Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
Twice, I’ve witnessed scary crashes caused by a common mistake, which is turning your head to look behind you. Here’s what happened to two roadies I saw hit the deck after turning to look. And following the stories are techniques for avoiding crashing.
The first incident took place on a weekly group ride. I’ll rename the victim “Rudy,” a strongman who’d only recently joined the Saturday hammerfest. As we crested the top of the final roller before the downgrade to the sprint, he punched it attempting to get a gap and hold it to the line. I watched this move from about 15th position.
It wasn’t a dumb move. Lots of time trial types had used that tactic to beat the sprinters over the years. But, Rudy unwisely decided to turn and look back to see whether he had opened enough of a gap. And, at that moment – as he was doing his best owl imitation – he either was shocked to see that five riders were already on him, or his front wheel might have found a divot… but whatever caused it, Rudy’s front end jacknifed and he went straight down hitting the road head first. A couple of others also fell, but only Rudy required the ambulance.
The second incident happened to a friend I’ll call “Lucky,” which will ring true after reading his story. It occurred on often busy coastal Highway 1 here in Santa Cruz, California. I was riding south and spotted Lucky riding north. I waved and he did, too. Next thing I knew, he was coming up alongside to ride south with me.
There’s a decent shoulder on that section so we were side by side talking, Lucky on the left, the traffic side. Moments later we saw five riders coming toward us on the other side of the road. Lucky said, “See ya, Jim, I’m going to hop on that group!” He then veered hard left.
I heard what he said, saw him bank left and I tried to yell, “Stop!” But it was too late. I heard the screech of brakes and the impact. I then saw the Toyota that hit Lucky pass me and pull over, the driver swinging the door open and jumping out to run back. I got off my bike and followed. Miraculously, Lucky was sitting cross-legged in the road merely stunned because he had run into the side of the car! Instead of being run over, maybe killed, he was just dumped in the road. There wasn’t even any obvious bike damage. “Lucky” ideed.
Looking Back is Risky
The point of both real life crash stories is to illustrate how dangerous it can be to try to look behind you when riding. It’s dangerous because turning the head and/or body will usually change the bike’s balance and cause one to turn the bars and veer off course. In Rudy’s case that inadvertent turn caused his faceplant. For Lucky, who claimed after being hit that he had looked back, he obviously did not do so very well or he surely would have seen the Toyota.
Tips for Looking Back Safely
Technique one: Turning to look back
If you want to get good at it, turning your head and shoulders to see behind you is a skill that takes practice. Do it somewhere safe, maybe on a smooth grass field. Also, when you do it for real out on the road never forget to check ahead to be sure you don’t run into something when you’re looking the wrong way.
To turn and look you twist your head and torso toward the traffic lane. To reduce the chance of veering, first move the hand furthest from the traffic lane close to the stem. This provides less steering “leverage.” Leave that hand in place and try to hold a steady straight line.
Now to look back, practice removing your other hand which lets you turn your arm, shoulders and head as far as is comfortable to really see what’s behind you. If you’re flexible and have great balance this might be easy. If not, keep practicing… or keep reading for another technique to learn.
Technique two: Looking back while holding on
For Lucky, I think the best technique would have been to use me to look back safely – another skill that takes practice. To do this, he would have told me first. Then, he would have put his right hand on my left shoulder to hold on while he turned back to look.
This sounds easy but because you’re holding onto the handlebars on the same side you’re turning to look, flexible folks will find it easier than tighter riders. Practice will help.
I intentionally left the obvious accessory solution for looking back to last, which is rear view mirrors. I did that because in my experience, “Rudys” and “Luckys” and a myriad of roadies like them are highly unlikely to use mirrors. But a mirror would have saved Rudy.
I have used them a lot and know how well mirrors work. So, if you have a mirror you swear by, would you please leave a comment with the details, the make and model? Also, please tell how it mounts. And feel free to share how you use it or why you feel that mirrors are the safest option. Perhaps we can persuade some Rudys or Luckys to give them a try.
Or if you have another tried and true technique for looking back, please share that, too. Thank you!
10,130 Daily Rides in a Row
Jim Langley is RBR’s Technical Editor. He has been a pro mechanic and cycling writer for more than 40 years. He’s the author of Your Home Bicycle Workshop in the RBR eBookstore. Check out his “cycling aficionado” website at http://www.jimlangley.net, his Q&A blog and updates at Twitter. Jim’s cycling streak ended in February 2022 with a total of 10,269 consecutive daily rides (28 years, 1 month and 11 days of never missing a ride). Click to read Jim’s full bio.
David Frost says
Been using and appreciating the “Take-A-Look” mirror on my helmet for several decades. Easy to adjust, and holds it adjustment well.
Greg Conderacci says
Me, too! Works on glasses or (with a couple zip ties) on helmets. No battery required.
Mark Linehan says
I also have used the Take-a-Look mirror for years. Looking into the mirror becomes instinctive – I do it without thinking because it is so easy. After multi-day rides, I find myself trying to use the mirror even while walking, when I don’t have it on!
