DRLs on motorcycle

rowla

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Hi all

I wish to add DRLs to my motorcycle. Daniel Stern has somewhere indicated online that LED DRLs are positively correlated with motorcycle visibility.

The Hella DRL kits seem to be ideal for my needs because they come in various packaging styles and are SAE approved. Also, they look... uh, well, they look cool, coming in packaging similar to nicer European vehicles.

However, given that this is a motorcycle application, I am little bit unsure of the most appropriate way to wire them up to my bike. That is, my headlamp is already on all the time anyway, so I can't activate them when my headlamp is off. In fact it's probably illegal for this to be the case - I believe my headlamp MUST be on in the US DOT.

#1 Can I use a switch and extinguish the DRLs at night? Is this required?
#2 Can I leave them on all the time?
#3 Do I need an auto-switch off based on ambient brightness?
#4 Worse, I notice the Hellas come with a relay kit (nice) but that probably doesn't apply to motorcycle usage. Perhaps I can-jig it.

I fear it's the third, but since there is no control I use to tell my bike "it's night", I'd need a photosensor driving the relay. Ugh.

Motorcyclists commonly seem to not mind searing the retinas of everyone around them to get people to see them, with huge CREE LED blasters not for road use in use. While that's appetizing at a knuckle dragging level, I'd like to avoid becoming a glare magnet (i.e. I think people might steer towards me).

So whatever the most advantageous wiring position is.. even if I creatively forget that I may be in the DOT or ECE zone..is what I want.

Any tips appreciated.

Btw my low(main) beam is a H7 so perhaps this is sufficient as a DRL..but those Hellas look cool :)

Cheers
John
 

-Virgil-

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There is no US Federal requirement for a motorcycle's headlamp to be lit when the engine is running. It's done that way by industry convention. Some states require daytime operation of motorcycle headlamps, but it is very likely that the DRLs you plan to install would practically fulfill such a requirement, while also improving your conspicuity and reducing your fuel consumption vs. daytime use of the headlamp. The Hella DRL kits are good, and so are the Philips and Osram ones. Many of the LED DRL kits have two intensity modes: bright for daytime use as DRLs, and dim for nighttime use as front position lamps. An auto-off switch is not required, but operating the DRLs at night in day/bright intensity would be questionable from the legal standpoint and obnoxious and unsafe as well. I'm not following your concern about the relay; if your US-spec bike has no headlamp switch, perhaps your best plot is to install a switch to change between DRL and headlamp operation.

You're quite correct that causing glare does not bring safety, quite the opposite.

You will want to mount the DRLs to highlight the widest horizontal frontal contour of the bike.
 

Hamilton Felix

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Interesting. Didn't realize there's no federal requirement for the headlight to be on in daytime. I believe my state has such a law.

There has been much discussion and quite a bit written about motorcycle visibility and why drivers apparently "don't see" bikes. It is certainly an interesting topic for riders.

For some time, I have intended to install fog lights on my motorcycle, as low and wide apart as practical. Lately, I have been thinking that auxiliary low beams might be a better choice. With my charging system, I believe I can just barely manage a pair of 55w lamps in addition to stock wattage low beams, and a pair of HID driving lamps in addition to stock wattage high beams - but no more. In fact, I'm thinking the Sylvania Xenarc X1010 HID aux lows might be a better choice to run with low beam.

For sure, the small charging systems and limited mounting space of motorcycles make LED and HID lamps look more cost effective than they do on a truck with a 100+ amp alternator.
 

-Virgil-

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There has been much discussion and quite a bit written about motorcycle visibility and why drivers apparently "don't see" bikes

Yes...and much (most) of of what's said and written on the subject is pure bunkum. A lot of people in the discussion (whether written, orally...or commercially) might have good intentions, but most of them are ignorant at best. Worse than the ignorant ones are the ones who don't know what they're talking about, but are very certain that their idea or method is effective/safe/best. That's the kind of thinking that gives us motorcycle headlamp "modulators", brake light blinkers, high beams in traffic, useless little "MotoLite" MR16s mounted to the front fork, and dozens of other baseless ideas.

