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Bicycling mirrors, yes or no?(38 posts)

Bicycling mirrors, yes or no?fz4vgq
Aug 12, 2002 12:50 PM
I've been a motorcyclist (road/sportbike) for about ten years now and have gotten used to glancing in my mirrors to check and see if any cars are going to rear end me. I just purchased my first roadbike (Litespeed Sirius) on friday and road twenty miles on saturday for it's maiden spin. The whole time I was paranoid about cars approaching me from behind without me being able to see them til they wizzed pass. I live in Michigan, not the frendliest cycling state around, the roads aren't the greatest either!
My question is, do any of you use one of the helmet mounted or small sunglass mounted (stick on the inside of the lense) mirrors? do they give you a little confidence about what is coming up behind you? or do I just have beginner paranoia and will get over it with some miles? thanks, chad
turn around...phlegm
Aug 12, 2002 12:52 PM
I just turn my head to look. It does take some practice though so that you don't veer into traffic or the curb.
absolutely yesDougSloan
Aug 12, 2002 1:07 PM
I use a Take A Look. I tried others, but this one works fantastic. It clips on your glasses, is easily adjustable, and even 60 mph wind won't alter the position. They some in a large and small version; I have both, but recommend the small. The view is just as large, but it blocks your forward/side view less. I rarely ride without it now.

As geeky as I may look, I now have the guts to use one with my race team, too. In a paceline, I can see exactly where people are behind me; I can see cars coming up to know when to pull off; and I can even see the expressions on people's faces to know how hard they are working, too. They make more sense for riding in groups and racing than they do solo. Just think of the advantage in a sprint finish. You can see exactly where your opponents are (or guy you are leading out) behind you and how fast they are coming up. Ever outrun the guy you are leading out? Rare, yes, but with the mirror, no problem. Why they have not caught on, I'll never know. Race car drivers use them, so why not cyclists?


absolutely yesRich_Racer
Aug 12, 2002 1:16 PM
Yeah I use a mirror that sticks out from my helmet. They stay in position well and are easy to adjust. The vibration means that they take a bit of getting used to - but it feels safer than trying to turn round, especially at high speeds. At junctions I still look around.


absolutely yesflying
Aug 12, 2002 1:26 PM
Outrun the guy your leading out?
He should try that other product paceline distributes
Turbo Truffle

Man-O-Man I tried one & the hair on my arms stood straight up. Im a big coffee drinker so didn't read the label but just poped it in my mouth. Yeowza 150mg of pure caffeine is a bit.
Doug's a convert ...Humma Hah
Aug 12, 2002 2:34 PM
... I remember when we talked him into it.
Aug 12, 2002 2:43 PM
I tried a couple and did not like them. I was convinced to keep trying. I was converted. See, this mind is not as closed as some might think. :-)

Thank you for converting me, by the way. My family will never know how many times daddy might not have been around because of it.

PS. sort of: I heard the same types of arguments made against seat belts. "They are dangerous." "They are not necessary," etc. Many cops were very opposed to the cops being required to wear them. It didn't look cool. They wrinkle your clothes. But, in the end it was proven that the objections were largely not valid, and over all you are safer with the belt. I think the mirror is no different.

Negative. Definitely no plan to change.No_sprint
Aug 12, 2002 1:21 PM
We don't do a lot full bore pacelining in my group rides. They are mostly very large pack rides. My training rides are mostly crit practice. In races I go as hard as I can. Seeing someone in a mirror will not help me at all. Perhaps when I'm so strong that I take out all the other sprinters for firsts regularly with large gaps I'll consider it so I can see when I can just cruise in for the win. :)
Can you say...PT
Aug 12, 2002 1:56 PM
...steel rod pointed at your head? Not on your life! My dearly departed Dad's favorite line -- "Well, it's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick" -- always runs through my head when I see someone outfitted with one of those contraptions. It's probably all in my head, but I can't stop imagining crashing and having that nice little mirror on a stick perform a frontal lobotomy...

