Headlight Modulator debate. Modulator or no modulator.

mingo

Member
Founding Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2010
Messages
387
Likes
1
#2
When I had them on a previous bike, cars would literally pull over to let me pass. In Canada, all vehicles have daytime running lights, so a motorcycle's headlight doesn't stand out anymore. I don't have modulators on my bike, but when I see a bike with them, I find they are very noticeable. As far as annoying a driver for a few seconds, it means he's noticed you.

Do whatever you want, they are legal for a reason.
 

EricV

Riding, farkling, riding...
2011 Site Supporter
2012 Site Supporter
2013 Site Supporter
2014 Site Supporter
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
6,775
Likes
1,882
Location
Tupelo, MS
#3
Fred, your opinion is based upon false premises. I will attempt to educated you politely why this is so.

Yes, fire trucks and other first responder vehicles use modulation lights. This brings about confusion with Mr. average driver that thinks you are a first responder and while getting out of your way sometimes, other times panics and does dumb things. Talk to any first responder and they have story after story about people doing stupid and unpredictable things in front of them. Also, people "don't see" them all the time.

You believe they didn't look. That is false. This is a key issue for you to understand. Many, if not most, did look, but you didn't fit what their expectations were. They expect to see another car or truck, not a motorcycle or emergency vehicle even. Their conscious mind never even took notice of you, their subconscious mind did see you, and immediately ignored you, because you were not a threat to them. I can't find the study, it pre-dated the internet, but in the early '80s CalTrans did a study where they got 20 drivers involved in car/motorcycle accidents to participate. They questioned them about the accident and all of the car drivers said the same thing: "I didn't see the motorcycle". They they went under hypnosis... Under hypnosis 100% of the drivers remembered seeing the motorcycle and could even give accurate descriptions of the bike and rider, but dismissed the motorcycle because they did not feel threatened by it, or because they believed it to be farther away and not a threat in that regard.

They study concluded that car drivers, surrounded by a steel cage, felt they were not at risk of injury when a motorcycle/car interaction might occur. And that they have difficulty determining the distance of an on-coming motorcycle due to it's smaller size, their brain interpreting it as a car farther away. They also mentioned in the study that high beam use further complicated the problem as bright lights only made it more difficult for the car driver to judge distance of on-coming vehicles, in part because they were less able to determine what kind of vehicle it was. This all occurred in a split second before the conscious mind would take notice of the motorcycle.

The study also concluded that many of the participants never consciously took notice of the motorcycle, as their subconscious mind already dismissed it. That only education and familiarization with motorcycles as traffic they should expect would help to bring into their awareness. This study brought about California's billboard program to "See Motorcycles".

The reason I'm familiar with this study is that I was in the Marines at the time and the on base motorcycle class that was required discussed this study in length.

You said:
and he had obviously seen my flashing light after the fact
and I believe that was true. However, after the fact does no good. He would have needed to see you before for it to make a difference, but his brain is not wired that way and motorcycles don't register to him.

Do people lie? Absolutely! Will that help you stay alive because you realize that? Not one bit.

Turn off your modulator, never touch your horn and learn to ride with the concept that staying out of the stupid people's path and maneuvering around them is going to keep you alive. It's your job to see them, well ahead of when your paths cross, and avoid them. Predicting poor behavior that is dangerous to you is required and that requires looking much further ahead than you appear to be doing now. That you actually use your screaming banshee tells me you didn't notice the problem in time to avoid it, or you saw it, but did not react to it, instead relying upon the horn.

Cameras? Wow, that's awesome for proving why someone crashed into you. Rather better to not have the problem in the first place, don't you think? I don't have any issues with you running cameras, but do you do it so you can capture evidence? Or for other reasons? If the former, you appear to expect to be in these situations. That tells me you are not predicting them and altering your riding behavior/speed/location to avoid them before they are a situation.

I ride all over the US. About 30-40k a year in all kinds of weather and traffic. Do I see drivers doing dumb stuff that could threaten me? Sure, every day. But I see that before it's a situation and stay away from them, avoiding issues by looking farther ahead and predicting the bad drivers by observing their behavior. I see that car at the cross street and take note of what they are doing, where their wheels are pointed and where they are looking, if the car is inching forward, etc. and can pretty reliably tell if they present a threat to me, then I react accordingly. Maybe that's just covering the brakes, maybe it's changing lanes or maybe it's even flashing my high beam/aux lights.

