The sweltering summer heat, an urgent need to travel for work, a call from your loved one living far or just the sudden urge the impulse to ride - any of the above reasons can result in a rider ending up on the road after dark.
Some riders avoid hitting the roads once it's dark outside and visibility in general is compromised, but for a few others riding is not about the time of the day or the external conditions but about the satisfaction of being on the road. Riding at night can be a lot of fun, with the open roads for miles and less traffic. The silence and minimal movement in the environment enables a rider to focus on the limited visual inputs in front of them.
At night low visibility is the major cause of concern as not only does it become difficult for a rider to see everything around him but also because it is more difficult for other drivers to spot the rider. Owners of bikes in darker shades need to take extra precautions in order to be visible to others.
The night belongs to the dark and if you’re afraid of the dark you might want to reconsider your options but apart from the dark everything else can be managed with just a bit of caution and preparedness. Here are some tips, upgrades and accessories you need, to really get that batman feel!
1. Basic pre-ride planning: Some basic planning needs to be done as unlike the day, most after hours there are no shops serving you Vada Pav and tea late at night! If you don't carry the required ration and munchies you will end up looking for the next town with a bus stop or railways station with a shop still open. Fuel stations should be mapped and knowing which of these are open 24*7 certainly helps. Well-lit highways and roads are preferable and it is certainly advisable to ride slow on unknown routes.
2. Headlights, tail-lights and indicators: Although most motorcycles come with suitable headlights, taillights and indicators, if you prefer riding at night there are aftermarket headlights, taillights and indicators available to power up those beams. Certain lights are much more suitable for riding at night, though it is not street legal to install a lot of types of headlights available in the market.
Auxiliary and Highway lights: These lights are available in many models suitable for different motorcycles. They can be mounted on a bike easily and increase visibility substantially. Usually used as fog lights these are really useful at night as they increase the rider’s span of visibility. Highway lights can also be important as the constantly blinking lights attract the attention of other commuters making the rider much more visible.
Light bars: Though light bars are not really popular in India, a lot of cruisers do actually sport them. There are many options available in the market for improving the reflectivity of a motorcycle, but the most common are the tried, true and simple plastic reflectors.
3. Reflective tapes: Reflective tapes are handier than they seem, they can be used to make any dull surface reflective and attention grabbing. One should always consider using reflective tapes on bulky motorcycles such as cruisers and tourers. Especially handy when there’s no room on the bike for reflectors and one has to turn to the wheels - the tape will not only make the motorcycle more visible, it will also add a neat aesthetic element for night riding.
4. Reflective gear and accessories: Wearing reflective gear is a sure shot way of improving your visibility and safety on the road at night-time. The immensely popular Rev’it! Tornado 2 Hi-viz jacket is designed for exactly this purpose.
You can also sport a bright vest over your regular riding jacket – the highly breathable Oxford Bright vest is a great option for this.
You must also check out the Oxford Commuter X4 Fiber Optic rear light which is a rear facing light system featuring a powerful central light and optic straps, designed to make you more visible to other road users and improve your safety.
Another accessory that can improve your visibility on the road at nighttime is high-visibility or reflective luggage, the Oxford Aqua Roll bag for instance.
Apart from these, a rider should always take a few extra precautions and safety measures while riding at night. Though riding at night can be really fun, a little extra caution is necessary to keep yourself and others on the road safe.