The Invisible Motorcycle


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propstop
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The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby propstop » Thu Sep 10, 2009 7:04 am



Why are our motorcycles invisible to our fellow motorists? I am pretty new to biking after a 35 year hiatus. But the few bikers I have spoken to recently all have a horror story about being run over by another vehicle. Here is mine!

This labor Day, in broad daylight, a driver pulled out in front of me as I was traveling about 45mph on a nice paved highway on my 83 Goldwing. I swerved hard to the left and was struck from my front peg all the way back to the saddlebag. Bag and bag guard was crushed and the front spoiler on the car was ripped off. By the grace of God when I swerved hard and was clearly going down, the strike to my bike stood me back up and I was able to stop my bike without going down. I would like to think the Evel Kneivel in me came rushing out, but the truth is God saved my butt once more. The driver stated she was unaware of me until we crashed. I'm a big guy, my bike is fairly big, and all lights were ablazing and she couldn't see me!

My question is," What do we do?". Personally I believe fore and aft facing photon torpedoes would help.



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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby WingAdmin » Thu Sep 10, 2009 7:32 am

I had this taste of the "other side" happen to me back in May, and it scared me...

I like to think that as a motorcyclist, I am much more aware of bikes on the road - I always make sure that when I see one while driving, I keep my eye on him, keep track of where he is in relation to me, and just basically keep in mind that he's smaller and harder to see than I am in my big truck.

It was a bright sunny day, I was leaving my subdivision while driving my truck. To leave my subdivision, you have to go through an unsignaled T-intersection, turning left from my subdivision onto a four-lane road. I came up to the intersection, looked left, and saw a couple cars about 1/4 mile away, no factor. I looked to the right, and the road was clear. I looked left again (motorcycle habits spilling into my driving), and pulled out, starting my left turn. As I did, and to my horror, not 30-40 feet away from me, appeared a shiny red dresser Harley, coming straight for me. I slammed my foot down and got my truck out of his way as fast as I could, and I saw his headlight dip at the same time, as he came down hard on his brakes. I scooted across the road, and he rode past behind me. I didn't even have time to communicate "sorry" to him in some way.

What the hell? Where did he come from? The only thing I can think of is that his headlight was lined up with the other cars I had seen 1/4 mile away, masking his presence. I KNOW I looked down the road, I KNOW I saw those cars...but I did NOT see that motorcycle...and I pulled out right in front of him as a result.

Thankfully it was a happy ending, but it still makes me think. I was driving, paying attention, looking for traffic, the weather was perfect, and STILL I didn't see him. How about the 16 year old girl, talking on the phone and adjusting the radio, pulling out? What chance do we have that she saw that bike?

BladeRunner9
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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby BladeRunner9 » Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:49 pm

I have been riding...(off and on) for about 45 yrs; I've had 23 or so differnt bikes.
I have seen a lot,I also drive a Freightliner daily; The biggest thing in my mind is: EVEN "if" some car or any 4 wheeler or anything OTHER than a bike sees you they do *NOT* unfortunately see a motorcycle as a threat ( because of the size) and willingly pull out / cut off or change lanes right into you probably thinking YOU will get out of the way.

And speaking of lanes, NEVER ride in a driver's blind spot!

I've seen this and experienced it countless times. That's why IMHO once you learn to safely ride a motorcycle you have a clear advantage over other drivers;
Simply because SURVIVING and defensive driving become second nature. So, be as visable as possible and always expect that other HEAVIER vehicle does not see you.
This whole thing is that much more likely with todays heavily traveled roads.
"Live to ride~Ride to live". Nuff said....

propstop
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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby propstop » Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:52 pm

Would becoming outrageously visible help? I would vote yes but I wonder how outrageously visible one can become and remain legal? I would paint my bike hot pink and make it blink if I thought it would help. But short of that what else can you use? Are strobes, revolving yellow lights, neons,or led's legal and if so what colors are legal and where can they be located? Has anyone seen the revolving led 1157 bulb? Do they seem worthwhile? If anybody has an outrageously visible lighting scheme I would sure like to see some pics!

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby WingAdmin » Thu Sep 10, 2009 9:10 pm

I honestly think the singular most valuable thing you can do is put a headlight modulator on your bike. I haven't put one on mine...yet. But every time I see a bike with one, it GRABS my attention.

propstop
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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby propstop » Thu Sep 10, 2009 9:12 pm

What is a headlight modulator?