I like this mirror so much, I have purchased it for all my family members.
Bill Bagnell says
Exactly my experience. Zip tied to my helmet, I can see forward and back at the same time. There are blind spots but I know where they are. And walking the dog, usually down the middle of our low traffic neighborhood, I constantly look for my non-existent mirror to check in back. I’m too old and not flexible enough to twist back on my bike and look behind.
Roy Bloomfield says
Aside from the “pros and ‘cool’ riders don’t use them” excuse – which riders will never admit to being a slave to – I really can’t understand why more riders don’t use the Take-a-Look mirror. I’ve been using them for years, and riding without one is now quite uncomfortable….Everyone driving a car or motorcycle uses mirrors CONSTANTLY, so why not use one while riding a bicycle? And the consequences of an accident as a result of needing a mirror and not having one is arguably MUCH MORE SEVERE while riding a bicycle . . .
I agree, have been using take-a-look for 25+ years. Super easy to use and adjust. Plus the great warranty (which I have used only once – somehow I broke the generally very sturdy mirror). I mount mine on my sunglasses, but it can mount on a helmet as well.
Don F says
I too use the Take-A-Look mirror based on a recommendation of a friend when I bought my bike. Never leave home without them and often find myself looking for them when I’m hiking or walking.. And, their customer service is outstanding, second to none
With my left arm on the hoods (usually) I kind of hook my chin on my shoulder. Then I can roll my head to my eyes look back pretty well. I used to do it on the other arm when I lived in Japan, where I developed this ability to stay safe.
Ditto–decades of use and very happy with the “Take-a-Look” mirror Cheap, durable, clear, easy to use, easy to adjust, light. I”ve used others and none has stood up as well.
I was riding behind a guy on a beautiful Specialized S-Works who was ahead of us by about 25 yards; he turned to look back at us and immediately veered off the road straight into a telephone pole. He was taken to the hospital with some serious injuries and fortunately, a kind homeowner (stranger) agreed to store his bike until his wife could pick it up.
My technique (learned in Bicycling mag I believe, but hardly a new tip) is to place my left hand on my hip before turning back over my left shoulder and looking behind. This does seem to steady the bike nicely and keep going straight.
Dan Fuoco says
First learned of this mirror through road bike rider. Find it is easy to use and gives real peace of mind while road riding
I second the hubbub mirror. Helmet mirrors such as this one always keep your rear view within a short sideways glance while having the road ahead still in peripheral vision (which is where bar-end mirrors fall short, because you have to look down, away from the road ahead).
Rowland Mayor says
I also nominate the Hubbub Mirror. Attaches securely to the helmet and holds the adjustment better than any other mirror I have used. Nice wide field of view, too.
Paul Ahart says
I”ll add my vote for the HubBub cycle mirror. I got one right after reading Jim Langley’s review, tried it, and immediately ordered them to sell in my bike shop. I’ve got them on 3 of my own helmets.
Getting them positioned correctly takes a bit of time, but then they stay put. I now feel naked cycling without one.
Jordan Adair says
I use this mirror, too, and it is excellent. It attaches firmly to the front side of your helmet with a strong wire clip. The shape of the mirror is what sets it apart from most other mirrors–it has six sides and provides more field of vision than most other mirrors. Once mounted, all it takes is a slight movement of your head to the left and you can easily see what’s behind. You can still use your peripheral vision to keep what’s in front in view, too. It is sturdy and remains in its set position firmly.
I have read some other responses here describing riders who refuse to use mirrors–vanity, coolness, hammerheadedness–but none of those reasons seem relevant in the face of what happens when you crash because have to turn your head or someone or something is in your blind spot and you do something hastily. And though using a mirror takes a bit of getting used to, it truly is an easy adjustment and may just save your life.
And finally, it was Ed Pavelka, the founder of RBR and at one time my neighbor and still my friend, who sold me on the necessity of using a mirror. He is about as “cool” and legendary as they come–and he’s all about getting through your rides in one piece. Anything that helps make that happen is a good thing.
nancy m says
I use the “take a look” mirror as well. I originally got it because of a pinched nerve in my neck and now I’m at the point where I can’t ride without it! It’s amazing how much you can see behind you! I’m a daily commuter in Boston and it is very helpful with the amount of cars on the road!
corey wilner says
Varia Radar from Garmin! Other than my helmet, the most essential piece of safety equipment. Picks up cars and motorcycles and often picks up a rider coming up from behind. I always double check when making any move, but I’ve not had any situation where there’s nothing on the radar and looking back there was a car or motorcycle. And unlike a mirror where you do have to take your eyes off the road for a moment, the Varia can signal you through a bike computer or its head unit through sound.
George Straznitskas says
Absolutely right Corey! As you know Varia also picks up cyclists approaching from behind at faster than your speed, eliminating the need to turn your head. My only disagreement with you is that I’d rate Varia equal to the helmet in terms of safety.
