This is a big topic, as the motorcycle revolution has kicked into high gear in the past couple of decades. Even with high-powered headlights, people have the hardest time actually seeing bikers, especially at night, so besides the multitude of public motorcycle awareness campaigns, what else can these road warriors do to avoid a bikers’ worst fear? LED lights for motorcycles are a great answer to the nighttime visibility issue.
According to the NHTSA, approximately 60% of motorcyclist fatalities occur after dark, most often negotiating a curve or striking another vehicle that has pulled out in front of them with out noticing.
Anyone who rides, or has family and friends that do, knows that night riding is the most dangerous time for bikers. My own mother and stepfather own a Harley, and I’m always a little concerned when I get a call from them after dark, (luckily, they don’t actually ride much after dark anymore).
Aside from other drivers, another thing to take into consideration is the limited visibility issue. The IIHS Database states that motorcycle deaths are nearly 28 times more prevalent than auto deaths per mile traveled, and not all of those fatalities are related to other drivers.
At night, you simple can’t see as well, and all it takes is a branch in the road or a dead raccoon that you don’t see to make you lay that bike down.
Preventative Measures Will SAVE YOUR LIFE!
As a biker, you have already considered this major safety concern, probably every time you mount your bike after dark. It can be pretty stressful to drive when you realize that nearly anything out of ordinary on the highway can mean life or death, so what can you do?
This one is simple, just get way brighter headlights! For bikes, you want something that will project a strong white light WAY ahead of your bike.
There are a lot of choices for motorcycle headlights*, there are quite a few affordable ones on Amazon, listed in the link to the left. Aside from just flat out being brighter, a lot of these headlights have really cool halo lighting surrounding the projector lamps.
Bike Nighttime Appearance:
This is also an easy, affordable fix that will increase your overall safety on the highway, as well as make your 2-wheeled beast look flat out intimidating. Look into underglow lighting for your bike, there’s nothing that draws other drivers’ eyes to you on the highway better than colored lights.
Think about it, normally, all a driver can see at night is your single headlight. While that should be enough, most of the time it isn’t. The problem with that single light is that from a distance in the dark, it can be really difficult to gauge how far away the bike is, or how fast they are going.
Enter the UNDERGLOW! When you have a colored light shining on the pavement under your bike, now other drivers have a non-direct light source that their eyes automatically reference for depth in addition to the blinding headlight.
My biggest recommendation for motorcycle accessory lighting is definitely OPT-7 products. They have one of the most specialized motorcycle underglow kits you can find, in their AURA Motorcycle Lighting Kit**. OPT-7 is known for their versatile products, the make specialized kits for not only motorcycles, but cars, trucks, golf carts, and boats as well.
This is a big one, as we all know, animals are completely unpredictable at night. The reason is that animals’ eyes are far more responsive to light than ours, so when they look up into headlights at night, it’s a lot like if you were to put on night-vision goggles and look into a light bulb.
They get extremely disoriented and they just…panic.
Next thing you know, bam! You’re trying to figure out why you’re laying on the ground and wondering where your bike is. If I know anything about drivers, it’s that NONE of us want to crash because of an animal in the middle of the night. Here is a list of animal avoidance safety tips to consider.
Another thing you can do as a motorcycle enthusiast, is to install an animal avoidance alert whistle* on your bike. This isn’t a guarantee that you won’t still have confused animals running in front of you, but it seriously reduces the likelihood. These whistles produce a high-pitched sound just outside of our primary human audible frequency, which gets picked up by animals’ ears and scares them off before you ever get to them.
Before these devices, bikers just had to rely on making their bikes flat-out LOUDER, which in turn scares not only the animals, but also old people, children, and people with sensory issues.
Not me though, I LOVE the rolling thunder. 🙂
As ridiculous as it seems, there is a bit of a stigma that has been attached to motorcyclists. Because of all the illegitimate happenings inside some of the less reputable motor clubs, for the past few decades much of the general populace has pointed to bikers as rogues, rebels, criminals, and irresponsible individuals in general.
Now, this is a new generation, and MILLIONS of motorcyclists are giving the motor passion a new look. A lot of well respected people are enthusiasts now, and even the motor clubs are doing their best to clean up their names. This is a strong step in the right direction, but it’s up to ALL riders to help maintain this perception.
If we all had the same respect for other drivers, then maybe there would be a lot less road rage incidents, and a lot less negative connotation attached to motorcyclists. This starts with you, if you treat every other driver with respect, give them their space, and do your best NOT to frighten them, then you’ll be doing yourself a favor. That’s one less person that will want to pull out quick when they see a bike coming.
One quick note to sport bike owners… keep BOTH wheels on the pavement when driving in traffic. Just sayin’.
So, this is a touchy one. I already know how much “cool” plays a part in the way bikers choose their road gear, so the idea of putting on a ridiculous orange safety vest is just not in the cards for many riders. So how do you get the added visibility without looking like a rookie?
There are a lot of companies out there that make stylish motorcycle gear that incorporates reflective surfaces, even some that add LED’s and fiber optic lights to their gear. Some of these various accessories include:
- LED Helmets
- Reflective Leather Jackets
- LED Jackets
- LED Motorcycle Chaps
- Reflective Vests
- LED Harnesses
Before writing these things off as ridiculous, do a quick Google search on them, you may be surprised at just how cool some of this stuff is. Granted, there are a lot of companies that go overboard with it, but there are plenty of simple, stylish designs out there that will add visibility to you at night.
Be Cool AND Protect Yourself!
Hopefully I’ve given you a little to think about as far as being safe on your bike, or if nothing else, given you a couple of style ideas to add to your look.
It all basically comes down to what you’re willing to do to protect yourself and the other drivers around you. Underglow kits, projector headlights, and LED clothing are all great ways to let the rest of the drivers know you’re there, but I know this stuff isn’t for everyone.
If you want to stick to the old school look, just please, continue practicing motorcycle safety. The last thing we need is MORE biker deaths on the roadways.
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*As an Amazon affiliate, I earn a commission at no cost to you from purchases made from Amazon links on my site.
**As an OPT-7 affiliate, I earn a commission at no cost to you from purchases made from OPT-7 links on my site.