My ears are suprisingly well tuned (after years of riding) when it comes to the approach of motor vehicles. And frankly, I don't think seeing them coming would do a lot of good if they were really headed for me...

And as far as racing goes -- if they a teammate can't stay on your wheel during a leadout, well they should probably be leading you out. And even a single auto mirror doesn't give full coverage of the road, so I figure I'd just attack on the blind side of a mirror sporting racer.
but... it really works -- you can ride faster, tooDougSloan
Aug 12, 2002 2:33 PM
It's probably no more dangerous than having wire glasses on. Plus, in a crash it would likely pop off.

I suppose it's a matter of weighing relative risks. The idea with the mirror is to avoid crashes in the first place. I was very skeptical myself, until I used this one. The helmet mount mirrors and little dot adhesive mirrors did nothing for me. This one really works. I could read license plates on cars approaching from the rear. There have been several times that I saw vehicles too close, maybe encroaching in the bike lane or onto the shoulder. I weave around like a mad man or wave my arm. I can see them move over. Who knows, it may have saved my life already. So, as far as weighing the risks is concerned, I'll take something that helps me avoid a crash, even if there is a small extra risk of injury should there be a crash.

There are many times when relying on hearing won't do. With a line of cars, it's hard to tell if more are coming behind the one beside you. When descending over 30 mph, it's really difficult to hear over the wind noise. Descending is a great time to use the mirror. When you can see there are no cars behind, you can use the whole lane much more safely. It's a lot of fun, too.

As far as sprinting, you just position yourself to the right. Then you can see anyone coming on the left.

I wish that everyone who dismisses the mirrors would try them. I was very skeptical. I tried some that were useless to me. Then, I tried the Take A Look specifically for the 508 race last fall. I wanted to see my support car approaching, competitors behind, as well as public traffic. I tried the mirror for a week, and I was sold.

I found that not only did I accomplish what I wanted, but found that I was faster with the mirror! Yes, faster! How, you ask? Well, you know where the fastest portion of pavement usually is? It's about 2 feet from the right line, where the car tires wear it smooth. With a mirror, you can ride there and only move over when necessary. Without it, it would be dangerous, or at least annoying to passing cars. Plus, you can stay out in the roadway where there are fewer nasties that can cause a flat. Finally, you don't have to sit up or turn your head to look behind, keeping you more aero. So, yes, I can say I am faster with the mirror.

Try it, you'll like it.

but... it really works -- you can ride faster, tooSteve98501
Aug 12, 2002 4:06 PM
That's cool about your open-mindedness regarding the mirror. I've been using one since shortly after I began riding, figuring if they make sense for driving cars and motorcycles, well, why not? So you also discovered the trick about riding where the car tires smooth out the chip seal? Chip seal is becoming the main way they maintain roads in our county now, so I always ride in the lane when it's free of auto traffic. Fewer flats too, by avoiding all the debris on the road shoulder. All because that handy little mirror keeps me informed what's going on behind me. I check my six 20 times for every one that my non-mirror using friends turn and look around.

You can always use the bar-end mounted oneskenyee
Aug 13, 2002 7:01 AM
The Zefal one is relatively huge...
Definitely yes.....DINOSAUR
Aug 12, 2002 1:59 PM
I've been riding road bikes for 28 years. I tried several types of mirrors and settled on a Bike Peddler Take-A-Look. I think mine is the wide version. Just about all my rides are solo and the traffic situation has changed over the last couple of decades and I can't keep constantly turning around to look over my shoulder with my 60 year old neck. It puts a new demension in cycling. I still have cars that sneak up behind me once and awhile, but it cuts these types of occurances by about 90%. I used to dread that feeling that something was coming up behind me and I couldn't tell because of wind noise. Sometimes it was a phantom car, sometimes something was there. Now I know for sure. I feel a lot more comfortable riding with a mirror. Most the roadies in my area use one. Lot's of narrow, two lane, mountain roads and you need eyes in the back of your head. A mirror does that for you. I don't care if I look like a geek, I just want to be able to ride tomorrow.....
Aug 12, 2002 2:24 PM
I use a Take A Look and like it. You will stand out in a cycling crowd, and among the faster types at least, not in a good way. I am old enough not to care.
Yes, feel naked without mine.Humma Hah
Aug 12, 2002 2:33 PM
I ride about 98% of the time with a helmet-mounted Third Eye. When I don't I feel paranoid.

