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Keen to start riding at night

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by tallstreak, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. Hi everyone,

    Sorry if this topic is covered in other threads. I tried searching but couldn't find anything specific (please feel free to point out any existing threads)

    As a totally novice rider I have been out and about during the day riding (small trips, back streets, connecting roads to build my skills and confidence), and so want to start venturing out at night. I have a weekly trip I usually do in the car (at night) that involves backstreets, link roads and freeway useage (about 30Km all up, there and back). Are there any specific tips, additional gear, or things to look out for when night riding and "working up" to it?

    Thanks for any advice.
  2. Riding is pretty much the same at night as it is during the day...but you may need to be a bit more cautious when riding in traffic since drivers will see even less of you...so leave plenty of space around you. One thing you might want to start doing if you haven't so far, is weave in your lane when you approach a side street with a car waiting to turn out of it. They tend to think you are a one eyed car in the distance, where in fact you are closer than they know and thus come out on you unexpectantly...so if you weave within your lane, they will take more notice before they cut you off. In theory it's supposed to give the driver a sense of depth perception so they can judge the distance...but I reckon most drivers just sit there dumbfounded and just want to find out what hoon is weaving in their lane OR are expecting you to crash, so sit and wait for some sort of event to happen. But either way...it will help you from being T-boned/cut off :).
    • Like Like x 4
  3. I've just started riding to work going through Brisbane city and coming home at night. Never ridden at night before this. Just be sure that your helmet has a clear visor because you wont be able to see much if its darkly tinted. Other than that, same as phongus wrote, just be aware that you are not as visible at night so keep plenty of space around you (always a good idea anyway)
    • Like Like x 1
  4. I love riding at night. One of my favorite times to ride. Just relax and enjoy it, but do keep your wits about you. You should be doing that anyway. One interesting thing that happens the first time you go around a corner at night, you realise that your headlight doesn't point around the corner. Not much of an issue in suburbia etc, as there are usually street lights etc. If you're out in the twisties somewhere tho, it's a very interesting experience.
  5. As the others said, it's not too different from daytime riding. At least, in the city anyway.

    Inland and on rural highways, Australian wildlife tends to commute to/from their respective homes and workplaces around dusk and dawn, so sunrise and sunset is a particularly risky time to be driving on inland highways as a result. Aussie wildlife is also fairly active at night time. But those are risks faced by cars, too, not just bikes.

    Do think about giving the headlight (and tail light and indicators) a quick clean with a sponge or wet cloth every now and then, maybe once a week or more, particularly if the bike's been in the rain.

    The difference in brightness between "looks kinda clean" and "was cleaned 5 minutes ago" is huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge; clean lenses will make it much easier to see and be seen. :)

    Edit: And +1 to Minglis; cornering at night time can be 'interesting' because bike headlights don't work very well in corners unless you own a very expensive BMW or can wait 20 years for the technology to trickle down to learner bikes. :D
  6. I wear a dickie safety bright orange with iluminating silver reflective stripes every time I ride, 99.5% of my riding is daytime, they still 'dont see mee'
    But the vest helps I feel!! be more alert!!
  7. I bought one of those exact items, to help me feel more visible/safer/alert, but also understand that its up to me to position myself on the road etc.

    Thanks to everyone for their replies so far.

    ametha elf - my trip involves southside suburbs, SE Freway, Riverside Expressway and Coro drive to Auchenflower and back. It is reasonably quiet at the time I drive, its just the nightime riding + 100kph that I need to work on.
  8. Dunno about other bikes but my VTR250's headlight is bloody useless. I aimed it correctly and still can't see anything useful. Might try some of those supposed +90 globes.
  9. Exactamundo.

    Your low beam has the spread but not the distance and your high beam has the distance but not the spread in most cases. Slowing down is the only solution depending on how far ahead you can see.................invest in auxiliary lights that point to the sides to increase vision when turning and up ahead....................even with top lights, remember that suicidal animals can pop out from anywhere.

    Enjoy the road with fewer traffic but beware that fewer traffic can be a pain if you fall off or break down..............so bring a phone at all times and try to tell someone where your going to and which roads your taking.....................
  10. i started riding about 5months ago myself.
    to ride at night for the first time, start by riding on roads you know really well and if they have good street lighting.
    and as others have said, something that will get you is your headlights in a turn. But, you should get used to it soon :)

    just be a bit more careful at night and keep a good look around :)
  11. Upgrade your headlight bulb. The stocks are not always (often?) much chop.

