February 2003 Safety Thoughts
Customize To Be Seen
by Dave Hansen, Safety Officer
If youíre like most of us, youíre always looking for ways to customize your bike. Make it a bit different than stock. Make it "yours".
Among the items we can customize are our rear lighting options. Sometimes these changes can enhance safety, sometimes not.
Iíve done custom rear lighting changes to both my Ultra & my Softail. When I made these changes, I tried to select changes that would not only customize, but also improve my visibility and signaling to traffic behind me.
When it comes to rear lighting, I believe more is better. A single rear tail light is OK, but what happens if that single rear tail light bulb burns out & youíre still on the road after dark? The Ultra has multiple rear tail lights, but on the single tail light Softail Iím adding an LED lighted license plate frame for additional tail lights. Itís not big or obtrusive, but does provide additional tail lights. An alternative would be to convert the rear turn signals to front running lights with dual element bulbs and red lenses.
What if the single rear brake light element burns out? This can happen during daylight riding & you may not even know it until someone runs into you from behind because there was no brake light! On the Softail, I converted the amber turn signals to red lenses & had them wired to light up as brake lights as well as turn signals. On the Ultra, I added the LED lighted chrome directional bar. This added both more tail lights, additional brake lights, and let me keep amber turn signals which I believe to be more visible & distinct in function than red rear turn signals.
If you do convert your rear turn signals to include tail light, running light or brake light functions, be sure to change to red lenses. Amber brake lights or amber rear running lights are not legal (per Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) and can confuse other motorists.
Remember, your stock rear lighting on your bike is perfectly adequate and meets all safety requirements when itís working properly. Iím not suggesting anyone make changes to their stock lighting. But many of us just canít help but do a bit of customizing. The Harley Motor Accessories Catalog provides plenty of choices and ABC can install any of them for you. Just keep in mind how any changes you make to your rear lighting will affect how traffic behind you will be able to see you.
Words of Safety