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Auxiliary Rear Lights for Motorcycles
By "D.A.P." for webBikeWorld.com
I've recently installed additional lighting on the rear of both my wife's and my motorcycles (Honda Shadow Spirit 750) and I thought I'd let you know how it all worked out.
I installed a pair of Lifebrites and a six inch Signal Dynamics LED light bar on both motorcycles. In just a few words, I've pleased with both system, but especially the Signal Dynamics product. Here's how I rate each.
The Lifebrites eight LED lights on either side of the tag are visible, but not very much so at distances beyond about one car length. I feel they do some good in alerting drivers behind you of your being there, but I don't feel they measure up to their advertisements.
They are certainly better than nothing, but bright colored clothing will likely do a much better job of increasing conspicuity. I have both sets (red) set up as brake lights; they blink for five seconds then go solid.
I opted for this version because I can always make them blink again by releasing and re-squeezing the brake handle if I wish to.
The Signal Dynamics LED bar is quite bright even in full sunlight. I set it up at the high intensity level as a running light. It's easily noticeable at least two to three car lengths away, maybe even a bit farther.
Night (dusk to dawn)
The Lifebrites are very bright during these hours. But there's just no way eight LEDs this size and intensity with eight inches of separation are going to reach out and grab a fast approaching vehicle.
They are quite noticeable at, maybe, two car lengths away.
The Signal Dynamics LED bar is an entirely different story. They are very bright indeed, even to the point of being slightly irritating when on my bike and following behind my wife's bike at a safe distance; this I like.
The combination of the stock tail light and this running light really lights-up the bike's rear up with red.
The bars on each bike are mounted along the bottom edge of the tag. When braking, the combination of the stock brake light and this LED bar is impressive.
In fact, when sitting on my bike at a stop and maybe five feet behind her, all lights lit is definitely irritatingly bright; I love it. I was considering adding another LED bar but no longer; I just don't feel it's necessary.
At two to three car lengths behind my wife's bike, the combination of the four light assemblies is quite impressive.
Past three car lengths their "grab your eyes" quotient drops, but at even what I'd estimate to be four to five car lengths they do a good job.
Would I do the same thing over again? No. Even though I feel all lights do what they are designed to do, as opposed to advertised to do, I would do things a bit differently.
I'd drop the Lifebrites altogether and go with three S.D. six inch light bars: one under the tag as a running light, and one on each vertical edge of the tag as a brake light.
I don't recall if the S.D. products are available as "blinkers", but if they are, that's what I go with for the two vertical side bars. These products are simply the brightest tail lights I've seen on any bike.
One comment on distances the various light are noticeable. This is very subjective and my intent here is to try and quantize at what point I feel the additional lighting becomes really effective.
The S.D. LED bar is visible at even two hundred feet. But at what distance does it become a "danger" signal?
The same is true for the Lifebrites at a closer distance. I'm sure there are those who will strongly disagree with my estimations of what I think is the real world. That's fine with me.
I tend to be conservative and not believe any advertised benefits until I do my own evaluations.
And, no single "safety" item is even going to protect you in every case. It's takes a "program" to do that and auxiliary lighting is only one part of such a programmatic approach.
Other parts are a light-colored helmet (I prefer white), retro-reflective material on the helmet, bright colored clothing, and retro-reflective material in a vest or jacket.
We all have to decide for ourselves what's best for us, I tend to do worst case analysis most of the time: plan for the worst, but hope for the best.