"Turn around" may sound like good advice to a skinny 22-year-old eel on a roadbike. To an old fossil who's not quite as flexible, it ain't so easy. And when you're turned around, you ain't watching where you are going, which is FAR more important.

And those who rely on their ears to tell what's back there, can't tell how many vehicles are coming, or if one has an arm out the window about to throw a beer bottle.
warming up to the ideaDuane Gran
Aug 12, 2002 3:28 PM
Doug makes a very compelling argument for mirrors, but I haven't come on board yet. I'm willing to give it a try, but I'm honestly skeptical. I suspect every motorist will look threatening or "coming up on me really fast". At this stage I think it would freak me out more than help, but I may yet give it a try.
Aug 12, 2002 3:34 PM
I have one,but spent more time trying to keep it adjusted than I did looking ahead to see what I was about to run into. I'm better off without it,what is behind me is not my responsiblity,what is in front of me is. Make sure cars can see you and obey traffic laws and you will be fine. A flashing red light on the back of your helmet makes more sense than a mirror. Just my opinion,others may vary.
re: Bicycling mirrors, yes or no?Zyzbot
Aug 12, 2002 4:08 PM
I have used one of these Delta InSight mirrors for years. it works great.
Does it really work?shortstroke
Aug 12, 2002 5:43 PM
I've looked at these, but thought all I would end up seeing was a view of my crotch. While that may be appealing to some, it wasn't for me.
I may have to try one of these out, if you really like it. Otherwise it looks like I may be ordering a Take A Look. It seems to be the overwhelming favorite here...
Aug 12, 2002 7:05 PM
I tried this once. I did not see my crotch, just my knee. Totally worthless. I've been using the Take-a-Look long before Doug got converted. It really doesn't vibrate, even at high speed, visibility is amazing, and it is only you who looks dorky, not your bike!
Yes it does it really work.Zyzbot
Aug 13, 2002 5:04 AM
It works VERY WELL. You don't see your crotch or your knees. Just a quick glance down and you see everything behind you once you get the angle adjusted. I have ridden with it for years and I miss it when I ride a bike without it.
Yes, bar mountedMGS
Aug 12, 2002 4:21 PM
I've always used mirrors. I found helmet and eyeglass mounted mirrors less convenient that bar mounted.

I use the Third Eye, bar end mounted convex mirror. I'm so used to it that when I left it off my bike, I felt unsafe riding.

Whatever mirror you use, they are absolutely a safety feature.

Try driving your car without mirrors, just depending on your sense of hearing and the safe driving ability of others.
Hell I see people driving without using mirrors all the time.SnowBlind
Aug 12, 2002 7:00 PM
Quite frankly, if you have to have mirrors on your car, you are not a good driver. The mirrors just give you Situational Awareness that you can't get from having 3 tons of steel around you.
On a bike checking the mirror gies false clues about where you intend to go.
Try looking in the right mirror to move to right, your head turns right, everyone around thinks you are turning right because you are looking right.
Now, on a bike, without mirrors, you look (check) right to move right and left to move left.
Add a mirror and you suddenly are reversed, you look right to scan your left side and move to the left. YOU *might* be safer, but everyone else is assuming you are going right because your head is pointed right.

I also can't stand the constant head wiggle mirror equiped guys do, I don't have a clue what they are going to do.
Aug 12, 2002 7:42 PM
With my mirror, when it is mounted on my left, I look slightly to the left to see behind. Has nothing to do with which way I intend to move. I'd never look right with it, unless I wanted to see what's way out to my left. If you tried one, I think you'd see this.

