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Modulating Motorcycle Headlights

Conspicuity is an important word in any motorcycle rider's vocabulary. Being seen by other road users is a must to avoid being involved in a collision. One method of increasing a motorcycle's conspicuity is through the use of a modulating headlamp.

In British Columbia either the low beam or the high beam headlight may be modulated, but not both. Since the modulator may only be in operation during daylight hours and high beams must be dimmed when approaching or overtaking other traffic in daytime as well as nighttime, choosing to modulate the low beam headlamps may be the better choice.

Headlamp modulators must comply with section 5.6 of the Technical Standards Document No. 108, Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Canada). This permits a modulation frequency of 240 +/- 40 cycles per minute, requires full filament brightness for at least 50 to 70% of the cycle and a minimum brightness of at least 17% of the maximum brightness at any test point during the cycle. The modulator must include a sensor perpendicular to the highway that shuts off the system during darkness and the headlights must function normally if the modulator fails.

Operating with headlights on at all times is a good idea if you don't have a headlight modulator. In fact, if your motorcycle is manufactured any time after 1974, the headlamps must illuminate when the engine is running.

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