Among the seemingly countless road hazards and situations that present themselves to riders daily, unexpected animals that cross the path of a traveling motorcycle can be some of the most dangerous. For obvious reasons, bikers seek out rural roads for pleasure riding and travel, and while these roads provide the best scenery and reduced traffic, they also are home to many types of wildlife, including deer.
There are numerous statistics that document a deer’s unpredictable nature, which can create a deadly formula when placed in the path of a motorcycle and rider. Almost every rider safety course deals with this issue. In addition to developing rider skills and techniques, what else can be done to avoid contact with deer? Deer whistles. Say what? An electronic deer avoidance system.
The Hornet electronic deer-avoidance system is a device that generates a 5,000-Hz square-wave pattern that uses “wave variance” tuning to make a secondary frequency in the 18,000-21,000-Hz range. Wave-variance tuning combines reverberation and reflection of the signal. As the signal passes through the barrel of the Hornet, the reverberating wave is then reflected off the road surface, creating a sonic echo effect. This allows the sound wave to carry a much longer distance, approximately 1,600 feet (effective range is said to be 700 feet), according to the manufacturer.
The frequency is well within a human’s hearing as well as most animals. The primary advantage of the Hornet electronic version over a wind-driven deer whistle is that the Hornet emits its warning no matter what speed the bike is traveling. Wind-driven deer whistles typically require vehicle speeds of 30 to 50 mph to be effective. Other Hornet advantages include a longer range and, because the signal is electronically produced, it is not diminished by rain, snow and debris.
The Hornet can be mounted to the bike in a location that is not so noticeable. It can be switched on or off depending on the area and the likelihood of having a deer encounter. We mounted Hornet deer whistles on two different Harley touring bikes, a Road Glide and a Road King, to get a feel for how complicated the installation is and to see if we could determine if deer seemed to be “detoured” by the frequencies emitted from the whistle.
The manufacturer’s instructions recommend mounting the whistle at a 45-degree angle pointing down to the road out in front of the vehicle. We found a spot under the right floorboard that has a flat mounting surface, is easy to run wire to, and where the Hornet is almost completely undetectable. Both Harley models had an auxiliary accessory switch. We traced the switch’s wiring, tapped into the existing circuit, and in a little under 45 minutes the installation was complete.
The Hornet comes complete with wiring and switches. If your model bike is not equipped with a switch there is no need to purchase one. There is also a P-clamp available ($19.95) should you decide you would like to mount the Hornet to the bike’s downtube.
The frequency emitted from the whistle can be heard when the bike’s engine is not running, but is not noticeable with the engine running. We wondered what a dog’s reaction would be to the whistle. While it is clear that a dog hears the whistle as demonstrated in its reaction to our turning the switch on and off, it appeared to neither attract nor repel the animal. So what then about deer?
The Hornet is said to alert the deer of an oncoming intruder – in this case a motorcycle – long before it arrives at the same location as the deer, and thus cause the deer to move away from the oncoming noise. We have no way of testing this, and no study that we have seen has been able to document the effectiveness of any type of deer-deterrent device.
So is this a foolproof system to preventing a collision with a deer? We can’t say, but for less than the cost of a dinner for two it can provide an additional warning to deer that might otherwise stray into the bike’s path of travel.
The Hornet retails for $59.95 and carries a 90-day warranty along with a lifetime service policy.
For further information contact XP3 Corporation, 800-475-3563, www.xp3hornet.com.