When I want to move, I use arm signals.

same heretarwheel
Aug 13, 2002 4:15 AM
I currently have a bar end mounted mirror, the Third Eye brand, and have used a mirror for 25 years or more. I have NEVER been hit by a car or even had a close call, and I think using a mirror is one of the reasons for that. The arguments against mirrors are comparable to arguments against wearing seatbelts, helmets, brightly colored jerseys, etc. Some people think they are invincible and accidents won't happen to them. My philosophy is that accidents are preventable (or can be minimized) by being careful and logical. When I took driver's training in high school, one of the main points my instructor stressed was to check your mirrors every 10-15 seconds. If that is so important while driving a car, then why wouldn't mirrors be useful on a bike -- where you are much more vulnerable if hit?

The secret to using a mirror is not to obsess over it. Just glance down every now and then to see what coming behind you. That way you can take more of the lane when the road is clear and then move toward the right as a vehicle approaches. Riding like this forces the cars behind you to give you some space. It also gives you some insurance on the occasions when someone is obviously passing too closely or when a large truck is approaching. Mirrors are also helpful on group rides. How many times has some bozo cyclist come speeding by without saying "on your left" or anything else? Has anyone suddenly decided to sprint for a county line just as you were about to pull out at the front of the paceline?

If you don't want to wear a mirror, that's fine. No one is gonna make you do it. Just don't make up lame arguments about how mirrors are unsafe or useless. It's like hearing some tatooed motorcyclist talk about how useless helmets are. It's all about style. Some people are more concerned about looking nerdy than preventing an accident. It's a simple as that.
Aug 12, 2002 9:33 PM
Read John Forester's book, "Effective Cycling".

In it, he makes a case against them. Turning around and looking is more effective, moving your head also warns drivers that you are aware or you might be moving in the lane. Mirrors only "see" a portion of the road, you still need to see more than they offer. Relying on mirrors is an emotional response to fear of overtaking cars colliding into you. Bicycle mirrors are not going to give enough visual clues to discern this danger even if you happen to be looking into one at the right moment.

I remember riding a motorcycle and hating their rear view mirrors because they weren't very good. I got very little information from them compared to driving in a car using it's mirrors.
Aug 13, 2002 6:19 AM
Couldn't agree more!! They only give you false safety and after you use them awhile you lose the skill of being able to turn around and glance with out totally swerving off your line. And don't people want to turn around and stretch their necks?? Like someone posted earlier that mirrors may not be useful for a 22year old.... but for an old guy like himself....(etc..)- Lose the mirror and learn to stretch and move around again, you'll most likely feel much better at the end of the ride than when you were riding with the mirror being all stiff.
don't make stuff upDougSloan
Aug 13, 2002 6:30 AM
"They only give you false safety" -- why is this? If you can see behind you and know that a car is encroaching onto the shoulder or bike lane, and you move over, how is this safety feature "false?" Yes, you may still get run over, even with a mirror. The issue is whether the mirror decreases the odds, though. I don't know how anyone can legitimately argue that it does not.

Also, while turning around is sometimes good, when you do so you take your eyes off what is in front of you. That's more dangerous, in my view. Also, I can look in a mirror every 5 seconds with no loss of view in front of me whatsoever. Can you do that without a mirror?

"...after you use them awhile you lose the skill of being able to turn around and glance with out totally swerving off your line." You say this as if you have done some study or testing. I think it's false, or at least unsupported. I've been using a mirror regularly for nearly a year, and I can turn around perfectly well. Don't just make stuff up because it seems to fit your argument. It may be intuitive to you, but not true.

One of the good things about a mirror is that you can easily look behind, and then seeing no cars around, you can do all the stretching, drinking, eating, or whatever you want, knowing it's a little safer to do so with no cars approaching.

