FUN WITH BIKES
The Cycling Mirror
Most regular/experienced cyclists consider the use of a rear view mirror a non-negotiable safety necessity. Those new to the activity might not fully appreciate its value, particularly with other more obvious or pressing initial needs such as the expense of the bike itself and a helmet.
Bicycles are considered slow moving vehicles that have all the same rights and responsibilities of the road as cars. All cars come standard with a rear-view and two side mirrors, yet bicycles are sold without any mirrors at all. It would be unthinkable to drive a car without the aid of those three mirrors.
There are many convincing reasons why a mirror enhances safety while riding:
- The absence of a mirror requires a glance over your shoulder for a traffic check. This action tends to veer the bike a bit to that side, toward the traffic lane. A quick glance into a cycling mirror does not require a turn of the head which prevents such a drift. You can make sure the coast is clear and then safely make your move.
- Many older cyclists have arthritis in their neck and shoulders leaving them unable to turn their head far enough to see cars behind them. A mirror provides a better opportunity for rear vision.
- Cyclists tend to monitor traffic coming up from behind by the sound of an engine and wheels on the road. The newer hybrid and electric cars alter that dynamic. A mirror enables you to detect traffic you might not hear and from much farther away, and gives you the opportunity to stake your place on the road so that an upcoming car can better see you.
Some cyclists might suggest that, despite using a mirror, a “head turn” is necessary to be absolutely sure a vehicle is not approaching from behind before passing or turning left. Most drivers have had the experience of peeking in the mirror before starting a merge into the left lane only to hear the irate blare of a horn from another motorist lurking in the “blind spot”. However, with a mirror on you or your bike THERE ARE NO BLINDSPOTS. With a helmet- or glasses-attached mirror, a slight turn of the head provides a full rearward scan, curb to curb, with no place for a car or even another bike to hide.
You might hear some cyclists opine against mirrors because, they claim, the mirror distracts from watching the road ahead. That reasoning does not negate the fact that what is behind you is equally, perhaps even more, important. Your eyes can still take in what is happening in front of you while occasionally monitoring the rear. For a cyclist new to mirror usage it is a quick and natural transition.
There are three main types of mirrors: 1.(sun)glasses-attached, 2.helmet-attached, and 3.handlebar attached. Each have advantages and disadvantages and rider preferences. No mirror fits everyone the same. You may need to try out different types of mirrors before you find the one that works best for you.
- Attach and detach easily and can be easily adjusted.
- A good excuse to wear glasses even if you don’t normally. Helps to keep dust, bugs, and debris out of your eyes, and helps prevent UV damage to your eyes if you choose to use sunglasses.
- Can give some cyclists headaches from looking at them at an odd angle.
- Somewhat flimsy, easy to knock out of position.
Eyeware mirrors are typically the smallest mirrors of the choices at about 1 1/8-inch in diameter.
#2 Helmet Mirrors
- Allow you to see behind you and at 360 degrees no matter where you turn your head.
- Versatile. Plenty of helmet-to-mirror configurations.
- Easy to mount and tucks away in your gear.
- Can bend and crack at the stem.
- The mirror sometimes attaches to the stem with a ball-and-socket joint that can break easily. The joint can wear out causing the mirror to flop around.
#3 Handlebar Mirrors or Bar End Mount Mirrors
- Heavier-duty than helmet or glasses mirrors; better longevity.
- Larger mirror surface.
- Easily knocked off your bike or out of adjustment.
- Requires you to look further away from the road in front of you than helmet or glasses mirrors.
- What you see behind you depends on which direction your handlebars are pointed. Helmet and glasses mirrors allow you to turn your head and look almost anywhere.
- Under-the-bars models can require you to move your arm to see the image.
Part of every cyclists "essential" equipment should be a MIRROR.