Kirk Larson says
I will second the Varia Radar. It gives me a continuous awareness of what’s approaching from behind without having to look back. I also like that it will alert you to the electric vehicle running silent behind you. Like the commenter above, I always double check before making a move. If “Lucky” had been running one of these, he’d have already been notified of the approaching Toyota, and would have had a better chance to see it when he looked back.
I, too, use the Varia radar which alerts me with a visual display and audible warning on my Hammerhead Karoo2, I also receive an audible warning in my bluetooth-enabled hearing aids from the Karoo. To further verify what is behind me, I use bar-mounted mirrors on all my bikes. I have found Sprintech mirrors to be the most reliable, but the image they produce makes vehicles appear further away than they are.
Roy Bloomfield says
The Varia will never be able to inform the rider as to:
1) the size of the vehicle approaching (the difference between a motorcycle and a moving van is IMPORTANT info)
2) how much the vehicle is moving over as it approaches the rider, and in fact if the vehicle is moving over to the left AND NOT TO THE RIGHT! This is HUGELY IMPORTANT info.
3) how many vehicles are in the line approaching rider.
These are a few of the reasons for why I use a mirror.
Chris VandenBossche says
Take a look and hubbub are both great. I use a Takealook on my sunglasses. Hubbug is a helmet mirror. On my commuter bike I have a bar-end mirror (brand unknown but it’s narrow, not round and so unobtrusive). I used to ride without a mirror. When I started leading a beginner group I used a mirror because it was much easier to keep track of them. I’ve never stopped looking back.
I tuck my chin down and take a quick peek over my left shoulder. The chin tuck keeps my upper body from turning much. And like I’ve told my kids when teaching them to drive, the look back is very quick because you don’t have to know WHAT is back there, just IF something is there.
John Marsh says
Becky, that’s exactly how I do it. And I totally agree: You’re not trying to fixate on anything, just see if something is there. So, the quicker, the better. There’s no need to rotate your torso or move your hands. All of that is what causes you to veer offline.
I will add that as an Rx glasses wearer, I have never been able to find a mirror that works for me. So this solution has been my tried-and-true forever.
I’ve tried many mirror styles over the years and have settled on the Bike Peddler Take A Look mirror as well. Use a wire tie to secure it to your helmet. I select helmets with ‘bills’ to help with this.
Benefits of this arrangement:
1) Helmet-mounted means that it won’t be pulling your glasses down over time
2) Head-mounted removes almost all of the ‘jiggling’ that makes handlebar mounting so challenging to use
3) Head-mounted allows you to ‘scan’ behind you with a slight twist of the head while still keeping attention on the road ahead. Doing this with bar-mounted mirrors is dangerous.
4) You can lean your bike anywhere and not have it mess with you mirror adjustments.
5) Very durable, If you drop your helmet, the metal bracket can easily be rebent to your desired configuration.
6) Adjustment is simple. At the start of each ride, I strap on my helmet and, while standing, tilt head up a little bit and adjust the mirror so that I can see over my left shoulder while just seeing the edge of my ear and the top of my shoulder. Once riding, everything is in place, though tweaks can still be done.
7) Inexpensive and lightweight.
The only drawbacks that I’ve found are that it covers a small part of my forward view, though it’s high and to the side so not much is lost. The second thing is that I end up looking up and to the left all the time, even when I’m not riding, in a habit of looking behind me.
Hank S. says
I’ve been using the Cycleaware Reflex mirror for years. Not sure it is sold anymore. It’s helmet mounted, light, and flexible for adjustment. I feel very uncomfortable without it.
Fritz Mueller says
Both my wife and i use this mirror. It’s helmet mounted, so if I want to change glasses it’s not an issue; all of my helmets have this mirror mounted on them. I have it adjusted so that I can see everything from my rear wheel back, all lanes of the road.
Ed Thurlow says
I use the Bike Peddler Take A Look mirror as well. They make a large and small size. I use both. I zip tie it to my helmet so it’s out if the way and obscured. I will not ride without it. I always know what’s coming up behind me and you can train yourself to look all around as well ( sitting next to a car at a light to see if they have a blinker on etc)
I think many riders look down on mirrors since they are not “ cool”.
This mirror has saved my life many times. Just get a mirror- any kind!!
Charlie K says
As a bicycle tour guide, I must look back every few seconds to check on the “train” of guests behind me. I use a technique similar to “C”, where I grab the back of my saddle with my left hand and look back over my left shoulder. This stabilizes my riding position and I can glance back for a second or two to make sure everyone behind me is ok.
Howard Kagan says
I’ve been using the Italian Road Bike Mirror for years. It fits on the bar end wrapped in the bar tape – pretty unobtrusive. There is another manufacturer that makes one that is adjustable after installation but it’s larger. Riding the city streets of Chicago made this mirror a necessity!
I see that it’s available via Amazon for $45, and labeled “IRBM”. Check it out
Sprintech makes the other mirror. I’ve been using one for years and like it. I have never found it a distraction from looking forward any more than glancing at a rear view mirror in a car. To each his/her own and as another said, it doesn’t matter which you use, a mirror is essential particularly for those of us who are compromised by lessening neck flexibility.
