We are in the middle of fall and there are many days of awesome riding weather. Cool crisp mornings that warm to a very comfortable temperature in the afternoon. The only big difference is that sunset and darkness comes much earlier. So here are some tips to make your night-time riding safer and more enjoyable:
1. Is to see! Having quality clear eye protection is a must. Whether you wear a full-face helmet or none at all, the eye protection you use needs to be in great condition and free of scratches. This is much more important for clear lenses at night versus sunglasses during the day. The reason is scratches will cause oncoming light to distort your vision. Invest in quality headlights. With the development of LED headlights and auxiliary lights, it literally turns the night into day (See my previous safety tip on Clearwater Auxiliary Lighting). The difference between the two is night and day, literally. Yes, they are expensive, but if you are going to do any amount of night riding, they are definitely worth the money.
2. To be seen! Having reflective gear on at night can increase the distance at which other motorists see you. Just some simple quality reflective tape on the back of your helmet can do wonders at night.
3. Slow down! It is much easier to out ride your headlights on a motorcycle than it is in a car. Your ability to recognize hazards on or along the roadway are significantly diminished, so take your time.
4. Scan! In the darkness it is imperative the rider stays “dialed-in.” Scanning the surface ahead will allow you to pick up on any movement in or around the roadway, as well as road conditions. Keep in mind your depth perception is not going to be as accurate at night as it is in the day. Especially if you do not routinely practice riding at night. Riders that are not trained and accustomed to nighttime operation will tend to just follow their headlights versus looking where you need the bike to go. If you have the time, spend a few minutes in a parking lot and get use to the available ambient lighting. This will make it much easier to see and reduce your stress level once you enter the roadway with traffic.
Until next time. Ride Safe!