Jim’s Tech Talk
By Jim Langley
In last week’s Tech Talk, which covered a couple of simple riding techniques for looking back safely, we asked you to share your favorite mirrors – since they’re a popular option for seeing behind. Here’s what we went over last time in case you missed it: A Simple Tip that Can Prevent a Crash.
While we knew there were lots of mirror fans out there, we were impressed by the number of users and even more so by the brands and types you favor. So this week, we’ll go over them because there’s something for almost everyone, which is great if you’re shopping for one or looking to upgrade. There were even two readers who make their own (see last week’s comments for details if you want to try that approach).
What we’ve done is group the mirrors by type and popularity, provided a link to learn more and compiled some photos to give you an idea of the variety. By far the most popular mirror among RBR readers is the Bike Peddler Take-A-Look.
If you’re considering a mirror and can’t make up your mind, refer back to last week’s comments to learn the pros and cons of each model. There are excellent tips and advice.
Helmet & Glasses Mirrors
Bike Peddler Take-A-Look https://amzn.to/2Zu3BPf
Safety Sport Mirror https://www.safetysportmirror.com/
Efficient Velo Tools Safe Zone https://amzn.to/3ucNMrD
Cycleaware Reflex https://amzn.to/39UM1pP
Third Eye https://www.amazon.com/s?k=third+eye+mirror&ref=nb_sb_noss_2
Tiger Eye https://amzn.to/3kK1vD7
Handlebar End Mirrors
Italian Road Mirror https://amzn.to/2XSPRgk
Beam Corky Bar End https://amzn.to/3ANwq73
Cateye Bar End BM-45 https://amzn.to/2ZBchU7
Third Eye (see link above in the helmet & glasses section)
Zefal Spy https://amzn.to/3ETVGuT
Third Eye on Lens Micro (see link above in the helmet & glasses section)
Tri Eye glasses that come with a mirror on the lens https://trieye.com/
Any Help for John?
Lastly, former owner and publisher of RBR, John Marsh commented,
“I will add that as an Rx glasses wearer I have never been able to find a mirror that works for me.”
If any of you have suggestions for John, please leave a comment.
10,137 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.
Richard Henley says
Mirrors are a valuable and useful item, however I found that I need to forgo their use. The regular motions of turning one’s head (both ways), exercises the neck and associated muscles – this also applies to eye muscles. This regular set of motions are a benefit of bicycling (in my opinion & experience).
John Marsh says
I appreciate Jim requesting mirror help for me, but I’m 100% fine not using one. (I suspect I’m in the majority in that.) I also never obstruct my ears. So between my honed ability to quickly glance back for a look (chin tucked near shoulder, near instantaneous) and actively listening while riding, I feel comfortable.
John ride a tandem and get a stoker you’ll always know what’s going on around you (and every where else) then!
I use the Take-a-look mirror, and put it on the visor of my helmet instead of mounting on my glasses.
Obviously, this method works best if you wear a mt bike style helmet with a visor 🙂
It works well for me, and it’s convenient to not fit the mirror to my glasses every time I ride. Also, by having the mirror a little farther away it helps keep it in the view of your lenses.
A local-brand mirror available here is a mirror that straps onto your arm or wrist. My pal swears by it.
Myself I have a box of helmet- and eye-glass-mirrors that never fit well into my throw everything into the bag lifestyle.
I went the opposite approach: instead of me seeing the vehicles, I use high-viz cycling vest and flashing tail light so the vehicles see me.
I would still very much like a mirror, but as I said, I find that they are a bit delicate for me.
Marc Baskin says
I started using Take A Look attached to my glasses and they work very well. With just a minor i.e. 20 degrees rotation of my head, I quickly see oncoming cars. I no longer need to twist my neck 90 degrees to see behind me. Much safer.
Now if I ride without it I feel a bit naked.
Richard A Radcliffe says
I had a mirror that had a strap that wrapped around your hand and a brace that held it at about a 90 deg angle away from the outside surface of your hand. It was about 2 ½ inches in diameter and just slightly convex. It was great! You could easily make slight adjustments with your hand and really see the entirety of what was behind you. Alas, it disappeared 20 or more years ago and I’ve never been able to find a similar replacement.
So, I learned (and practiced) how to properly look over your shoulder. For me, it’s a three-step process:
1) Take a mental picture of the next 100-plus feet in front. If it’s relatively smooth sailing, proceed to step 2.
2) Turn your head about 90 deg and take a brief look. If there are cars, take note of how many. After they’ve passed, go back to step one. If there are no cars, proceed to step 3.
3) Turn your head another 10-15 deg and take a harder look. If all is clear, take the lane or proceed over to a left-hand turn lane or do whatever else you need to do.
I can certainly relate to those who are nursing some kind of injury (been there) or can’t really turn around for whatever reason, but once I learned (and practiced) how to look behind while maintaining a straight line, I’ve never again felt the need to use a mirror.
