So, what a biker can do ?!
Now we finally come to the point we can actually talk about some real life suggestions of how to improve something.
1. Reflective wheel stripes – all the bikers seen them or at least know about them. They are affordable and easy to apply. You might not like it on certain types of the bikes. They can really help you to be seen at night from the sides – but they can get dirty very easy, so better clean them from time to time. Here are the example photos.
2. Reflective paint, stickers and badges – it is good to have some of these. Special paint can be expensive I guess and you must hire a professional if you want it to look good. Stickers and badges are more affordable... useful, but don’t expect a miracle.
3. Cat’s eye light reflector , aka retroreflector aka retroflector aka cataphote. I am sure all of you know what this is, at least under one of these names. Most of cars, motorcycles and bicycles have one, integrated within the back light. Wikipedia says it is a device or surface that reflects light back to its source with a minimum scattering of light. It shines stronger and brighter then any reflective paint or a sticker. The problem is that many people consider them ugly and the reason is insufficient sources where you can get a good cat’s eye with modern design. Another problem is that most of them are NOT self adhesive, so they are often difficult to install. Anyway, if your bike comes with one of them, I suggest you to keep them, and keep them clean and safe of scratching. It is also a good idea to attach a cat eye on your backpack or anywhere else you find suitable.
The cat's eyes were invented by Percy Shaw in 1934. (UK patent #436290 and #457536) and trademarked the name Catseye® . Percy Shaw was born in Halifax in West Yorkshire, UK in 1890. Found this information on the net. More about retroreflectors !
4. Clothes and protective gear with glowing/reflective details and surfaces. This definitely can help to become more visible. Use any chance you have to wear something that reflects light. Be imaginative. Nobody will complain about you not being so elegantly dressed while you ride.
5. It is good to have a motorcycle with an unusually shaped front light, or having more then one headlights. Here is why: motorcycle with plain single front light that approaches toward you in the dark can easily be mistaken by a car with one light broken. I don’t have to tell you how bad this can be. You want to clearly manifest that you’re coming up on a motorcycle. Having two front lights, one for each side, can also help to others to better estimate your width, and that helps too. Here are some good examples.
6. It is good to have a loud exhaust pipe; not too loud, but loud enough for others to hear you from the inside the car, so if they can’t see you, at least they will be aware you’re near. They will hopefully pay attention and look around to locate you.
7. Use the horn whenever you think they don’t see you and let them know you’re around. Be careful how you use it, though. Sometimes you could distract someone and cause the reaction you didn’t want to. For example, when overtaking, give them a discreet horn signal, and wait a second to be sure they located you - and then start overtaking. Press the horn always when someone is coming too close, and/or you suspect they’re not aware of you.
8. Quality LED turning signals are certainly good things too have. Besides the fact that they often look better than ones with ordinary bulbs, they also produce more intensive light. Another advantage is that LEDs (Light Emission Diodes) will probably last as long as your bike, except if you break them. They are very reliable, so you don’t need to worry about the bulbs anymore. Also, the back positioning and stop light should be also replaced with LED ones if possible, for the same reasons.
9. Additional neon lights for your motorbike – use these and you will increase your chances to be noticed on time, that’s for sure. Now, it can be expensive for someone, and installation takes time and skill – or hiring a pro (which makes it even more expensive). There is also a question of the look, cause not everybody likes it. Some people (as myself) think that neon lights draw too much attention and makes you look like a mobile advertising billboard, but again, many people likes it. Not my cup of tea, but if you like it and if you can afford it – go for it.
10. HID/Xenon lights are recommended for everyone and for all situations. This is the most effective, latest technology available to on the market and it is affordable for the most of people. The only problem that could occur is that your bike doesn’t have modern headlights with sockets that support these special bulbs. You can still install HID bulbs, but it will take some additional work and investment – more about this to come within a few weeks. Main advantage of HID lights is that you will have much better vision at night, but they will also help you being more visible on the road, even on the daylight.
This part of my little motorcycle safety chat stops here. Now, remember the story about my friend from the beginning of the article – could he do more and help himself to be noticed one or two seconds earlier