Know How To Ride Safely At Night

Tip #132 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

Riding at night offers two challenges: seeing and being seen. Bright lights, reflective clothing and helmet graphics, and even additional lights on your bike or person are the key. Bright colors aid conspicuity by day, but don’t help much after sunset. A reflective vest is a good solution, as are reflective strips attached to a daypack, or as a graphics kit for many sportbikes. Flash your brake light to attract attention, and brake early to give ample warning to drivers behind you.

Your headlight needs to be in good order, and you may want to upgrade to a brighter bulb. But you also need a clean, scratch-free faceshield; ditto for your headlight lens. Consider adding auxiliary riding lights or fog lights if your electrical system can handle them.

You may have a fast motorcycle, but only short-range headlights—don’t over-ride them. And be particularly aware of wildlife at night—deer and other animals are most active at dusk and dawn, and often dart out into the road.

Use other vehicles’ lights to your advantage—that truck ahead of you is illuminating a lot of road, and what he sees you can see—if you place yourself in the right spot and bother to look.

Remember, if you have to brake hard at night, the front end of your bike will dive, and consequently the headlight will dip too. Be ready to sudeenly see less until you release the brakes—all the more reason to brake early and gently.