I should also mention that I ride in an area in which the roads generally have very good shoulders or bike lanes (in and around Boulder, CO). If this were not the case, I’d probably try making something like my old hand-held mirror…
Graham Fogg says
Maybe its my Rx glasses, but I could never get sufficiently accustomed to use of bike mirrors to ‘see’ behind me with confidence. Without that confidence, I just ended up turning and looking anyway; hence, stopped trying to use that fussy, distracting mirror thing.. With my recent adoption of a Garmin Varia, however, my posterior visibility problems have been dramatically improved in ways that I never imagined. This incredible gadget does not eliminate the need to turn and look occasionally, but it functions similar to the rear-view mirrors in my car — it helps me continuously track occurrence, speed and positions of traffic behind me, and when I need to make a particular move or turn, I can quickly glance over my shoulder to confirm whether it’s safe. This thing is a game changer and is substantially improving both my safety and peace of mind on the road.
DAVID CHAMPLIN says
I always use a helmet mounted small mirror. Properly adjusted, I can see over my shoulder without turning my head and can appraise traffic several hundred yards back. Takes maybe a half second so not to distract from the road ahead. Of course, I also turn my head and take in the whole picture before actually making a significant maneuver. Key is getting it in the right location.
Stephen Turk says
No mention of the chromed steel mirrors that clamp onto the handlebars, and look like motorbike mirrors! Admittedly I have not had those on my bike since the 1960s, and that old BSA bike would probably be classified today as a townie, not a road bike. But back then I thought those old mirrors were cool. And they were made in England, not somewhere in Asia.
Stephen Rovinsky says
I use the Take-A-Look mirror, mounted to the temples of my sunglasses with Rx inserts. I have them positioned so that I can simply move my eyes to glance at the mirror to see what’s going on behind me. I usually ride in groups, and sometimes lead them. The mirror can give me a good idea of what’s going on with the whole group.
I had a problem once with the small plastic caps over the three “legs” of the mirror that hold it onto the glasses. The plastic was deteriorating, and I needed a replacement. I went to my local old-fashioned hardware store, and found a suitable replacement. I bought a 12″ length of 1/8″ Radio-Control Airplane/Car fuel line. This stuff is made from a silicone plastic, and does a great job. It also lasts for a long time. I cut off a 3/8″ piece for each of the legs, and they’re as good as new.
Jim Remillard says
Hi John. I have used Rx sunglasses for many years, currently with Liberty’s RecSpecs and I use the ‘Take a Look Mirror” and have zero problems and wouldn’t ride without them. In fact, I would ride without a helmet, which I don’t do, rather than ride without a mirror. In 52 years of cycling on the roads, and the last 20+ years using a mirror, I can conservatively say that it has probably saved my life dozens of times. I have never had an auto accident and I credit riding with a mirror for helping to keep me from being a victim of being struck from behind. Jim Remillard, Clio, CA
Peter Leiss says
I use the Italian Bike mirror. It is a bit of bother to set up but once its done it works well for me. No problems with prescription lenses. I have this on one bike and miss it when I am on my other bikes. Still I turn my head and look back as I have done for over 50 years of cycling. I listen for vehicles and can sense when they might be a little close. I have also used the Varia light and find it useful as a heads up warning. It really is less than useful in an urban environment as there are simply too many vehicles. But in rural areas it is very helpful. My Velodrome experience helps as well basically your head is on a swivel looking before moving up or down.
Michael E says
I echo Peter L.’s comments. Italian bike bar end is best for rx wearers. I tried a helmet mirror, hard to get & keep adjusted, bounces around, in the way & subject to move when putting helmet on & off Italian mirror (untape your bar & experiment with position using electric tape) is like a side mirror on your car & can be moved slightly even after placement. Yes, use your ears & never trust a mirror completely! I still glance back when turning & usually start doing this well in advance of a turn after I’ve checked traffic with the mirror. I use the “under arm” arm technique more often than twisting as I’m less likely to swerve. Seems awkward at first, but practice on a deserted road & after while your brain adjusts & looking “upside down” under your arm (left if turning left), & best if you’re in the drops. Becomes 2nd nature with practice.
Michael E says
I forgot the “period” after “….helmet on & off.” Next sentence starts with “Italian mirror.”
David Champlin says
A small mirror close to the eye has more field of view than even a big bar end mirror. My helmet mounted mirror works great with my RX. But not all mirrors are equal! I set mine right at the corner of my glasses field and it works great. It does take a bit of care to keep adjusted but so second nature now that I rarely have to move it. Probably helps to have Project Rudy glasses with Sport RX lenses that have a wide vision field.
I use the Take a Look and can’t live without it. I know of too many cyclists who have been killed when they were hit from behind (Gwen Inglis and Amy Dombroski to name just two). With a mirror, you always know what’s behind you and how an approaching driver is behaving. At least once a year I have to bail out by riding off the road to avoid a driver coming up from behind. I wave my left arm furiously and if they don’t move over, I get out of the way. You just can’t have that level of awareness when you rely on turning your head periodically.
Raymond Donohue says
Highly recommend the Safety Sport Mirror available at safetysportmirror.com
Securely fastens to glasses or helmet visor, and one can swap between two mirror sizes.