There's some very good research (finally) being done into motorcyclists' needs and how best to meet them, but unfortunately it has a very hard time dispersing out from the academic realm into general knowledge and practice; it gets drowned out by dumb ideas and childish quarrelling ("DAMN CAGERS!!!!!!! I'LL TEACH YOU TO NOT SEE ME!!!!!").
 

Alaric Darconville

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There's some very good research (finally) being done into motorcyclists' needs and how best to meet them, but unfortunately it has a very hard time dispersing out from the academic realm into general knowledge and practice; it gets drowned out by dumb ideas and childish quarrelling ("DAMN CAGERS!!!!!!! I'LL TEACH YOU TO NOT SEE ME!!!!!").

It starts with teaching them how to properly drive the dang things.
 

Hamilton Felix

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Scheinwerfermann, that's a valid observation about the amount of sheer BS floating around about motorcycle visibility. And yes, I see the riders with the obnoxious glaring bue HID kits and high beams in daytime. I guess you just have to remember Sturgeon's Law. :shrug:

I read somewhere that the brain prioritizes the vast amount of visual input it constantly receives, and items with only significant vertical dimension (fence post, pole, even front viewed motorcycle with single light) receive less notice. I think the success of lightbars over single beacons supports this (though I'm told it took exposure in a James Bond movie before conservative Police and Fire Chiefs wanted to buy the original Federal Twinsonic bars). Also, a driver seeing only a single point of light cannot easily estimate rate of approach.

I have no use for glare dazzling other drivers. I feel that a set of properly aimed fogs or auxiliary lows, mounted as low and wide as practical, will change the single point of the main headlights to a triangle that gets noticed. Also, I feel a contrasting color will gain attention - not irritating blue, but the yellow that is often identified with fog lights and caution lights.

It would be great to find a few serious studies on this.

Even if it doesn't help much, in my area I sometimes want fogs and often want driving lights.
 
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python021

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I just got some cheap 4LED offroad lights off amazon. Like 33bux for a pair. I ride with the highbeam on at all times. If you just want to be seen, LED lights whether good or bad will stand out to oncoming traffic. If you want to see with them, then you're talking beam pattern flood vs spot. They dont use much power but they do use more than a simple LED strip. I just tlake the wire for the low beam and wire the lights into them, that system is meant to handle more watts than you'll demand.
 

-Virgil-

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I just got some cheap 4LED offroad lights off amazon. Like 33bux for a pair. I ride with the highbeam on at all times.

That's two violations of Rule 11 in two sentences -- not a very good start to your participation here.Rule 11 of this board prohibits advocating illegal or dangerous activity -- you'll need to stop now.

If you just want to be seen, LED lights whether good or bad will stand out to oncoming traffic.

That is not correct.

If you want to see with them, then you're talking beam pattern flood vs spot.

Also not correct. Flood lights and spot lights on a road-going vehicle are, at best, seldom-used auxiliary lights.
 

Hamilton Felix

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I've heard from a number of riders who leave high beam on in daytime. I do not. My 2007 DL650 has a pair of big H4 headlights (not like the single small lamp in my old 1990 XT600). If they can see lights, they can see my lows. Adding glare and dazzle won't really help the cagers see me, it's more likely to annoy them.

I do think that adding "dimension" grabs attention, be it the triple light bar popular with the Harley touring crowd, or the wide apart lights one sees on a lot of Gold Wings.
 

Alaric Darconville

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I've heard from a number of riders who leave high beam on in daytime.

Lemme guess: They also believe that "loud pipes save lives". Amirite?

If they can see lights, they can see my lows. Adding glare and dazzle won't really help the cagers see me, it's more likely to annoy them.

Not just annoy, but actually make it difficult to identify vehicle type, speed, direction, and intent of driver (by masking the turn signals, depending on their proximity to the headlamp, but that's assuming those drivers even USE 'em).

I do think that adding "dimension" grabs attention, be it the triple light bar popular with the Harley touring crowd, or the wide apart lights one sees on a lot of Gold Wings.

Some of those Gold Wings have enough lights on 'em, they'll make a trucker jealous.
 

-Virgil-

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I've heard from a number of riders who leave high beam on in daytime.

Oh, I've heard and seen all kinds of verbiage put out there trying to rationalize this behavior. It stems from basic ignorance, thinking "if some light is good, MORE light is BETTER!". Which is wrong. The result of running high beam in traffic is not better conspicuity, it's glare (and the resultant road rage) and invisible turn signals (and the resultant crashes).


Adding glare and dazzle won't really help the cagers see me, it's more likely to annoy them.

Right. And some of them will do dangerous things (intentionally or inadvertently).

I do think that adding "dimension" grabs attention

Yes, it's well demonstrated that highlighting the frontal width of the bike is an effective conspicuity measure.
 

python021

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When a motorcycle rider states they want drl lights, they are referring to auxiliary lighting.
the two most common available LED offroad lights are flood and spot.
loud pipes do save lives, new bikes are common to accidents because when people don't see them riding next to them and don't hear them with that new quiet oe exhaust. In traffic, the first safest place to ride is with no vehicle in front of you. The 2nd is by the outside of someone's taillight (not on it of course) as the car can create some protection for you. Loud pipes and bright lights let everyone know where you are.
And saying that a low beam is just as visible to oncoming traffic as some LED'S? Have you not seen that audi 30 cars behind you on the highway in your rearview? Standing out amongst all those other cars because of a few LEDs. Not trying to add to the fight I've seen on here about the punk riders some of you may have dealt with but you guys aren't the problem on the road, it's the kids texting and the old people who can't hear or turn their heads. That's why police now have sirens that vibrate your car rather that just being high in pitch..

riding with the high beam on a motorcycle is not illegal in the states, it is recommended and required for highway use.
 
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Hamilton Felix

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I'm not in the "loud pipes" camp for the same reason I quickly learned sirens aren't much help with traffic at highway speeds. It didn't take me too many years with a rural VFD to realize headlight wig-wags were much more useful than a siren that carries forward only a couple of car lengths at highway speed, but stirs up everyone in the emergency vehicle (before we wised up and started putting sirens on the grill instead of the roof, this was really bad).

Try this: Approach a very loud Harley from behind while on the freeway (it's easy, Harleys never move very fast) and listen while its loud pipes just hammer your ears, then keep listening as you move past. The sound vanishes as soon as that big thumping engine is behind you. Nobody will notice his noise when he's behind them, especially not inside a closed car with the stereo cranked up. They will see lights. And if those lights don't blind or distract drivers, they may see signals and actually be able to make out what the motorcycle is doing. Loud pipes mean the residents (not motorists) of the town you ride through will notice you as an irritant. Likewise, glaring lights, particularly in irritating colors, will be perceived as irritants.

I used to run in an EHD ambulance with full Whelen 14S system plus custom Edge 9000 strobe bars and headlight pulsator. It had a switch to turn all the white strobes and flashers OFF when beginning a night run. The idea was to be noticed and recognized, not blind people so they crashed. Excessive glare or excessive noise, does not serve the purpose of traffic safety.

Add some "width" to your bike, make sure its markers show from the sides as well as front and rear, and as always, ride as if you are invisible. My goal when riding is to be noticed, but not to unnecessarily blind or irritate the people driving cars that can squash me like a bug. Truth be told, my bike's trunk has a sticker spoofing those "I share the road with bicycles" stickers. Mine says "I share the road with logging trucks." Many is the dark foggy morning when I've threaded my way between rows of vehicles near the mill on a two lane blacktop highway, realizing my tiny DL650 was the only thing there that was less than at least 70 feet in length and 80,000 lbs in weight. Conspicuity is good, being an irritant is not.
 
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Alaric Darconville

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loud pipes do save lives, new bikes are common to accidents because when people don't see them riding next to them and don't hear them with that new quiet oe exhaust.
No, really, they don't. Driving them safely, with proper equipment and personal protective gear, saves lives.

In traffic, the first safest place to ride is with no vehicle in front of you. The 2nd is by the outside of someone's taillight (not on it of course) as the car can create some protection for you. Loud pipes and bright lights let everyone know where you are.

