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RideLite Lighting System Eliminates Need for Hand Signals

New life for old light tech
RideLite snowmobile safety light system trail
Staying to the right side of the trail is correct, and the RideLite’s safety light system makes hand signaling a thing of the past. RideLite is green for the group’s last rider.
“Don’t take your hands off the bars!” That is pretty much the first thing you tell novices (especially children) when they are learning to ride. So why would I want to take my hands off the handlebars when riding now?

I have considered the universal snowmobile hand signals to be dangerous to use. Murphy’s Law guarantees that you will be near a corner in the trail when you meet an approaching group of riders. You’ll be frantically attempting to remember the amount of people in your group while throwing up what look like gang signs and negotiating the turn with one hand on the bars. It’s just silly when you stop and think about it!
RideLite snowmobile safety light system toggle switch box
These tuning instruments are small and easy to use. The EJK tuner board is on the left, along with a power switch for the Koso gauge, which is mounted conveniently on the tank cover.
RideLite snowmobile safety light system green last rider
The Koso air/fuel gauge comes complete with oxygen sensor and wiring harness.
When you take your hand off the handlebar to signal, you decrease your ability to control the sled. Your signaling hand is no longer on the brake, forcing you to sacrifice control of your machine to make a hand signal that supposedly achieves greater safety. I am sure we have all experienced sleds darting quickly to one side or another. It is much harder to control that movement with only one hand.

What many of us forget from our snowmobile safety classes is that hand signaling should only be done when safe to do so. But I am pretty sure it is never all that safe to take your hands off the bars when there is oncoming traffic. Also, most of us are so used to signaling with our hands that it is second nature, and we signal every time we meet another group of riders, even if it may be unsafe due to speed or conditions. If you are traveling at 30 mph, and you meet riders who are also traveling at 30 mph, then you are closing in on each other at 60 mph. Meeting head-on at these speeds can have disastrous consequences!

I see the light!

On my snowmobile travels, I’ve seen many riders using the RideLite system out on the trails. After a few years of seeing them, I decided to purchase one, and I’ve since encouraged many people in my group of riders to do the same. The price of the RideLite system was just $79 with free shipping.

The RideLite offers a safer and better way of communicating on the trail than universal hand signals. If you have not seen this LED technology, it is a bright, three-light system that mounts on the brake-hand side of the cowl, windshield or side of the sled to warn oncoming drivers that there is a group.

The first rider and subsequent riders in the group set their light to the steady yellow position, which means that there are other riders behind you. The last rider in the group sets his or her light to green, indicating that they are the last rider in the group. If you are riding alone, you obviously set your light to green. Oncoming riders quickly and easily can identify the lights and intuitively know what they mean.

There is also a hazard setting with a flashing yellow light that you can use if you have an issue along the trail. If the point man in your group looks back and sees the flashing yellow, he/she can pull over and stop the group.
RideLite snowmobile safety light system in-line fuse battery
The Dobeck EJK tuner is small and easy to mount, and comes with a wiring harness that plugs in directly to the stock wiring harness.
RideLite snowmobile safety light system DC converter wiring harness battery compartment
It’s recommended to add an in-line fuse to the wiring for RideLite, which can hook directly to the battery. The DC converter and wiring can be zip-tied to the wiring harness in the battery compartment. Once installed, the RideLite is highly visible.
Additionally, this lighting system allows groups to be better coordinated at night, when it’s more difficult to see hand signals clearly. Although it is generally easy to see oncoming sleds’ headlights at night, you may not always be sure how many are behind the first rider, and it is good to know if there are stragglers that may be riding fast to catch up with the group.

I spoke to RideLite’s founder and president Chris Sawicki, and he informed me that although riders use the product nationwide, it is mostly riders in New England who use them out on the trails. New Hampshire was the first state to introduce a statewide re-education program with RideLite as a focal point. Vermont, Maine and New York also started similar statewide re-education programs a few years back, so they are quickly catching up!

The RideLite is very easy to install, and it’s powered by your snowmobile’s electrical system. Since it uses LED light technology, it draws very little power and has a long life expectancy. The RideLite comes with everything needed to connect it to your sled. Although the website states that installation time is less than 20 minutes, it can take longer if you are not familiar with your sled’s electrical system.

Many folks with a RideLite simply pay to have the local snowmobile repair shop or dealer install it, which costs them approximately $70, but I installed mine myself.

There are two different options for connecting your RideLite: wire it directly to the battery or wire it to a fuse-protected circuit in your sled. With the newer sleds, like my 2012 Polaris Switchback, there is not a lot of room under the cowling to maneuver and splice into a fuse-protected circuit, so I decided to connect my RideLite directly to the battery.

The RideLite instructions state that when wiring directly to the battery, you must install an in-line fuse of no higher than two amps. Although some folks in a number of online forums have said that they wired their RideLite directly to the battery without an in-line fuse, I decided that it was a small price to pay and only a small additional investment of time to protect my RideLite. The in-line fuse holder cost me $6.49, and a pack of five 2A fuses was $3.49. The trip to my local auto parts store to pick up these items increased the amount of time I spent on the project.

You will also need zip ties to secure the wire as you weave it through the engine compartment of your snowmobile. You could also use electrical tape, but I find zip ties to be easier and quicker.
RideLite snowmobile safety light system green Polaris
The Dobeck EJK tuner is small and easy to mount, and comes with a wiring harness that plugs in directly to the stock wiring harness.
I installed my RideLite using the company’s Premium Mount Kit ($36.99), which gives you much more flexibility in mounting your RideLite, and it allows you to angle it to get the best visibility. The basic Ridelite mount sticks to the surface of your snowmobile using an adhesive pad on the bottom of the mount. The premium mount bolts to your sled and will require drilling two small holes. It can be mounted in many different locations, and it’s easily adjusted using a single knob. The premium mount also protects your RideLite from heavy vibrations better.

Having gone through the wiring process, I believe that the easier and quicker way to get your RideLite installed and working is to purchase the Direct Connect Wire Kit $9.99, which connects directly to your cigarette lighter-style accessory plug. Whether you use the basic, premium or standard mount, once the RideLite is in place, just plug one end of the wire into the back of the RideLite and the other end into your 12V accessory port, and you are in business.

One of the interesting things I have noticed since installing my RideLite is that a number of riders refused to use hand signals when approaching me. This makes no sense, but maybe they were just confused. The good news is that many people have asked us where to buy them, because they also think that having the RideLite is a much safer signaling option. You can also have more fun and actually ride better because you are more focused on the trail and what is going on around you than you are on giving hand signals.

If we all keep our hands on the handlebars at all times, we will have better control of our machines, and our collective riding experience will be much safer and enjoyable. You can learn more about the RideLite at Ride right, ride safe.
RideLite snowmobile safety light system trail group
The RideLite offers a safer and better way of signaling on the trail than universal hand signals.
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