You're about to think "AHA, he uses his high beams too!" Yes, but in a far more effective manner than a modulator. And I'm going to tell you why. Modulators are a steady rhythm of pulsing light. The human brain is wired to notice change. The modulator or someone running high beams all the time is not change. Me seeing them looking and not seeing me, and responding with a flash of my high beams is a change that gets more attention than anything that is a constant feature to them.

I see the stupid people long before I have to make a sudden response to their behavior. Because of that, I don't have scary moments or near misses. I don't need to confront other road users and threaten them with camera footage, etc. I have learned to see 'tells' of bad drivers from a long ways off. One of my favorites is the sun visor down when they don't have the sun in their eyes. This is a 100% reliable predictor of a bad/inattentive driver. Just like the weaving texters and drunks that can't stay in their lane or at normal speed of traffic flow.

Yes, modulators are DOT legal. No, you shouldn't use one. It makes it more difficult for other road users to judge your distance from them, annoys all the people in front of you that see you anyway and confuses a surprisingly large number of road users that simply don't know what it is or means and how they should respond.

I don't expect to sway you. But I would ask that you take a moment to consider the points I have outlined and consider your riding style and methods. Ask yourself how far ahead are you really looking? And consider that you may not be looking as far ahead as you should be to avoid these issues that you believe the modulator helps you with. You say no one has pulled out in front of you except those that didn't look. Did you see and avoid those that didn't look? Or did you have confrontations and near misses with them because you didn't realize they didn't look? If you're having near misses, it's because you are not looking far enough ahead and predicting potentially bad behavior before you get to that spot, (and altering your behavior to avoid it).

Stop relying on the modulator and your cameras. You can be lit up like the sun, wearing dayglow riding gear and the brightest colors not found in nature, and people will still "not see you" because they are not looking for you. This is why so many people pull out in front of fire trucks and are oblivious to first responder vehicles. My LEO friends tell me that they will run the Wig/Wag headlights instead of their overhead 'codes' (blue/red strobing lights), because too many people either "don't see" or react badly to the codes, often simply not getting out of the way when they need to get past them to respond to an incident.
 

EricV

Riding, farkling, riding...
2011 Site Supporter
2012 Site Supporter
2013 Site Supporter
2014 Site Supporter
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
6,775
Likes
1,882
Location
Tupelo, MS
#4
FredBGG said:
How long have you risen with a modulator on a bike?

Just to get one thing clear. I do not rely on a headlight modulator to be a substitute for other preventative riding techniques.
It's just one part of the equation.
I have ridden with modulators, though not on my personal bikes. I do NOT like the reactions I noted from other road users.

You're missing part of my point. There is no equation, it's a paradox to believe anything you do to your bike or gear makes you more visible to traffic. Those that will see you, will see you anyway. Those that won't, won't see you regardless of what you do. The latter are the one's we need to see and avoid. That ball is in our court completely. You mistakenly believe something you do to the bike will make a difference. It does not, and your own experience should verify that with people that "don't see" you, modulator or not.

The problem lies in the negative aspects of the headlight modulator. Not only does it not help, it harms and increases your risks among those that DO see you by decreasing their ability to judge your distance from them. Remember, the car/bike in front of you doesn't need to be reminded you're there. Turn it to low beams in traffic. I don't know, but I suspect you leave it on all the time when riding. This is a classic error, because there is no change to get other road users attention.
 
Joined
Jun 25, 2014
Messages
173
Likes
7
Location
Lewiston Idaho
#5
I have no opinion on the modulator but when someone says the horn makes no difference then I have to speak up,I installed a small alr horn on my bike and it has helped me on several occasions to not be ran the frack over..
 