Another vote for the Sprint tech I’ve tried all the other ones on the bar ends. This one just consistently works great. I don’t know why everybody doesn’t use one
Nancy Carter says
This is my favorite too. I am unable to use a mirror on my helmet because my eye lacks a muscle which causes me to see double when I look left. The one at the end of the handlebars works great. The only problem I have with it is that it is not on my mountain bike and I miss it!
B Washburn says
I’ve been using the Italian Road Bike mirror, a bar end mirror on the left side for the last 10+ years. It’s a small oval, slightly convex mirror that I can see while in the drops or up on the hoods. Its a fixed position mirror, wrapped into the bar end & hardly visible; not the kind with a ‘ball joint’ mount. It takes some work to install & aim, requiring a re-wrap of the bar tape and unless you can do this yourself, you’d be better off with the ball joint type.
After breaking my left collarbone, I had big problems looking over my left shoulder for traffic. I saw this somewhere on the internet, and absolutely swear by it now… the Beam Corky Bar End Mirror. Replaces the bar end plug, weighs almost nothing, adjustable, and it folds up to be almost invisible when I’m not using it. I’ve got in the habit of giving it a quick glance at regular intervals. I’ve got one fitted to all of my drop bar bikes.
It also helps that where I live (Switzerland), it’s law that cars must have their headlights on during the day. Makes them much easier to spot in a relatively small mirror.
I’ve also recently added a Garmin Varia rear light, and that just elevates safety to a whole new level. It beeps and shows me something is coming, and I give the mirror a quick look. I use it on all my road going bikes now.
larry english says
i do swear by helmet mirrors.
(not handle bar mirrors – too shaky – have to look down to see – cannot direct field of vision)
any brand is ok
i made mine from a piano string and plastic mirror from craft store
(stiff steel wire does not bend out of adjustment – the adjustable ones have to be adjusted constantly)
Bruce Miller says
Have used HubBub’s helmet mirror for over 10 years. Have given their mirrors to friends who ride. Others above noted the advantages of helmet-mounted mirrors.
Bruce Noah says
I’ve used the Cateye bar end mirror for many years on several bikes. It has a glass mirror with clear optics that is very durable. Mirror stays where I adjust it to and doesn’t vibrate even on rough roads. I’ve even crashed (dog ran into my front wheel) without damaging or even moving the mirror adjustment.
CATEYE – BM-45 Bar End Bike Mirror https://www.amazon.com/dp/B011DLUBIK?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share
Doug Kirk says
Would you drive a car w/o a rear view mirror, turning to see what’s behind? Of course not! I prefer a helmet mount because if I have my helmet I have my mirror too. Important to experiment to find the best location in your field of vision.
Varia is fine but not as good as a mirror—does not tell you how much room the driver is giving you or how many cars are back there!
Yes! I have had handlebar mirrors of various types for years. On the rare occasion without one – perhaps a rented bike – I feel just as I would expect to feel if my car mirrors were missing. Sometimes the mirror tells me it’s time to turn and look, sometimes it gives enough information without that (just like a car mirror). When I turn, I position my hand/s towards the center of the handlebar to keep from swerving.
Third Eye bar end mirror is what I have used for at least a couple of decades. Clear glass, no distortion, very little vibration effect and stays put once adjusted. takes a few tries to get it adjusted on a road bike bar but gives great visibility. simple to adjust on a straight bar.
Me too. Been using Third Eye mirrors for over 30 years and won’t ride a bike without one!
Me too. Been using Third Eye mirrors for over 30 years and won’t ride a bike without one!
I have also used Third Eye bar end mirrors (on drop bars) for several decades and agree with Rick’s assessment. While I love this mirror, my wife often hits the mirror with her leg when hopping off of the saddle, knocking it out of adjustment. A helmet mirror might be a better choice for her.
slightly off the subject but relevant..the Wheezers and Geezers riders in phoenix will often use ‘Marco’ and ‘Polo’ a call and response to know whose behind who and when a line is forming or a gap vanishing..,,
when the new guys hear it it always gets a laugh and it is all supposed to be fun…
oh and a bike mirror on helmet or glasses is essential for anyone who has neck flexibility issues… ‘take a look’ for 15 bucks is cheaper than the emergency room co-pay…. (https://www.biketiresdirect.com/product/bike-peddler-take-a-look-cyclist-mirror?v=00000rg&adl=1&msclkid=bb7a5d261a16161326183c6a98fa94be&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Google%20Shopping%20-%20Split%20by%20Category&utm_term=1100507195570&utm_content=Mirrors)
David Stihler says
I have cycled for thirty years and will NOT get on my bike without my Take-a-Look Mirror. Period! I have RX glasses as well and can see very well using the mirror. I also use Varia Radar since its inception a few years back but always check the mirror before trusting the path is clear. The Varia has been right 100% of the time but I still check the mirror.
Jeffrey Wallace says
I love my Safety Sport Mirror at https://www.safetysportmirror.com/. It attaches to the arm of my sun glasses. It has a 1 inch round optical glass mirror that gives a vert ckearm undistorted view of what’s behind me. The mirror pivots easily so you can quickly and accurately adjust it while you are riding.
