First Night Ride

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Motorcycle Mayor

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Well, it started shortly before sunset and ended about an hour after sunset so I guess part of that counts as nighttime :).

I'd wanted to see what the differences were between daytime and nighttime riding for some time. That's easier to do in winter with the short days so when I did a quick trip down to Santa Cruz, CA yesterday I decided to delay my return to check things out. I came back via Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) through Half Moon Bay and then CA-92. Sunset was right as I hit Pescadero.

It was an interesting experience. The riding itself wasn't too different from daytime. Other than the bozo who thought it would be cool to turn on his flashers and slow to about 20 MPH to watch the exact moment of sunset, rather than just pull off the road to admire it; he gave me an opportunity to blow past him at what was officially nighttime :).

But I found the loss of "peripheral awareness" -- because most of what you can see gets constrained to the area illuminated by your own and other vehicles' headlights -- somewhat disturbing. Granted, the actual "threat" increase wasn't all that great. There are very few side roads, or even pullouts, along that stretch of CA-1 so it's not like vehicles could appear out of nowhere (that's why I chose that route for the experiment; although you do have to be more concerned about wildlife stepping onto the road since they tend to come out at night). But the perceived threat level was higher as a result of the narrowed visual field.

I'm glad I did it and will now be more comfortable doing it again. But I think, in general, I'll continue to try to avoid the need to ride at night.
 

hppants

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Interesting to read your perspectives, and I agree with your sentiments. I'm way to young to even consider cataracts, but my night vision is definitely not what it used to be. Oncoming headlights at dusk are particularly challenging.

I have auxiliary fork mounted LED lights that do help the headlights, but admittedly, they are mostly to be seen, rather than to see.
 

RiderJoe

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When I was (much) younger, I had a job for about 6 years that started in the evening, and ended when we completed the workload - anywhere from 10pm -7am. My primary (sometimes only) transportation back then was a Yamaha Seca 550 with a single, sealed-beam headlight. The commute was about 30 mile each way and consisted of city, freeway and backroads, some without any street lights. While I got used to riding at night, I never got completely comfortable with it. Obviously, being less visible than during the day, and not being able to see as well in the dark, made me feel more vulnerable and that feeling was always in the back of my mind. Of course, things got much worse when it rained or when the fog rolled in. Staying warm at night also meant wearing more layers of clothing, or even a rain suit, that restricted free body movements. Keeping my hands warm was a almost a lost cause. Sometimes it hurt to straighten my fingers to use the clutch or front brake, or take them off the handle bar once I got off the bike.
Luckily, I don't have to commute at night anymore, although I imagine it would be a lot easier on the FJR with better wind protection, heated gear and grips, double halogen (or LED, or HID) and auxiliary lights. Still, I avoid riding at night, as much as I can. Sometimes I can't help it - if I get to my destination later than planned for example. I feel that the odds of a mishap is greatly stacked against us on two wheels. Take all the precautions you can, riding in the dark. Ride slower, give yourself more space between other vehicles, and make yourself as visible as possible (use auxiliary lights, reflective materials on the bike and clothing, etc.). Also be aware of your fatigue. Staring forward, looking at the road lit up only by your headlights - and not much else - for an extended time, and rapid temperature changes can take a toll on your alertness. And, be prepared to react correctly if a coyote, cat, dog, racoon, bambi, or a drunk person (yes, it happened to me) decides to make a dash to the other side of the road a short distance ahead of you.
 

rbentnail

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Well, it started shortly before sunset and ended about an hour after sunset so I guess part of that counts as nighttime :).

I'd wanted to see what the differences were between daytime and nighttime riding for some time. That's easier to do in winter with the short days so when I did a quick trip down to Santa Cruz, CA yesterday I decided to delay my return to check things out. I came back via Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) through Half Moon Bay and then CA-92. Sunset was right as I hit Pescadero.

It was an interesting experience. The riding itself wasn't too different from daytime. Other than the bozo who thought it would be cool to turn on his flashers and slow to about 20 MPH to watch the exact moment of sunset, rather than just pull off the road to admire it; he gave me an opportunity to blow past him at what was officially nighttime :).

But I found the loss of "peripheral awareness" -- because most of what you can see gets constrained to the area illuminated by your own and other vehicles' headlights -- somewhat disturbing. Granted, the actual "threat" increase wasn't all that great. There are very few side roads, or even pullouts, along that stretch of CA-1 so it's not like vehicles could appear out of nowhere (that's why I chose that route for the experiment; although you do have to be more concerned about wildlife stepping onto the road since they tend to come out at night). But the perceived threat level was higher as a result of the narrowed visual field.

I'm glad I did it and will now be more comfortable doing it again. But I think, in general, I'll continue to try to avoid the need to ride at night.
I'm an overnight worker so over the years about 40% of my riding has been at night. Sure, there's the option of adding lights but even just a simple headlight bulb swap can make a huge difference at night.

I don't see what bike model year you have so I can't make a specific recommendation for you but I have both a Gen2 2007 and a Gen3 2013. I mention them both because I found that the shape of the headlight reflectors changes things significantly with different types of headlight bulbs. With the Gen2 I preferred Sylvania XtraVision bulbs for many years. I later changed to F2 LED and believe me, they were the cat's whiskers! But on the Gen3 the F2 sucked. IMHO it has to do with the round Gen2 relector vs the teardrop Gen3 reflector. So far for the Gen3 the best I've found are Syvania Silverstars. I was never a fan but a buddy convinced me they're better lasting than in the past so I tried them.
 

mcatrophy

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Just to add from my experience of night riding. Recently I've done very little in unlit areas, however two experiences are perhaps worth a comment.