    I was timing with mine on the C50 and I could see 2 seconds ahead at 70km/h before upgrading it.

  12. :rofl:


    It doesn't help, but you still wear it.


    I wonder how long it will take people to realize that safety vests don't work and wearing them is absolutely pointless and just makes you look like the biggest dick around.

    Take for example, a sportsbike. The most you'll see of a vest is the tops of his shoulders. However, you've got a headlight and at a distance of 100m, the only thing a driver can make out is a blob with a light. And that goes for upright bikes too. The area is waaaaay too small and the distance waaaay too far for any kind of bright apparel to make any difference.

    Seriously, if anyone doubts me, give a friend a vest, put them on your bike and then walk down the road. See how far you get before you fail to distinguish between the bike, the headlight and the vest. And, you're looking for it. You can safely halve the distance for a clueless driver that isn't looking for it.

    @OP: just keep your wits about you and you'll be fine.
  13. i mostly ride when it's dark due to long working hours and short days. and i prefer it.
    because i can see cars comming from intersecting streets much sooner, from the headlight beams. i think i'm more visible to drivers at night because they're only looking for or can see headlights. i'm just another headlight.
    things to be afraid of > something on the road, a brick or a piece of wood. if it's raining, you won't see it.
    > cars with their headlights turned of.
    > make sure your tail light is working. if not, you are completely invisible untill it's too late for the ******** behind you to stop in time.. (unless you have reflective clothing. which i do.)
  14. i see no point in wearing them during daylight.
    but night and raining, i won't go out without one. i've also got a helmet halo. which is an inch thick band of military grade scotchbrite
  15. Well, the REAL reason I wear the dickie vest is I was 'trying to be smart' and sprayed my jacket with yellow 'land marker' spray that builders use!! I thought 'brighten the jacket up' bad move, it stuck for a little bit and has been peeling/dropping off the back in little chunks and I reckon vomit would look better!! so yes the dickie safety vest has a 'dual' purpose!!
    NOW you can laugh :) 8-[
  16. Also remember its much harder to spot those potholes/metalplates etc at night. Try to remember where they are on your daytime trips if its a regular route.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Thanks all. Just to let you know I did a very very short ride tonight. Probably need to adjust my headlight (a little low). I must say seeing the beams of car headlights coming from side streets helped, and generally night riding feels good. Will do more of it....
  18. On the subject of lights, auxiliary lights are good, wired to come on with the high beam, and aim them about 30 degrees up and out. Depends on what your natural / normal cornering angle is, but point them up and out by about the same amount. I met a few old school BMW riders who used to put a flood / driving light on each crash-bar, and point them up and in - cross-eyed. I haven't tried it but they say it's better because the light you're using is higher off the ground.

    FJR13s have quite good lights. Aprilia RST1000s have crap lights, which is funny because they look all high tech and spesh when you first see them. ZX14 lights are great - at least as good as the FJR.

    Most things - 2 wheels or 4 - the lights gradually lose power and penetration over time. You don't notice because it happens slowly, but go for a night ride/drive with others and you realise how terrible your lights have become. It seems to be the state of the reflector and the lens.

    One of the best and most effective upgrades I ever made to a bike was to fit a 3 inch 100W quartz-halogen sealed beam spotlight, fed by a big meaty relay. My 400/4 was safe to about 80k without it, and over 140 with it. (Straight lines here, obviously.) The difference it made was stunning.

    I used to love this old Atari video game, called night driver. The trick is being able to interpret the little spots of light way in advance. I'd been riding bikes at night quite a bit before I ever saw this, and the first time I played it I set high scores.

  19. watch the road...only got 2 months under my belt but my impatience and eagerness had me riding at all times in all weather within a fortnight....and the best advice to ease yourself into it...as i've mapped all my frequent roads in my mind...every lil pothole or bump...

    because alot of the time you'll find yourself not seeing these until you have to make a kneejerk reaction every so often to avoid the odd obstacle...not saying it's a definate thing at all...

    but if your seriously concerned...do said trip once or twice in the daytime and try and make note in your mind all the serious bumps or cracks that could effect your riding then tackle it head on

    scariest moment was my first time riding in the rain...+1 for drifting when coming out of roundabouts =D