Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Indispensable Equipment

I blather about the merits of bicycle helmets somewhat regularly. There's another piece of equipment that has become essential for me, for riding on the streets... a REAR VIEW MIRROR.

I've used various brands of mirrors over the years, and I'm absolutely sure they give me a survivability advantage out there on the mean streets. If I know of approaching potential hazards - including from behind - I can usually predict their behavior, and have a contingency plan. Plus, the vehicles that approach from behind are typically the ones that get closest to you as you're riding. The more advance notice of their approach, the higher the comfort level.

The mirror I've settled comfortably with is the Cycle Aware Reflex model. Probably started using it 10-12 years ago, and it's worked for me. It is available directly from Cycle Aware, or you can probably save a few bucks by shopping around. (They also make a tiny mirror that sticks inside your eyeglasses/sunglasses frame; I have not tried that one.)

I prefer the Cycle Aware product because of its durability. It's made of flexible wire covered with a rubbery coating. (Remember Gumby? It's made of Gumby stuff.) So it's infinitely adjustable for optimum viewing, and it's break resistant. (I probably went through a half-dozen helmet mirrors made of stiff plastic, before trying the Reflex. The mirror stem would snap off on a regular basis if I bumped something with it, or had the misfortune of dropping my helmet. The Reflex lasts as long as the helmet... and you can even buy a replacement base for a new helmet, if the mirror is still intact.)


Anonymous said...

Bikeboy, I agree 100%. I would not ride a bike without a mirror any more than I would drive a car without a mirror. I use a helmet mount and it has become so second-nature that at times when walking I find myself glancing to where the mirror should be if I want to see what is behind.

I recently purchased the exact model mirror that you have for both of my teenage sons and they agree that it's a good thing.

Regarding your mirror, has the orginal adhesive lasted all these years or have you had to remount it using something stronger?

Anonymous said...

I tried one recently -- for about 5 minutes. It drove me bloody crazy having it in my field of vision, and I've yet to have any trouble cranking my head around as needed.

That said, I applaud the effective use of them -- but they're not for me.

Bikeboy said...

bob t - I've had fine luck with the factory adhesive. On one helmet that had more curvature than the mount, it was kinda hanging free at the front and back, but it never surrendered its hold.

danielo - I've heard it partly depends on which of your eyes is dominant, on whether the mirror works for you. But I can't remember the protocol for figuring it out. Perhaps you're left-eye dominant and I'm right-eye, or vice versa. (Or maybe it's just a matter of getting used to the thing. I s'pose if you'd never used a center-mount rearview on a car, it might be disconcerting at first.)

misc. said...

Is it a real mirror? I tried one that used a reflective sticker as the mirror surface. It lasted two days before I deep-sixed it.

Bikeboy said...

I think it's a real mirror. It has mirror-like reflectivity. I clean it with water and a rag every now and then - not as often as I should. I have noticed that it seems to be a little prone to scratches - maybe it's plastic - but that hasn't been a problem for me.