I have lost count of the times a mirror been helpful in tight situations. Will not ride without one.
I build bikes and have approx. 30 at any one time. I ride about 10 but rotate sever in/out…so a mirror which attaches to the bike is not an ideal option.
I use several helmets so again, a mirror which attaches to my helmet is not optimum.
I wear a single pair of sunglasses when I ride so a mirror which attaches to my glasses works best for me. I have tried several but settled on the Third Eye mirror (the one with three prongs which clips over the temple piece). It is very light, stable, provides a good rear view and does not significantly impact forward vision. If one has more than one pair of glasses, it can be transferred in a couple of seconds.
The one drawback is that it does not fit well on all glasses which have a wide temple piece.
I never used a mirror until about 15 years ago. Now, I feel naked without one.
It does not matter what helmet mounted mirror you use: if you like it you should be good. No one should ride on a public highway without a helmet mounted rear view mirror. Turning to look back is too slow; too unbalanced; and inefficient to be worth it. No matter what you think about the importance of the “final sprint”; y’all ain’t in the Tour de France. Unless you want this to be your FINAL sprint; wear a helmet with a mirror. I simply will not ride on the street without one.
😂🤣😂. Great response!!!!
As for ‘dorky’. I find one can easily rotate the Take a Look mirror up clockwise to make it less obtrusive when not riding, like when walking in the grocery store. I have pasted an American flag decal to the back of the mirror, which helps make it a bit more cheerful too.
Mike T. says
I haven’t ridden one km in 46 years without my home-made glasses mirror. And before anyone says “Oh they’re too geeky” let me add this – my mirror glass is 1.5cm (one point five cm) square maximum, sits about 0.5 cm in front of my glasses and its arm is made from an old spoke. I can see at least ditch to ditch behind me. Most people have no idea what it is and I’ve been asked a few times “what’s that?” When I tell them it’s my mirror they are surprised. Because they are so small and so close to the glasses, adjustment is crucial and most people wouldn’t have the patience to do it. But once it’s done, it’s done for the life of the mirror or glasses.
I use a Zefal Spy mirror on the end of the drops. It is small and unobtrusive and leaves enough room for me to use the drops, if necessary. As it attaches with a rubber strap, I can move it between my bikes easily and quickly. My wife convinced me to buy a Varia light when it was on sale at REI. The radar alerts me to look in my mirror before turning or switching location on the road.
I’ve been riding since forever and don’t ride without my bike mirror. I started riding with one when I realized it wasn’t comfortable to come up on a line of parked cars while I could hear a semi coming up behind me. I, also, ride with a Zefal Spy Mirror. It’s easily moved from bike to bike so I don’t need to buy seven of them. They truly are ‘life savers’ and cost less than $25.00. As of this writing Amazon has them discounted from $21.00 to $15.43.
Now that is a bargain.
Good Luck on your rides.
Warren Elliott says
I have been using a HubBub mirror for years. I like the stainless steel attachment wire because it does not get bent out of place. Aside from the obvious benefit of knowing what is approaching from behind, having a mirror allows you to ride further to the left on the road surface where there is less debris. Once you see vehicles approaching, you simply move back right. I can’t imagine riding without a mirror.
Gene Henriksen says
http://www.cycleaware.com is my favorite vendor. I use their Reflex helmet mirror. It sticks to the helmet with an adhesive pad. The shaft is easily bent into the desired shape and stays there unless I whack it on something. The mirror can be rotated out of the way if desired. You can also pop the mirror off the base if you want to ride without it, perhaps on a woodland path with vines that would catch the mirror. I keep a spare mirror in the original pack hanging near my bike. Being about ot turn 80, I am not too flexible for looking back.
Judy Cochran says
I have bought and used a lot of helmet mirrors, and have thrown them all away except for the Safe Zone mirror. http://www.efficientvelo.com/home/safezone The mirror is good quality glass and it’s large enough that I can actually see what’s behind me. It connects to the helmet securely and is easy to adjust for a good view. I’ve tried mirrors on the handlebar but they are so low (on drop bars) that it’s not easy to look down to see what’s going on. I also use the Garmin Varia radar rear light – but mostly to be more visible to drivers behind me.
I have been using a Bike Peddler on my glasses for years! Works great and has saved me from many collisions, especially from those riders who persist in NOT calling out, ‘on your left’! I cut 2 very small and narrow pieces of velcro to attach to the mirror and my glasses to keep the mirror in place. This works especially well with glasses with thick side ear pieces.
Carl Kaplan says
Great advice by everyone. I will add a totally obvious one, that I remind myself of constantly. “Look forward before I look back”. I may not see everything that could be a problem, but have often spotted a pothole that makes me wait a second or two before looking back.
I have the Italian Road Bike Mirror on all my bikes and have used them for quite a few years with total satisfaction. It attaches to the left end of the handlebar and is held in position by the bar tape. Click on below for description and purchase .info
Jim Langley says
Thanks so much for all the great mirror recommendations and tips , roadies!
