Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

Motorcycle/Rider Visibility

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by nikku, May 22, 2006.

  1. Hi everyone! This is my first post - I've been trawling through netrider for the last week trying to absorb all the knowledge here :)

    I'm *just about* to start learning to ride - I just need to hand over the money and fill out the paperwork for my Zeal. Understandably, I'm going to be keen to start as soon as possible! :D
    Thing is, I've never ridden before, only have one mate who's ridden (but doesn't currently), and I'm trying to figure a whole lot out on my own.

    I'm pretty confident about my own (future) ability to ride a bike - I expect to know my limits and ride sensibly within them. Things I'm in control of myself, I don't worry about.
    What scares me at the moment is the thought of these "cagers" (I've gotta learn the lingo ;) ) and the "SMIDSY" (Sorry mate I didn't see you) syndrome. I am worried about this aspect of riding that I can't control.

    It seems the only thing I can do to combat cagers is ride defensively (I'll try to attend a course or something on this if I can find one) and try to increase my visibility/presence on the road.
    Since I'm completely new to riding, I have no gear and I'll need to buy some soon. I wondered if choice of gear would be a good opportunity to increase my visibility.

    What do you reckon? Do you think the gear you wear make much difference, in various different scenarios?
    (for instance, approaching an intersection where the cager about to pull out in front of you can only see you from head on - and what other hazardous scenarios do you come across?)

    Now, as cool as black leather looks, I'm willing to sacrifice some style for safety. That said, I don't want to look like a fool either.
    I am seriously considering one of those bright reflective 'L' vests for when I'm learning - I'm happy to put up with that for a few weeks - but I'd also like the gear underneath to be practical for when the vest comes off.

    So basically... what are your thoughts on visibility?
  2. Rather than create a new thread, I have a visibility question as well. Are flashing red lights on the back and flashing white lights on the front legal? As that's what cyclists use for visibility.
  3. I believe that the gear you wear makes a big difference in your visibility, since you make up probably 50% of the "profile" you create when riding your bike (ie half of what is visible is you). I too like the whole "tough all black biker" look, but I do try to stay at least a little visible too, and I have an all-white helmet. My housemate calls me a mushroom, but I actually like the white helmet look at the moment. For one thing, it's different - I haven't seen many other bikers with plain white helmets. It's also cheaper than helmets with pattern. I recon dayglo orange would be kinda cool too, but apparently no one makes them for motorcycles :(

    My Dririder jacket has reflective piping on it and I recon it improves night time visibility significantly, unfortunately my Ixon jacket doesn't - but is black and a rather light grey so hopefully that will be sort of visible. Most riding boots also have reflective bits on the back of them...
  4. I try to place and move myself in such a way so as to give drivers a greater opportunity to see me.
  5. For a motorcycle? To tell the truth I am not sure. I will see if I can find out for you.

    For a pushbike it depends on how you read the law. They are legal if in addition to a steady light. the question is if its legal if the steady light is another mode of the flashing light if you see what I mean. They clearly are more visible so like most cyclists I con;t care really. They are utter crap to see with, I once fitted the brightest light then availiable and got runover that night.

    Personaly I sometimes think that no lights on the pushy makes you far more visible. Sometimes people sound the horn from 400 metres away with apparently no prob seing you have no lights (and I was standing on the footpath too :(
    But the other day my mate was run over by someone whose first word was "why don't you have your light on" The light was still on and dazzling both of us and it honestly is brighter than the light on my motorbike

    Ahhh well.
  6. Yeah like demuire said, A lighter coloured helmet is a handy addition to your gear to help make you more visible. I have a plain silver helmet, and I bought that thinking that it would help me be a bit more visible to other road-users... its worked so far :)

    By the way, the Zeal is are an awesome bike to learn on, I have a Zeal and have had it since I was learning (few years ago now), although I've nearly grown out of it I reckon :grin:
  7. Good question, welcome aboard.

    I got a leather jacket that still looks pretty tough/cool, red, white and black as it stood out more and matched my helmet an AGV red tattoo design.

