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Thread: Night Riding

  1. #1
    Always wear a helmet! The Art Of Safe Riding's Avatar
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    Default Night Riding

    Nighttime is not for motorcycles. Ideally, that is. But we must ride after dark usually out of necessity. And vision or lack of it lies behind it all. The very things that make a motorcycle so competitive during daytime, like being able to weave and bank through traffic and turns, destroy it at night. The headlights that normally permit fair vision upto hundreds of feet when straight and upright, suddenly dive into the ground as you bank into a turn, providing no more than a dangerous 30 feet or so of vision. During a turn, a bike leans and so the light has to dip and you loose vision in front when you need it the most.



    At night, always concentrate on the inside line. If turning left, focus your attention on the left edge of the road; if there is a boundary marker at the edge, concentrate on the white line. When turning right, fix your attention on the center dividing line; if you are on a multi-lane road, your attention must be fixed on the white line denoting the right boundary of your lane. Generally speaking, nighttime riding is good for taking it easy, so slow down and pay more attention to the road in front of you. Riding at night also requires a greater degree of concentration, and that means fatigue sets in earlier. Blinding lights from the front will obliterate anything from your sight in your path. Going slow allows you more time to scan the scene, as well as makes for softer landings in case of a mishap. Never look directly into the headlights of the oncoming traffic. This prevents you from being blinded by the glare, as well as overcomes the human frailty of being drawn towards it like a moth to a flame. Look to just the side of the light, then down directly to its side, at the road in front of you, then ahead of the spot and then down the road. Follow the same routine while returning to the side of the light, only do it in reverse, i.e. up ahead the road in front of you, then the road at the side of the light. That is the triangle. Finally, always make it a habit to slow down to a comfortable speed, treating every condition as a blind one.

    Moreover at night, depth perception is all but lost. The visual factor of perception is lessened because what we see is often reduced to a silhouetted contrast rather than layers of subjects in depth. Silhouettes are always flat, thereby losing the valuable factor of the third dimension. Hills that are miles away merge with the trees nearby to become one. On a curving road, a short bush on the side and a dog in the middle confusingly merge to become one. So, the rider usually hits what he doesn't see.

    Strangely though, riding in the mountains at night is easier than during daytime. Oncoming lights do not blind the rider; the traffic shows up from a good distance away and blind corners no longer remain blind for vehicles with working lights. And the surrounding scenery is no longer a distraction as it was during daytime since at night it is simply not visible. In the hills, a headlight that has a wide spread is anytime preferable to one that is bright but highly focussed.

    But whatever the conditions, never try to outpace your headlights. Ride at a speed from which you can stop within the distance that your lights show up. Remember to keep your headlight lens clean, it's surprising how restricting a dirty lens is for the beam. When passing opposing traffic resist the temptation to look at the other vehicles lights, just gaze down to the near-side of the road.

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    Last edited by Old Fox; 12-29-2009 at 05:11 PM.
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    Rusted kurtrules's Avatar
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    There are a few things on night riding that I would like to add to this article:

    1) While riding at night, ALWAYS be sure to lower the beam when vehicle approaches from the other side. This broadens the visibility of the oncoming driver and shows good road sense. Also there may be more than a few instances when you are not returned the favor! But that shouldn’t deter one and one should keep practicing good road etiquettes .

    2) As mentioned in the article, focus on the white lines. That’s perfectly correct. Just to add on to that, if such a scenario occurs while one is riding on a hill/banking a corner, where roads are single lane, focus ONLY on the left hand side solid white line. This will not only give you an idea of where the road is going but also the degree of the gradient (ascend/descend) of the road. Like I said, this methodology has been applied by me and holds true, specifically for night riding on hills.

    3) If one is riding a motorcycle with stock headlamps (No HIDs/No Halogen bulbs)during the night on hills, one does encounter a dearth of visibility. Here if you lower the beam on straight patches and higher the beam (high/full beam) on corners. It increases the visibility. Try it.

    4) Avoid leaning at all costs while riding out in the darkness, especially in hills. Prime reason beam, that no matter how good a lighting system you have installed, visibility will remain lower than what is during the day, and your reaction times will also increase. And as all are aware of the hilly road conditions in India, you might encounter a small ditch just round the corner and what happens after that, well, we all know off.

    5) The most difficult period that you may face during a long night ride is the one when daybreak occurs. In other words "Twilight Period". This is the time when neither the headlights provide sufficient light to illuminate the road nor is there much natural luminescence. Also the period when sleep induced lethargy is at its pinnacle. I normally wait till the sun is up, in the meanwhile taking a power nap! I would advise against riding during those 30-45 minutes.

    Just remember to go slow at night. No better precaution than that!

    Having said that, night riding is my favorite way to unwind. It helps increase my concentration levels and is continuously assisting me multiply my endurance and patience!

    -Kurt
    Last edited by kurtrules; 12-02-2009 at 06:43 PM.

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    One more useful night riding tip that I have acquired after innumerable long distance night rides - If you are following a 4 wheeler, keep a safe distance from it, and always try to keep both your tires IN LINE with one set of tires of the 4wheeler.

    For Ex: If I'm following a car, I keep my bike's tire in line with the right side set of tires of the car. What is the benefit?

    Cars headlights are more powerful usually, don't dive during braking as much, and various other factors that allow them to deal with pot holes popping up out of the dark, MUCH more efficiently than a motorcycle. Usually, because of human reflexes, the driver of a car tries to keep his side of the tires away from the pot holes by maybe weaving away from the pothole.

