With half the amount of wheels rolling beneath a sleek, slender, aerodynamic chassis, a motorcycle is already at a disadvantage as far as visibility goes.
You’re relying on rearview mirrors and attentive drivers, so obviously, you want to do everything you can to be seen.
More than a fraction of bikes have dark tinted tins and frames, and sometimes it seems like the coolest, most comfortable helmets are all dark colors; you’re probably asking yourself, how do you make your motorcycle helmet more visible?
Here’s How You Make Your Motorcycle Helmet More Visible:
In addition to wearing a bright-colored helmet, adding reflective stickers, graphics, or decals, accessorizing your helmet with safety gear, LED motorcycle lights, and staying out of blind spots all make your helmet more visible to other drivers on the road.
1. Wear a Bright Colored Helmet
The safest and simplest way to make your helmet more visible is to wear a bright, safety-colored helmet. White, safety yellow, fluorescent green, and orange are among the safest helmets to wear while operating a motorcycle.
Even the best street sweepers in the motorcycle game know that being smaller slates the tables against your visibility.
The small size of motorcycles gives them the advantage of accelerating and decelerating on the fly. While the ability to zip out of trouble is definitely a plus for avoiding danger, it creates a now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t effect that reduces car drivers’ ability to gauge their distance from us, especially if wearing dark-colored helmets.
Wearing a dark-colored helmet makes matters worse; sometimes, if you’re passing a car in a flash, for example, your helmet might be all they see.
Studies have shown that riders are less likely to wear black or dark-colored helmets while riding.
There’s no doubt that, from a driver’s perspective, a rider whizzing by in a neon-orange helmet is more noticeable than a black blur blasting down the highway.
That startling neon flash may only mean garnering a reaction a millisecond earlier, but that millisecond could quite literally be the difference between life and death.
We’d never encourage our readers and fellow riders to ride at unsafe speeds, but have you ever wondered why most race bikes are bright colors? Even the Motor GP pros tend to match their helmets to their brightly colored motorcycles.
And, while we won’t suggest riding at race speeds, as someone who’s had a chance to watch Moto GP from the sidelines, zipping a bright neon blur is significantly more visible than a dust black cloud.
Even for responsible riders who prefer to cruise on baggers than roast the track or the city streets on a sportbike, wearing a brightly colored helmet is simply the best way to maintain helmet visibility. Dark colors look tough, sure. They’re associated with stealth and combat for a reason; they do nothing to increase visibility during the day, and at night or in overcast weather, they make riders less visible.
In short, wearing a bright-colored helmet increases your helmet’s visibility, and a more visible helmet could save your life.
2. Accessorize Your Helmet with Safety Gear
One effective way to make your helmet more visible is pairing a bright-colored helmet with matching safety gear. Matching “safety colors” stand out and attract attention.
As we mentioned above, motorcycles don’t take up much room on the road. Unless you’re keen on customizing bikes, you probably have little control over what color your bike is. Your helmet and your riding gear, on the other hand, you can mix and match colors as you see fit.
So people take that opportunity to make stylish or aesthetic choices. If your main concern is visibility, accessorizing your helmet with matching safety gear will make you, your bike, and your helmet more visible.
I’m sure I’m not the first person who, in the above section, correlated neon yellow, green, and orange with safety. We’re conditioned to be cautious around particular tones of specific colors; drivers are trained to avoid and detour away from anything that loud.
If you match a bright helmet with safety-oriented riding gear, your helmet’s noticeability will increase along with it.
Not to mention, neon-colored helmets and riding gear are way less of a commitment than opting for a bright-colored motorcycle—you can change your outfit with your mind at any point.
3. Putting Reflective Tape on Your Motorcycle Helmet
Sticking reflective tape on your motorcycle helmet increases its visibility, especially at night or in wet and overcast weather conditions.
Reflective tape is designed to increase the range of visibility of any object you put it on; putting reflective tape on a motorcycle helmet will increase the range in which your motorcycle helmet is visible to nearby drivers.
Some riders use reflective dots or squares. Others use cross or x-shapes or long strips. I’ve even seen some riders get creative with their helmets, strapping the tape on in patterns, spelling words, or forming their reflective tape into designs.
What makes reflective tape on a motorcycle helmet so effective is that your head is the closest part of you to streetlights, but it’s also in the range of headlights. The closer the reflective tape is to the light source, the brighter, and therefore, more effective, it is at making your helmet visible.
Reflective tape doesn’t do much to increase helmet visibility during the day, but the good stuff will absorb rough light during the day to qualify it as an independent source of light for the first few hours of darkness.
And when it wears out, it’s nice and close to the streetlights to send a quick flick of light to any upcoming drivers.
4. Reflective Graphics and Helmet Decals
Motorcycle riders make their helmets more noticeable by sticking reflective graphics or helmet decals onto the helmets.
This is a notable option for a moto-maniac like me if you want to spend less time working and more time riding. Reflective graphics and helmet decals are a cheap and easy way to make your helmet more visible than it is now.
If you want to get creative, you can buy reflective graphics for your riding gear or even for your motorcycle. If you can find some graphics you’re excited about, why not?
Matching your bike gear and helmet together with reflective designs is a cost-efficient way to increase both you and your helmet’s visible range, especially at night, around streetlights, or against the headlights of upcoming traffic.
Eye-grabbing graphics can pull a driver’s attention right to your helmet, especially graphics that glow at night.
Not to mention, if you’re a motorcyclist of artistic merit, you can draw up some custom designs and have them printed into reflective decals for your helmet from various online print shops. They’ll mail them straight to your garage.
Reflective stickers, graphics, and helmet decals are more effective at night, so go into arranging them on your helmet with the ambition of making your helmet look as big as you can. Put your graphics on the widest or tallest parts of your helmet and then use the tape we mentioned in the section above around the helmet’s edges to accentuate its reflective footprint.
5. LED Light Upgrades and Auxiliary Lights
Upgrading your motorcycle lights to LED lights or adding aftermarket auxiliary lights to your bike not only lights up your helmet reflectors at night, but it also makes your helmet, motorcycle, and you more visible in the daytime.
Auxiliary lights provide illumination that enhances the visibility of your helmet decals at night and lets your presence be known to the surrounding drivers around the clock and in all weather.
Not only do these lights work together with helmet reflectors to make you more visible to oncoming traffic at night, but they also increase the visibility for the rider in the helmet as well.
If your helmet visors and goggles are tinted, scratched, or mirrored, you may have a hard time seeing others at night the same way they’d have a hard time seeing you without your visible helmet.
Aftermarket LED light upgrades are an effective way to solve both problems.
There are many lumen settings, strobe settings, colors, and patterns available for LED moto-light upgrades. Put them on the front, back, or even underneath your motorcycle to slap their glow against your helmet decals and make your head visible to anyone around.
If you ride in an open-face helmet, LED light upgrades not only make your helmet more visible, but your face too. They’ll reflect against your skin to humanize you, catching the eyes of upcoming drivers.
6. Avoid Riding In Blind Spots
Helmet visibility upgrades mean nothing if the driver in front of you can’t see you in their rearview mirror. Optimum visibility is achieved by staying away from the known blind spots.
A blind spot is a spot around a car or truck where the driver can’t see you riding. Even motorcycles have blind spots, but the bigger the vehicle, the more significant its blind spot is, and the more imperative it is that they see you riding your motorcycle.
A driver who fails to check their blind spot could side-swipe your motorcycle while changing lanes, rendering all your helmet’s visibility upgrades useless.
Avoid riding your motorcycle in blind spots to keep your helmet in sight of the rear-view mirror in front of you.
The regular blind spots to look out for are:
- Directly to your side, between your front windshield/handlebar view and your rearview mirror.
- In an enclosed vehicle, you can’t see any spot on the road because your vehicle’s body or structure is a known blind spot.
- In an enclosed vehicle, headrests, window pillars, trailers, and cabs can all be blind spots, and the larger the vehicle, the taller the blind spot.
Car drivers are responsible for checking their blind spots before merging or changing lanes, but whether they consider that is out of our hands.
As a motorcyclist, all you can do is keep your helmet in the rearview mirror in front of you by following these simple steps to avoid blind spots:
- Keep away from blind spots by riding in front, or behind a vehicle, never side to side.
- Scan the area defensively for merging cars.
- Keep 20 feet between you and the surrounding cars.
- Pass other vehicles quickly and assertively to avoid lingering in the blind spot, keeping your helmet and the head it protects in plain view for all the drivers on the road.