The Dark Hours and a Close Call - 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

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 29 Old 09-22-2010, 08:12 PM Thread Starter
dad of two dudes's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: near Tucson
Posts: 115
The Dark Hours and a Close Call

For the last month it's been dark when I ride to work in the morning. I live in the desert and there's a long stretch of slab with no lighting, so when I say dark I'm talking about dark.

During daylight hours on this route I usually ride at 90 mph (indicated). Out of habit, I rode the same speed in the darkness for the first week or so. One morning I started thinking that perhaps I was outrunning my headlights. I've slowed down to 80 mph (indicated) in the dark.

At 80 mph (indicated) I count 3 seconds of illumination out front. I determined this through a rigorously scientific process: I look at a roadside sign, start counting when the headlight hits it, stop counting as I pass it.

So I have a couple questions for you fellas.
1) Do you think 3 seconds of illumination is about average for a Strom at 80 mph (indicated)?
2) Do you think 3 seconds is enough? I realize that's a subjective question - I welcome your opinions.

I suspect that as we're entering Fall and heading toward Winter, there will be more of us commuting in the dark hours. This morning I was preparing to enter the interstate. I had cut my speed, was beginning the turn, and rolling on the power. In the periphery of my headlight I just barely picked up an object in the middle of the onramp. I cut the throttle, straightened up, and prepared to pass the object on the right. Then I picked up a second object on my right, which I passed on the left. Fortunately I had enough room going diagonally across the onramp to slalom the two objects and make two 45 degree corners instead of one smooth arc.

The objects turned out to be sandbags left by a road crew. They had broken open ad spilled sand across the freshly smoothed blacktop. Had I not cut the throttle and straightened up (never touched the brakes), I think I would have a) hit one or both sandbags, b) slid across the sand, c) ran off the road, d) any combination.

Any thoughts on my reaction? Was it appropriate or was the result lucky?

Last edited by dad of two dudes; 09-22-2010 at 11:25 PM. Reason: periphery, not perifery
dad of two dudes is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 29 Old 09-22-2010, 08:44 PM
Evolving Curmudgeon
kick's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Red Pines and a fire-pit
Posts: 1,119
If you can do a controlled panic stop before you hit an imaginary spot in the road at 80mph in 3 seconds you're fine. If not, and the imaginary spot turns into a deer some night, you could have a problem.

'07 WEE-HAAAA! Blue, loaded & sweet

I'll know where I'm supposed to be when I get there.
kick is offline  
post #3 of 29 Old 09-22-2010, 09:03 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 4,051
As a psychologist specializing in traffic, I can answer that one.

80 mph is 128 km/h which is 35.5 metres per second.

If your beams illumiate 3 seconds into the future, you can see 106.5 metres ahead.

It takes 0.5 to .75 seconds for the visual stimulus to reach your brain and be recognized (depending on the circumstances).

During this time you will have moved forward by 26.62 metres

It then takes the average alert and unsuspecting brain a minimum of 1.5 seconds to process the stimulus and decide what to do.

During this time, you will have moved forward 53.25 additional metres.

Now you have to react (brake or swerve). 19 year old athletes that were expecting the situation and trained on the reaction take a minimum of 0.5 seconds to do this, your average Joe takes about one second.

During this time, you will have moved forward by another 35.5 metres.

Let's add this up:
26.62+53.25+35.5 = 115.37 metres.

Please pause now to consider that this is how much you have moved forward before you apply the brake (you are now 8.87 metres past your obstacle)

The math says you're going to hit the brake 0.25 seconds after hitting the obstacle.

100 metres seems about right for the vstrom's headlight; have you tried using your high beam? It should afford you 250 metres of visibility.
SittingDuck is offline  
post #4 of 29 Old 09-22-2010, 09:10 PM
SCraig's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 3,722
I've been on the interstate between Tucson and Phoenix (I-10, I think?). Slower than 80 you'll get run over. Faster than 80 you might hit something. I'd find myself someone to get behind, follow him, and let him hit whatever is out there.

Scott Craig - Nashville, TN
Red '06 Suzuki DL650 - Red '07 Honda VFR800 - My Bike Page
SCraig is offline  
post #5 of 29 Old 09-22-2010, 11:23 PM Thread Starter
dad of two dudes's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: near Tucson
Posts: 115
Originally Posted by SittingDuck View Post
80 mph is 128 km/h which is 35.5 metres per second.
The math says you're going to hit the brake 0.25 seconds after hitting the obstacle.
What if we correct for the inaccuracy of the speedometer as I'm travelling at 80 mph indicated?
dad of two dudes is offline  
post #6 of 29 Old 09-23-2010, 12:05 AM
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Posts: 297
Originally Posted by dad of two dudes View Post
What if we correct for the inaccuracy of the speedometer as I'm travelling at 80 mph indicated?
I hope you're joking, because without even doing the math, I suspect that unless you slow down, you are still risking the eventual change of your Stromtrooper name to "Dad of Two Orphans"!

