Tuesday, November 27, 2018


Recently I came across this image which had me thinking about the safety of my passenger (mainly the missus) and me on the motorcycle (mainly the Vulcan S).

The image shows that drivers are able to see the reflective clothing from as far as 130 m away but on the Vulcan clothes are mainly blocked by the top box. So the next best step is to find reflectors and attach it to various parts of the Vulcan and hopefully it does the same job as the reflective clothing.

The top 2 images shows how visible the Vulcan is when parked under a light. From the back the Vulcan is visible but if seen from the side it is quite dark.

Left: Vulcan parked in an unlit place but with a light source shining on it.
Right: Vulcan parked in a dark area.

As seen in the above photos, the Vulcan is practically invisible if parked in a dark area. The only way to know the bike is there is when the light source illuminates the red reflector below the brake light. The plan is to add 4 reflectors on the back (circled in red below).

This will hopefully help make the bike more visible at night when there is limited to zero street lamp around. I also need to see what color reflectors are available as not all colors reflect lights well.

There is totally zero to low visibility is from the side. There are only one reflector which is on the front fork to grab a driver's attention. I know that the below photo is not an ideal situation to park your motorcycle but who knows what might happen. You might park your motorcycle under a street lamp but who knows when the light might go off. This is more of a worse case scenario.

The plan is to have an additional 2 more reflectors at the side (circled in red). Side profile has a more limited area as I do not want our legs to be blocking the reflectors.

I thought of placing one at the chrome area below the seat but my leg will be blocking it. Another location would be at the radiator chrome area but that is too low and too near the reflector near the fork. So the best place so far would be in front of the tank.

To me the side area is more important for cars to see you if you are waiting at an intersection. The side has no lights whatsoever and adding a few more reflectors will hopefully grab the attention of car drivers.

 I was hoping to be able to get some of the tapes as I also plan to put it on my helmet. I do not want to order online as I recently had some bad experience. After scouting around for non-intrusive reflective/glow in the dark tapes this is the only solution I could find:

A set of 10 pieces of bicycle reflectors from Mr. DIY.
Left: Reflectors in normal light
Right: Reflectors in action

From the photo above, the blue doesn't reflect much light. I plan to use the set of red for the back of the top box, silver for the back of the panniers, green for the side of the panniers and lastly yellow for the front of the tank. The set of blue reflectors might be used on the Little Blue Bobber. That's the plan and plans always change.

This is what I ended up with: 

Reflectors placement according to plan except for the additional blue ones at the bottom of the panniers (it is a bit hard to spot). Figured I might as well use them just for the added extra 'visibility' since there is no space on the Bobber. I don't mind getting more reflectors to place on the top box but might be overdoing it as sometimes less is more and I don't want to blind drivers behind me.

Difference before (left) and after (right) installing the reflectors. It was a good thing that I decided to place the yellow reflectors on the top as they reflect lots of lights which will help alert drivers. The red were placed at the top of the panniers to alert drivers when the lid opens as they open outwards towards traffic.

There is little difference at the side with the reflectors besides the green on the side of the pannier. I placed the silver near the tank but either because the bike is parked at an angle or the reflector is too small which makes is not so visible. Maybe I should get another set and put a couple more on the side.

Overall I think the additional reflectors do add more visibility to the bike and are hopefully able to to alert drivers that a motorcycle is in front of them. I was surprised with the double sided tape strength. From past experience, the quality of the tape was questionable and it will need to be replaced with a stronger adhesive but this was unnecessary.

Update (8 January 2019): I felt a that the reflectors at the side are a bit lacking so I got another set of the same reflectors and added 2 more on panniers and an additional reflector at the side of the bike.

Comparison with just one reflector (left) and three reflectors (right) on the pannier

Placed an additional blue reflector to the middle of the bike.

I noticed that the Demak has no reflectors at either the front wheels or near the back and since only 3 reflectors are used, I decided to use the additional 2 reflectors on it.

Can you spot the reflectors on the Demak?

Closer view of the reflectors installed on the Demak.

Remember to ride safe, be vigilant and keep the rubber side down

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