If you have ever been stopped by a police officer while driving your car, you may have experienced the mirror test. The officer stands behind your vehicle and you have to be able to see him and him you from all three mirrors. The idea is that if your mirrors aren’t adjusted correctly you are driving an unsafe vehicle because you can’t properly see what’s happening behind you. That’s fair. But how many bicyclists have you seen both in the city and on tour that have no mirrors at all? In my experience it would be more than 70%.
By using a rear view mirror you can see what is coming up behind you by only shifting your eyes. Sometimes people swerve their bikes in the direction they turn their head around, which could put them directly in line with the car or truck behind them. This phenomenon is particularly prevalent if you have a 40 pound pack on your bike. Also, it allows you to still have vision of what is in front of you, since your eye movement to the mirror is so small. It’s tough enough when a car or truck passes you too close, but if you are not prepared for the noise, or the push / pull of the vehicle the sudden scare could throw you off balance and cause serious injury.
Some riders won’t wear a mirror because they think it makes them look like a goof. Other riders are overconfident and think that their years of experience will keep them out of danger. Some riders who like speed say that mirrors add extra weight, cause additional drag, and disturb the elegant design of their expensive road machine. I believe it’s minimal on all counts.
So, if you are convinced that a mirror is a safer riding option for you, you’re next question is – what type of mirror is best?
Mirrors come in several styles. Which one works best for you will be entirely up to your taste and abilities.
1. Helmet mirror: These are small and light and obviously, you need to wear a helmet when riding. Due to vision problems I have never been able to use these. Hence I am unable to give an objective opinion. However they seem ideal for touring.
2. Frame mounted or bar mounted ( with straps ): I've had several frame mounted & bar mounted ( with straps ) mirrors. The most interesting mounted on the frame between my legs, I had to look straight down to use it. All of these mounts were unstable and allowed the mirror to moved, hence they never worked properly. Stay away from this stuff.
3. Handlebar mounted ( attached with a allen bolt ): I used a Mirrycle about 10 years ago and fell in love. These are perfectly stable and can easily adjust to any angle. It can even be used as a bar end on the left side. The rest of the market is catching up but Mirrycle is still my favorite for touring.
Overall helmet mirrors seem ideal if you can use them, otherwise go for a Mirrycle.