Top 10 Ways to Get Noticed on a Motorcycle

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6. Hi-Viz gear/Motorcycle color

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Yeah, we all know that basic black leather is the motorcyclist’s official riding gear. We love our classic black gear, too. However, we don’t want to die for fashion, so you will often see us riding with gear that has bright colors. While the uninformed may think that we are simply following the obscure mating rituals of our sub-species by puffing ourselves up to please members of the opposite sex for future reproductive purposes – and they might not be wrong – we have already succeeded in getting them to focus on us through our outlandishly colored gear. There’s a reason that firefighters and other emergency worker’s uniforms are made out of high-visibility material. The colors are so ugly that we can’t look away.

You can also achieve the same result by painting your motorcycle one of these offensive colors. In this case, a solid color will be better than a fancy pattern since the pattern builds in visual distraction. Still, bright colors are good. Perhaps the OE graphics of the late ’80s and early ’90s weren’t so bad after all.

Photo courtesy of Aerostich.

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  • kurtjens

    Clearly, at least one of these is facetious but I feel kinda good, and more than a little dorky, that I’m doing most of the others. I generally don’t ride in groups and I’m not gonna try to talk Aerostich into making me a camouflage Roadcrafter, but other than that, I’ve checked all the boxes: Hi-viz suit and helmet, headlight modulator on high beam, rear brake light flasher, dual Fiamm horns, and lane position.

    • Evans Brasfield

      I would be surprised if Aerostich offered a camo version for any of its suits. They’re too focused on safety to offer something that dubious. In fact, as I was looking for photos to use in this list, I was surprised how many manufacturers actually sold camo riding gear. Why on earth would anyone choose to ride wearing a pattern specifically designed to make you blend in to the background?

  • Glenn Rueger

    Mounting two bright LED lights low on the fork (Denali, Clearwater, etc.) forms the famed Triangle of Conspicuity. Like the front of a train or the rear of a modern car, a triangle of light seems to add perspective with regard to distance and convergence. Of course this only helps if other motorists are actually looking where they are going.

  • Matt Maddalena

    I like the ride nekkid idea, since Streetfighters are the kewlest bikes of ever… I don’t understand riding in camo that BLENDS with the area you’re in. I could see wearing desert camo in DC, or wearing snow camo in San Antonio, but why would wearing camo be a good idea? I know it doesn’t blend with the road or with other vehicles, but if it DOES blend with the surroundings… OR am I late to the party about that entry being a parody, too???

    • Evans Brasfield

      You are right. The camo riding gear is a joke. I know I don’t want to blend in to the background out on the road.

      Back when I taught motorcycle safety, I would use camo as an example of bad riding gear. Since there is such a large military presence in SoCal, the students understood this right away.

      • fl_camaro2

        Not to be rude or any thing on the ones that support camo for bikes but only some one that is slow can not see it is bad. Camo is meant to blend in and not be seen. The exact opposite is Hi-
        vis

  • Craig Hoffman

    Glad to see the naked girl was obeying local helmet laws. Safety first! LMAO

    • J.Logan

      Eye protection and a helmet may be all that’s needed. In my Midwestern U.S. town we have a thong-only scooter rider running around town all summer. Male, unfortunately. And, no, he doesn’t have to wear a helmet.

  • allworld

    When in Boston; “Use Yah Blinkah’ when changing lanes, and making turns.

  • TraderJoesSecrets

    Those are all good ways to be seen, but if the goal of being seen is having car drivers *not* cut you off, etc., you forgot the best technique of all: Ride the same make of bike as your local cops use. Equip it with the same pattern fairing and saddlebags. Wear police issue colored jacket and helmet.

    People won’t cut you off or pull out in front of you. In fact, they’ll slow down and make room for you.

    • LS650

      Here the local cops ride Victory bikes. I don’t have that kind of money…

    • SikterEfendi

      Good idea, but only where cops are riding something affordable or practical. I have yet to live in a jurisdiction where I would honestly want to ride what cops are riding.

    • Billdokie

      I agree Totally. I used to have a white Harley FatBoy and wore the white helmet and black jacket with black pants. I had so many people just pull over to let me by. I’ve since sold her and on to other bikes but you are spot on!

  • Lawrence Lee

    Using high beams is illegal in Europe, so don’t pull that stunt there. Although some bikers do still do it, it pisses me off whether I’m in a car or on a bike. Especially when they insist on riding right behind me – I can’t see anything in my mirrors due to their lights blinding me. You create more dangerous situations than you solve by riding with your high beams on.

    • SikterEfendi

      Using high beams is illegal where I live as well (Toronto, Canada), yet no one ever gave me any grief for it. An occasional cager will get annoyed like you do, but they always have an option to let me pass, get out of the way or flip their mirrors. In the absence of hard data or at least some solid logic, your statement about “creating more dangerous situations” is meaningless.

      • Lawrence Lee

        The fact that it is forbidden in most European countries and Canada means that there was enough reason to convince the legislators to enshrine this in law. This, I think, is enough to satisfy your wish for hard data and solid logic. I would say that if you want to claim that the opposite is the case, the burden of proof falls upon you to show this

    • Gary McDonald

      DURING DAYLIGHT HOURS is what was recommended. This isn’t going to blind anyone unless you have some extremely bright aftermarket bulb. The part about doing this at dusk is where you should use some judgement.

      • Lawrence Lee

        High beams during the daylight can actually blind people. I feel however that it is important to note that there are quite big differences in situations in various countries. Many countries in northern Europe are very overcast most of the year during the day, and in these situations high beams do blind drivers. If you are living in a very sunny location, such as Florida or California in the US, or the Mediterranean countries in Europe then high beams during the day are not nearly as bad. They’re simply merely irritating. I assume that Canada has similar overcast weather during most of the year, and that’s why they also have outlawed the use of high beams

        • mybluestar

          Canada has some of the sunniest and brightest conditions in North America, high beams are approved and highly recommend, they started the day light driving lights mandatory on all cars.

    • kurtjens

      I don’t know if you are blinded by high beams on motorcycles during the day but, assuming that you aren’t, the high beam modulator I use has a sensor so that at dusk or in dim light situations, it goes to steady. And, of course, I use my high beam at night like I do in a car, to increase my ability to see but switch to the low beam in traffic.

  • Raymond Barnes

    Motorcycle.com take this article down! Is the writer even a serious motorcyclist with any experience? Ride naked? Seriously. Have you even read studies on the risk factors of using high beams to be seen and the negative effects it has on how others portray motorcyclist. Swerving or switching patterns in a group ride is not only dumb but could be deadly. Then mentioning riding with camo on when earlier you mention high visual gear….just ignorant. Motorcycle safety is a serious topic and since I daily commute 75 miles on my bike I look for articles that I can share with others. This is one that will not be shared. Make this writer read Proficient Motorcycling The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well by David L. Hough and his second book Mastering the Ride and then fire him!
    Please.

    • http://www.motorcycle.com/ Sean Alexander

      Reading may be fundamental but it’s certainly no panacea. Satire is completely lost on the sizable humor impaired demographic. Thankfully, most motorcyclists tend to have a sense of humor and can comprehend satire.

    • http://motorcycle.com/ Tom Roderick

      Raymond, here’s a direct quote from Sgt. Mark Pope of the California Motorcycle Safety Unit taken from my very serious article about lane splitting: “Pope is fond of pointing out that motorcycle safety is an oxymoron. ‘We understand that riding motorcycles is not about safety, it’s about managing risk,’ he says.”

  • SikterEfendi

    What’s with suggestions 7 and 11?

    The purpose of camouflage is to hide you in the environment, not get you noticed. patriotic drivel is for delusional and sucidal people and has nothing to do with safe motorcycle riding.

    Riding naked? Not even as a joke.

    All other suggestions are spot on and I use them all, but these two stupidities you could definitely do without.

    • Evans Brasfield

      Those two items would be the red herrings referred to on the first page of the list.

  • Nfld

    I haven’t had anyone pull out in front of me since I started wearing a Shoei RF-1100 axis yellow helmet about four years ago. It works!

  • Alan Wolfy Schilde

    Ride Naked LOL.

  • Martin

    Isn’t it illegal to drive with your high beams on? You can also blind other drivers…
    not sure giving advise to do something illegal is recomended.

    • Evans Brasfield

      It is not illegal in the US and is, in fact, taught in motorcycle safety classes as a way to be conspicuous during daylight hours.

  • Ogmios

    “Studies have shown that riders wearing brightly colored helmets versus black ones have significantly fewer accidents.” Really? Cite your source for that one please. Having been involved in researching this very subject (funded by The European Commision) , i have NEVER come across any actual _PROOF_ that hi viz of any sort = safe.

