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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any tips/ tricks/ suggestions or experience by others for night riding on the R3 (for a new rider to learn, watch out for or keep in mind);
-riding techniques
-observation points
-places to avoid
-group or solo
-Mistakes
-Things to avoid
-gear choices (for vision, beeing seen by others, warmth for weather, bugs etc)

I'm a new rider and curious about taking my riding into the night time starting with shorter rides around the neighbourhood or places i'm familiar with first but with all the recent rain we've been having, there is a ton (and I mean, a ton, of potholes where I live.. like a minefield) and I was curious if there are any tips to help see them or avoid them at night? Or (as above) any other suggestions to things to consider before venturing into the darkness.
 

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2016 R3 / 2007 ZX-6R / 2008 Ninja 250
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Generally I would advise against night riding, especially for a newer rider. Stick to roads you ride everyday so you know where the hazards are. Country roads without street lights are good to avoid, also. You must have a clear or auto-tinting visor. Sometimes this is a hot topic but I prefer to keep only the low-beams on - so I don't look like a car w/ two headlights in the distance.
 

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Night riding is fine I have done multiple times at the begin and still do it now. Just dont wear a dark visor and watch out for other traffic users.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Generally I would advise against night riding, especially for a newer rider. Stick to roads you ride everyday so you know where the hazards are. Country roads without street lights are good to avoid, also. You must have a clear or auto-tinting visor. Sometimes this is a hot topic but I prefer to keep only the low-beams on - so I don't look like a car w/ two headlights in the distance.
Is that due to judging distance at night or more due to lack of visibility by other road users? I have a reflective design on my jacket (front and back) but not sure how much of a difference that really makes and I have a clear visor on my helmet.
 

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The lights on the R3 are poor to average at best, so it is easy to outride your lights if you're riding out on unlit country roads at night.

That's probably the biggest issue that I see with riding the R3 at night, especially as a newer rider. .

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2018 R3, 1996 GSXR 750
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he lights on the R3 are poor to average at best, so it is easy to outride your lights if you're riding out on unlit country roads at night.

That's probably the biggest issue that I see with riding the R3 at night, especially as a newer rider. .
I agree. I don't know about the newer generation R3, but my 2018 came with halogen headlight bulbs that were weak and produced very little light. I've since upgraded to LED's and my nighttime road visibility has improved tremendously. This is also a hot topic, and I won't be drawn into a debate about LED legalities, blinding oncoming traffic, etc. But, to Paulie's point, it is very easy to outride the stock halogen lights, on my bike anyway.
 

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As someone who grew up with incandescent round headlights, I can say that the R3 halogen headlight system is quite good. LEDs are not that much better, and HID is overkill.Most headlights are limited in forward range illuminated by the legal restrictions placed on optics by the NHSTA (USA) and similar bodies around the world. So, more power does not always mean seeing further, it just means brighter vision in the field, which can actually be a liability, as it causes contrast issues with surrounding areas around the headlight beam. It's a trade-off. Many people are suckered into beleiving expensive headlight upgrades and high powered beams are the ticket to forward lighting. In fact, with legal, approved optics, their is not a huge amount of difference. Blinding oncoming traffic with unapproved lighting results in a lot of flashed brights in your eyes, drivers swerving into you in anger, and other issues that make you less safe.

That said, the issue with night riding is that the distance you are looking forward to is reduced significantly. During the day, you can look through a corner, or past intersections well beyond what any headlight system will ever illuminate. Headlights are also much narrower than the field you see in the day, so peripheral obstacles ahead are far more problematic at night. That means, you won't see trash on the road, potholes, animals (which are far more present at night than during the day), curve shapes, and pavement changes ahead... until much later, and only what is in front of you. Most animal strikes are at night, from critters coming from the dark into the road directly into the light - leaving no time to react or avoid them. Without peripheral vision into that unlighted area to either side of the lighted pattern, you have no chance to avoid this happening, if the critter in question is intent on entering the light. That means slowing down at night. The rule is to keep the speed down to the point the headlight covers 2 seconds of road ahead at your fastest speed. Also, night riding is not the time to explore unknown, unplanned routes. You need to know what you are riding into, when you need to change lanes or turn off, well in advance - as reading street signs will be much too late, and missing a curve you did not know was coming is a constant issue. Having a gps or app on a phone mounted for easy viewing, showing the road map ahead displayed is a great aid at night and worth considering.

Interestingly, headlights have the same range at 35mph as they do at 65mph, so you actually have better lighting at local speeds, when likely to have the aide of street lights, than you do at higher speeds in unlighted country or back roads. Keep that in mind when selecting routes.

Riding at night also means needing increased reflective gear to make you more visible to cars. Mostly the issue is from behind (motorcycle tail lights are too small and narrow to be seen easily, so reflective jackets help here. Vision from the side is also a big help as well. If you've gone the route of fender eliminator with integrated tail light... your risk is increased significantly, as those mods significantly visibility from behind of tail light, brake and turn indicators.

Most of all, slow down, be planful, and be alert when riding at night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
As someone who grew up with incandescent round headlights, I can say that the R3 halogen headlight system is quite good. LEDs are not that much better, and HID is overkill.Most headlights are limited in forward range illuminated by the legal restrictions placed on optics by the NHSTA (USA) and similar bodies around the world. So, more power does not always mean seeing further, it just means brighter vision in the field, which can actually be a liability, as it causes contrast issues with surrounding areas around the headlight beam. It's a trade-off. Many people are suckered into beleiving expensive headlight upgrades and high powered beams are the ticket to forward lighting. In fact, with legal, approved optics, their is not a huge amount of difference. Blinding oncoming traffic with unapproved lighting results in a lot of flashed brights in your eyes, drivers swerving into you in anger, and other issues that make you less safe.

