Retroreflective motorcycle
March 11, 2014 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Say I think retroreflective tape looks great and provides awesome visibility. If I were to cover a motorcycle (e.g. the flat painted surfaces) with this tape, would I need to be concerned that it would reflect too much light and blind other drivers?
posted by mcav to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
3M makes both black and clear reflective tapes that are quite bright. You should check out this KTM with black tape.

I don't think being too bright is something you should worry about. It shouldn't be any more reflective than hi-viz jackets and vests or Halo helmet bands.
posted by tumble at 10:08 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can buy retroreflective powder for powder coating, which might be more durable and nicer looking than using the tape. 3M used to make Scotchlite paint, but now it seems like you can buy the beads separately and mix them into your own medium.
posted by a halcyon day at 10:33 AM on March 11, 2014

Check the laws in your area*. I am unaware of laws that pertain to reflective materials but there are laws about where you can place colored lights on your bike. For example, it is illegal to display a red light to the front of a vehicle, or a constant amber light to the rear. It is illegal to have outward-facing blue lights anywhere on a motorcycle. If you proceed with this project, it would be well to keep these restrictions in mind.

Like I said, reflective stuff is not the same as lighting, but all it takes is one crabby cop to ruin your ride.

*my entire comment is using examples from the law as I understand it where I live. You should check the laws where you live.
posted by workerant at 10:42 AM on March 11, 2014

I've never found any sort of retroreflective tape blinding in the least. It makes a diffuse reflection that spreads light from the source in many directions, so it loses a lot of brightness. This is in contrast to a mirror that would tend to keep the reflected light focused and potentially blinding.
posted by exogenous at 10:50 AM on March 11, 2014

Retroreflective tape only returns a small portion of what's coming out of the headlights of the car - far less than an oncoming car would project if their lights were pointed upwards too far (or on Bright setting).

I wouldn't worry about blinding anyone with this, and your odds of being accidentally hit by a motorist should plummet dramatically. Of course, as any real motorcyclist knows, looks and badass factor are far more important than surviving...
posted by IAmBroom at 11:02 AM on March 11, 2014

Speaking as someone who's narrowly missed a few cyclists in the dark over the past few months because they were wearing dark clothes and didn't have anything but the standard reflectors (no lights even!), I'd much rather be able to see cyclists and motorcyclists in the first place. Trust me, there's no way retroreflectors are going to blind anyone.
posted by Aleyn at 2:32 PM on March 11, 2014

Maybe coating the whole bike with retroreflective paint might get a little bright and distracting, but definitely not "blinding".

I really like bicycle wheels and frame stripes in retroreflective tape, and there have been some awesome sticker kits for motorcycles done, in particular available from streetglo.
posted by Kakkerlak at 10:37 PM on March 11, 2014

It's bright, but not blinding. For maximum brightness, I recommend Reflexite FD1403 or M82. I tested a whole bunch of retroreflective tapes a few years ago, and it was the clear winner in my opinion -- way brighter than any of the 3M tapes I got. The only advantage the 3M tapes had was that they came in colors other than silver. Here's a video of my bicycle taped up with FD1403, filmed from inside my car about 50 feet from the intersection.
posted by hades at 5:35 PM on March 17, 2014

« Older I need a nice ladder. Where do I find this?   |   Alternative Bar Mitzvah? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.