    • J.Logan

      Proof is something you’ll never get in this field. (Maybe you’re in the wrong area.) For a good case-control study adjusting for measurable confounders that finds a white/black helmet differential (and a flourescent or reflective clothing effect) look at this from the BJM (British Journal of Medicine): http://www.bmj.com/content/328/7444/857 . Random assignment of helmet colors to riders can’t be done on a large-enough scale; the article cited is about as good as it can get. You are free to disbelieve what you want.

  • Ditchsurfer

    I am already doing several of these. First I ride thinking they don’t see me. 1.Red LED’s on front and back. 2. Red, black and white HJC modular helmet. 3. Reflective vest. 4. Ride with high beams on always. dim only with night time on coming traffic. 5 Although not listed, when changing lanes, I always not trust mirrors and I turn my head to look.

  • bigjames

    I am so sorry, but after +40 years of riding with brain dead drivers there is NOTHING we can do to make ourselves more visible to folks who aren’t looking! That’s right Evergreen, AMA (both of them), MSF, NTSB, DOT, ABATE and the rest – NOTHING. Dream all you want. They aren’t looking so they can’t freaking see. Several of the items listed are illegal in some places anyway. (high beams, illegal horn, certain ways of group riding for instance) No bright colored clothing, helmet, shiny reflective farkle BS or even a sidecar (I have 4, so I know) is going to make us visible to that idiot who doesn’t even see a semi through their damned cell phone, coffee cup, argument with the guy on talk radio… Camo, damn, give me a break. I ride Urals too, that doesn’t work. How do I know this? Did stats for a large auto insurance company for many years. The numbers are horrifying. ONLY thing that works is keeping distracted car (and bike) drivers and their distractions off the road . So far no one has figured out how to do that. All they can do is add distractions and make it where stupider and stupider folks can drive and not pay attention (big bright screens on the dash, blue tooth/internet capability, self parking/driving cars and so on). What a load. You all just keep deceiving yourselves. Being defensive and keeping out of the idiots way is our only saving grace and help. Well that and prayer. We all know the creator rides a motorcycle.

  • bigjames

    wait, there are things I know do work from the law enforcement, Ural and war bike folks. A machine gun mounted on the front of the sidecar (real or fake) or an exposed shoulder holster (just the holster, they can’t see the weapon anyway).. For some reason they see those…but not us on bikes.

  • Benjamin Stivick

    Read an article like this over 30 years ago now and one suggestion that stuck out, and that I have always resorted to was this: If you feel like you need to get the attention of traffic around you, drive like you’re drunk. I was skeptical at the time but thirty years later I am still doing it, and while I have been pulled over once in that thirty years because a motorist called me in, it was only a matter of a minute or two before the officer realized what was going on. It helped that he was a fellow rider and knew the frustration of being seen.
    There may be an added risk factor in doing this I suppose, but as the one in relative control of the crazy driving at the time, I have watched as drivers make space to avoid “Hitting that guy when he crashes.” I assume they are worried that would take time out of their precious day of texting and playing with their phones.

  • Adam Godsey

    I agree with everything else on this list except for the headlight modulators. I can’t stand headlight modulators. They are pretty much a waste of money. Yes, they do serve a purpose, but it would be better to just flash your light when you are about to pass someone. Constantly flashing behind me when in my car with my wife is just annoying. Yes, annoying me does mean I see you, but I see everyone, even the little chickens crossing the road at night. For the most part, if you are approaching someone so fast that you need to warn them that you are there from nearly a mile away, you need to slow down because you deserve to crash since you are driving so carelessly. FYI, my neighbor was an idiot and deserved to crash and die when he took a 35 mph turn at over 60. He died on his own front porch as his mother came running out to see what the banging on the door was from him slamming into his own front door.

  • Tinwoods

    No matter what you do to protect yourself, something moving out there is going to try and kill you. But, got a black helmet and still want to be seen? Slap on some of my reflective Aces M.A.D. (Mayhem Averted Stickers). It’s a tongue-in-cheek “helmet award system” like the silhouettes (aka “kill markers”) WW2 air aces painted on their planes every time they shot an enemy aircraft down. Or like the stickers college football teams award their players for TDs, tackles, etc. With mine, you evade a moving object hell-bent on killing you, you award yourself a corresponding sticker (car, SUV, commercial truck, pedestrian, dog, etc.). Check them out at acesmad(dot)com.

  • spam killer

    Driving with hi-beams on with oncoming traffic is illegal. You’ll get noticed all right, I don’t want to get noticed by people with guns.

    However, high-beams with a modulator is legal and much more effective.