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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a "retread" rider; I rode quite a bit 40 to 50 years ago and recently bought a Honda CB500xa. It is a very nice bike, smooth, with enough power to please me. I've been installing various options since I bought it. One that I have questions about is a headlight modulator, which is legal in all 50 states. What the device does is to rapidly vary the intensity of the headlight; the intent is to make the motorcycle more visible to other drivers. Here is a link to the headlight modulator law (webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-headlight-modulators/)

My question about motorcycle headlight modulators is that it appears (just my guess) that most riders have either considered using them and then decided not to use them, or just have not heard of them. It's confusing to me, since it seems obvious to me that a headlight modulator would make a rider more visible to other drivers, which should be a good thing; but there may be issues that I'm just not familiar with.

The question: Do experienced riders think headlight modulators are a good idea, or a bad idea?
 

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Bad idea IMO.
When driving a cage, things like that are annoying. It may interfere with depth perception.
I do not know anyone who has one, would like one, or is thinking about one.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Unkle Krusty, for responding. I hope we'll get lots more responses, good or bad. I'm just trying to understand.
 

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Most smaller bikes already appear to have a modulator, from the small bumps in the road bouncing the headlamp. By the time a bike is close enough to tell it is flashing, they're already too close to matter.
 

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You want to stand out by being conspicuous... Installing HID lights in a 4500K or 5000K light range will help do that, however I've read "warning" stories about headlight modulators from those that have used them, where driver's that are waiting on side streets and at 4-way stop signs mistake the modulator doing it's thing as YOU purposely flashing your lights to say "go ahead" and causing accidents and/or near misses...
Seriously, if you want to help make yourself visible, get an HID headlight conversion (or LED if you can find a QUALITY LED kit (most LED, but not all, are utter junk, especially if you're spending less than about $150. HIDs can be had for about $50-$60).
Add a florescent yellow helmet and jacket (doesn't have to be 100% yellow, but at least 30-50%, not just a couple narrow stripes.)
The helmet and jacket will do FAR more than the modulator to make yourself seen by those who actually look...
Another hint to be seen... If approaching an intersection where there's a car, weave back and forth, within your own lane... It will get the other drivers attention. They might think you're an idiot, because you're doing something "unusual" BUT they WILL be watching/seeing you. You also make yourself look "wider" and therefore "closer" to them.
 

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I have bought 3 bikes with modulators on them all of them non functional and broken.
 
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I have a LED light for my bicycle that has a flasher mode. It will run for hours and is exceedingly visible. It can install on a handlebar and I have thought to use it on my motorcycles in high traffic areas where cagers might be tempted to turn across me and where a motorcycle tends to get lost in the chaos. Better yet, I mostly avoid such places and times.

And yes, the strobing light is annoying to motorists and if it is annoying them then they can see me annoying them.

I think a modulator would be useful if it could be switched on and off and I had one on my Suzuki. And yes, I am certain, at an opinion level, that it got attention.
 

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Usually when a light is annoying, you look away from it, not at it. I too have the strobe light for my bicycle. I do not use it in that mode.
defensive riding is the answer, not annoying lights. IMO

Uk
 

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They could cause photo sensitive epilepsy in some people. Don't think I'd want that to happen with someone pointing a 2 ton weapon at me.
 

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Not a Fan Myself .. Lighting bright enough to be seen works well for me .. When went from the stock headlamp on my 05 Dyna to a Hogworkz Daymaker LED had far less people pulling out in front of me and just good observation could tell I was far better especially in Daylight just using Low Beam ..
 

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I have heard, but don't have any evidence to back it up, that in some countries it is illegal. I am planning a trip around the world and have decided to avoid the modulator.
I'm a "retread" rider; I rode quite a bit 40 to 50 years ago and recently bought a Honda CB500xa. It is a very nice bike, smooth, with enough power to please me. I've been installing various options since I bought it. One that I have questions about is a headlight modulator, which is legal in all 50 states. What the device does is to rapidly vary the intensity of the headlight; the intent is to make the motorcycle more visible to other drivers. Here is a link to the headlight modulator law (webbikeworld.com/motorcycle-headlight-modulators/)

My question about motorcycle headlight modulators is that it appears (just my guess) that most riders have either considered using them and then decided not to use them, or just have not heard of them. It's confusing to me, since it seems obvious to me that a headlight modulator would make a rider more visible to other drivers, which should be a good thing; but there may be issues that I'm just not familiar with.

The question: Do experienced riders think headlight modulators are a good idea, or a bad idea?
Sent from my E6810 using Tapatalk
 

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I do not ride with modulators, but I've seen plenty that do. And something else I have seen a lot is erratic behavior from cars when they encounter a bike with modulators. I have seen many cars slow and move to the side of the road because they think it is an emergency vehicle. I have seen some pull out when they think the rider is signaling them to go. I don't like cars doing unexpected things around me while riding, so I won't install a modulator. And I know from talking to many over the years that the lights are simply very distracting and annoying. We want to stand out to drivers, not be annoying to them.

