Recently when I decided to do a motorbiking trip to Kasauli, Himachal at night, I was excited and at the same time felt cramps in my feet by the thought of how crazy I was. I was going to do something that few people dare to do. To add the icing on top of the cake, I was going alone.
It is past midnight and a lone biker with a huge backpack is rumbling across the roads of New Delhi. He is bound to turn heads and attract stares. Some people look at him in awe and appreciation, others give those – “look at this foolish guy” looks.
The journey left me with a once in a lifetime experience and a number of tips about night motorbiking that I wish to share with aspiring motor-bikers willing to go out at night:
1. Tune up your motor-bike: Although tuning up your motor-bike is always necessary during long trips, but, especially during night when the chances of getting a mechanic are feeble, it is of utmost importance
2. Be visible: The human sight is reduced to 30% its capacity while driving at night by the glare from the head lights of oncoming traffic. It is very important to use reflective tapes which can be pasted at the back of helmet, rear end of the motor-bike and even the back of your jacket so that any traffic coming from behind can easily see you
3. Black is not so cool: Although shiny black motor-bikes, helmets and leather jackets look very classy but during night motor-biking they will reduce your visibility considerably. Go for fluorescent jackets that can be worn over clothes, gloves, shoes and knee guards that reflect light
4. Choosing a lane: On a three lane highway, it is important to ride in the middle lane. Left most lane is generally reserved for slow moving but big trucks in the middle of which, you can be easily missed by a driver. A motor-bike is very small as compared to a truck
5. Take frequent clean-up breaks: Cleaning the visor off any accumulated dust at regular intervals is necessary. Small dust particles or scratches on the visor drastically reduce the visibility by refracting the light from oncoming vehicles. Clean up the reflective tapes, head light and tail lights
6. Human brain needs rest: Human brain takes a lot of stress while driving. Stress that comes from the noise of vehicles to the noise of wind and even the stress caused by being constantly focused on the road. All this increases further during night driving. Body loses water at a faster rate which causes the brain to dehydrate. It will reduce the drivers reflexes. It is important to take breaks to re-hydrate yourself. It will not only refresh your brain but will send a fresh wave of oxygen into it
Do you have driving suggestions specific to your country?
7. Bugs and Animals: There are a lot more bugs flying directly into your face at night. Therefore it is important to keep the visor clean and closed all the time. A bug in your eye while driving at high speed is not good. There can also be a lot more animals that venture out on the roads at night especially if you are driving through a wooded area. All this can be easily avoided by being vigilant
8. Size matters (Even more at night): Since a motor-bike is small, it is easy for a truck driver to miss you in his view mirror. Overtake at a safe distance so that you have sufficient time even in case of any unexpected turn by the bigger vehicle. Drive at a constant speed that is comfortable to avoid fatigue. Keep constant distance from the traffic in front of you. Use indicators without fail while switching lanes and make ample use of flash while overtaking
9. Head and tail lights:
Some bikes come with dual headlights which give an extra advantage to the driver. However, if the headlights of your motor-bike are average consider installing extra lights. A tail light is often not as bright as the head light. Therefore, it is important to use a bigger tail light and reflective tapes to warn traffic coming from behind you
10. Relax and Enjoy: There are already lot of things to take care of during night motor-biking. So relax and enjoy the ride. Being over cautious will not only cause fatigue but will make you do unwelcome mistakes. Trust yourself.
If the points above are taken care of, night driving can be one of the most pleasurable and exciting experiences of your life. It was certainly for me.
The advise on motor-biking in my blog comes from personal experience out of motor-biking for the last 11 years. Do you have any suggestions to share?