But the dark nights and mornings are coming (in fact, for me they have already started), and I decided to make the bike a little more visible, even if that little strand of wire gives way and I am left invisible. But I wanted to be discreet. There's nothing that shouts 'bearded safety expert with no sense of adventure' more than a bike plastered in chevrons and extra brake lights. And on eBay I found this:
25mm REFLECTIVE BLACK TAPE per metre * REFLECTS WHITEHmmm. Sounds like something I could use - especially at two quid a metre. So I ordered two metres. A fiver, all in, including postage. Bargain.
REFLECTIVE BLACK STEALTH TAPE
REFLECTS WHITE! EXCELLENT FOR BLACK VEHICLES!
PRICED PER METRE. MULTIPLE PURCHASES SENT IN A CONTINUOUS LENGTH.
TOP QUALITY 5 YEAR OUTDOOR DURABLE
SUITABLE FOR MOST SMOOTH CLEAN SOLID SURFACES.
CAN BE REMOVED AT A LATER DATE WITH NO DAMAGE TO SURFACE.
It arrived quickly, beautifully packaged in a proper box, and seller cheekybloke666 deserves a thumbs-up for his service. It really is black. In fact, it looks exactly like insulating tape, only a little wider and thicker. I took my time and used a craft knife to cut it very precisely, as I didn't want the end result to look a bodge. I think I succeeded, as it's hardly noticeable - until you shine a light on it, when it lights up like a road sign.
I put a strip of it round the Yam's top box, where there is a flat band that might have been made for it, and two more infills for the hand guards, following the line of the moulding round the edge. Here's the side view ...
... and here's the front.
Discreet, I hope, but bright enough to catch the eye. In daylight, the strips really are just plain black.
I recall another incident from way back, when I was in the car and came to a country crossroads in similar weather, to find a young lad who had fallen off a moped, sprawled across the centre of the junction. The sky was black, the rain was black, the road was black, his gear was black. His white crash helmet was the only thing I saw, and I saw it in time to slam on the brakes and miss him. If he'd had a black one, I am not sure I would have noticed until I was picking his constituent parts from my front suspension.
What I think I am saying here is that, for all normal purposes, I believe firmly in defensive riding and not relying on the skill and goodwill of others to keep out of trouble. But sometimes, especially if you go down, a bit of passive high-viz may not be a bad thing. My usual helmet is grey with a white and black pattern, and I have overlaid some of the black with this tape too. It doesn't alter the pattern at all, but in a strong light it makes quite a difference. Here's what it looks like, in normal light (sorry for the blur) ...
...and by flash.
(What looks like rough edges is where I trimmed it around the air vents.)
I don't think it looks too bad. My commute is on rural roads, some fast A-roads and some small country lanes, but all of it unlit. I will feel just a tiny bit safer with this kit.
Next episode: Richard goes shopping for a new jacket and trousers.