On my 2014, with its OEM halogens, I rode along a narrow, unlit, winding road with no natural light at all. No road markings, either side there were ditches, soft grass, stones; an inevitable serious accident if you strayed off the tarmac. I daren't go above about 30mph. This was one of the very few occasions that I've been positively frightened on a motorcycle.

My 2018, with its LED lights, I went along a similar road; I could comfortably ride at around sixty-ish mph, vision was very good. When main beam was selected, having the dipped remaining on meant there was good peripheral as well as forward lighting. And even the extra cornering lights showed* their benefit.

Of course, in my early days on my Tiger Cub, with its Lucas Glowworm(R) headlight, I was far too young and/or stupid to be scared when out at night.

*I hope that's a pun.
 

RossKean

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I minimize the amount of night riding I do - mostly because of animals on the road. (Not to mention the higher probability of encountering impaired drivers.) I have done what I can to improve my odds for anytime I have to ride under less-than-ideal conditions...

To BE seen, I have reflective 3M stickers on the side of the bike and on the rear of the side cases. I also have a set of Clearwater fork-mounted (amber) "Glendas".

In addition to the above, I have a set of Clearwater "Ericas" on mirror mounts in order to see what hides in the shadows. These run all the time on minimum brightness but go to full with the high beam. The "Ericas" turn night into day and light up down the road in addition to throwing some light to the sides to help see animals on the edge of the road.

Driving at night is inherently risky but I have done what I can to minimize that risk. I would recommend some aftermarket LED auxiliary lights that can run at low level all the time but go to max with high beams. (On full will blind oncoming traffic) There are lots out there - you don't have to pay the cost of Clearwaters in order to be safe.

1638885032805.jpeg1638885214814.jpeg
 
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RossKean

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I use the reflective stickers as well on the back of my saddle bags - these are a must for any riding at night.
Those ones on the rear of the side cases are very good - that is lit up with just the "flash" from a phone camera.
The white ones on the side case, upper front fairing and the side of the mirror are also quite effective. Don't know where those came from - they were on the bike when I bought it. (Previous owner also removed the reflectors on the forks and side cases - I probably would have kept them in addition to the other stuff.)
 

sapest

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Lucas Glowworm(R) headlight,
H’mmm
I think they were also OEM on the first Mini Cooper I owned.

As far as being seen at night -
reflective tape along the bottom, back of helmet,
if your jacket has a webbing or loops or something that will receive a clip on the back, then hang a ghost tag there. I am told the swinging tag is very eye catching at night.

oh, and make sure you take off your sunglasses once the sun sets. . . . .
-Steve
 
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I minimize the amount of night riding I do - mostly because of animals on the road. (Not to mention the higher probability of encountering impaired drivers.) I have done what I can to improve my odds for anytime I have to ride under less-than-ideal conditions...

To BE seen, I have reflective 3M stickers on the side of the bike and on the rear of the side cases. I also have a set of Clearwater fork-mounted (amber) "Glendas".

In addition to the above, I have a set of Clearwater "Ericas" on mirror mounts in order to see what hides in the shadows. These run all the time on minimum brightness but go to full with the high beam. The "Ericas" turn night into day and light up down the road in addition to throwing some light to the sides to help see animals on the edge of the road.

Driving at night is inherently risky but I have done what I can to minimize that risk. I would recommend some aftermarket LED auxiliary lights that can run at low level all the time but go to max with high beams. (On full will blind oncoming traffic) There are lots out there - you don't have to pay the cost of Clearwaters in order to be safe.

View attachment 846View attachment 847
I have a 2016 with Ctearwater Darla's down on the forks & I run them with amber lenses on them - they are adjustable as far as brightness goes & go on full brightness with my high beams - they help with being seen as well as seeing - I also have reflective tape along with extra lights on the back - but I want to add some bigger lights just as you have up front on the mirrors to really light up the night when I'm out in the middle of nowhere - where would I look for the mounting kit for my mirrors may I ask.
 

BlakeCG

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I minimize the amount of night riding I do - mostly because of animals on the road. (Not to mention the higher probability of encountering impaired drivers.) I have done what I can to improve my odds for anytime I have to ride under less-than-ideal conditions...

To BE seen, I have reflective 3M stickers on the side of the bike and on the rear of the side cases. I also have a set of Clearwater fork-mounted (amber) "Glendas".

In addition to the above, I have a set of Clearwater "Ericas" on mirror mounts in order to see what hides in the shadows. These run all the time on minimum brightness but go to full with the high beam. The "Ericas" turn night into day and light up down the road in addition to throwing some light to the sides to help see animals on the edge of the road.

Driving at night is inherently risky but I have done what I can to minimize that risk. I would recommend some aftermarket LED auxiliary lights that can run at low level all the time but go to max with high beams. (On full will blind oncoming traffic) There are lots out there - you don't have to pay the cost of Clearwaters in order to be safe.

View attachment 846View attachment 847
where can I find Yamaha logo reflective gear? I had a website once but can't find it now that I'm interested...
thanks
 
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