Twin Headlamps on an FF.

I recently read an account of Royce's accident with the Fiat 132 on Voyager 002, back in the 80s. It said that the accident happened in the dark on a country road. I wondered if this was correct. I had always thought it happened in Bristol. If it is correct, I wonder whether the motorist had mistaken two closely placed headlamps on the bike, for a car much further away. As many FFs have twin headlamps, including my Delta, it may be something to consider. I certainly have no wish to emulate Royce's crash testing regime! I currently have a couple of bright LED running lights by the mirrors, but they go off with the main headlights. I maybe need to wire them separately to the side lights, so they are on all the time. Of course, other road users will never see a motorcyclist unless they actually look.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

A420, not Bristol!

Colin, the accident definitely happened out of town at night and not in Bristol. It was on the A420 Bristol to Chippenham road. If I remember correctly, Royce reckoned the impact speed was pretty high c.50mph. It was forceful enough to seriously damage the rear axle of the Fiat 132, amongst other things, and the shock was severe enough to put all three occupants of the car in hospital. Royce, in contrast, got away with a stubbed toe, despite wearing minimal footwear, as I recall. No doubt Royce will confirm or correct with further details in due course! PNB

I put the question on here

I put the question on here hoping that Royce would see it. And thanks for the info. Makes more sense to me, now. Colin

Headlight arrangement

This accident was largely as described by Paul. It did raise questions about night time conspicuity which I addressed in a piece that I thought was on this site, but it appears that I only sent it to the Dept. Transport who would of course have ignored it. I'll see if I can find it and put it up in Books.

The basic problem of twin headights, neccessary for safe redundancy and because bike riders have the same eyes as car drivers and travel at the same speed, has long been recognised. The 1986 Vehicle Lighting Regulations, that the Voyagers were built to, required twin headlights to be "immediately adjacent" (There is actually a 5mm clearance). However it is impossible to "range" isolated lights at night without some external reference such as the illuminated ground in front of the vehicle. It's also impossible to tell if paired lights are ilegally bright lights on a car a long way away, or 'immediately adjacent' lights on a bike Much closer. Clearly not satisfactory. I suggested to D.o.T. that either vertically arranged twin lights, or supplementary "Ground illumination" lights might solve this issue, by identifying PTW's from their lighting pattern, and providing ranging assistance. In retropsect I don't know why I ever bothered talking to the D.o.T. about safety issues, possibly some throwback reflex to a pre-Thatcher era.

In the specific Voyager accident the car driver 'not looking' was the primary cause. The other three people in the car saw me coming and the car I was following at a distance saw the whole event in their rear view mirror. We calculated that I was visible, approaching, at night on an empty road with twin headlights on dip, for nine seconds before the driver turned into my path. The CPS declined to prosecute what they described as a "momentery lapse of concentration".

On 2 occasions, when driving

On 2 occasions, when driving a car, I mistook scooters with spaced apart headlights, both switched on, as cars further away. Once when about to turn across the scooter's path and the other when about to overtake into its path. Luckily I realised in time, but it was close enough to make me think about it.

I have twin headlights on the VFFF which are adjacent to each other arranged horizontally like a Voyager for the reasons Royce mentions. Perhaps the twin horizontally arranged lights problem could be addressed by adding 3rd centrally positioned small diameter always-on LED light of the type popular with BMW GS riders. A low power but bright light shouldn't put too much strain on a charging system.

"auxilliary lighting"

I think the availability of LED lights, arriving some time after the piece I wrote on conspicuity above. is relevent here. As Arthur notes above, they do offer an easy way of allowing other road users to range and indentify PTW's at night. As long as they don't dazzle other road users and are only used in conjunction with 'legal' lighting, rather than instead of, there shouldn't be any legal problems. The IVA rules seem to be a cut and paste from the old "Vehicle Lighting Regulations" with the later EU bit, allowing up to 200mm headlight seperation, tacked on. So extra lights just need to be at least 500mm from the ground. There's an upper limit too but I've forgotten what it is. Lighting as Arthur suggests, between, or immediately adjacent to the headlights wouldn't be any problem.

Needs a little research really. There's the option of either extra lights, to provide a rangable pattern, or iluminating the front of the vehicle - assuming bodywork. Needs to be effective at close range and hopefully at a distance. Important that any extra lights are clearly part of the vehicles lighting pattern, and not to be confused with the general urban lighting clutter.

On the Voyager nose I'd be inclined to fit an extra small light below and between the main headlights, illuminating the upper nose surface as well as providing a rangable lighting reference. Could be mounted in the leading edge of the 'ledge; in front of the headlight cut outs - although I'm planning to eliminate that ledge in future shapes...


Having now actually looked at the IVA regulations again ( I see that the height restrictions for "front lamps" (not main beams) are minimum 350mm and maximum 1200mm above the ground. Plenty of margin there then...