SilverBullet

Active Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2014
Messages
857
Likes
210
Location
Harmaston, TX
#6
EricV said:
...
The problem lies in the negative aspects of the headlight modulator. Not only does it not help, it harms and increases your risks among those that DO see you by decreasing their ability to judge your distance from them. Remember, the car/bike in front of you doesn't need to be reminded you're there. Turn it to low beams in traffic. I don't know, but I suspect you leave it on all the time when riding. This is a classic error, because there is no change to get other road users attention.
You could always switch modulating lights on/off quickly to get focused attention same as switching low to high beams. Then you have the best of both. Ability to judge distance as least means that you are seen in the first place, most drivers err on caution but a quick on/off pulse when suspecting someone to pull out never hurts. I know the modulating brake lights work great and really make it known that you are slowing/stopping. A single steady brake light pales in comparison.

_
 

SilverBullet

Active Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2014
Messages
857
Likes
210
Location
Harmaston, TX
#8
RonH said:
The horn is right up there with the modulator. Worthless. Sure it can be used when someone doesn't see you and starts over in your lane, but the same thing canbe accomplished by simply rolling on the throttle, rolling off, simply letting the person in. The amount of effort, little as it is to push a horn button is better spent avoiding being hit...
You don't always have the avoidance options available that you suggest. i.e. boxed in with heavy traffic on all sides. The horn is not to be used in an emergency situation, it is an early warning device. Nothing wrong with a short horn blast to let a car know you are there. But once they commit to invading your space it doesn't buy you much so avoidance actions need your full attention.

My favorite horn use is after the violation of your space to let them know how pleased you are, usually in conjunction with a friendly hand gesture. ;)

_
 

Hungry Tiger

2012 Blue S10
Joined
Mar 21, 2012
Messages
292
Likes
2
Location
Pasadena, CA
#9
Ah yes, the "friendly hand gesture". Seriously, though. Another pet safety peeve. I've a Goldwing bud who loves to motion to car drivers with one hand or the other: Don't tailgate me, come on-change lanes 'cause I'm going to let you in, etc. My admonishment to him: Why on God's green earth would you take a hand off the handlebars in tight traffic (unless it's to scratch your nose)? Getting the free hand back to the controls will cost a good 10-20 feet of travel and seriously limit the quality of an evasive maneuver should one be needed, not to mention lost time with the horn button.
 
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Messages
623
Likes
6
Location
Florida Space Coast Area
#10
I do not have headlight modulators. I have never owned a bike with HMs installed.

I personally hate to ride in front of my club riders that do have headlight modulators turned on during rides.

I understand that headlight modulators are set to only work when high beams are turned on and have a daylight sensor so they only modulate when you decided to turn on the high beams in daylight. (Is this correct?)

Given the danger of some cage not seeing you ... and then turning in front of you ... I would think the headlight modulators could only help your safety.

FYI I am not a fan of loud pipes... but ... in Florida traffic ... it seems my friends with loud pipes have less cages try to merge into their lanes than those with stock quiet pipes.
The sound Loud pipes often gets noticed (By cages other riders and LEO) before they see you....
 
Joined
Apr 16, 2014
Messages
510
Likes
7
Location
Southampton UK
#11
Not an issue, as they arent legal in the UK. We have laws regarding flashing lights.

On the flip-side, what would happen if you dazzled someone with the light going to high beam and caused them to have an accident?
 

OldRider

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Messages
1,605
Likes
418
Location
Western Kentucky
#12
Andylaser said:
Not an issue, as they arent legal in the UK. We have laws regarding flashing lights.

On the flip-side, what would happen if you dazzled someone with the light going to high beam and caused them to have an accident?
Now some modulator lover is going to jump in here and school you in the difference between modulaton and flashing. I'm on your side, the damn things look like they're flashing to me.
 

AVGeek

Administrator
Staff member
Global Moderator
Founding Member
2014 Site Supporter
Joined
Sep 5, 2010
Messages
2,425
Likes
141
Location
Boulder City NV
#13
I moved this topic to the Debate Room, as the more appropriate location for this discussion. Thanks to everyone for keeping it civil and on topic!
 

