your break light won’t come on. Feel free to ‘flash’ your brake lights too by pulsing the lever quickly and repeatedly just enough to activate them before you begin your breaking procedure.

Do so similarly with your turn signals. Ensure you indicate your turning intentions nice and early to give drivers behind plenty of warning that not only are you turning but you’ll probably need to slow down to do so.

Don’t be afraid to move around your bike either. Many riders will stand up when braking at night just so they can catch the attention of those behind them. Casually weaving your bike inside the lane is another way to attract an otherwise inattentive motorist.

Riding Your Motorcycle at Night and How to Stay Safe

See For Yourself

Like riding during daylight hours, your safest defense is seeing what dangers are around you. And to do that night you need your headlight to guide the way. It’s critical that your headlight is pointing where it should.

Just because you’ve bought a new bike doesn’t mean that your headlight won’t need adjusting. Given everyone weighs a different amount, plus the added mass of luggage you may be carrying, your headlight will need adjustment to suit you. Your low beam should be angled so that it lights up just in front of your bike and towards the horizon, while high beams should be illuminating the road from a distance of about 30 meters (100 feet) and beyond.

Consider also replacing your bulbs with brighter ones – although keep in mind that if you’re going to dazzle oncoming traffic you create a danger not only for them but for yourself. Keep within the law and follow common sense.

Riding Your Motorcycle at Night and How to Stay Safe

News Round-Up: FELINE One Concept, Shark Skwal LED Helmet now Available, VMAX Infrared

FELINE One Concept

Design studio Yakouba has announced that instead of designing bikes for other brands like they usually do, they’re going to release their own motorcycle, called the Feline One. Interesting name, do go on…

Feline Motorcycles describe it as a “high-tech deluxe motorcycle, delivering a new vision of the motorbike. Its unique look creates an immediate impact with its unusual sensual panther style”. Their actual words, not mine.

It’s powered by a 801cc triple (given Yakouba’s previous dealings with MV Agusta we’re assuming it’s their engine), has a claimed dry weight of 155kg and pumps out 170bhp. Yakouba further describe the machine as being sharpened and expressing a fascination for speed and freedom of movement. Also, it’s unique and remarkable features make it a great candidate for Hollywood movie productions – something most motorcycles just don’t offer.

So, how much for the Feline One? Well, initially only 50 of them will be built and will be priced at around $280,000. Bargain! We forecast the FELINE One will be a runaway success and will probably feature at some stage in a Michael Bay film, like all quality things do. Alternatively, if you’re really after some ‘sensual panther’ action, get some Sex Panther cologne and save a bit of money.

 

Shark Skwal LED Helmet now Available

French helmet manufacturer Shark likes to mix things up. They’ve begun to use bamboo in the interior of some of their helmets and now they’ve released the Shark Skwal LED helmet – the first (we think) motorcycle helmet to feature integrated LED lights for better safety.

In addition to the battery powered LEDs (which can be turned on or off with the touch of a button), the Skwal also features an inbuilt sun visor plus a pinlock system to reduce fogging of the visor.

Available in a range of colors and designs, the Shark Skwal LED replaces the long running (and very successful) Shark S900 and is priced from £189.99.

Shark Skwal LED Motorcycle Helmet

 

Yamaha VMAX Infrared

Yamaha has announced another 30th anniversary special edition of the VMAX, this time in collaboration with German custom builder JvB-moto. To be called the Infrared,

The Cologne based custom builder is a long-time fan of the VMAX, and credits the machine as one of the sparks that ignited his passion in motorcycles at the age of 15 in 1985. Despite not being available in Germany at the time due, the VMAX has inspired JvB-moto’s Jens vom Brauck to this day, where he has finally had the opportunity to pour that passion into this stunning creation.

JvB-moto’s vision for the VMAX Yard Built special was to transfer the stock VMAX into a radical dragster meets café racer concept, exaggerating the power for all to see. A second key element in the design is a tribute to the 30-year history of the machine, encapsulating elements from the first roll out of the bike in 1985.

Starting at the front end, a custom-made aluminium mudguard sits below a JvB-moto signature style custom carbon fibre headlight unit integrated into the front forks and Motogadget indicators above custom carbon wheel covers. Modified aftermarket clip-on bars add the café racer element and the rider looks down on an authentic American dragster rev counter by Autometer.

A custom carbon tank cover sits over a heavily modified airbox and electrics and is complemented by special air intake scoops crafted from stock aluminium units taken from the original 80’s VMAX.

It’s an absolutely fantastic looking machine and one that many would argue is how the VMAX should actually have looked in the first place. Let’s hope that Yamaha catch on and offer it for sale.