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby WingAdmin » Fri Sep 11, 2009 6:31 am

It's a device that quickly modulates your headlight (from bright to dim) during daytime riding. They're legal in all 50 states, and I believe Canada as well:

http://www.headlightmodulator.com

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cyclewizard
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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby cyclewizard » Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:56 pm

I think cagers are out to kill us all. I've never seen it like this before.
I'm going to start carrying a pocket full of ball bearing and start knocking there windows out when I fly by them.

The bottom line is we are not a threat to them, so the only way to change that is become a threat. pop pop pop......lol.. just kidding.

In Japan if you hit a motorcyclist you go to jail.

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby BladeRunner9 » Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:16 pm

propstop; Hot pink is a bit over the top..... :lol: But I feel your frustration...
I have been riding off & on for 45 yrs, I also have approx 14 million KM of commercial driving under my seatbelt. I have seen and experienced quite a lot of nonsence.
It has been my position for many yrs; When someone goes for a licence...(just a regular licence) there should be questions that relate to ALL vehicles you may encounter on the roads.

It would give the average person at least a minimal understanding that motorcycles could stop on a dime....so stay back a safe distance.... at the other end of the scale, a loaded transport @ 60kph couldn't stop in less than three HUNDRED ft under ideal conditions!

If the average person studying to get a licence understood that, it just might make things a little safer.
I'm not familiar with requierments in the US,but, here in Canada the drivers test is far too easy and only recently have we started graduated licencing. BTW, the written test( I'm told) is available in 37 DIFFERENT lauguages!! I'm STILL trying to get my head around that one.. :?
BUT! The knowledge of other than a normal 4 wheel car is not even considered......That's just wrong! W-A-Y too lame for my liking..... :roll:
So, go for the Pink! I will surely stay WAY back when I see you....J/K..Stay safe! 8-)

propstop
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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby propstop » Fri Oct 16, 2009 6:59 am

Well I finally got my bike put back together after my accident and I installed a headlight modulator and a brake light flasher($85 for both). Been riding for two weeks and have not been run over since. I can actually tell people see me now. Vehicles no longer make the little false starts that indicate they are thinking about pulling out but don't. I think the modulator not only makes me more visible, but also make them wonder if this is some sort of official vehicle such as a cop bike. Either way I feel more comfortable and I highly recommend them to everyone!

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby WingAdmin » Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:38 am

I agree. I've had a brake light flasher on my bike for years now (I really, really don't want to get rear-ended), and I put a headlight modulator on about three weeks ago. I have only been able to get out twice since I put the modulator on (crappy weather), and I didn't notice anyone getting out of my way or anything, but I like to think people are noticing me more. I figure I'll be able to identify if it is having an effect as I ride more.

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby jbmorris2001 » Sat Oct 17, 2009 9:20 am

I have been riding bike for better then 20 years now. I have had my share of near misses like anyone that has been riding has. The one thing that I have done after ever near miss has been asked the great question "What could have been changed to prevent that from happening?". I have tried the modulator and I have to say, yes it does make you seen a little more, but at the same time I think that for the young riders that it might also make them think that is all they need to stay out of the accidents. Well I'm here to tell you that after 3 different saftey classes, and doing everything in the world the number one thing to do is remember people in cars are not paying attation and that you have to expect them to do the unexpected.

My case to this is with the modulator on my 1978 goldwing with full dress, rider in bright yellow cold weather suit and sight over cast. I was slowing down to make a left turn, there was a guy in a pick-up truck waiting to make a left from the street that I was wanting to turn onto. My first thought was that he sees me and that all I have to do is slow down and make this turn like I do ever day. Just as so as I started the left turn he started his, so here I am about to get ran over so all my training from class kicked in and it was lucky for me. Stop my left turn, move back into the right line, and get on the throttle. Many things worked out for me the main was I was thinking "where is my way out if this guy does this".

It is a scare world out there when all you want to do is go ride and not really think about things. But when you are on two wheel you do not get that choose, you must think at ever turn, every street, even just pulling into the gas station just to get the gallon of milk for the kids. Ride safe, remember lane position, and watch out for the people that do not care about us.

Johnathon

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby WingAdmin » Sat Oct 17, 2009 9:57 am

I agree - a headlight modulator is not going to make you safe. It's all about being just a BIT more visible, so that you might tip the scales in your direction just that bit more.