    I chose the helmet first because of comfort/fit and then picked the colour that stood out best of all. I looked at a KBC helmet that was a black/chrome finish that I thought would stand out but did not fit my head.

    So in closing I am with you get gear that stands out, I am getting one of those silly flouro sash things that road workers wear for the late rainy night trips home.
  8. A bright orange/yellow vest will be great if you want to be seen, as you'll look like a cop.

    With regards to flashing lights, I'm afraid although they'll work wonders with visibility, it's illegal. I guess it'd confuse everyone as well.

    I remember a couple of years ago someone was trying to revolutionise the brake-light industry by making it so the brake light would flash rapidly under heavy braking. Unfortunately he wasn't allowed to implement it on his car due to the above mentioned law.
  9. Wow, quick replies around here ;)

    Matti-san, yeah, those road-worker flouro sashes are the sort of thing I was thinking of wearing while I get the hang of riding in traffic. And fit of helmet as highest priority makes perfect sense.

    Edward, demuire, I was indeed thinking of white/silver helmet, which will coincidentally match the bike ;)

    Another thought, along the lines of captainmorgan's question:
    I've seen some bikes outfitted with glowing LEDs around the body. What do you think, useful safety device or cosmetic only? I figure they'd only be useful in the dark, and then your headlight should be highly visible anyway. Not sure...

    Thanks for the replies so far, they've reinforced my belief that it's worth paying attention to visibility of gear.
  10. Hmmmmm I have an idea about that.

    What if the brake lights were normally at the minimum legal brightness. But under heavy braking they went up to the max legal brightness? Just before you get a clue by the smoke coming off the tires :)

    What do you think?
  11. IIRC you can also buy like another brake light that you stick onto your helmet, works wirelessly off your brake light (plugs into your normal brake light). Would obviously only work if you have normal bulbs for brake lights tho (I have LED's)
  12. As for wearing black - I don't recommend it, especially at night or in stormy conditions.

    I was filling up at a servo the other week, when a motor bike with pillon pulled up and started abusing a guy that had just pulled in. A case of SMIDSY, but I couldn't blame the cager. In a well lit servo the bike and pillon just disappeared when they were just 15m away.

    Bike was black, rider wore black, pillon wore black, night was black. Makes a whole lot of black. :shock:
  13. I have just started putting a safety vest on my ventura bag on the back of my bike. It blocks the view of me at night and after a cager locked up and slid up to the back of my bike last week (doing a right hand turn into my driveway on the way home at night) i got enough of a fright to keep me awake for few weeks.
  14. I think it makes a difference. I have 2 jackets and about to buy one more simply to make it more colourful and stand out more. I also have a straight balck helmet. so to make things more visible i will

    1. either copper/orange (the bike is copper) gt style stripes on the bike or maybe silver

    2. my sumer jacket is a rjays vent 2 in blue and black

    3. buy a winter leather/material comba jacket in blue/white/black

    and keep my plain balck leather jacket for more social occansion (eg popping out to the movies etc)

    My jacket does have refkective piping and that stands out really well.
  15. Nikku, have a good peruse through this site:


    Hundreds of articles about improving and understanding your riding safety and technology.

    In particular, read this article: http://www.msgroup.org/TIP170.html

    It talks about how to improve your safety odds on the road... basically, be different from every other mug rider.


  16. There is a reflective strip on my ventura bag, which i think does help a fair bit....
  17. At minimum legal brightness they may just think you have foglights on and aren't braking at all... But I like your thinking.
  18. Thanks robsalvv, I just read the second article you linked. It seems pretty much common sense, but it's good to see it put down in writing.

    I will have a browse of the rest of that site later! Cheers. :)
  19. Not much you can do about those nongs. I just think some clue that you are actually braking pretty damm hard rather that not letting it accellerate down the hill might actually be usefull :)

    Not that they ever even see me so its not my prob :)
  20. For night-time, that reflective tape is really quite effective, eespecially in a scenario where someone is approaching you from the side (and may not see your lights clearly).
    For daytime, it's your choice, but I reckon that the colour of your helmet goes further in getting you noticed than what's on your body.