What Can You Do To Enhance Your Helmet’s Visibility?
Since a motorcycle helmet protects motorcycle riders from head injuries, they need to be worn any time the motorcycle is in operation. Many states have strict regulations about who, when and where helmets should be worn, so it is best to know these before riding. For a quick review of your state’s ordinances regarding motorcycle helmet safety, please see this website.
You can do many things to help your helmet stand out and make your motorcycle more visible even before you get on the road.
Choose a Bright Color When Purchasing
While there is some debate about the difference a helmet color makes, there is no question that white, silver, or a bright neon color will reflect light better. Even at night in pitch blackness, the human eye is conditioned to capture white hues rather than darker ones. Since a black helmet absorbs light and white reflects it, which do you think will show up better when a car’s headlights strike it? The only time you might not want to wear a white helmet is when it is snowing, but who goes riding in the snow? (Show me a motorcycle rider who goes out in a snowstorm regularly, and I’ll eat my words).
Many helmets are being made with lighter colors to enhance the safety of operators and riders. You should choose a helmet that fits your personality and your head (every person has different requirements). An excellent idea is to visit your local motorcycle shop to try various styles and see what color and configuration fits you best.
Apply Reflective Lines, Stickers, or Graphics
Many motorcycle owners customize their dark-colored helmets with reflective designs, stickers, or tape lines to provide accents and increase visibility. Whether it is a reflective flag on the back of your helmet or the brighter colors of reflective tape that stretches from the front to the back, the tape can help other motorists see you. Many owners customize their bikes with additional reflective tape and put it on their helmets to match.
There are thousands of stickers and tape in every shape and style for motorcycle owners to choose from (some are more offensive than others). Depending on how involved you want to get, we suggest choosing a reflective graphic or sticker that is more subdued than obnoxious.
For a simple but highly effective package of reflective strips, see this Amazon Choice on their website. For an example of a reflective sticker, follow this link - Amazon Evil Eyes sticker.
Spray Paint Your Helmet
Another cost-effective solution to the visibility issue is to use reflective spray paint in a white, silver or other bright colors. You can purchase a template of almost any kind of diagram or initial at most craft stores, along with reflective craft paints. You want to ensure that whatever paint you use is water-repellent. Simply tape the template you choose to the back or sides of your helmet and apply the paint where desired. Be sure to tape off the parts of your helmet you don’t want to get overspray on. (One of the best things you can do is spray paint your initials on the back of the helmet or use a variety of colors to give your helmet its unique look).
For more information regarding reflective spray paint, see the Amazon website.
Send Your Helmet Out For a Custom Paint Job
Custom painting motorcycle helmets has become a big business, with endless choices. Once you select the style of helmet that you prefer, you can send it to a graphic artist who can customize it. Many motorcyclists spend between $600 and $1000 to create these masterpieces. There are several reputable online sites that will paint your helmet.
Install a Plume or Crest On Your Helmet
You have probably seen motorcycle helmets with spiked mohawk things on the crest. Usually, these crests or plumes are some kinds of psychedelic colors designed to attract attention. If you happen to dig that style, a crest or plume might be the answer to helping other motorists give you the space you need. These add-ons glue directly to the helmet’s surface and come in various styles (buzz-saw, small plume, or tall crest spiky mohawk).
For more information regarding putting a Crest or Mohawk on the top of your helmet, please see the Amazon website.
Install LED lights On Your Helmet.
There are a variety of LED light bars and rechargeable light patterns that a person can apply to their helmets. The possibilities are endless, from flames to a bar of additional tail lights with rechargeable batteries. LED bulbs run forever, and most light bars are easily glued to the surface of the helmet. There are many styles to choose from.
If you are thinking about adding an LED lighting bar to the back of your bike or helmet, you need to be sure that you don’t violate any state or city ordinances regarding how you can modify a motor vehicle. Most states will not allow flashing red or blue lights (for obvious reasons), or they might have a limit to how bright or the extent you can use them. (For example, in Colorado, you cannot add a red or blue LED anywhere on your vehicle, and that includes your motorcycle helmet).
For more information regarding motorcycle laws in your state, see this website.
What Else Can Be Done To Increase Visibility?
There are several things to do to increase your bike and riding gear to increase your visibility and help you stand out at night.
Put Reflective Tape on Your Bike
Many motorcycle owners put reflective tape on their bikes (forks, sides, and rear) to augment the look and safety of their bikes. You need to be careful not to go overboard with the process (for example, most states do not allow red lights or reflective tape on the front of the bike and have rules preventing you from interfering with the way a headlight or tail light operates. You can’t sticker over them).
As you upgrade your bike with bright colors, remember that your goal is to increase your visibility, not become a distraction on the roadway. The goal is to avoid causing an accident, even if it might not involve your bike directly.
Make Passengers and Riders Wear Reflective Vests
Bright-colored clothing or even reflective decals on the back of vests you and your passengers wear will help other drivers spot you. (I have a friend who hates a brightly colored helmet but makes everyone who rides with him put on a white motorcycle helmet and a reflective vest). Obviously, you want any clothing that you choose to be stylish while at the same time making you more visible to car drivers.
Buy a Bike With An Unusual Color
Many motorcyclists have purposely bought exotic-colored bikes to help other car drivers stay away from them. It is not unusual to see a high-end motorcycle painted orange or neon green to help highlight its profile. Dark colors may look cool, but they are certainly less visible to other drivers, no matter how loud pipes might make your bike sound.
About THE AUTHOR
Russ currently owns a Yamaha FZ6N and KTM RC 390. When it comes to vintage bikes, his favorite motorcycle is the feisty BMW R32. He also holds a particular interest in the LAMS segment and triple cylinders. Himself a riding enthusiast, Russ has had experience with racetracks from around the world including Willow Springs Raceway in California and the Imola Circuit in Italy.Read More About Russ Crowley