However....I think the SINGLE most important and effective thing you can do in order to stay alive, is to CONSTANTLY assume that people don't see you, and are going to come straight for you - and figure out your escape route ahead of time for when they do. That way, instead of the thought process being "where did he come from? Oh crap, where am I going to go? Is it safe to do that? Is there anyone else there going to hit me?" it's more like "yup, here he comes, OK, I'm going to do xxx to get out of his way." Proactive instead of reactive.

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby jbmorris2001 » Sat Oct 17, 2009 2:29 pm

I have to agree with that completely. Always thinking about what is the way out if the person does it gives you a better chance. I also agree that the modulator is a good idea, but I do not think that we should install it and then think that everyone sees us just because we have a flashing light. But we must keep trying to find that one thing or group of things that makes us all stand out.

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby TKM » Fri Oct 23, 2009 6:44 pm

after reading this thread , i bought a headlight modulator and brakelight flasher , every little bit helps--thanks for the tip

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:20 pm

I put a brake light flasher on a friend's bike for her this weekend. I also switched the brake lights from regular incandescent to LED. The LED's are bit brighter, but what REALLY improves it is that the LED switches from on to off to on INSTANTLY. The incandescent brake light would gradually fade up/down/up/down with the flasher. But the LED switches instantly on/off/on/off, and it REALLY catches your eye.

Every little bit helps!

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby M.Stein » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:24 pm

The only protection you have is your ability to read everything else going on around you. Its sad to say but you must assume that nobody else sees you on the road.

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby pudd750 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:48 am

another diversion cagers have now (to keep them from being bored) is a mutitasking screen in-dash that they have to watch while theyre touching it in different places to do different stuff- anything to keep the cagers eyes off the road- crazy
i always use my hi beam during the day but im still invisible to most all - at night, from afar, i get a bit more respect from cars because i might be a car with a headlight out- then when they find im a cycle they grumble because they worried about which of my bulbs is burned out and should they get way over because my drivers side is out and im a drunk over the line

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby wjnfirearms » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:03 am

The whole thing being discussed here is an interesting and ongoing problem. The data on the issue suggests, and has, that it's largely a visibility issue combined with the lack of attentiveness of way too many drivers. The problem also rests with motorcyclists to some degree with way too many driving them way too fast and taking much too much advantage of the increased maneuverability of bikes over autos and aggressive riding. You'll see this more with sport bike riders than cruisers, but there's a percentage of blame to go around.

I've been licensed since 1978. When I was considering getting my license and starting to ride, I started looking hard at the true circumstances of all of the motorcycle accidents I responded to and continued to do that all throughout my career. While each had it's own unique set of factors and variables, the highest percentage of them were completely or largely the auto drivers fault. Aggressive riding came in second. Alcohol didn't play as large a factor in the bike accidents as one might have thought, but it's an ongoing issue with bikers that disturbs me and always has. How many times have we gone to a poker run or other MC event and seen the beer going down like water. The last poker run we went on several weeks ago started registration at 10am. The beer was being drank from then on. I hate to condemn, but we as the MC community at large should know better. Personally, the most I ever drank on two wheels and over a significant time frame of hours as well, was two beers. Usually, I drink nothing alcoholic.

So, the question on the floor is what can we as responsible and experienced bikers do to curb the threat? Awareness of our surroundings constantly and riding defensively is our greatest asset to counter the problem. Sometimes, we need to look at the bad habits we all have developed riding and one way to do it is to take a course like the MSF advanced course for experienced riders. I haven't taken it myself, but when I took motor officer training, I learned of several bad habits I had developed without realizing it and have worked to counter it ever since. The lessons learned have made me a safer auto driver, also.

Accessories like headlight modulators and brake light flashers can help also, as has already been mentioned. Having a louder horn can't hurt either. With too many drivers multi tasking while behind the wheel, the problem won't get better, even with some states having laws about texting and/or cell phone use. All we can do is to be smarter than them, slow down, don't take turn signals being on as gospel of an oncoming turn, and be aware.
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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby virgilmobile » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:16 am

As a bike rider for 40 years,I have to agree with all the comments above.

Also,as I and most professional motor men are trained.....never look at the driver of another vehicle.
Always look at the wheels....You can tell the movement of the vehicle from its wheels.
A driver can seem to be looking at you but never see you.
It's not from lack of attention,it's the nature of how the human brain processes images.

So many times I have heard...I never saw him.....And they really didn't.