We use to look under our armpit, supposedly this was a safer method than over the shoulder…was it? I don’t know. I do know that people unintentionally if they look to the right will turn to the right, this even can happen when driving a car, if you are made aware of that you can stop veering in whatever direction you’re looking.
Having said that I use my ears a lot, I can tell if a car is coming up behind me from a ways off, even electric cars due to tire noise. So my first hint is what I hear, I then look for double safety, even if I don’t hear anything I still look because you just never know.
Kenneth Banks says
Over the pond in Englandland I find it astounding that so many cretinous riders appear to scoff at the concept of using a mirror.. This is largely applicable to lycraphiles -especially those hunting in packs – who seem to value image above safety.
I have ridden for more than 65 years and the thought of riding without a mirror is inconceivable. I have a circular flat mirror inserted quite simply into the drop bar ends. It is infinitely adjustable and I think it is manufactured under the name of ‘mirrorcle’ or something of that ilk..
However, I have read the posts proclaiming the virtues of helmet mirrors and find them very persuasive. Must buy one.
The Wirral Peninsula
Larry Parker says
HubBub Dycles helmet and eyeglass mirrors, Modified and improved from the classic Chuck Harris design.
I have heard people complain that mirrors vibrate too much to “SEE” anything but, as somebody else mentioned, you don’t have to know details about what is behind you, just that it is there. And it is nice to be able to scan a broad range with a turn of the head while still keeping the road in front of you in your peripheral vision. I wouldn’t drive a car without a mirror, I hate when I have had to pedal without one, and I even look for it when I am walking and plan on turning or crossing!
Barry Nelson says
I have been using the Third Eye On-Lens Micro Bicycle Mirror (https://amazon.com/gp/product/B001IHQ05S/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) for more than 20 years. It attaches to the inside of your glasses, so it is protected from the elements. Unlike the mirrors that mount to the helmet or the bicycle, once you set its position, it does not move. It never needs readjustment. On the other hand, if you are very near sighted and do not wear contact lenses, it won’t work for you because it is on inside of your glasses and therefore it cannot use your eyeglasses prescription correction. One other warning is if your glasses have sharp curvature, you may not be able to find a position on the glasses to attach the mirror that allows you to see behind you.
Gus Harmon says
TriEye is a set of riding glasses with a built in rear view mirror on the inside lower corner of the lens. the mirror adjusts (like the rear view mirror in your car) up/down/right/left Once set ,it doesn’t need adjusting again. You just turn your head slightly to the left to get a good view behind you and it does not vibrate or hit things like helmet mirrors. The glasses come with 3 changable lens, clear, amber, and dark. I also use a Garmin Varia radar, which I love. The combination of the two increases your safety level tremendously. Gus Ridgefield, Wa
I use the Cycle Aware helmet mirror. I love it. Attaches with double sided sticky foam to the helmet. I’ve only had one instance where the mount came off the helmet and that was after accidentally leaving my helmet in a warm vehicle. I used small clamps the click slowly to close to re-attach firmly, yet gently, and it worked just fine. In a controlled climate nothing like that has ever happened using that mirror. I can adjust mirror in a variety of ways. I’m currently using it on the Bontrager Wavecel – I’m not as sold on this helmet as I am to the Cycle Aware mirror I have on it.
For the life of me I can’t understand why so many cyclists don’t use mirrors. It’s certainly a personal choice, but having even 1 second available to react literally might be the difference of life or death. I live in wide open farmland and don’t contend with anything even remotely close to urban traffic, but there’s plenty of good ‘ol boys in my area flying down the back roads in their 6.4 liter dually trucks. More than once I’ve been thankful for that mirror.
Reflex is the specific model I use, sorry to have left that out.
Carl A Dixon says
I have a ‘frozen’ neck so I purchased Garmin Radar and now wish I had this decades ago when I started riding. I never have to look behind and ‘YES’ I not only can trust the radar by sight and sound but have learned to read the speed of traffic and how many seconds I have to turn left without looking. I have forgotten to put on my gloves and have forgotten my heart rate monitor – BUT I never forget my Helmet or my Radar.
I’ve been using a mirror one my eyeglasses for 30 years. I won’t ride without it. I can see three lanes of traffic behind me very clearly. And I can easily pan it around with a slight movement of my head.
Matt Werner says
I think the best technique for holding your line while looking behind you is to drop your head and look under your armpit. That way the torso does not have to turn.
I have not tried using a mirror while cycling yet, and I do not begrudge any of the many who swear by them. As for the comparisons to driving an automobile, I would point out that even with rear view mirrors, it is still necessary when driving to look over your left shoulder before changing lanes. I know from recent experience that mirrors have blind spots. Fortunately I did not hit the car that I pulled right in front of, but the cop who was right behind him did not take kindly to my maneuver. I had been relying on my rear view mirror and missed the car that had disappeared into my blind spot. Lesson learned.
