Riding a motorcycle in the dark is very different to riding in the daylight, and can be a daunting experience the first few times. However, after a couple of rides and a read of this, you’ll be more than prepared to ride in the dark, and any worries will be a thing of the past!
First things first, make sure your lights are turned on! Although seemingly obvious, many riders forget this or haven’t realised they have a bulb that doesn’t work. On top of this, make sure the headlights’ lens is as clean as a whistle, as any mark or dirt can cause shadows, making the biggest of distractions. Making sure your lights are on and working is the number 1 rule.
In many countries, it’s the law to ride with your lights on anyway, and for many new bikes, you can’t turn them off!
Ideally you want to be wearing either Hi-Vis clothing or have reflective strips on your clothing to make you stand out to other road users. Hopefully other drivers will be able to see the lights on your bike, but with some of the drivers I’ve encountered, it’s best to be safe rather than sorry!
Condition of your bike
The last thing you want when riding in the dark is your bike to break down, so it’s important to make sure that your bike is in tip-top condition. Make sure your tires are running at the correct pressures, and ensure your chain is set to the correct tension using a Chain Monkey. The list of what to check for could go on forever, but as long as you are regularly checking the health of your bike, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Check out our list of 6 things to check on your motorcycle before riding >
In theory, your speed should be the same as if you were driving in daylight. However, as it is dark, it is likely that hazards will appear from nowhere and give you a shorter time to react. With this in mind, it is best you go at a speed you feel comfortable at, (without going too slow to annoy other road users!), but make sure you are always cautious about potential hazards that may jump out when you least expect it.
It will be much harder to see the condition of the road, so as well as paying extra attention to everything else, make sure you’re wary of the road! Potholes, debris and wild animals are just a handful of nuisances trying to make your journey as unenjoyable as possible, so keep your eyes glued on what is ahead of you. Not all roads are well-lit meaning that when on these roads, potholes are even harder to spot. Everyone has close encounters with hedgehogs or badgers, but as long as you are focused, you’ll be home in no time!
Other road users
If you’re driving late at night, the road will obviously be quiter, but you will still come across other drivers and cyclists using the road. It’s important to remember that just because you may not be able to see any one else on the road, it doesn’t mean that someone is not round the corner. Be especially careful when going round tight corners and narrow lanes, and remember not to blind other users with having full beam on all the time!