Martin's Motorcycle: Adding Reflectors

View at night from behind an R1200GS

After the 600 mile service, I picked up my R1200GS. Katie was driving her car behind me, and she noticed that I was not very visible from behind. Much of the reflective trim on my riding gear is outside the area illuminated by Katie's headlights. I have tried to capture this in a photograph, and the only way to get a reasonable picture is with a tripod. From this picture, you can see that only my taillight is clearly visible. I expected that I would be easier to see, but there is little to reflect light back to cars following me.

Pictures of Moto Equip Reflectors with and without flash

It was quite lucky to find this concern so early. Since I got my R1200GS at Bob's BMW, I can pick up a free loaner during service of my motorcycle. I decided not to pick up a loaner when I dropped off my motorcycle because it was raining. I checked the same thing on Katie's motorcycle by having her drive in front of my car in the evening. The F650GS has similar visibility issues with following traffic at night.

I am surprised that the F650GS, the R1200GS, and the cases do not have more reflectors on them. Katie's side cases have a single reflector on each side. The cases look good in black and silver, so adding reflective tape may not look right. Fortunately, Katie and I found some good reflectors at Bob's for our cases. These are black vinyl reflectors so that during the day they are not noticeable. At night, these reflectors are bright and clear. They are made from 3M Scotchlite Plus, 680 Series Reflective Sheeting with Controltac Adhesive, and they are available from Moto Equip at this link .

Picture of R1200GS in the evening before reflectors are

The reflectors came precut for R1200GS top and side cases and the side case for the F650GS. Katie and I picked up some additional reflective material for the F650GS top case. The instructions for the reflectors are pretty easy to follow. The instructions suggest using a spray bottle to make the surfaces wet. I used a sponge and did a pretty good job with the reflectors. On one of the reflectors, a large number of air bubbles are visible if you look at an angle. The best way to avoid air bubbles is to make the surface extra wet and dip the reflectors in warm water before putting them on the cases. For a minor adjustment, it was easy to move a small amount. If I needed a larger adjustment, I removed the reflector completely, used the sponge to make the surface wet, and dipped the reflector in the warm water. To prevent bubbles, I worked out the bubbles after application and an hour or two later.

Picture of R1200GS in the evening before reflectors are

I put the reflectors on my R1200GS top case first, and it took me about half an hour to complete. After seeing the results of the top case the following day, I added the reflectors to the side cases for the R1200GS and F650GS. It took me about an hour to complete and then Katie and I added the reflectors to the F650GS top case. We used a paper cutter to cut a bunch of shapes. It was difficult to get the reflector material to bend smoothly around compound curved surfaces. This led to some quick triangular cutouts that Katie asked me to put on other places on the top case.

Katie and I did not use all of the reflective material, and I plan to add some on the rear tire splash guard. This will put a vertical reflective surface low to the ground. This will catch the headlights of cars behind me when they are still pretty far away. I will have to wait until it warms up a bit so that the wet adhesive will cure properly.

Picture of F650GS top case with reflectors

To get the reflectors to show up in the pictures, I have taken before/after pictures in the evening so that flash on my digital camera would illuminate the reflectors. Katie and I do not plan to do a lot of riding a night. If the conditions change and we ride in the rain or after dark, I think the reflectors will greatly improve our visibility.