OldRider

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Messages
1,605
Likes
418
Location
Western Kentucky
#14
FredBGG said:
DOT modulators are designed with a light sensor and only modulate when there is enough daylight so as to avoid your lights dazzling someone.
It doesn't work out that way. Motorcycles headlights on high beam can and will blind someone even in the middle of the day. I've met MC's with their high beams on and they were too bright to look at. I can only imagine how much they blind an elderly person with bad eyesight. Good defensive riding will do a lot more good than a bunch of bright flashing lights.
 
Joined
Sep 30, 2013
Messages
134
Likes
1
Location
USA, WI
#15
One riding buddy of mine has these on his Wing, I won't let him ride behind me as it very annoying and distracting. I assume a cager feels the same. I've seen cars in front of him pull over, Also have been on a divided highway with a car drifting in my lane cause he is watching a set of modulating lights in oncoming traffic to see what's "going on". To be seen is one thing to distract is another. I have a set of led aux. lights that I can put an amber lens on along with a Skene Design modulator. If I feel the need I can hit the bright button twice which sets off a short modulated sequence on my aux lights. The amber in it's self gets a lot of attention (at night I snap on the clear lens). I have had a "left hand turn in my lane" episode myself, Not fun. But IMHO these modulated lights are annoying.
 

SilverBullet

Active Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2014
Messages
857
Likes
210
Location
Harmaston, TX
#16
FredBGG said:
...
The Kisan Modulator for Super Tenere only modulates in high beam and is always on when enough daylight hits the sensor. You can put a switch in the sensor line to turn modulation on and off, but the sensor will still automatically turn off the modulation when it gets dark.
You don't need an extra switch just simply switch to low beam and it does not modulate. The Kisan modulates only in high beam when there is daylight. You can also switch to low beams when you're riding directly behind other bike or cars if you like..

_
 

2112

It's pronounced 'Twenty-one-twelve'
2014 Site Supporter
Joined
Oct 6, 2014
Messages
1,389
Likes
0
Location
Northumberland, UK
#17
Having been fortunate enough to drive a fair few miles in the US of A I can say that I found the use of modulators to be of limited value, in my humble opinion. Yes, while approaching they do make the bike more visible, but I found it then made the front indicator less visible. Approaching from the read it didn't make a whole heap of difference, again reducing the effectiveness of the indicator. I think that the possible advantages of modulation could be outweighed by the reduction in indicator visibility, perhaps ?

I certainly think additional lighting gives more visibility than modulation and causes a driver to look twice (or just properly) when they see a lighting set up they are not used to. If you see a car or truck you expect to see a pair of lights at the same level. If you see a motorbike you expect to see one ore two lights close together; seeing another set at a different height makes people look a bit closer. I may of course be typing utter bollocks...

At the end of the day just ride carefully and remember they really ARE out to get you ::008::
 

offcamber

Member
2014 Site Supporter
Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
921
Likes
2
Location
Enfield, NH USA
#18
I don't like them....I won't ride in front of someone who has one....IMO they are not effective and are just plain annoying. YMMV
A group I ride with won't allow their use on organized rides.....most seem to have an off switch. No matter what you do there will be someone out there who "didn't see you"
 

Bio

New Member
Joined
May 25, 2015
Messages
34
Likes
0
Location
Winterport, Maine
#19
offcamber said:
...No matter what you do there will be someone out there who "didn't see you"...
+1 here, completely true now as ever.

Gear and accessories can only augment your own good riding technique and situational awareness. Never rely on your gadgets. Be aware of the road and other drivers, and be more cautious than you think you may need to in any given situation.

Modulators and hi-viz suits only ask other people to look out for your well being. Consider your safety to be 100% your own responsibility. If you want to go the extra mile and remind others to look out for you as well, go for it, but only if you know you're doing everything you can with your own riding habits to cover your own ass if everyone else fails to notice you.
 

OldRider

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2013
Messages
1,605
Likes
418
Location
Western Kentucky
#20
FredBGG said:
And you have a problem with headlight modulators ;)
It appears that you fail to see the difference in throwing your brights on someone from the rear in an attempt to get them out of the way vs riding down the road with a bright flashing light blinding and annoying the hell out of thousands of drivers. Some asshat riding 30mph blocking the road isn’t in the same category as Grandma coming at you on a two lane road not being able to see anything. Apples & oranges. I'm done.
 
Top Bottom