Yea, got some attention with that headline. But this is actually serious stuff.
Motorcyclist Magazine recently published (and posted) an articled titled "watch your six," six being your backside. The article speaks of getting hit from behind while on a motorcycle, by a distracted driver. Definitely not what someone would call having a good day if that happens. Although certainly sometimes we invite folks trailing our "six" in one manner or another, 3000 lbs of steel and plastic bearing down on us at a stop light ain't fun.
Motorcyclists in substantial numbers have been killed from this kind of impact. We're vulnerable there, sitting alone waiting for the light to change. Often, it's really long period of time because the sensor doesn't detect the bike. When a friendly 4-wheeler pulls nearby or behind (without killing us, by the way) only then does some lights trigger.
There's a couple of ways the article cites to help protect a rider in this position.
- Watch mirrors as the bike slows for a stop at the intersection. Touch the brakes on and off to flash the brake light. Get a "feel" for how fast the vehicle behind is slowing; or not slowing.
- Position the bike towards one side of the lane or the other, not in the center. Plan for an escape route and keep the bike in gear so a quick getaway is possible.
- Be extremely aware of surroundings, in front as well as behind. Keep mirrors clean; they are the only sight picture of whats bearing down behind.
- Keep lights working and clean, too.
All great tips, but lets focus on the rearward lights of the typical motorcycle.
Most rearward facing red lights aren't all that bright. Sure, newer model machines sporting LED technology is better than incandescent. The best option is to put very bright lights flashing rearward, activated by either brake lever.
Brightasslights is one option. They sell a bunch of versions and many are sold at Harley dealers. They're super bright LED's and they work.
Another option is probably less though about, the LED's typically found on emergency vehicles. Check the individual state in which the bike will be ridden for any legal prohibitions -- but most, if not all, allow any brightness of read light on a motorcycle if facing rearward. Whelen Engineering, Code 3, there's a bunch of others just waiting to be Googled. Even kits that incorporate these smaller, super-bright LED's into motorcycle friendly setups.
Harder-core bike wiring guys and gals can pretty much choose whatever floats their proverbial boat and hook it up. LED's draw very little current to boot, so overloading the electrical system isn't a worry with just one or two lights.
A couple tips for using the super-bright E-Vehicle spec lights:
- check the aiming. If mounted up high, will they blind the driver behind if they're up close? Best way is to mount low, aiming slightly upwards. Why? Because the light should be designed to get a drivers attention way back from the bike, not up close.
- consider a time-out circuit or relay. Pulsing a super-bright LED consistently while sitting at a l-o-n-g light at night might spin the driver behind into a seizure; or at least, piss them off. Remember, they should be designed to get a drivers attention far away, not up close.
- Check state uniform traffic codes statutes, local laws or ordinances! Make sure they're legal where they're destined for use.
- Check with your dealer, talk to the tech's. Chances are, they've done some sort of custom backside work on somebody's machine.
- If you're not up to par with Edison or Tesla on electronics, turf the install work out to an installer who knows their DC. 12-volt mobile electronics on modern bikes are sensitive to shorts and hacking into wiring harnesses. Let the wiring geeks do their deal.
Watching rearward while riding is extremely important. Don't be a statistic. Keep aware and keep alive.