    If you keep a safe distance from the car and keep in line, you have enough time to weave away from a dangerous pot hole. On the other hand, if the car driver does jump into the pothole, that gives you enough time to slow down or get ready for a dangerous pothole within a very short distance.

    Most of my long distance rides have mostly been in the night and this method has helped me ride in the night, much more efficiently. Bangalore - Tirupati - Bangalore, a distance of 700kms about 3 years ago was done during the night in a short span of 32 hours and I was lucky to have a Tempo Traveler all the way from Tirupati to Bangalore at steady speeds of 80kmph that helped me duck many potholes and cover distances in a shorter span of time.

    Even generally while riding in the night, try and follow a 4 wheeler doing steady speeds at a SAFE distance and keep in line with the right side set of tires and benefit from the driver in front of you. These 4 wheelers that do steady speeds are not hard to find on the highway and since it is night, you wont find them doing 3 digit speeds as often as they do during the daytime.
    Last edited by silver_falcon_46; 03-15-2010 at 02:00 PM.
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    Default following a 4 wheeler in night

    folowing a 4 wheelers driving is really helpful, but from a safe distance.like 200 meters or more.
    i have seen this, specially with me, when i m following any 4 wheeler at night, i get good help about the road ahead, but when u go too close, even below 200 meters u tend to get fall in target fixation.
    especially those brake lights put u in some sort of hypnotism..so try to avoid looking at the vehicle ahead for longer times.
    just keep ur eye rolling.. from road, to the vehicle to ur bike and then to the road!
    ---LIFE is a journey and i m a born WANDERER!---

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    Quote Originally Posted by amitesh3d View Post
    folowing a 4 wheelers driving is really helpful, but from a safe distance.like 200 meters or more.
    i have seen this, specially with me, when i m following any 4 wheeler at night, i get good help about the road ahead, but when u go too close, even below 200 meters u tend to get fall in target fixation.
    especially those brake lights put u in some sort of hypnotism..so try to avoid looking at the vehicle ahead for longer times.
    just keep ur eye rolling.. from road, to the vehicle to ur bike and then to the road!



    yaaa this true i have a good expirience of this type of riding...

    but following a car which is at 50kmph is also a risky.....
    Regard's
    Prasad......

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    Informative thread... +1

    well i wanted to ask what kind of helmet visor would be suitable for night riding.
    Its but obvious that a clear visor would be good.. but that glares too..
    What do you guys suggest?..
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    No strangers getting intimate with our rides unless they volunteer their girlfriends/wives to get intimate with me...it amounts to the same thing

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pratik91 View Post
    Informative thread... +1

    well i wanted to ask what kind of helmet visor would be suitable for night riding.
    Its but obvious that a clear visor would be good.. but that glares too..
    What do you guys suggest?..

    new visors don't..
    change the visor every 3-4 months or so..

    1. and jsut before a night ride.. if you see even a minor scratch on the visor, better replace it and keep the old one for day time riding later..

    2. carry a tissue paper.. before starting night ride, wash the visor with some water.. remove excess water and clean the visro with tissue paper.. clean as crystal.. you will sometime wonder, if even a visor is there
    binarycodes likes this.

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    Addicted Pratik91's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitin_traveller View Post
    new visors don't..
    change the visor every 3-4 months or so..

    1. and jsut before a night ride.. if you see even a minor scratch on the visor, better replace it and keep the old one for day time riding later..

    2. carry a tissue paper.. before starting night ride, wash the visor with some water.. remove excess water and clean the visro with tissue paper.. clean as crystal.. you will sometime wonder, if even a visor is there
    thanks for the suggestions... sure will help
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsferrari View Post
    No strangers getting intimate with our rides unless they volunteer their girlfriends/wives to get intimate with me...it amounts to the same thing

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    Riding from about 1am to 4-4.30 am is when you can cover most ground, average speeds are high but due to the darkness we do not perceive the speed especially if the road is wide. KEEP DISTANCE from the vehicle you're following and glance at the speedo it helps prepare for braking if necessary.

    Follow the white lines, NEVER ride on it

    If you feel early morning misty coolness, roads have become oily

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    When you are travelling from afternoon to night, avoid the dusk time, the time when sun has set but darkness is not fully there. This is the time when your HIDs are useless, and switching the headlight ON or OFF makes almost no difference to visibility. Many vehicles' headlamps are not yet lit up, but they are mostly invisible now because of low light. Probability of accidents is high in these 20-30 mins. Take a break, have quick snack. It will be pitch dark in a couple of mins. Then the road is waiting for you!

    Agree completely to the following car funda. However, one problem is to find a good speedy car! Either they will try to run away, or will be too slow. At times, I had actually requested to car drivers to let me follow them, when they slow down at speed brakers/city streets. This clears a lot of confusion, and assures them that the biker following them for last one hour is not looking to loot them.

    If you are riding long distances and pass through a village, take extra caution. This is because though the crowds will be very less, the ones present on roads will have great urgency of their own, otherwise they won't be on the roads at those wee hours.

    Night riding AND rain is a killer combination, but if at all you have to encounter it, perpare yourself to endure, and not to run away. It is understandable, that we are riding for 2 hours, destination is still 50-100 kms away, and damn rain is playing havoc, so we think lets wring the throttle and get away as quickly as possible, where a warm bed is waiting for us. But this greatly increases the probability of accident. Rather than that, just prepare yourself to endure come what may, select a speed 10KMPH less than what you are comfortable, and ride, singing loudly under the helmet. Trust me, you will even dream the same ride in that night's sleep.

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