4 More Things You Should Know About Selecting A Bicycle Mirror

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This week I had the pleasure of working with the fine folks from CycleAware (a company located in Aptos, California that makes mirrors and other bicycle safety products) at the 2008 Interbike Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was asked to work the CycleAware booth after writing a review of the various types of bicycle mirrors… and I was happy to accept their invitation.

CycleAware Bicycle Mirror Company

While working the booth was a lot of fun and I got to meet some incredible people, the best part was that I learned even more about bicycle safety and mirrors in general. I feel it’s important I pass on this information… so here it is:

Mirrors Aren’t For Everybody:

Of all the people I met this week, most of them said they’ve ridden with a mirror at one point or another. Mirrors were especially popular with commuters, day riders, and long distance tourists. But out of all the people I met this week, a few cyclists exclaimed that they have never and will never ride with a mirror. Of these few, most of them were either mountain bikers or road bikers. Their reason for not wearing a mirror: aerodynamics and (in the case of mountain bikers) tree branches that might knock the mirror from their head.

CycleAware ViewPoint bicycle mirror for road riders and mountain bikersThat being said, there were a number of mountain bikers and road bikers who came by the booth and swore by the use of the CycleAware Viewpoint – a mirror that attaches to the inside of your sunglasses and gives you a surprisingly large picture of what’s coming up behind you.

After talking to a few of these people who had never used a mirror before, I could tell that they were stuck in their ways. They were comfortable riding without a mirror and they didn’t feel there was a need for such an item in their cycling pursuits.

I think this is fine. You don’t have to ride with a mirror if you don’t want to. After this week, I honestly believe that riding with a mirror is not for everyone. It’s more of a personal choice.

But this website is about bicycle touring… and in the case of most traveling cyclists, I think riding with a mirror is a good idea. You are going to be spending large amounts of time on your bike and riding with a mirror eliminates the hassle and stress of constantly having to look back to see what’s coming up behind you.

When I bought my first bicycle mirror in 2001 for my tour down the California Coastline, I thought it felt funny. I wasn’t sure how it was supposed to work and I was self-conscious of this long plastic arm jutting out of my helmet. But by the time I got to the Mexican/American border, I was so comfortable with my helmet-mounted mirror that I had almost completely forgotten it was there. It was apart of me and it played a vital role in allowing me to successfully navigate my way to my final destination.

Bicycle mirrors may not be for everyone, but you just have to decide whether or not they are right for you. And you won’t know whether you like riding with a mirror until you give it a try!

Your Bicycle Mirror Should Be Safe To Use:

Something I failed to talk about in my first review of the various types of bicycle mirrors is safety.

Obviously the whole point of riding with a mirror is so you can see behind you without having to whip your head around every time you hear something approaching from the rear. But what about the safety of the mirror itself? What if you were to get into an accident and fall into your mirror? How safe would that be?

One of the reasons some cyclists refuse to wear a mirror is because they fear that if they are ever in an accident the mirror or the arm the mirror is extended on will be pushed into their eye or head, possibly causing serious damage.

A crash of this kind isn’t very common, but it is a possibility. And as I’ve said before on this site, when traveling by bike, you should be prepared for anything. That’s why the CycleAware mirrors are so great!

CycleAware mirrors, unlike many of the other bicycle mirrors on the market, are designed with safety in mind.

First of all, CycleAware mirrors have no sharp edges and no exposed wires. If you do get yourself into an accident, there is almost no chance of you cutting on poking yourself to death.

CycleAware helmet mounted bicycle mirrorSecondly, CycleAware mirrors are designed to break away in the case of an impact. Take the CycleAware Reflex mirror for example. The mirror has two pop-away joints, where in the case of an accident, the mirror and the arm of the mirror will pop out of their sockets and fly away from the rider’s face, thus preventing any sort of injury to the cyclist. The HeadsUp and ViewBar mirrors have similar breakaway features.

The Weight Of Your Mirror Is Important:

One of the big complaints many riders at Interbike had about riding with a bicycle mirror is that the mirrors they had used in the past were simply too heavy for their liking. Weight is important when selecting a mirror for your bicycle tour… and you want to keep that weight down as much as possible.

lightweight bicycle mirror - CycleAware HeadsUpAnother great thing about the CycleAware mirrors is that they are incredibly lightweight. The HeadsUp mirror, which hangs from your sunglasses, is lighter than you think (only 3.1 grams)… and those at Interbike who had never tried this sunglass-mounted mirror before were quite surprised at just how lightweight this small but powerful mirror really is.

You Don’t Have To Look At It All The Time:

Finally, some riders use the excuse that wearing a mirror gives them a headache. Because the mirror is in their field of view while they are riding, they feel thrown off by its presence and end up ditching the mirror after a short period of time.

