Riding your motorcycle at night can be a remarkable and almost ”alien” experience.
- Riding in the colorful lighting and ambiance of a city’s downtown festivities. Admiring people and letting people admire you, the midnight rider, as you pass along.
- Going on a group ride with your buddies goofing around town having a bike night.
- Or my personal favorite; Finding inner peace riding alone under the stars on some remote road feeling like the last human on earth.
But as much as the darkness can be exhilarating, it is also when you need to be extra vigilant. Many dangers are lurking in the shadow after you rode into the sunset.
Is it Safe to Ride a Motorcycle at Night?
Here is what statistics tell us in a nutshell about riding a motorcycle at night.
Motorcycle riding at night is more dangerous than in the daytime per distance traveled.
Yet, You can still ride safely at night.
But you have to know what to be cautious about and adopt a focused mind on your safety.
Some equipment adaptation for night riding will also help.
More on that later.
What are the Dangers of Riding a Motorcycle at Night?
There are many possible hazardous encounters during a nighttime ride. Here are the three main ones to be aware of.
- Your ability to see and to be seen is reduced.
- Animal activities and movements are increased.
- “Drunktards,” aka stupid people who drive under the influence.
Now here’s what you can do about it.
1. Reduced Visibility
Because you can’t see as far or as clearly as during the daytime, many obvious hazards will be much harder to spot. These include potholes, sand or gravel on the pavement, etc.
It would be best to keep in mind that other road users’ eyesight and judgment of distances are also diminished.
For this reason, be on extreme alert when you approach intersections.
There will be issues for left-turning or right-turning cars that ”didn’t saw you” and getting in your path. It is the number one cause of motorcycle accidents.
In doubt, slow down a bit.
It will give you more time (reaction time).
You can then take the time to analyze your environment and respond to possible threats.
The other threat to you is nocturnal beasties crossing the road.
There is more animal activity and road crossing during the night compared to daytime.
Small animals are still a danger by appearing suddenly, surprising you. Trying to avoid running them over at the last second could make you lose control of your bike.
Larger animals are dangerous for the obvious “hitting a wall” if you collide with them.
Deers are the most available beasties out there to give you that “O Shi#!” reaction before impact.
Again, your most effective strategy against this is to adopt lower riding speeds.
Lastly, you need to be cautious of another type of animal: drunks peoples.
3. Drowsy and Drunk peoples
They are dangerous, unpredictable, and sometimes aggressive. These dumbasses are also in higher numbers during the night.
These drivers are sometimes hard to spot, but they often drive too slow or too fast.
It is more evident if you see a car swerving out of their lane repeatedly or having random jerky movements.
Stay far away from them. That is a prime motorcyclist killer specimen in the wild.
Better yet, take a left or right when you can to detour or pull over in a safe place and take a break for 5 minutes.
It gives time for the drunkard to leave the area or crash into something else than you.
Be on a top alert level when bars and clubs close between 2:30 and 4:30 am.
It is when the highest number of walking human catastrophes show up on the roads.
When operating a Motorcycle at Night What Extra Precaution Should you Take?
4. Buy reflective tape
Stick it in strategic places that don’t ruin your bike look but are still visible for traffic around you.
- Front of your suspension fork.
- Front of your Handlebars.
- Besides your license plate and rear brake light.
- Besides your safety sticker at the back of your helmet.
- Front of your helmet near the company logo.
- Anywhere else you think it is a good idea.
5. Get a Reflective Safety Vest Or Hi-Visibility Motorcycle Gear
Yep, disguising yourself as a construction worker, gotta love it.
Yet is one effective and cheapest way to be visible.
I get it; looking good and having style is a big thing for bikers, and a hi-visibility vest kind of ruins that.
But if you can, carry a reflective safety vest tucked somewhere with you when riding.
Save it for the ugly weather at night if you get caught by fog and rain.
Also, consider dedicated Hi-Visibility motorcycle protection gear for the same “be visible” purpose.
6. Windbreaker and Scarf
The temperature can drop significantly at night.
The problem is that the wind factor might make it too cold and uncomfortable making it difficult to concentrate on your riding.
Carry a windbreaker or rain jacket. Even a cheap one can be a significant asset.
For the same reasons, get a scarf, shemagh, or cloth tube for your neck. It will prevent the cold outside air from getting inside your windbreaker from the top and keep you warm.
Don’t forget about some gloves too.
7. Clear visor or glasses
You should always wear eye protection when using your motorcycle.
But never ride with a tinted visor or sunglasses at night.
Carry a spare “clear” version of what you are using and switch at nighttime.
Pro tips. If you got the caring capacity, get some safety protection glasses used by workers.
They are cheap and will get you out of a jam.
8. Get a cleaning kit
Having your eye protection full of grime, smudge and bugs remain is no good either.
Carry a decent cleaning solution and cloth to address this issue.
Make a habit of inspecting your visor before each ride and making the call about cleaning it.
Remember to do the same with your mirrors.
9. Pin lock and anti-fog insert
When the sun goes to sleep, It is far more frequent to have lens fogging issues because of the humidity at night.
If you use a face shield, a pink lock insert is one of the best “money well invested” solutions to that problem.
