1. Get some experience before you start riding at night.
Riding at night isn’t recommended for beginners. It requires more concentration, more expertise and the right gear. If you’re new to motorcycles, give yourself some time to build up your skills before you start riding at night.
When you do decide you’re ready to start riding at night, don’t just assume your usual kit will be good enough. Take a look at some lists of essential night riding gear to get an idea of what the pros recommend for night rides. Talk to your rider friends about what it’s like to ride in your area at night, and note the trouble spots they mention.
2. Light it up.
Even during the day, many drivers aren’t as careful as they should be about looking for motorcycles. That problem gets even worse at night when visibility is reduced, so you need to do everything you can to both see and be seen.
Many older bikes come with weak and ineffective stock headlamps, so you’ll want to look into an upgrade. Brighter headlamps both help you see obstacles in the road better and help other drivers see you—although you should make sure your light is angled below the level of a car driver’s eyes so you don’t blind them. LED headlamps are a great idea, since they draw less power from your bike’s electrical system but are substantially brighter than incandescent bulbs.
On the “being seen” side, adding extra lights to your bike can be both a fun way to express your style and a potential lifesaver. From wheel lights to underglow lights, tons of different models are available to customize your lighting. Adding reflective tape to your saddlebags, helmet or another area can also be a difference-maker, and you can get creative with cool shapes and designs. Finally, a lot of motorcycle clothing comes with built-in reflective piping or patches, so think about picking up a jacket and/or pants that have reflectivity features.
3. Ride more slowly and carefully.
Yeah, we know—the road at night can seem like a biker’s paradise, especially if you’re on a rural road with no traffic around seemingly for miles. It might be tempting to blast the throttle for all it’s worth, but you should actually be even more careful than normal when you’re out for a night ride.
Why is that? Several reasons:
- Even with good headlights, your sight distance is reduced to as far as the headlamp lights reach, meaning you won’t respond as quickly to obstacles and threats.
- Some animals, such as deer, are more active at night and more likely to run across your path. Some even freeze when they see bright lights.
- Drivers are more likely to be sleep-deprived or intoxicated.
The golden rule of night riding is to only ride “as fast as you can see.” If your sight distance is just barely keeping up with your speed, you might be setting yourself up for a dangerous accident. Slow down, enjoy the ride and keep your eyes on the road.
4. Keep in touch.
Group rides at night can be tons of fun, but you need to pay close attention to your communication to make sure everyone is safe. The lack of visibility at night can make it harder to keep track of other riders, so it’s critical to have a motorcycle communication system that doesn’t rely on sight. With a communication system, riders can warn each other for dangers on the road that might not be seen by everyone. And even if you’re riding solo, it’s important to have a hands-free way to answer critical phone calls and manage your music.
That’s what’s great about Cardo Systems’ motorcycle communication systems. These powerful helmet-mounted devices turn your helmet into a voice-activated multimedia communications center, including motorcycle helmet intercom systems for talking to your group and smartphone synchronization. Receive GPS instructions with no need to get your eyes off the road, and you can also listen to your favorite night music or answer phone calls. It’s an easy way to make your ride both safer and a lot more fun. We’ve got models for every need–from the Cardo Packtalk Bold for large groups and long distances to the Cardo Freecom 1+ for the solo rider who wants hands-free Bluetooth connectivity.