Every winter there are warm sunny days with clear roads that tempt motorcyclists to go riding. With each passing day, the sun hovers longer in the sky, offering more daylight for taking a ride. All that bright sunshine in March reminds us that spring soon will be here. A preseason ride now can be a real treat for a winter weary rider.
Take a moment, however, to consider how all that sunlight will affect your ride as you prepare for what might be your first ride since last fall. This time of year the sun travels across the sky following a low southerly path. The effect is that the sun is in your eyes and everyone else’s, too. Combine that with the fact that many drivers have not seen a motorcycle on the road for months and you have the perfect formula for becoming invisible.
Tips for Seeing When Riding into the Sun
Drivers in cars and trucks have an easier time dealing with low southerly sunlight since their vehicles are equipped with sun visors. Here are some tips to protect your vision:
- If you wear prescription glasses, add a pair of tilting clip-on sunglasses and use as needed
- If you don’t need prescription glasses, wear a pair of gradient-tinted or regular sunglasses
- If you ride with a half helmet, use a visor either tinted or solid
- Use a tinted or gradient-tinted visor on a ¾- or full-face helmet
- In a pinch, a strip of duct or electrical tape can be added to the very top of a face shield
Tips for Being Seen By Other Road Users
With so many vehicles these days equipped with daytime running lights, a single low beam motorcycle headlight is not very noticeable to a driver with the sun in their eyes. Here are some tips to ensure you’re seen by other drivers:
- Use your headlight high beam during the day
- Use driving lights
- Wear a reflective or bright vest
- Wear a bright-colored rain jacket over your regular gear
- Wear a colorful helmet
Low southerly sunlight compounds the usual problems we motorcycle riders face being a small vehicle in the traffic mix. Beyond doing everything you can to make yourself more conspicuous, remain vigilant in scanning for driver behavior that might indicate they don’t see you. Maintain as large a space cushion as possible. Think like you are invisible to other road users and be prepared for them to do the unexpected. Most of all, enjoy the ride and the knowledge that every driver who sees you has been reminded that the motorcycles have come out again.
Till next time, ride safe!