Our editors review several pieces of high-visibility riding gear and lighting upgrades for your bike.
There’s a lot to be said for being seen, especially on a motorcycle. And while there are many tips and tricks to making the traffic around you notice your presence (lane positioning, riding a brightly colored motorcycle, etc.), high-visibility gear is a great way to start. Here are nine pieces of gear to help others see you, and one to help you see the road ahead.
1. Originally designed to be worn by military personnel, this Military Spec Vest is an affordable way to increase your visibility without having to replace your favorite jacket. Made of a Free Air poly/mesh shell, the vest has a back pocket for optional spine armor, large reflective stripes on the front and shoulders, and multi-point adjustability to make sure it fits comfortably. Available in yellow or orange (shown). Also available in women’s sizes. Price: $54.99.
2. Many jackets use reflective patches to aid in nighttime visibility, but Joe Rocket’s new Atomic Ion Jacket aims to be as visible as possible night and day. Available in black/black and black/hi-viz (shown), the jacket features large hi-viz yellow/green panels front and rear, plus a super reflective Innolite weave at the shoulders and elbows combined with reflective piping for nighttime conspicuousness. The Atomic Ion is built using a waterproof outer shell with reinforced panels in all key impact areas. It also features C.E. certified armor at the shoulders and elbows along with a removable spine pad. The jacket has four large intake vents combined with two large exhaust vents to flow cooling air when it is warm, and a removable, full-sleeve insulated liner for when it’s cold. Price: $219.99.
3. If you’ve been considering a new riding suit, here’s your chance to make a big impact on how visible you are to other drivers sharing the road with you. Aside from the bodywork on your bike, the biggest swath of color, if you so choose is, well, you. Wear all black and be hip if you like, but if you want to be seen, a better option is something bright. Aerostich offers their beloved Roadcrafter 3 one-piece riding suit in a variety of colors, including oxblood and orange, but hi-viz lime yellow (shown) is the way to go for maximum attention. Made of mil-spec 500-denier Cordura Gore-Tex fabric with double layers of fabric in vital areas, it features removable TF impact armor at the elbows, shoulders and knees, with more armor options available. Also available in women’s sizes. Price: starting at $1,197.
4. If it’s time to replace your helmet, consider something more visible than the ever-so-popular black lid. White is good, but for even more pop there are now some hi-viz helmets on the market, including the Schuberth C3 Pro, available in the Echo Yellow shown here. The C3 Pro is the latest modular helmet from Schuberth, and the company claims it is the “world’s lightest, quietest and most aerodynamic flip-up with integrated sun visor.” The C3 Pro utilizes a one-touch, cable-driven release mechanism, a removable/washable anti-bacterial liner, and tool-less face shield removal. Price: $729.
5. Here’s an easy way to upgrade the visibility of the helmet you already own: put some stickers on it, specifically these large reflective arrow-shaped directional markers. Designed to indicate your direction as you turn your head to check for a clear lane, they also help make you visible to traffic behind you by putting a reflective surface up high where other drivers will see it. Available in orange or hi-viz. Price: $24. More info: aerostich.com.
6. By making your headlight pulsate in daylight riding, a headlight modulator makes you more visible. Kisan Electronics offers the PathBlazer P115W, a self-contained unit designed to fit most 3-pin (H4) or Japanese 2-pin (H7) headlights. According to Kisan, the P115W modulates high-beam current from 100-percent on to about 17-percent off. The P115W also comes with a detachable daylight sensor, which functions as a switch, stopping modulation when it cannot “see” enough daylight. Price: $109.95.
7. As far as lighting upgrades go, it doesn’t get much simpler than this LED taillight bulb from MechOptix. Simply replace your standard taillight bulb with the Stoptix LED bulb and replace the cover or lens. That’s it. Inside the Stoptix unit is an accelerometer; each time your bike slows down — even if you haven’t touched the brakes — the bulb lights up. Self-powered and self-illuminating, it recharges in just 3 seconds when you hit the brakes and it’s ready to light up the next time you slow down. It replaces a standard 1157 dual-filament brake/taillight bulb. Price: $59.95.
8. While we’re talking brake lights, here’s an option from Kisan Electronics. The TailBlazer replaces your standard 1157 bulb with a G4 halogen bulb. Digital electronics contained in the bulb’s base initiate a 4-second flash/pause sequence. It flashes four times fast, then pauses, then flashes three times a little slower, then pauses, followed by two more slow flashes, and then remains full on as long as the brake is held. It does this each time you apply the brakes. Price: $69.
9. When it comes to visibility, more lights are always better. Electropods are two pods of eight super-bright red LED lights. Wire them into your brake light circuit and attach them to your rear turn light stalks, fender or luggage rack. When you apply your brakes, these puppies flash as long as your brakes are engaged. Price: $32. More info: aerostich.com.
Classic motorcycles often leave a lot to be desired when it comes to lighting. (You’ve heard the one about how the Lucas switch has three positions, right? Dim, flicker and off.) While we wholeheartedly encourage upgrading your headlight bulb if you plan to ride your classic bike after sunset, what you’re looking at here is a whole new idea. The Adaptive LED Headlight from J.W. Speaker provides far more light on the road ahead than your standard incandescent bulb, but the real trick here is that as your motorcycle leans into a corner, sensors in the headlight react to the change in lean angle, incrementally turning on up to five extra LEDs within the headlight in the direction of your turn depending on the lean, increasing your view into the corner. The Adaptive headlight also draws less power than a regular incandescent bulb. Available to fit standard 7-inch and 5.75-inch headlight buckets. Price: Starting at $699.95. Read more and check out their videos here. Available through Drag Specialties and Parts Unlimited.