10. Upgrade Your Headlight and Adjust it Aim
Your headlight is one of the most critical components of your motorcycle at night.
Yet older motorcycles, especially cruisers, have some of the weakness excuses for a headlight.
Some don’t even illuminate up to a reasonable minimal stopping distance.
If you feel like you can’t see squat at night, consider switching to a stronger LED type of headlight.
Also, if your headlight beam casing is adjustable, it is something that can further help. Aim for proper illumination in front of you but not too high. You don’t want to blind other road users.
Another effective way to counter this is riding at slower speeds at night. It will reduce your braking distance.
11. Dual Headlight Motorcycle Can Kill you at Night.
If you got this kind of headlight, you carry an additional risk than a single headlight motorcycle at night.
When looking at this type of headlight at night, it might create a visual illusion.
From a distance, your dual motorcycle headlight might be mistaken for car headlights instead.
Since these headlights are closer together, it generates another problem.
It could falsify a car driver’s judgment of your traveling speed and distance. In short, it makes you look farther than it appears.
If you got this kind of headlight, always keep this in mind.
- Be very careful around intersections from turning cars.
- Be ready to avoid a frontal collision from overtaking oncoming traffic on roads with no median.
12. Say no to Drug or Alcohol Kids.
No brainer here don’t ride under the influence both for you and other road user safety.
Mixing motorcycle + Alcohol + Night is a heck of a dangerous cocktail.
At the very least, be reasonable and limit it to a single light drink for the entire evening.
Otherwise, you have a splendid excuse to try non-alcoholic drinks.
13. Consider a Taxi or Sleeping Over.
If you’re not at your place as a biker at night, before you leave, ask yourself this question.
“Can I still ride with a vigilant state of mind, or am I too tired?”
Your self-answer should be instantaneous. Ethier a Yes or NO.
Simple rule; If you’re thinking about it for more than 3 seconds – You are too tired.
Call a Uber or taxi or if you’re at a friend’s place, ask if there is a couch or even a camping mattress you could crash on.
14. Inspection and Lights Check Before Leaving at Night.
Before riding into the darkness, turn on your bike electrics and do a walk around.
Check if all your lights work correctly. It only takes 10 seconds.
I once put my ass on the saddle, started my bike, and went riding without checking anything.
I never realized that my tail-light was utterly dead in the middle of the night.
I was a ghost rider, pun intended, but not in a good way.
I felt pretty stupid and lucky that I made it safely without being rear-ended.
15. Stay out of Cars and Trucks blind spots.
It is something you should always do. Deploy extra effort to stay out of these kill zones at night.
When you wish to pass a vehicle, approaches its blind spot zone slowly, almost matching speed.
Then give a quick acceleration spending the least amount of time in the blind spot. Then resume your travel speed.
16. Traction loss due to a cooler climate
Since it is cooler and the sun is not there to heat the pavement, keep in mind that your tires traction is decreased.
The night is not the time to go full racetrack mode and try crazy tight turns on curvy roads.
Take it easy on the “crazy riding” at night.
17. Make time slow down.
Take a habit of reducing your speed when under the stars.
Ride around 60 to 90% of what you would normally ride during the daytime.
Going slower is your number one effective strategy as a motorcyclist to avoid accidents at night.
This gets more reaction time on your side.
18. Frequent break
It is a natural reaction of the human body to feel drowsy when there is no sunlight.
Riding a motorcycle demand tremendous concentration. Combine all that, and night-riding can make you tired very quickly at night.
So don’t wait until you have trouble keeping your eye open and take a mind refreshing break.
A good ratio is 5-7 minutes rest to 30 minutes riding at night.
Stretch your legs, clean your eye protection, buy a coffee, restroom break.
Pro tips; take 2 minutes to do a light jog. It will increase your blood flow blood waking you up, and keeping you alert longer.
19. Flash your rear light
Low light night condition messes with distance perception. So the risk of getting yourself rear-ended is amplified.
To reduce the chance of such an incident, make it clear you are stopping or slowing down “flash your brake light.”
It is also known as “tapping the brakes.”
Go beside your motorcycle in relative silence, with the engine turned off.
If you grab your front brake lever and gently start pulling it, there will be an audible click at some point.
This click represents your motorcycle’s electrical system activating your brake light.
Practice this muscle memory of knowing when that ”click” will activate to properly ”tap the brake”.
20. Let a Car be Your Guide and Shield.
If you can, let a car pass you and follow it.
Following a car as a motorcyclist at night have decent benefits.
It can be a warning system.
If you see the vehicle brake lights come up for no apparent reason, be on alert. There might be something hazardous on the road coming up that you don’t see yet.
About animal crossing, cars drivers have a far better survival chance than you do in case of a collision.
So by following a car and witnessing it colliding with an animal, they acted as your “shield.” They possibly saved your life rather than you being in front taking the hit.
And if it does happen in your face, don’t be an ass and pull over to provide help.
Final Words on Late-Night Motorcycle Riding.
It is a ton of fun and a refreshing experience.
But remembers to keep a part of your brain on extra vigilance while riding in the darkness.
Your absolute best accident prevention strategy is to ride at a slower speed than you would during the daytime.
Otherwise, commit to riding tonight if the weather allows it and put these advices in action this evening.
Ride safe. Have a good night.