09082010jacket.gifRecently my wife and I bought neon-yellow motorcycle jackets for better visibility on the road. We were on the Blue Ridge this week and had our jackets on. Two different people asked us if we were dressed like this because we were going hiking. I was kind of speechless and could only think to myself “No, I want to be seen by people who don’t have a clue — like you.” On the positive side we were noticed and that is the point of this article.

Motorcycle season is about to pick up in the Carolinas. The fall is a beautiful time to explore our beautiful area and state. Above everything, safety has to be your biggest concern when riding. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot compete against the clueless. These are the people on their cell phones, emailing, texting or updating their MyFace post. When I am on my motorcycle I am constantly scanning my surroundings for danger, ever changing road conditions and situations.

When I see someone near me with their head down I know they are doing anything but looking for me. I want these people as far away from me as possible. The problem is that I can’t see everyone around me. So I need to do everything possible to increase my imaginary force field. I want to create distance around me. I started by adding additional front lights. On my K1200LT is a light kit that goes on the front forks. For my R1200GS I just replaced my PIAA lights for the new Denali’s LED lights. They are 2” square and are like laser beams when looked at directly. On the rear and side of my bike, I’ve added reflective tape that is visible at night. My neighbor Bob recommended that I add some blue license-plate holders. He added them to his Harley and said that when people got too close to him they back off because they think he is a police officer. I picked up a set at CycleGear and they seem to work.

I switched my black helmets to white. White helmets are supposed to be the most noticed color for a motorcyclist. After attending a few bike rallies I noticed some people with neon jackets. Out of hundreds of motorcyclist my eyes zoomed in on these people. I don’t really care to be sticking out like firefly in the daytime but these jackets catch your eyes. At that point I decided being seen is more important than being cool. I purchased a couple of Olympia Motor Sports jackets for both summer and winter riding. They come in both men’s and women’s styles. The jackets have a fair amount of protective padding for the back, shoulders and arms. I would not use them on a track or for high speed riding but for the average rider they are sufficient. They also come with a waterproof insulated jacket liner which can be worn alone for a rainy day or chilly nights.

No equipment or clothing will replace people’s responsibilities on the road, but everything you do to increase your visibility and distance from the clueless is an investment in yourself.

If there is a topic that you would like to discuss, please send your comments and suggestions to motorcycle4fun@ aol.com. RIDE SAFE!

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