That said, the issue with night riding is that the distance you are looking forward to is reduced significantly. During the day, you can look through a corner, or past intersections well beyond what any headlight system will ever illuminate. Headlights are also much narrower than the field you see in the day, so peripheral obstacles ahead are far more problematic at night. That means, you won't see trash on the road, potholes, animals (which are far more present at night than during the day), curve shapes, and pavement changes ahead... until much later, and only what is in front of you. Most animal strikes are at night, from critters coming from the dark into the road directly into the light - leaving no time to react or avoid them. Without peripheral vision into that unlighted area to either side of the lighted pattern, you have no chance to avoid this happening, if the critter in question is intent on entering the light. That means slowing down at night. The rule is to keep the speed down to the point the headlight covers 2 seconds of road ahead at your fastest speed. Also, night riding is not the time to explore unknown, unplanned routes. You need to know what you are riding into, when you need to change lanes or turn off, well in advance - as reading street signs will be much too late, and missing a curve you did not know was coming is a constant issue. Having a gps or app on a phone mounted for easy viewing, showing the road map ahead displayed is a great aid at night and worth considering.

Interestingly, headlights have the same range at 35mph as they do at 65mph, so you actually have better lighting at local speeds, when likely to have the aide of street lights, than you do at higher speeds in unlighted country or back roads. Keep that in mind when selecting routes.

Riding at night also means needing increased reflective gear to make you more visible to cars. Mostly the issue is from behind (motorcycle tail lights are too small and narrow to be seen easily, so reflective jackets help here. Vision from the side is also a big help as well. If you've gone the route of fender eliminator with integrated tail light... your risk is increased significantly, as those mods significantly visibility from behind of tail light, brake and turn indicators.

Most of all, slow down, be planful, and be alert when riding at night.
Some great points raised here. I know that LED lights typically have a higher kelvin than halogen lights so you get that 'brighter' white. But like you say it's not so much the lumen output but rather the color temperature, albeit most LED's do have a higher lumen output than halogen systems but again as you mentioned, you are seeing the same distance at 35mph or 70mph so regardless of how 'bright' the headlight appears it will not correct for added speed in the equation. In some LED installations you may see more of what is within the visible radius of the light and due to the color temperature you would probably also see things more clearly within that radius for an LED vs a halogen but beyond that is the same regardless of what light you are using but i'm no expert and this is just my opinion on using halogens vs LED lights (I haven't tried HID). I think the main takeaway here is regardless of what lights you choose to use the speed you ride and the areas you ride are more important.
As it's been mentioned riding with more visible light around you i.e. streetlights or city streets is going to be safer than a country road with no street lights or ambient light. The limited vision of the headlight would also be further exacerbated here as your eyes tend to focus more on what is within the 'bright' spectrum of light and lose sight of objects in the darkness around it. If you look at the above photos you would probably tend to focus on the brightly lit centre before noticing things to the outside of the brightly lit area. Similar to how your eyes will 'adjust' walking in the dark but once you turn on a torch, the illuminated area tends to make the dark areas seem darker by way of contrast and you seem to focus more where the beam is pointing than beyond it. I could see this being very problematic on dark corners etc as you said; you can't see through the corner as far at night due to the lower ambient light but this would be further exacerbated by having a bright spotlight in front of you which won't be pointing around the corner in the direction you need to see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I went for my first night ride last night. What a great feeling! :)

I noticed the clear visor on my helmet was creating some glare from the headlights of other cars (I think this may be due to my breathe creating a film of moisture on the inside of the visor? (I'm not sure on this one..). For reference I have a pinlock visor and I had it set in the position for 'no fog' where it sits with a small gap at the bottom of the visor near the chin bar which I noticed helps on a colder day or with rain etc and fogging due to breathe. However there was no fog from my own breathe last night but rather just glare from the visor itself when light was shining through it. So I think this is just a build up from my breathe inside the helmet (with the visor down) during normal day riding etc (where it's not as noticeable due to the lighting conditions).

My takeaway from this is going to be to always clean the visor with a few drops of dish soap and warm water and let it fully dry prior to any night riding. (y)
 

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Did you upgrade from the stock bulbs? Did you/do you find your stock ones to be inadequate?
Any others have issues with the stock bulbs on their R3? (Lighting pattern, color temp, distance, lumen output etc)
Bear in mind I have the MT-03 and uses a H4 lamp

The R3 uses a H7 or H4 bulb
 

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A bright LED turn signal blinker is a must if you want to be seen by others to ensure safety when riding at night. I Installed these on my 2015 Yamaha r3 and there are awesome! They look a lot cleaner than the one signals and are super cheap! I love that these are sequential and are pretty bright for what they are. At night, these are awesome and visible, vehicles next to you can notice you right away. FYI:
12V Motorcycle LED Turn Signals Yellow Front Rear Turn Signal Blinker Indicator Light Replacement 2pcs/4pcsSingle-row(4pcs)
Automotive tail & brake light Vehicle Automotive tire Tire Automotive lighting
 
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