But what these riders don’t realize is that they don’t have to look at the mirror all the time. The mirror on your bike is meant to be used like the mirror in your car. You don’t look at it all the time. You only look at it when you want to. And when you do look at it, you just give it a quick glance and then adjust your eyes back on the road ahead of you.

As I said before, I felt a little uncomfortable with my mirror at first too. The Reflex mirror (which is the one I usually use) does hang down on the side of your face and it does take a little getting used to. But after a few days of riding with the mirror you forget that it’s even there.

My experiences at this year’s Interbike Expo were above and beyond my expectations. I learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and got a lot of great information to share with you in the days to come. I hope you’ve learned something here about bicycle mirrors and if you have any questions, please use the comments box below to ask away.

If you’d like to read my first review of the CycleAware products, please click here. And if you’d like to grab a mirror or two for yourself, visit the BicycleTouringPro.com Store.

About Darren Alff

Darren Alff is a world-renowned authority on bicycle touring and is the founder of BicycleTouringPro.com - the world's most popular bicycle touring website and how-to information source. He is the author of "The Bicycle Touring Blueprint" and three additional cycling books. Darren has dedicated his life to helping others conduct the bicycle tour of their dreams. His websites, books, email newsletter, products and public appearances now inspire and assist hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world.

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6 Comments

  1. Roger Messman

    September 30, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Hi Darren, I agree whole heartedly about the use of a mirror. I have used a number of them over the years and the one I like best is the Mountain Mirrycle Bar End Mirror from Mountain Mirrycle. It is available from Performance Bicycle http://www.performancebike.com/shop/Profile.cfm?SKU=296&item=37-6651&slitrk=search&slisearch=true It works best on flat bars, but I have used it on a 3400 mile cross country trip with drop bars. This mirror is very stable and very adjustable. It can be adjusted in all three dimensions. It does not vibrate apart from the handlebars. It comes with a hex wrench that fits all three bolts. For flat bars I don’t think there is a better mirror.

  2. chip

    November 9, 2008 at 5:27 am

    re: Mirrors aren’t for everybody
    Every rider owes it to their themselves, loved ones and everyone else on the road to be the safest rider they can be. Not sure that is possible without a rear view mirror. It is critical for road cyclists to know what is coming up from behind in order to avoid getting sideswiped, buzzed, or pinched against the curb.
    To blindly trust all motorists to make a safe pass is unwise, especially given the consequences at stake (your life). But to be continually turning around to look is an unnecessary risk.
    Cars are equipped with 3 rear view mirrors and it is discomforting, to say the least, to drive without all three. So why would anyone ride without a rear view mirror?

  3. Darren Alff

    November 9, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I agree with you Chip. It’s just that I’ve talked to so many cyclists and there are some people out there who will never use a mirror – no matter what anyone says.

  4. Another rider

    July 10, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Over the years, I’ve had almost every helmet mirror ever made. I prefer a helmet mirror because you can “aim” them and cover a wider area behind you than a handlebar mounted mirror. They vibrate less, too. The only one that I liked was an all metal job that clipped onto the edge of the helmet, but it’s not available any more, and wouldn’t work on the contemporary helmets anyway.

    My current favorite mirror is the Steady Eye mirror. It takes no adhesives, as it just clips onto my helmet visor. It has a short stiff arm that just about negates vibration, and I can swap it from my bike helmet to a baseball cap or a visor. The pivot joint has adjustable friction, unlike the plastic ball joints used on most other mirrors. The whole thing (other than the mirror itself) is metal but still weighs only .72oz.

    My problem with the plastic ones is three fold. Most are stuck onto the helmet with adhesive that tends to unstick. Most have long plastic arms that are prone to vibrate and mess with your vision. The ball joints used don’t hold the adjustment. The last plastic one I had wore out in two months in that the ball got so loose it flopped in the wind. With no friction adjustment, it was shot.

    The Steady Eye mirror addressed all these issues. Plastic stinks. Metal rules.

    I got mine off an ad on eCrater, but a Google search for “Steady Eye mirror”
    will find it too.

  5. Steve Snyder

    August 12, 2009 at 10:11 am

    I just tried one of the metal versions that clamp to my glasses. Really light, and all was well until I rode in to work today and all I saw was my backpack. If anyone found a solution with a helmet mounted product, please let me know.
    thanks

  6. Jim Catlette

    February 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I had one of the cycleware mirrors and it lasted about a week. I will not reccomend them to anyone. I contacted them about the problem and the gave me a choice of a replacement or an upgrade at a cost to me. I did not want another mirror like the one that just fell apart and I didn’t feel like giving them any more money. I bought a Take a Look Mirror an I am very sastified with it .

    The Steady Eye mirror is very good as well.

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