I realize I'm harping on this stuff, but I think these oppositions to mirrors are a bit irrational, just as much as oppositions to seatbelts once were. I'm not saying they should be mandated by any means, but at least try one or two of them and then post a legitimate, factually based opinion, not just intuitive unsupported arguments.

same should apply to you...PT
Aug 13, 2002 7:16 AM
Fine, use a mirror. But you are harping. We were all pounded with stats about seat belt use -- it was and remains obvious that their use is important. The fact is that you can provide us with your sense that you're safer with a mirror. My sense is that they won't help me a bit and I find the concept of placing a lance near my head abborrant (sp?). Yes, I've ridden in heavy traffic -- many miles on SF Bay area roads and highways -- and feel like a few of those above that proper positioning and awarness are the keys to survival on the road. Please post a legitamate, factually based opinion, not just intuitive unsupported arguments.
Aug 13, 2002 7:21 AM
Here are some directly observed fact: With the mirror, and without removing my eyes from the road ahead, I have looked behind me, seen cars, and moved over to the right to avoid them. I have looked behind me, seen no cars, and have remained out in the road on the better pavement until I then saw cars, then moved over. I have been in pace lines where riders have started to fall off -- I saw this and immediately slowed before the gap became too large.

Aug 13, 2002 7:54 AM
And my point is that I'm unmoved by any of those arguments. I don't have the type of problems with traffic that a mirror would solve, and I don't have the type of problems in a pace line that would be solved by a mirror. This is an unwinable argument for both of us... Until the Transportation Safety Board comes through with the statistics on accident rates for mirrored and unmirrored cyclists, I suspect we would just be forced to throw anecdotes at each other...
Yep, sounds like silly arguments against helmets nmdzrider
Aug 13, 2002 9:40 AM
Yes, For several years.ACE-
Aug 12, 2002 11:01 PM
I have only used the take a look, but see no reason to use any other. You don't have to move your head too much, just a slight turn. You have a wide field of view, not just a couple of feet. It takes very little time to get used to it. If it somehow gets out of place, readjusting takes only a second or two. You would ,of course be a fool to ignore your sense of hearing, or never look over your shoulder should the situation demand.I have been advocating this particular mirror here for a long time, I hope any fence-sitters try one before they give up on using a mirror at all. ACE
are you kidding?gregario
Aug 13, 2002 4:20 AM
of course mirrors are a great idea. I live in Michigan as well. Arguments against them, in my opinion, are just plain stupid.
Thanks everyone, gonna try one for safeties sakefz4vgq
Aug 13, 2002 4:29 AM
I was not arguing for or against mirrors....STEELYeyed
Aug 13, 2002 5:00 AM
they are just not right for me. Maybe I will get one when I get a recumbent. That and one of those 2 gallon water bladders with a 4' hose. And don't forget the 8' orange flag. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Aug 13, 2002 7:58 AM
I'm a noob roadie of a few weeks, ride mostly a loop at the local beach in the morning, and one of my biggest issues starting up was dealing with cars. Combine the need to give occupied parked cars (and their opening doors) a wide berth, with the need to not get run over from behind while doing that, and a mirror became an obvious necessity. I can't look over my shoulder for upcoming cars without increasing the risk of missing an opening car door in front of me. Got a plastic helmet-mounted mirror, and after about a week or two of getting accustomed to it, I wouldn't dream of riding without one now. They're tricky to learn to use, but once you got it down, they're great. Now I can watch in front and behind at almost the same time. As for getting a "frontal lobotomy" in the event of a crash, that's not going to happen. The mirror does not attach to the front of your helmet, it attaches to the side. If your face smashes into the dirt or the pavement, god forbid, the mirror will just glance off and back along the side of your helmet. It was $20, not much to pay for the added situational awareness it provides.
One more thing...fbg111
Aug 13, 2002 8:07 AM
Helmet mounted mirrors do not limit your field of vision any. Simply move your head around slightly to change the angle, and you can see everywhere behind you that you need to see. I can see cars coming up behind me until they are in my peripheral vision. Like I said, they take a while to get used to, and I almost returned mine initially, but just keep experimenting till you get comfortable using it. Imo they greatly improve your situational awareness while simultaneously decreasing the work you have to do to achieve that.