Look after your lights
Don’t get left in the dark as long summer days start to fade away
1 Get your headlight aimed Start by measuring the bulb height from the road. Stick a piece of tape horizontally on a wall at that height, then another vertical piece 35cm above and down to the floor. Align the front wheel square with the vertical line and roll back 3.8m. Sit on the bike, and turn dip beam on. For bikes with a bulb up to 85cm off the floor, it should be 2-8cm below the line. Those higher than 85cm should be 5-10cm below the line. 2 Is it time for lightbulb moment? Keeping all lights clean is a simple step to help ensure you’re seen. Even if you don’t wash your bike, wipe mucky lights down with a damp cloth or sponge. Polishing with silicone spray helps repel future dirty spray. Consider getting a quality bulb too – look up the correct bulb type for your bike and find an upgrade. A slight bluish tinge can help other road users distinguish you in traffic. 3 Auxiliary lighting A simple move on twin-headlight bikes is to change the wiring so both illuminate together on dip and main beam. Otherwise, spotlights or additional running lights can be used. White LED strips on handguards, mirror stalks or fairing edges can help make your bike a more distinct shape. Spotlights with full-size bulbs help with forward vision, but ensure they won’t dazzle oncoming drivers.
4 LED by example Noticed how most new vehicles have LED lights? Not only are they small, lightweight, cheap, cool-running and draw a minimal amount on your electrics, they also emit a crisp, distinct light. Aftermarket LED indicators, bulbs and complete light units are worth considering to back up improved headlights Ð often you can find direct replacement for filament-type bulbs. 5 Forward vision Adequate lighting is only half the story, your visor is just as crucial. Invest in a new one and take care when cleaning to get the longest life from it. Ensure anti-fog inserts are fitted properly and kept in good condition or they can refract light and blur vision. Finally, applying a beading chemical to the outside helps rain run off and maintain vision in the rain. 6 Hi-vis gear Yes, it can look spoddy. But it will help in low light, especially in traffic. Yellow/orange elements are of more help in the day Ð you need reflective stripes to pick up on lights at night. A vest is a big help, but a brightly-coloured helmet with reflective spots or stripes maximises your visibility. For the fashion conscious, remember hi-viz can always be removed in the day. 7 You are what you eat If youõre going to be riding a long way in the dark, youõll need to call on extra reserves of energy to stay alert. Donõt reach for the energy drinks. Theyõre a short-term fix of caffeine, sugar and disgusting chemicals. Look for slow-release energy and protein beforehand Ð porridge, oats, wholegrain foods, wholemeal bread, brown rice, quinoa, beans Ð healthy, basically. 8 Be heard If your bikeõs hooter is a feeble tooter, invest £20 in a beefier dual-tone jobbie to make yourself known. Thereõs also the argument that loud pipes save lives. Highly debatable, but replacing a whisper-quiet standard exhaust with even a road-legal aftermarket silencer can change the tone and help you be heard above traffic, roadworks and Radio 2. 9 Keep on running Err on the safe side with fuel range Ð donõt run the bike down to fumes. As dark nights are usually accompanied by wet weather to some extent, ensure your electrical system is ready for rain by keeping it clean and protected with dielectric grease on connectors and terminals. If you suspect any problems, investigate and repair if necessary before setting out.
NEXT WEEK Carry a pillion without giving them a fright