I’ve seen rideis look in their mirror and then proceed to turn on front of a car. As the League of American Wheelmen say in their training: “Use the mirror for no, not for go.”
Arturo Perez says
Didn’t read anybody mention a Varia. I use a Varía as my back light and it also let’s me “see” cars coming up on me on my Garmin. Not quite a mirror, but gives you an incredible awareness of cars behind you. I’ve found there’s two reactions to Varias: people who have tried it and swear by it, and people who’ve never tried it and believe it’s a waste. Try one and you’ll see what I mean. I also have a small Sprintech mirror at the end of my left handle bar – it mounts by replacing the stopper on the bar end, it gives an OK view back, not as good as a helmet mount, but is much easier to adjust.
Robert Ray says
I also have gotten a Garmin Varia, and find it tremendously useful. Along with the Garmin GPS unit it provides audio and visual warnings about what is behind you. It is a great tool, especially for me who is deaf in one ear, and does not hear well.
The Garmin’s varia radar is the best piece of equipment I have bought.
I have been using it for about 2 years. I have not experienced a false negative yet, but I always double check when moving out. It’s also get for windy days and downhills when yr hearing is impaired, and for older riders when the neck stiffens.
I’m also a HUGE Varia fan…it does require some ‘double-checking’ looks (rearward) as I’ve found it’s not 100% infallible. Depending on the terrain, I can still hear cars before the Varia ‘sees’ them (if the wind isn’t blowing by my ears).
Also, occasionally the Varia only shows one ‘dot’, but in reality, there is a large truck w/ a car or two behind it…but it’s a huge improvement. I need reading glasses, so I’m not keen on mirrors, myself.
I’ve been thinking about the Varia rear light/radar. this is the experience and opinion that will get me to take a closer look. Thanks
Robert T Brandenburg says
For the last 6 or 7 years, I have used both a Sprintech mirror (two actually, one on each bar end) and the 1st generation Varia and now the second generation Varia. My first action is to check the Varia for approaching vehicles, then check the left mirror to verify there are no vehicles approaching. With the original Varia, I had several occasions that a vehicle was behind me and it was not visible on the screen. With the new Varia, I have had a vehicle come up from behind and pace me and disappear from the screen. The Sprintech mirror is convex giving you a wide angle for viewing, although this does distort depth perception.It is also unobtrusive installed on the bar end. The new Varia will occasionally alert me to a rider approaching, but not consistently.
I’ve been using the Tiger Eye helmet mounted mirror for a few years. It’s available a lot of places, including Amazon.
I’ve been using Sprintec Drop Bar mirrors for around 15 years. Can’t ride without them (only use the left mirror) !! A couple of years ago I added the Garmin Varia rear radar/light to go with my Garmin cycling computer and now feel about as safe as I can knowing what’s coming up behind me without having to turn my head.
For those of you using a Varia and a Garmin computer, there is a greatConnect IQ data field call Bike Traffic that will show the speed of a approaching vehicle and it counts the number of vehicles which can help you decide if the route has too much traffic to ride again. Other feature is that after your ride you can see on a map where the vehicle passed you and at what speeds.
Jim Braley says
I use the Take a Look mounted on my sunglasses plus the Varia Radar Unit. I now never ride without both and find them easy to use and give me the feeling that I am much safer.
Ron Smedley says
I am deaf, absolutely cannot hear any vehicles coming up behind me. I am 70 yrs old now and been using mirrors since my twenties. I use a mirror that fasten to the sunglasses. I still ride with the 20+ mph group on club rides.
I’ve been hearing impaired since toddler-hood. I’ve tried glasses attached mirrors and helmet mirrors. They work but I find them too vulnerable to damage. In the days when I used them, if the attached mirror was damaged, end of ride, call for a sag. Nothing scarier than an eerie silence when riding on the road. Since I switched to recumbents, I use B&M handle bar mounted mirrors.The mirrors offer a great rear view and are well protected mounted inboard with the brake levers. When I was commuting for the last 15 years of my work life, I used 2 B&M mirrors for riding in traffic and lane changes.
Richard Handler says
Sprintech bar end mirrors, right and left.
Peter Wimberg says
I use the Third Eye Eyeglass mounted mirror. I think. Minting to the glasses works better than a helmet mount in that helmet position can shift. The eyeglass mounted mirror moves with my head. The proximity to my eye also makes the field of vision larger. I ride time trials with the mirror unless the roads are closed. It hasn’t slowed me down and I can actually use it to play the road in a turn or to ride smoother pavement lines.
I’ve been using the “Take a Look” mirror for over 20 years. If I leave home without it I notice it almost immediately and return for it. It is a feeling like of not having one’s seat belt fastened. I started using it in the 1990’s and thought, “I could have used this long ago”. I’d been riding 30 years at that time. I am able to look behind me by just flicking my eyes to the mirror – without turning my head. I’m also able to scan behind me if I want to see more. I wear mine on my glasses and my wife uses hers on her helmet.
