Reflector Tape

This isn't a modification, but I thought it important enough to bring up for those that haven't thought of it yet.

We talk about, and make jokes about, being invisible to the cagers. Well, we ARE! I let my son ride the bike one day, and I noticed that side to (it wasn't dark, just twilight) that the bike really was hard to see, especially if you were not directly in someone's headlights. If it were hard for me to make out details when it wasn't full dark yet, and with a bike I know well, and only a few dozen yards away, then what about to a cager going 40-50mph (which seems to be the median speed in our town's 35 mph zones)? Their are going to see just what we expect, nothing! Until we enter their sphere of sight and usually, their SUV grill at the same time!

I have always had some reflector type tape on my service truck, and as I frequently use my personal vehicle for emergency use (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) supporting local fire, police and hospitals in crises, I have quite a bit on it too. So, I thought I should look into it for the bike. But.... I just spent a gazillion hours and/or dollars putting more little custom dodads on it to make it LOOK BETTER! (ran good already)

So, now I am going to gob red and white reflector tape all over! Maybe I'll get some playing cards to rattle against the spokes while the wheels turn too! NOT!

So I started looking around at what was available. I found almost nothing. There were a few "clear" products, but they were really a clear carrier with lots of sparkly beads in it, and they showed! BADLY!

Then as I was going to Santa Maria one day, they were putting down new highways stripes and those reflective flags that go down the center on new VERY black macadam. They weren't particularly bright until the light caught them just right and then they blazed. Later I traveled back on the same road at night. They had the red poles marking the edge of the highway and with the flags down the center, because they weren't finished yet, and it was surrealistic! It was almost hypnotic, because the reflections so captured your eye, it was actually hard to judge where the road was vs where you were. I wish I had taken a picture of it. Anyway, it gave me an idea. The sparkly reflective materials in those flags has no color, they are clear. So whatever the undercoat is, shows through until light is reflected, or more accurately, refracted back towards your eyes. I hunted a bunch of sites, knowing that someone had to have just such an article for bikes. I was right!

I finally wound up on, out of Van Nuys, CA. They have BLACK reflective tape. A little on the pricey side, but then so is body work, on the bike or you! I got some in and put it on the side covers and some of the frame tubing. The package contained 24"of 1" wide tape, 24" of 2" wide tape, and 12" of 4: wide tape. That's not huge, but 120 square inches of reflective surface vs none is a lot! We tend to see our bikes in daylight or in the lighted garage, or in a lighted driveway. We don't often park them out in the dark at look at them to see what their visibility is. Maybe that's why other's (cagers) can't see them at night! We can't either!! All that shiny chrome and bling, all those polished aluminum engine parts, all just go away when there isn't quite a bit of light shining on them!

Well, the story is getting long enough even I could have understood it, so let's just go and look at the photos to see just WHAT the difference is!

Here we have the bike with a 4x5" rectangular piece on the plastic side cover, and some 1"on the tubing. I made sure to put it where it wouldn't be obscured by my legs or saddlebags or something. When you look at it during the daylight, it is just noticeable. At a dozen feet or so, no one notices it unless I say something about it.

Until you really look, or get close up you don't notice it, do you? Even then it isn't really very detracting from the looks. Now here are some photos taken in broad daylight, but with a flash that reflects off the tape.

Wow! Broad daylight and they show up! The photos do not actually show how bright it is. It is a glare! It is almost like having your lights hit a mirror. The one on the left was taken with a small Sony digital which has a very small flash. It was taken from about ten feet away. It looks like holes cut in the picture! The one on the right was cropped from a photo taken from about 25 feet away! That little flash had that much effect in bright (almost noon) daylight! Now that we have seen that it even adds visibility in daylight, you will hardly believe what the night results will give us. They are all taken at night under just slightly different conditions. Would you rather have something like this or nothing? Well, look at the bike itself in the photos. That shiny aluminum engine hardly can be seen. Those sparkling chrome wheels are just dark circles. The bright red paint can hardly be made out even in the best shot! The frame, what frame??

This was with a police 5 cell flashlight at about six feet. Where's the bike!! All you see is white SHINY patches. Again the photo can't show the ":in your face" brilliance of these tape pieces. Here is another.

Better, you say? Well I can make out that shiny engine. except it doesn't;t look very shiny! In fact you probably wouldn't notice it at walking speed, let alone 40 mph or faster!! This was taken at THREE FEET WITH A FLASH!!!! You get this muddy picture of a bike (that we expect to just stand right out there to any dumb cage with eyes! Whether WE can see it here or not! Right?) Wrong! What we "see" is four brilliant holes in our vision and a murky background. And remember, at 3 feet WITH flash! That's probably a thousand times more light than any headlights including Halogon is going to illuminate you with! Here is the final shot.

How about this one?? This was taken from slightly to the side, so that THE CAR HEADLIGHTS on HIGH beam, less than FORTY FEET AWAY, could show you what the cagers really DO SEE!! NOTHING without some help!! I just went into paranoid mode, I don't know about you! They ARE out to get us, and they don't even KNOW IT!! "Uh, Francis,what was that bump and kinda scraping noise? Do you hear someone hollering?" Well, drag it a mile or two, and if it doesn't stop, maybe we ought to take a look!"

Did I get through to anyone? THEY REALLY CAN'T SEE US! We ARE INVISIBLE! (Boy, could I have used THAT in college!) This tape on MY bike has heard a LOT of cager brakes being applied! THEY SEE IT!! It doesn't matter the mental image we carry around about our bright shiny toy, if the cagers can't see inside our heads! (my tinfoil hat won't let them !!) So, we need to give them some help, along with giving us and our rides some longevity! Doncha think?