Quit Merging into me people!! WTF - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
General V-Strom Discussion Talk about all things V-Strom not limited to just one of the above models

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post #1 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 12:58 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Seattle WA
Posts: 79
Quit Merging into me people!! WTF

Thought it was just bad luck last week but so far this week (its only Thursday) I have been merged into 3 times during my normal commute from Bothell to Seattle which is roughly 22 miles each way. People just don't see me on the Wee-Strom! I have been commuting with a Buell Ulysses for the past 2 years and rarely had a problem. The Uly has Buell racing exhaust (fairly loud) and Piaa fog lights which apparently made a big difference. I thought those big headlights mounted on a Red Strom and me wearing a bright silver 4-season jacket and silver helmet would be enough to be seen. I am a fairly offensive/defensive driver so I ride 5-7mph faster than the normal flow of traffic, stay out of people's blind spots and always on the lookout for escape routes but today was too close. I-5 North getting onto the Express lanes (1/4 mile after it goes under the freeway) a white Corolla starts merging into my lane without using his blinker. I lay down my horn and the first thought that comes to my mind is wow....this is one wimpy wimpy horn. Wimpy enough he doesn't hear it. I'm on the brake riding on the side-line when the guy in front of the Corolla decides to slam on his brakes and immediately pulls to the side of the road....the side I am currently riding down. There went my exit strategy . All in all this took place in the matter of about 3 seconds but luckily I was able to slow down fast enough to get behind the Corolla and get the hell out of the way. So this gets me wondering. For you commuters, what do you do to help be seen on the road? Fog lights?? Flashing headlight kit?? Loud as heck air horn??
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post #2 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 01:23 AM
Junior Trooper
Join Date: Aug 2010
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You look too conservative wearing all that bright gear. They probably think you're like the safety nerds in highschool. You need to scare them. Spikes and leather. A dead baby patch on the back. Maybe a whip, maybe not. Practice the glare.
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post #3 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 01:55 AM
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I use those reflective panels on the panniers. I wear contrasting colors in my jacket. I plan on adding a louder horn later. I have 2 helmets the DS one is white, and the tour one is bright yellow. I still get cut off, and the infamous merging into my lane even if I have established my position. Some suggest weaving a bit in your lane to gain attention, I have not tried it yet It is difficult if you ride later in the year the rain early darkness is pretty bad and the back roads are poorly lit with the danger of deer.

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post #4 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 02:11 AM
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The Strom's headlights throw a lot of light on the road, but don't appear very bright unless viewed almost straight on. In bright sunlight it can be hard to tell if they're even on. Some fog lights or running lights would help you be seen by oncoming traffic (here's my solution; there are lots of others on the forum). Auxiliary tail/brake lights such as hyper-lites help with visibility from the rear.

Neither of those will keep people from merging into you though. You've identified the wimpy horn, here's the solution for that: Stebel Nautilus Compact air horn. Most people mount it inside the fairing. It draws a lot more current than the stock horn, so proper installation requires a relay.

And btw, silver gear is not as visible as you might think. What's the most common color of car, while also closely matching the road itself, guardrails, overcast sky, etc? Yep, silver. If you really want a jacket that helps you be seen, then fluorescent yellow or orange is the way to go (though of course it's no guarantee, and you will look like that safety nerd). And it's kind of counterintuitive, but red is not high-viz at all. Research has shown white helmets to be most visible, though I don't think any studies have been done since fluorescent helmets became available.

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Last edited by The Golden Monkey; 09-10-2010 at 04:13 AM.
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post #5 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 02:24 AM
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I can't say, having not seen your bike, gear, and riding habits, why that might be. I can say that I have a black Strom, a headlight modulator, and a hi-viz jacket (though I sometimes wear black leather or blue mesh jackets). I move around in my lane a lot to stay away from hazards and to continually adjust my position to be as visible as possible. I don't dally in blind spots, and I don't follow too closely.

I also rarely commute on the motorcycle, so I avoid the highest-stress riding conditions; and as a general rule, I'd rather have wisdom teeth pulled than ride in the Puget Sound area.

I do have a pair of Fiamm Freeway Blasters, which make me sound like a Buick. I mostly only use it to tell people that the freaking light is green.
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post #6 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 03:05 AM
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A couple amber driving lights on the forks are quite noticeable. A high gloss helmet, brighter signals and a really loud air horn will help. Reflective tape on lots of surfaces in all directions will make you more visible too. The Wee is almost 4 feet wide with Shad 43's on the sides so it almost compares to a small car. The original Mini was 4 feet wide. I still go unnoticed but not near as much as before when the bike was new and unaltered. Oh yeah, I wander all over my lane too. Nobody wants to get hit by a bike about to go out of control, it will make them late and paper work sucks.

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post #7 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 07:40 AM
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Location: Norwood, MA
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It probably a seasonal thing. I've noticed the same lack of attention increasing here in the last week. Gets darker earlier, people who have been on vacation are now riding home from work in the dark. The number of people who don't turn their headlights on is astounding.
Give it two-three weeks and all will be back to normal. At least until we change the clocks.
Just always be prepared to avoid.
Chris in Boston
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post #8 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 08:07 AM
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Stay out of blind spots.

I know this is difficult in Interstate traffic but it sounds like the Corolla was ahead and to the right of you when it began merging. Even in the unlikely occasion of the average driver using the rearview mirror before changing lanes, the relatively narrow forward profile of a motorcycle makes being seen on that rare occasion considerably less likely than, say, a passenger car.

When I am alongside a vehicle in multi-lane traffice, there is no speed limit. I get into the operator's forward field of vision as quickly as possible. In heavy traffic this can become nearly impossible and univited lane company is practically inevitable.

Good luck, ultimatly it will be up to your own alertness and reflexes for successful daily commute.

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post #9 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 08:34 AM
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Originally Posted by SeattleStromGuy View Post
I thought those big headlights mounted on a Red Strom and me wearing a bright silver 4-season jacket and silver helmet would be enough to be seen.
^^^This is your problem. Hate to say it but if you want to commute, or ride anywhere really, you are just going to have to get used to being invisible.

All the bright gear and flashing lights do you no good if people don't look before changing lanes.

And I wasn't there so I can only read what you described, but you also need to develop a sixth sense about things. Getting on the brake and moving over was the right thing, but the guy in front of the corolla didn't slam on his brakes and pull to the side of the road for no reason. Maybe you couldn't see it, but you always have to be looking ahead even when jerks are pulling into your lane.

I've recently started commuting downtown a couple times a week which is a lot different than my normal 10 mins on backroads. I'm still reteaching myself to be constantly scanning everywhere. It's a lot to take in, but it's the only way to make it. No one else is watching out for us motorcyclists.

I'm glad we aren't reading about you elsewhere.


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post #10 of 73 Old 09-10-2010, 09:31 AM
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My last two Vee's were dark silver. My current ride is yellow. I rarely get merged into anymore.

The difference in visibility is dramatic. I used to have people try to squash me during merges, but have found that they usually see the yellow bike. I have a yellow helmet I used during warmer weather.

Really, I was taken aback by the difference the colour of the bike makes.

I also have a Stebel horn that is deafening, and I try my best to stay out of the cagers blind spots.

Pretend you're invisible and you'll probably have fewer problems. Sometimes, the cagers really -don't- see us.

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