Driving a motorcycle is quite the challenge for a lot of people. Not only do you have to keep your balance at all times, but you also need to learn to control your speed all the while bobbing and weaving through the multiple hazards present in everyday traffic. With that being said, riding on a motorcycle in the daytime is already difficult enough. However, it’s a completely different scenario at night. Because we want to keep you away from peril, here are some of the best tips you can apply to your nighttime motorcycle trips to make them safer.
Make Sure You’re Seen
The first thing you can do to avoid accidents while on your motorcycle is to improve your visibility. This works both ways. You have to make sure that you can see what’s in front and behind. By the same token, you should also be seen by those who are in front of you, at your back and on your side. One of the most effective ways to do this is by making sure that your bike’s headlights are properly working and correctly aimed. This lets you see as much of your surroundings as possible. You should also make sure that the taillights are working properly. These lights let the vehicles behind see you. Your bike must also have some reflective material on its sides to make you visible to motorists coming from your left or right.
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It comes as no question that you should regularly clean your motorcycle’s tail and headlights. Even the smallest of blemishes can have a big impact on how visible your lights are. Similarly, if you have the resources, you should consider getting new lights if the ones currently installed are starting to get a bit dim. Just make sure that the bulbs you get are approved by the proper governing bodies. Some lights that don’t go through the proper quality control processes are a lot brighter and can distract you as well as other motorists.
To improve your visibility at night, you should also consider wearing brightly colored clothing. Some of these are even made of reflective materials that become more visible in the presence of light. If you can, get a brightly colored helmet as well. You may think that this looks tacky compared to your usual all-black outfit, but it’s better to look unfashionable than to be involved in an accident on the road. Speaking of reflective materials, you can also get some reflective tape, which you can stick on to different parts of your bike and clothes.
More often than not, motorcycles only come with a single main headlight. If this is the case with your model, then you should learn how to take advantage of the brighter lights of the vehicle in front of you. Doing so lets you see more of what’s in front of you including road signs and potential hazards. However, you should also be aware that the head and tail lights of other vehicles may serve as a distraction when you drive your motorcycle at night. If their lights are too bright or if they have their high beams on, don’t look straight ahead. This will blind you. Instead, look down and focus on the white or yellow lines on the road that separate their lane from yours.
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Aside from improving how easily you can be seen when you drive your motorcycle in the evening, you should also practice safe and defensive driving. If you’re behind another vehicle, don’t make a habit of driving too close to them, even if they’re driving a bit too slow for your liking. Even if you’re not driving at the pace you prefer, you’re going to get to your destination. If you follow a vehicle too closely, especially at the later hours of the day, you may not react in time to step on the brakes if the car in front suddenly came to a full stop.
As we’ve mentioned, when driving a motorcycle at night, you shouldn’t be too excited to get from point A to point B. Other motorists might be driving hurriedly but you shouldn’t under any circumstance whatsoever. As much as possible, don’t try to scoot past vehicles waiting at a red light to get ahead of traffic. These vehicles might suddenly move without checking their surroundings because they’re at a red light and they know that no one else should be moving. Remember your motorcycle is small compared to cars, so you’ll get the lion’s share of the damage.
It’s also going to be a whole lot colder when you drive at night compared to when you do so in the morning. You should wear comfortable clothes with appropriate amounts of insulation so you won’t feel too cold or too hot on your motorcycle. If you feel uncomfortable while driving your motorcycle, you may lose your footing which could lead to you getting hurt. Remember what we’ve mentioned previously that you should try your best to make your clothing look visible at the same time. This will help prevent further accidents from happening.
When you drive at night, you should also make sure that you’re not too sleepy. Closing your eves for just a couple of seconds to “rest” them could lead to some serious consequences. You should stay alert and vigilant when operating any vehicle at night. If you feel like nodding off, pull over at the nearest rest stop.
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Don’t Try to Be the Fastest
Another thing you should avoid when going on a night ride on your motorcycle is racing with other motorists, be it cars or other motorcycles. What good is going to come out of illegally racing someone? A minor ego boost? It’s much better to not put your life as well as the life of the motorists you share the road with at risk. You don’t need to show off to the other people on the road. Chances are these people don’t care about how loudly your motorcycle revs or how fast it runs. The truth is they care about getting to where they need to go in one piece.
Know How to Make Simple Repairs
Due to the fact that you have lowered levels of visibility in the nighttime, your chances of stumbling across debris that can puncture your tire increase exponentially. The same goes for materials that can cause damage to other parts of your motorcycle. This is why you should always be carrying a tool kit in your motorcycle’s storage compartment. However, having a tool kit on you at all times while driving will serve no good if you don’t know how to use it properly. Take a couple of hours to learn how to do common things like changing a tire.
Aside from what we’ve mentioned as well as the obvious screwdrivers and wrenches, you should also carry a couple of spare fuses and a fuse puller in your toolkit. These will help you change your busted head or taillights in no time, just as long as you remember to bring the spare along with you. Having a can of Fix-a-Flat with would also be a good idea since this is the quickest way you can repair a tire in case of an emergency. Remember though that this isn’t a permanent solution. Get a new tire as soon as you can after using this.
It would also be a good idea to bring a bright flashlight with you when riding at night. This is so you can see properly when you need to make repairs. We recommend getting an emergency light that’s powered by a lithium battery, as these tend to last longer compared to most other kinds. Not only will they last you around ten years if used appropriately, they also make flashlights shine brighter. Make sure that you get a light with an LED bulb as well, since these shine a whole lot brighter, consume less power and are more resistant to different forms of damage.
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Watch Those You Share the Road With
Another hazard you should look out for when driving your motorcycle at night are reckless drivers. Some of these people are driving recklessly fast at night because they don’t expect anyone else to be on the road at those times. Imagine what would happen if a motorcycle would suddenly creep up to their side or suddenly appear in front of them. Some of these motorists may even be under the influence of alcohol or other prohibited substances. The consequences of driving without a care in the world could potentially be fatal. This is why we advise you to always drive your motorcycle carefully and with lots of caution during the night.
If you encounter a speeding driver during the later hours of the day, more often than not they’re going to try to swerve in order to avoid you. I mean, who in their right mind would want to get into an accident, right? However, compared to the people you share the road with, wildlife is a whole lot less predictable. Larger animals such as moose and deer could come out of nowhere and do some serious damage to both you and your precious vehicle. Even smaller animals can cause you to lose your footing and get hurt while on the road.
So there you have a few tips to help you drive your motorcycle safely at night. If you follow these tips, there’s little need to worry about getting into an accident.
- Riding Your Motorcycle at Night and How to Stay Safe – TheRideAdvice
- Rider skills: how fast should I ride at night? – Bennetts