The Dennis Kirk Blog
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Every so often, we get a fresh motorcycle product that does something completely new. That’s the case with Vololights license plate lights and the Vololights module. Vololights illuminate on their own during any type of deceleration, even if the brakes are left untouched. The goal is to increase following distances and to help prevent rear end collisions by drivers who are not paying close enough attention to the motorcycle in front of them.
Being seen is a growing concern for many riders today. No, it’s not because they have some complex about needing attention. It’s about safety and their goal of not being taken out by a car or truck while going down the highway. With this trend towards being seen, there have been a few innovations to help motorcycle riders get noticed, like Hi-Viz riding gear, headlight modulators, reflective rim tape and yes, even loud pipes for some riders.
One area of concern for riders not getting noticed is the traffic that is following them on the road. A motorcycle can decelerate much quicker than a car or truck, even without the use of the brakes. If you’ve been riding long enough, you’ve realized that you can sufficiently slow your bike down enough for a lot of maneuvers just by engine braking or down shifting. There’s just one problem. While doing this, your brake lights will not illuminate to signal to following traffic that you are slowing down, which could lead to you getting rear ended, especially if the driver is not paying attention.
The creators of Vololights set out to solve this problem by creating lights that illuminate when any form of significant deceleration occurs. The lights are activated by a 3-axis accelerometer that can detect when the bike starts to slow down. The rider doesn’t have to do anything to alert the following traffic that they are slowing down. The Vololights system will automatically illuminate the lights.
The Vololights system has two different flash patterns. The first pattern occurs while engine braking or downshifting and blinks the lights two times per second. The second pattern occurs when a brake is being applied and will blink the lights five times per second to alert the following traffic that the stopping action is more urgent. You can see the different patterns demonstrated below.
The original design for the Vololights system features two sets of bright LED’s on a sleek license plate frame. The frame is offered in either black or with a carbon fiber finish. Installation of the license plate frame is fairly simple. It will directly replace any fender or seat mounted license plate frame and uses power from the existing license plate illumination or from any other 12VDC power source.
The license plate design won’t work on some bikes with swing arm mounted plates, though. Also, some states, including Minnesota, New Mexico and Alaska have different size license plates that may not fit into the Vololights frame, which measure 7 x 4 inches. It is also not directly compatible with bikes that use a CANBus electrical system. To work with the CANBus system, a fuse block must be used.
If you do not like the looks of the license plate frame or if it is not compatible with your motorcycle, the Vololights module will give you what you need. The VoloMOD uses your existing brake or signal lights to have the same features of the original Vololights, plus the option of having the brake lights flash once per second once the brake is applied. The VoloMOD mounts like any other small “black box” device or under the seat. It too is not directly compatible with the CANBus system.
The Vololights systems are just getting off the ground, but the support for them has been pretty positive so far. They are currently developing a CANBus compatible system, which should be out early this year. The Vololights systems could just be what you are looking for to keep you safer in traffic.
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