Wow, no.

riding with the high beam on a motorcycle is not illegal in the states, it is recommended [by who?]​ and required [Citation Needed]​for highway use.
Motorcyclists must follow the same laws regarding headlamp usage as drivers of regular cars. This means high beams when not in proximity of other vehicles (whether you are behind them and they're going in your direction, or if they're approaching from the opposite direction). Day or night.
 

mboni

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Ok guys, it looks like the best plan for motorcycle visibility is to add some sort of marker lights to give your bike shape. I've long been in favor of adding aux lights on the forks, which is probably the first step in that plan. But exactly what lights would you suggest?

I'm thinking the best plan is some sort of amber LED, not too bright but also not too dim, probably on the forks or front fender and maybe again on the mirrors. Any suggestions for providers or brands that aren't cheap junk? I like the size/shape of the little BikeVis pods, but they don't have an amber one, just white and red.

Note: many motorcycles have a strict power budget, so lets keep suggestions to a strict 50W max for a full set of added lighting.
 
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-Virgil-

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When a motorcycle rider states they want drl lights, they are referring to auxiliary lighting.

You speak only for yourself. That may be what you have in mind, but that doesn't mean anything as far as what motorcycle riders in general have in mind.

the two most common available LED offroad lights are flood and spot.

Maybe, but that's irrelevant.

loud pipes do save lives,

No matter how often you repeat this, it's still not true because on this planet the laws of physics apply. That's also irrelevant, though, because this off-topic discussion of exhaust noise ends now.

new bikes are common to accidents

Actually, despite your guess, the data shows newer motorcycles are less likely to be involved in crashes than older ones.

police now have sirens that vibrate your car rather that just being high in pitch.

This board is not like most others on the internet. On this board we have informed, adult conversations -- we do not make up random factoids as we go along, and we do not engage in flaming, baiting, and trolling. Stop.

riding with the high beam on a motorcycle is not illegal in the states


It is.

it is recommended

It isn't.

and required for highway use.

It isn't.

When you signed up to participate on this board, you agreed to follow the rules. If you cannot or will not behave yourself in accordance with our rules, you will not be welcome to participate here.
 
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-Virgil-

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Ok guys, it looks like the best plan for motorcycle visibility is to add some sort of marker lights to give your bike shape. I've long been in favor of adding aux lights on the forks, which is probably the first step

First step should be to accentuate the bike's width across the handlebar assembly. Then its height along the forks. Then length along the sides and width/height at the rear. Use white for the front, amber for the sides, and red at the rear.

exactly what lights would you suggest?

The front ones are easy; use something like the Hella LEDayflex or the Philips or Osram linear white LED DRLs.

The sides and rear are harder, because there aren't as many options in certified/approved street-ready lights. You need to be careful with intensity all around; you don't want to make the stop (brake) light or turn signal lights harder to see or understand. You could mount rows of these following the contours of the bike, though that's a major commitment to hole-drilling -- that family also comes in white, though I have no data on output -- suitable for nighttime contour marking, but almost certainly not bright enough for a DRL function.
 

Hamilton Felix

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Only a bit off topic, but while we're talking conspicuity don't forget what you can do with reflective tape. Not much help as a DRL, but can help at night.

I've often said that HID and LED lights are not yet cost effective in many applications, but things are getting better and better. I really like the idea of LED markers and DRLs for motorcycles.
 

python021

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Reflective tape is great. I keep 2 bands of it on each fork and some along the bottom of my bike since light doesn't show on the ground when raining, at least it'll reflect off the ground to my tape.
 

Franco

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Hamilton Felix said:
reflective tape.

That stuff is great at night, but I don't know how much good it does in the daytime, since we're talking about DRLs. Unless I'm misinterpreting, even fluorescent gear with reflective accents in the right places has limited results in daylight. The goal is to help people recognize objects as humans, or traffic, as easily and quickly as possible by increasing the contrast between them/it and the background. Different colors and accents are useful at different times. That's also probably why good DRLs are so important.

I really like the idea of LED markers and DRLs for motorcycles.

Me too. Compact, low draw. That seems ideal for motorcycles. Plus, be it subject, I think it looks good.
 
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