By Stan Purdum
- Convex cycling-specific mirror
- Doesn’t vibrate and interfere with viewing
- Stays in position (no ball joint to fool with)
- No blind spot
- Instrument-quality glass
- Minimalist profile
- Takes a bit of practice to learn how to best read the images (just as with your car’s rearview mirror, objects in this mirror are closer than they appear).
Available here: www.italianroadbikemirror.com (not sold in bike shops)
Price: $44.95 (includes shipping)
Slightly blemished versions, apparently released by the manufacturer, are sold on eBay for $29.95 plus $6.50 shipping.
How obtained: Purchased with cold, hard cash.
RBR Advertiser: No
Eight years ago, I woke up one morning to find that I’d lost most of the sight in my left eye. The reason, I learned later during an emergency room visit, was due to an occlusion of the retinal artery — essentially a stroke in the eye. It’s a fairly rare phenomenon, but there’s no fix for it. While there’s a small chance that the same could happen in my right eye, it hasn’t, and I see fine with that eye.
The immediate effect on me as a cyclist was that trying to check behind me by turning my head to the left was wasted effort; I couldn’t see much that way. What’s more, the rearview mirror mounted on the left side of my helmet was now useless to me in that position. I was able to switch that mirror to the right side of my helmet, where it was better than no mirror at all, but I had a blind spot behind my left shoulder, and more than once, I pulled into the path of another rider while on a group ride.
When I later bought a new helmet, it had the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology, and the wire clip that attached the mirror to my helmet interfered with the slip-plane (rotational-mitigation) feature of that system, so I abandoned the helmet mirror altogether. One of my bikes has a mirror that attaches to the STI shifter, and that works fairly well — though it gets knocked out of kilter occasionally — but my other bike isn’t set up to accommodate that sort of mirror.
The good solution I recently found is the Italian Road Bike Mirror, which mounts on the end of the drop bar. I had tried some other bar-end mirrors previously, but none were very satisfactory.
The Italian mirror can be mounted on either end of a drop bar, but since we ride on the right in the US, I installed it on the left end of my drops. And though that’s my blind side, when I glance under my arm at the mirror, I can read its images just fine with my right eye.
The Italian mirror, which, as the name suggests, is made in Italy, seems to be a high-quality product. Importantly, the mirror is glass, which reflects clearer images than does plastic, and it is convex in shape, which means it embraces a wide view of the scene behind the rider. I found it provides the view I need to feel secure as I avoid traffic or move left.
While some bar-end mirrors plug into the open end of the drop, the Italian mirror has a flanged rubber sheath that fits over the bar end. In fact, the manufacturer recommends that you first install a bar-end plug to keep the open end from cutting into the sheath. Because of the over-the bar arrangement, the mirror is larger than it might be otherwise.
The disadvantage of the over-the-bar arrangement is that you cannot tidily install this mirror without first removing the bar tape from the drop end. And since most bar tape is wrapped starting at the bar end, this effectively means you have to unwrap the whole tape on one side of your handlebar. However, if you’re ready to refresh your bar tape, this is a good time to do it. In my case, I had recently installed new tape, so I unwrapped and rewrapped. It wasn’t a big deal.
The printed instructions that come with the mirror give some direction for how to position it, but the best idea is, while the bar tape is removed, to install the mirror and secure it with electrical tape. Then take a test ride and adjust the mirror as needed to find the sweet spot. Then, return home and install the bar wrap. Once that’s done, it’s still possible to adjust the mirror position slightly, but the mirror is quite secure at this point and does not move on its own.
By the way, the instructions include this helpful warning: “Like any other instrument, don’t pay excessive attention to the mirror. Use it as part of your total awareness on the bike.” That’s a good reminder to me, who once crashed and broke my collarbone while paying too much attention to my cyclometer!
Stan Purdum has ridden several long-distance bike trips, including an across-America ride recounted in his book Roll Around Heaven All Day, and a trek on U.S. 62, from Niagara Falls, New York, to El Paso, Texas, the subject of his book Playing in Traffic. Stan, a freelance writer and editor, lives in Ohio. See more at www.StanPurdum.com.