Whether you’re riding home late from work or you’re a night owl flying around underneath the stars, riding your Brixton when the sun goes down can be a seriously enjoyable experience, but one that isn’t without risks. Here’s our checklist on the precautions that require your attention, and some of our top tips for staying safe.
Starting with the most important – visibility.
We can’t stress enough how important it is that you’re able to see who you’re sharing the road with, and that they are able to see you. Your headlights need to be spotless – even the thinnest coating of dust can reduce their effectiveness by up to 25%. So grab a sponge or a soft cloth and give them a scrub. If you’re on the road, most petrol garages will have a sponge and a bucket of water available.
Remember also that bulbs dim with age, and with use. We’d recommend replacing them every year if you’re riding regularly. Next, you should ensure that your headlights are correctly adjusted, giving you maximum visibility and not blinding other road users. If you find yourself outriding your light beam, it’s time to slow down.
Now let’s talk about gear. Starting with the helmet.
Make sure that you’re using an appropriate visor for riding in the nighttime, no dark tints, obviously. Your visor also needs to be clean and scratch free – scratches on the visor can reflect light and hinder your vision, so be sure to pay close attention when cleaning it. You can also make your helmet stand out more by choosing an appropriate colour.
Moving south, your dark leathers are going to be difficult to spot in the nighttime. We’d recommend adding some reflective tape to your apparel. This will help draw some extra attention but stay clear of using something like a high visibility jacket as these can have an adverse effect on other road users.
You’ve heard the phrase a deer in the headlights. Well, there’s always the possibility that you might get to see where that phrase comes from.
Wildlife is something that you always need to have in the back of your mind when you’re riding after dark. Animals will typically look into your headlights, so you should always be on the lookout for the spots of reflected light. There’s also going to be plenty of bugs around that will be attracted to your beam. Always carry a pack of wet wipes to wipe your headlight down before you ride.
When you’re riding in the daytime, it’s far easier to spot, and quickly adjust to, any obstacles you come across in the road. However, at night things like water, oil, potholes, debris and loose gravel all make riding way more hazardous.
You’ll need to be sensible with your speed, pay close attention to the road, and ride in the knowledge that there might be an obstacle up ahead. By treating the road as if it was wet, you’ll be much more conscious of any hazards coming up, and have a far greater chance of being able to deal with them.
You can also use your other senses to detect danger too. Your sense of smell is a valuable tool in assessing danger. Relax the throttle if you smell petrol, oil or any other hazardous substances and keep your eyes fixed on the road to spot any spillages.
Practice riding defensively when you’re out on the road at night. Scanning between the horizon, and your mirrors, you’ll be in full control of what is ahead and behind you.
When it comes to taking corners, try and separate the braking action from the turning. Brake the most before you commit to the turn, to give your tyres the best possible traction.
If you’re new to riding after dark, it’s going to take time to get used to oncoming headlights. Don’t look directly at them as they’ll almost certainly blind you. Just reduce your speed when and where necessary.
Cats eyes are there to guide you, so make sure you use them. Not only will they give you a clear indication of the road’s direction, they can also let you know whether or not it’s safe to overtake. You should get familiar with your road markings too because you’d be surprised how many you’re unaware of. Never assume that the road is flat either and keep your eyes peeled for any dips and bumps in the road.
Blind spots are even more of a danger when the sun goes down. With a motorcycle less visible, and tiredness coming into play, you should take even greater care than usual to avoid riding in them.
At night, there’s a sense of peace, quiet and escapism that you’ll never find riding when the sun is up.
(c) Photo: They and Brixton
At the end of the day, riding under the stars is an experience in itself. And it’s something we’d recommend every Brixton rider gets familiar with. So swap the reality TV for a slice of actual reality.
At night, there’s a sense of peace, quiet and escapism that you’ll never find riding when the sun is up. Routes that you know like the back of your hand are suddenly made new again. So go and see the world differently and make sure you follow our checklist to safely through the dark.