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Increase Day and Nighttime Visibility with Auxiliary Lighting

Posted on Jam10000000amFri, 09 Oct 2015 11:52:09 +000015 4, 2016 by Brad Zerbel There have been 0 comments

What are two of the biggest safety concerns for motorcyclists? We vote for a) other drivers not seeing you; and b) riding in the dark with an inadequate headlight. That’s why auxiliary lighting is one of the best things you can buy to enhance your safety on a motorcycle, whether you’re riding on pavement or dirt. Just be sure to get the right type of lights, mounted in the right place, to meet your needs.

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The Twisted 2012 BMW R1200GS sporting Denali lights in multiple locations.

The key is to pick an optic size, beam pattern and mounting position that provide the best solution for a particular situation. A good place to start is by asking yourself which of these scenarios is the most important to you:

  • Seeing as far down the road as possible during higher-speed riding at night
  • Having as wide a light as possible for seeing the sides of the road or trail
  • Being visible to oncoming drivers
  • Improving your ability to see in foggy conditions

 

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Auxiliary LED lights increase daytime visibility as well as nighttime.

 

Let’s start with nighttime distance. If you’ve tried riding in the dark with a stock headlight, you’ve probably found it had an uncomfortably short range. This is especially true at speeds of 68mph or more, when you’re moving at least 100 feet per second – at that speed, 100 feet equals 1 second of visibility. Yet most original headlights provide only an 88-foot low beam (0.9 sec of visibility) and 153-foot high beam (1.6 sec). Not good enough: the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials reports that 90% of drivers have a reaction time of around 2.5 seconds.

 

So what’s the best way to improve your view at night? One of the most common mistakes is assuming that more lumens equals better viewing power. To see far, power and lumens are only part of the equation; you also need a large optic that will focus the beam enough to penetrate a long distance. In addition, you want to mount the lights high, near your line of sight (and/or your original headlight) for maximum distance illumination.

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Denali DR1 available in black or chrome.

With a large 10-degree optic, the Denali DR1 is our nighttime distance specialist. It throws a beam 695 feet down the road – that’s nearly 7 seconds of visibility! This is a popular light with Iron Butt riders and sport-tourers, who spend long hours at high speed on the highway. Dual-sport riders often use the available snap-on filters to change from a spot beam for street riding to a wide or extra-wide beam for dirt, while high-speed dirt riders sometimes leave one light as a spot and one as a wide beam.

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Denali D4s also work great on 4 wheelers, Jeeps and rally cars.

 

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Denali D4s mounted to a Triumph Tiger 800 with a bike-specific light bracket. We have bike-specific mounts for most adventure and dual-sport motorcycles and many sport-tourers.

The Denali D4 is our off-road specialist, where you generally want to illuminate as wide a field as possible for seeing obstacles. The D4 has two LEDs with spot optics and two with wide-beam optics. The spot optics give you a longer viewing distance along the center of your path, while the wide beam gives you a wide, flat light for close-up objects.

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Denali DM Micro LEDs available in black and chrome.

If being visible to other drivers is your top concern, try our daytime visibility specialist: the Denali DM. Its small optic makes the light look especially bright to oncoming drivers. From the front, the DM actually appears brighter than the mighty DR1! Conversely, the DM gives you the least viewing distance of all the Denali lights – yet it’s still farther than a typical high beam, throwing light 240 feet ahead (for 2.5 sec of visibility).

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Denali D2 dual-intensity LED lights available in black and chrome.

Then there’s our most popular all-rounder: the Denali D2. It uses the same LED with the same lumens as the DR1, but provides a completely different beam pattern, thanks to a smaller optic. Though it throws a wider beam with less distance than the DR1, the D2 appears brighter to oncoming traffic. Overall, it offers a great combination of nighttime viewing distance and daytime visibility. It’s also the only light that’s dimmable. You can wire it so when you first turn on your bike, the lights are powered up to 40% brightness; activate the high beams, and the D2’s go up to 100% brightness. No extra switch needed.

 

When it’s foggy out, mounting position is key. You want the lights as far from your line of sight as possible, so the illumination is indirect; otherwise, the light will just create a whiteout in front of you. Fog lights should always be mounted low on your motorcycle. For that purpose, we recommend using the D2 or DM lights – since most mounting points down low on bikes are not strong enough for a big light, you want something lightweight and compact.

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DR1 mounted to crashbars.

For positioning lights low on a bike, we recommend fender or crashbar mounts. To put the lights closer to your line of sight, try a 3-axis M5, M6 or M8 mount on any available bolt point; a fork tube mount; crashbar mount; or handlebar mount (off-road only; it’s illegal to mount lights for street use above the original headlight). Denali also makes a number of bike-specific light mounts. Two other suggestions when positioning auxiliary lights: don’t mount them too close to your turn signals, as they may make the signals invisible, and try to avoid mounting the lights where they’ll get damaged if your bike tips over.

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Denali fork, crashbar and handlebar mounts are also available in black and chrome to match your bike.

Need more help choosing the right auxiliary lights and mounts for your bike? Call one of our product experts at (855) 255-5550, or email us at info@twistedthrottle.com.

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D2 on fork mount.

 

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DR1 on fork mount.

A word from Twisted Brad...

Additional lights not only make drivers see you better because of their brightness, they also change the light pattern drivers see as you are coming at them. Drivers are used to seeing two lights, and they can judge how far away another car is and how fast it's going by how far the two oncoming lights are, and how quickly they're moving apart. With only one light on a motorcycle, drivers can't do that. They might assume your bike is a car that's so far away, its two lights look like one -- when in reality, it's a bike that is much closer and probably traveling fast.
 

My stock GS, like a lot of bikes, had only one headlight. With the Denali D2's, my GS now has a triangular light pattern that catches drivers' eye. It's unusual to the typical cager, and the lights are separated so the driver can better judge distance and speed. I've even heard that a train company has reduced train/car collisions by putting two lights on the front of the train instead of one, which helped drivers better judge speed and distance.


This post was posted in Denali LED Lighting, New Products

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