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby wjnfirearms » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:54 pm

It's funny you mention looking at the wheels, virgil. My dad taught me that when I first got my driver license. He was a local truck driver. His advice saved me problems more than once.
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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby vtxcandyred » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:10 am

I've not been riding as long as a lot on here but I have a few years under my belt. I have had my share of close calls too but instead of regaling all with these I'll give a bit of insight to my driving habits. I drive thas way ALWAYS. I watch the other drivers head and his eyes. I make absolutely sure they see me. I have avoided many bad scenes this way. Even when I KNOW they have seen me I still take no chances until I'm out of their line of "fire" so to speak. I never stay to close behind a large vehicle. I like to see the road ahead so I'm not suprised at the last second. If I can't pass I'll keep peeking around them to try to see ahead. I'll stay back far enough to see on the right side for people pulling out from that side too. Its a game so to speak. I like everyone to see me. Loud pipes don't save lives!!!!!!! YOU DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby riffraff » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:42 am

Unfortunately, until the day comes that operators are required to do a year on a bike before being allowed behind the wheel, We will always be invisible. I make sure to use all of my lane. Living in Boston Mass. Extra care is needed. Cab drivers are particularly blind when it comes to us. They also think they can fit in any lane even yours while you're still in it. As for headlight modulators, I would be afraid that it is mistaken for a flash of the headlight meaning "Go ahead, take the turn, I see your signal!" They don't call us "****" for nohing :o

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby twostrokes48 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 11:10 am

Drive 10-15000 miles in a 3rd world country like Mexico, Philippines, or even the more advanced like Korea...If you survive, you will have passed the most difficult defensive driving course in the world.

Unfortunately our laspe in attention can come at any time and cost us dearly. As in my last accident....A roadside fire, cops with lights on, firetrucks with lights on, smoke everywhere....I rolled off the throttle dropping from 65 to 45 rather quickly.....The guy behind me, probably also either looking at the fire, or texting...never hit his brakes...until after he hit me still doing 65-70mph....
I blame my lax attention to two things. One was of course the fire, the other was, I think, the fact that I was riding my GW trike instead of my two wheeler. When on my two wheeler, I watch the rearview as much as the front view. Evidently I don't do that when on the trike, especially because I was on a country road, not much traffic and close to home. He gets the ticket, he gets sued, he gets all the blame. But in reality, I could have prevented this if I had looked in the mirror before rolling off the power and punched it when I realized he was not slowing down and been out of his way. The bike the insurance company paid for, The two ruptured discs one in my neck and the other in my lower back from whiplash no money can fix. All from a 10second lapse in attention on my part.

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Re: The Invisible Motorcycle

Postby sparrowhawwk » Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:32 pm

I have been riding for 50 yrs next summer. How I survived the first 16 or so is a question I can't answer. :roll: I suspect my awareness of everything around me from driving trucks and farm equipment helped. Also attitude. My father taught me to drive and the most important thing I learned from him was pay attention, this is not a game. I was fortunate to be invited to take two wheel instructor training at that point and it probably has saved my life a few times. Actually know it did once.
My biggest complaint is the quality or lack thereof of the training we get. Even the official sidecar training here in WA qualifies you to ride around a parking lot at 20mph. "Ok, here's your license. Jump on the freeway and ride home." :x
Obviously there is the odd time someone might not see you on a motorcycle but mainly they just are not intimidated. You are on two wheels and they are in a metal cage with at least four wheels and feel protected. This is just an instant subconscious decision on their part. We need to take a look at the training in Japan. They take a very rigorous test on the motorcycle they are going to ride. If a vehicle driver hits them they can be held liable for everything including your lost income until you are back to normal. Saying you didn't see the motorcycle makes you instantly responsible. Don't know if it is still that way but that is what I was told by a friend visiting from Japan some years ago. Knowing this eliminates the subconscious decision to ignore you.
You can put all the safety gear and items on your bike but until something happens to change the attitude of the car driver nothing will change. Just imagine, if they can't see you on a motorcycle with lights and whatever safety gear you are using what chance does a pedestrian have? Not sure but I heard recently that testing in BC now will be done with the size bike you intend to ride. Sure hope so. Also, you cannot pay enough attention to your mirrors and doing shoulder checks. I actually scored 100% on a test to renew my bus license and the tester noted it was partially because of that fact. Yeah. Suprised me too. :lol: Any time it appears you may have to slow for anything check what is behind you. If you are not sure what the other driver is going to do in an intersection then let him/her go first. Saying I was watching him does not help if you do not react to the situation. Waiting for the other person to go first has not made me late for anything and if it did I arrived alive. Sorry for the long post but this one really gets me going.




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