Rob in T.O.
K7 DL650 ABS
WeeRob is offline  
post #7 of 29 Old 09-23-2010, 04:23 AM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: South Oz
Posts: 1,391
Forgive my new-member presumption, but I have to say that SittingDuck's comments are spot on : likewise for SCraig and WeeRob.
Midnullarbor is offline  
post #8 of 29 Old 09-23-2010, 05:59 AM
GLHS837's Avatar
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Very Southern Maryland
Posts: 722
Good work guys. I ride a mostly twisty backroad back from class one night a week. Very tempting to nail it a little on the straights, but I know deer are plotting my demise, crafty creatures that they are. They know what SD does, which I do also, just not with those numbers, thanks for those, SD.

GLHS837 is offline  
post #9 of 29 Old 09-23-2010, 08:50 AM
timbo813's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: SE Ohio
Posts: 350
Guys, I know there are dangers in riding so fast that you can't stop in the distance you can see. At the same time, I'm not sure it's practical or safe to do so all the time. For instance, I often ride country roads that are curvy and have a speed limit of 55 mph. These roads have plent of curves that cars take at speeds such that they can't stop in the distance they see. If I was to slow way down it would present a danger of being run over from behind and also reduce the fun quite a bit. Frankly, I might as well take the car. I'm not saying I treat these roads like a race track and ride as fast as I am able. I try to keep a decent amount of traction in reserve (especially on blind curves). But, the most ejoyable part of riding for me is leaning the bike over in curves. If I decide to stop that I'll probably sell the bike and take the car.

For the original posters issue.

If there is no traffic use the high beams. If there is traffic pick a car and follow behind at a reasonable distance so you have time to respond to anything he might do but you can also use his headlights as illumination. A good starting point might be 75 to 100 yard behind. Your headlights will iluminate the distance between you and you can see even further with his lights.

2006 Wee: Farkling in progress
timbo813 is offline  
post #10 of 29 Old 09-23-2010, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: South Oz
Posts: 1,391
I am new to riding a Wee-strom, and it certainly has the best headlights of any bike that I have owned. But still the Suzuki headlights "don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world" (thanks Bogart) when you are running at night. There is definitely a reason for competition rally-cars running umpteen driving-lights and a zillion candlepower (and remember that the drivers are in a heavily-protected cage, and are willing to risk a "minor" crash that would not be minor for us riders).

To add to SittingDuck's calculations, a rider at an indicated 80 mph (say a real 74 mph) would need a further 65 to 70 metres (of straight dry clean bitumen - plus some good sport/touring grippy tyres) in order to slow to a complete stop as from the moment the brakes start biting. So simply "seeing" three seconds ahead just ain't enough. If you are very lucky, the road hazard that you spot will be small enough that your Rossi-reflexes will get you to weave around it - but you will still be travelling unpleasantly close to your original cruising speed.

To actually stop for a hazard, if cruising at 80 mph indicated, you would be needing (by my back-of-the-envelope reckoning) about eight 60watt H4 (9003) driving-lights. And therefore something like a Prius nicad battery bolted to the luggage-rack (might reduce handling and acceleration - but just think of the kudos of having world's most expensive Strom-farkle). Or you could have four Vee-stroms riding side-by-side, though that might raise some other hazards. And BTW, I am not joking about the eight headlights - you really would need that many H4 globes plus decent-sized reflectors (and even more if the bike had small "fashionably-truncated" reflectors).

The cold hard reality of motorbike riding at night is that the actual safe cruising speed is miserably and unsportingly slow. And there is danger from cars behind you. And from animals jumping in front of you - and even rally-car lights won't help you there, because the animals don't care if you've seen them nor whether your lights are bright or dim.

I generally prefer SCraig's tactic of letting a "mine-sweeper" run 3 or 4 seconds ahead of my bike - though it doesn't quite eliminate all risk, since there can be a few determined mines/animals which turn up just after the car.
Best of luck, and pray for seven simultaneous full moons for each night ride!

Please also forgive my non-Premium membership status. Ought to be fixed October if PayPal eventually condescends to recognize my credit card.

Last edited by LowAndSilent; 09-23-2010 at 10:31 AM. Reason: For the love of the IFSM...paragraphs, man!
Midnullarbor is offline  
Sponsored Links

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome