All about the Kawasaki Ninja 250



"CONSPICUITY" means being seen. The more visible you are, the safer you are (all else being equal). The most common cause of car/motorcycle accidents is motorists simply not seeing the motorcycle. While this is clearly the fault of the car's driver, anything you can do to make yourself more visible has a positive outcome on safety.

A number of studies have been done on conspicuity and their findings provide simple guidelines to making yourself more visible.

  1. Ride with your headlight on. This is easy since all motorcycles sold after 1986 in the USA must be wired to have the headlight on anytime the motorcycle is in motion.
  2. Wear a bright colored helmet. Studies indicate that a white (or possible even better, fluorescent yellow or orange) helmet makes motorcycle riders more visible. It's the highest point of the vehicle/rider combination and is most easily seen.
  3. Wear a bright colored jacket. Again fluorescent safety yellow and orange are probably best, but anything is better than black!
  4. The color of the rider's pants don't seem to have much influence on conspicuity, probably because in most cases they are hidden by the motorcycle. So black pants are probably OK.
  5. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, the color of the motorcycle seems to have little effect. This is probably beacuse motorists see (or don't see!) the motorcycle coming at them head on, so there's not a lot of color visible. I suppose a large white front fairing with a lot of surface area would be good, but few, if any, motorcycles are designed that way.

The bottom line here is that "Stealth" is not good. While a black motorcycle with smoke tinted lenses ridden by a rider in black leather with a black helmet and a smoked visor may look cool, it greatly increases the chances that a car simply won't see you, Stealth is good for fighter aircraft, bad for motorcycles.

Headlight Modulators

Federal regulations allow motorcycles to use headlight modulators. These pulse the headlight between certain allowed brightness levels in order to better attract the attention of motorists. They do NOT flash the lights on and off (which is illegal), they alternate between brighter and dimmer, but the headlight is always on. Whether headlight modulators result in fewer accidents hasn't really been proven at this point, but they do seem to get motorists attention. There are regulations on how bright and dim the light is allowed to be as well as how fast the modulation can be. The system is also required to automatically stop modulation when the light is below a certain level, so they cannot be used at night.

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