Jeffrey Engel says
I use the Third Eye mirror that glues to the helmet. I have used glasses mount mirrors in the past, and find the helmet mount easier to adjust, and less likely to fall off. However, positioning optimally is difficult, and the mount did not play well with the curve of my helmet. Eventually the glue started failing. But that is what duct tape is for. My wife had similar problems. I wear progressive lenses, and it just took practice to learn how to see in the mirror. I like a mirror over a quick backward glance because the mirror gives me time to count the riders behind me in our small, varying skilled group, and more time to estimate car speeds when deciding about making left turns.
William Wightman says
I ride a fairly low recumbent so it is not easy to look backwards. The Zefal Spy handlebar mirror is a minimum but low drag first solution. The second layer is the Varia Radar from Garmin (without light) as a both a continuous warning (extremely effective in high light conditions where vehicles disappear into the terrain far away (150 yards)), and as an aid when crossing traffic. First check Varia, second check mirror, third look back, fourth signal and change lane. A layered safety approach. I have seen many people just change lanes without looking, what’s with that?
Ethan Bixby says
I’ve been using the Aussie “RearViz” for years now, and love it. I straps to your wrist, and hinges out and swivels, so it is easy to dial it in for any bike and situation. It is very intuitive. I had tried glasses mounted ones and handlebar mounted mirrors, but for me, the RearViz is much better. There are knockoffs on Amazon now that look almost identical, but the mirrors are not as good.
I noticed in a video of this mirror that one has to look down at the mirror on ones arm to look behind, thereby taking one’s eyes off the road ahead. With the glasses or helmet mounted “Take a Look” mirror. I continue to keep my head looking down the road ahead and can look behind me by just flicking my eyes to the mirror without turning my head.
Roy Halberg says
The Cycleaware Reflex Bicycle Helmet Mirror has been a go to for me for several years. Easy to attach to helmet and very flexible to get best position for seeing
John Fitzpatrick says
I’ve been satisfied with the Cycleaware ViewPoint mirror that mounts in the corner of your goggles. It takes a little trial and error to set up but never falls out of adjustment once you get it right. I believe ThirdEye has a similar version.
Barry Nelson says
Yes, ThirdEye has a similar version. The key is your glasses must have non-wraparound eyeglass lens. Otherwise you cannot find a position for the mirror that allows you to see the cars behind you.
Brad Michael says
Wow, lots of favourable comments on mirrors. The guys I ride with that use mirrors scare me, they are always distracted looking up in to the corner of their helmet to see what’s going on behind them. They always seem to be veering left as they do so.
Jordan Adair says
They aren’t using their mirrors correctly, more than likely. I never have to do anything more than a quick, short glance to see behind me, and I never lose sight of the road ahead when I do that. If they are veering to the left, it means they are probably having to turn their heads, just like those without mirrors do, and those are the guys who cause crashes. It may also depend on the type of mirror they are using, but from what I can tell in the comments above, there’s a real variety of mirror types that don’t cause this problem, mine included (Hubbub).
Randy Carey says
Mirrycle – it attaches on the end of the handle bar and is extremely adjustable. I still give a quick turn of the head before I’ll make a lane change. I’ll be getting Garmin’s Varia shortly, as another layer of safety (as well as fun technology). And on the other side of the safety equation, a blinking headlight and taillight keep me visible to vehicles.
Carl A Dixon says
When you get used to the Garmin Radar you will be able to tell how many vehicles are behind you for a football field and a half distance. The different colors that show up on your GPS will tell you how fast the vehicles are travelling. I have been using it for years and know exactly how many seconds I have to make turns across traffic. It has been a great blessing. Certainly no need for mirrors.
Seth S says
Just when I was going to tell Roy Bloomfield that everyone who has a Varia also has a mirror Carl proves me wrong. It’s good to know that you’re comfortable without a mirror.
I too have been using the Varia for all of…one day (!) Jim’s blog and the comments (plus moving back to the Karoo) convinced me now’s the time to get, My wife gave me an early birthday present.
My high expectations have been met. I knew I would not hear the alert given my hearing loss at that part of the spectrum, but I can pair it with my hearing aids via BLE and get the alerts. I don’t use the aids normally because I can hear road noise frequencies normally.
To Roy Bloomfield, as Carl mentioned, you can see multiple vehicles behind you and a color-coded indication of their relative speed, not just one as you implied. Also, most of us still use mirrors (!) Perhaps those are suspenders and a belt together, as in redundant, but I doubt I’ll ever be comfortable enough to give up a mirror. Please explain the value of differentiating between a van and a motorcycle.
One missing feature indeed is the lack of lateral distance. Perhaps that’s in the next generation, but I surmise it will be a costly challenge perhaps solved by a much larger, i.e., wider, device, or not at all. We’ll see…
Jim Braley says
A mirror on my glasses and the varia radar work great from me. Some have said having to glance away to look in the mirror is difficult but for me it takes all of one second at the most to glance away–not an issue. I would not look for lateral distance anytime soon and not sure that would be end all all solution anyhow. There are so many features that make riding safer–whatever you use or don’t use it is still dangerous. but not enough to keep me off the road