I think a much better way to to be noticed is to have unusual lighting, instead of flashing lighting. On my touring bike I installed amber lenses over the spot/fog lights, and a bright white LED for the main headlight. The bright white flanked by two bright amber lights really stands out and it definitely catches the eye of other road users. It makes drivers look twice without being annoying or confusing to them.
 

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I would rather a button I could engage/push/press that would flash my lights rapidly. Yes, I can do that with my flasher but not as rapidly as I would want and it will not engage if in brights already. A button engaged flasher could strobe on/off if in brights and low/high if in low beam.

Modulators are legal in USA and Canada. There are no completed studies that provide definitive data but there is some evidence, particularly in the cycling world, that they do indeed increase safety. I am not convinced a full time, all the time modulating light is useful but a momentary light modulator might be a good compromise.

I would like a hologram projector that would project me as an 18 wheeler, now that would be useful.
 

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Someday I'd like to add a taillight modulator that would pulse the taillight a few times before going solid red. That seems like a great idea, although most people will probably think faulty wiring is causing that :D

I've only seen a couple of oncoming bikes here in Ontario Canada that had a modulated headlight. Yup it did get my attention, but not so much that I've decided to join that club & get one too. I have a LED headlight now,, would a modulator affect the bulbs lifespan?
 

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Someday I'd like to add a taillight modulator that would pulse the taillight a few times before going solid red. That seems like a great idea, although most people will probably think faulty wiring is causing that :D

I've only seen a couple of oncoming bikes here in Ontario Canada that had a modulated headlight. Yup it did get my attention, but not so much that I've decided to join that club & get one too. I have a LED headlight now,, would a modulator affect the bulbs lifespan?
We have tail light modulators.
The defensive driving course advises: When stopped at an intersection, with a vehicle approaching from behind, apply the brakes on and off, to turn the tail light on and off.
Plan B is to get out of the way as Adam did recently.

How many here check their tail / brake light?
Recently I watched a guy about to do his road test on a newish 1000cc Yamaha. Lady stood in front and looked, modified bluish head lights failed. From behind, brake light not coming on from the foot brake. Modified turn signals no good. He did do the manual stick your left arm out test okay tho.

UK
 

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I've installed brake light flashers in all my bikes, for many years now, and even to the 'third eye' brake light in my little car. The Missouri motorcycle operator's guide recommends using your brake lever to flash the light a few times before actually braking, but who has presence of mind for that? It does, however, make the automatic flashers legal here. When stopped for a light for a while, and a car comes from behind, I'll release then re-apply the brakes, just to flash them. Seems to work, so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have only seen one or two motorcycles with a modulating headlight. At the time, I did not know what its purpose was or what the rider was trying to communicate. I certainly did notice the bike, but I was just not sure what the meaning was. That said, I wonder if a modulating headlight is a good thing in some circumstances. As I understand it, the modulators have a daylight sensor that prevents operation of the modulation at night. Most modulators I've read about are activated by the rider by turning on the headlight high beam, so its use is under the control of the rider.

In considering buying a modulation system, I noticed that there are not many choices for LED headlights. It does not seem that the modulation system has been fully developed.

I do not know if I will buy a system, but I'm sure that the replies to my question have given me much to think about.
 

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From Wiki:

Effectiveness and ambiguity

Headlight flashing as an effective mode of driver communication has been questioned,[16] and researchers have found the ability of drivers to communicate with one another is about the same as the communication abilities among insects.[17] However, when used as a means of increasing conspicuousness to other drivers, as in the case of motorcycle high/low beam modulators, it is highly effective.

Flashed headlamps can have ambiguous or contradictory meanings, with no way for the observing driver to tell for sure what the flashing driver is trying to say. It may mean, for example, that the flashing driver intends to yield the right of way, or instead that he intends to take it.[17] Misinterpretation of the flashing driver's intent can cause crashes.[18]
 

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Rarely have most of us been on the same side of an issue. We do not like them.
Should have tried riding in the country before halogen lights were invented. Headlights were a found orange glow. My Norton with The Prince of Darkness electrics, would dim the headlight when the brakes were used. That is how I came to learn, that many of the hedges in England, are hiding rock walls.

UK
 

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I do not ride with modulators... I have seen many cars slow and move to the side of the road because they think it is an emergency vehicle. I have seen some pull out when they think the rider is signaling them to go. I don't like cars...
That's the main problem with them and why I won't use them. It's crazy enough out there without adding to the confusion some drivers might have with them.
 
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