Riding Blind

Went for a ride today, and somehow got away without my mirror, and felt like I was riding blind the whole ride. It was a disconcerting feeling.

Take A Look Cycling Eyeglass MirrorThe mirror I use is the Take A Look Cycling Eyeglass Mirror. As the name suggests, it clips onto sunglasses, and allows you to easily take a look behind you while riding.

I’ve also used the Third Eye Mirror, which is also a fine mirror, but I’ve found the Take A Look mirror to be more rugged, and to adjust easier to different sunglasses (as well as helmet visors).

There are many different types of bicycling mirrors available, including mirrors that attach to your eyeglasses, mirrors that attach to your helmet, and mirrors that attach to your handlebars. They’re all relatively inexpensive — most in the $10 to $15 range.

Whichever type of mirror you prefer, I do recommend that you at least give a mirror a try. They take a bit of getting used to, but once you’re accustomed to being able to easily see what’s coming up behind you — whether that’s a car or a fellow cyclist — you’ll really appreciate the increased visibility and confidence you’ll gain.

And my little ride today, sans eyeglass mirror, only reinforced that point for me. I really did feel blind. I could still hear cars coming from behind, and I could always turn my head and look over my shoulder, but I wasn’t nearly as confident as I normally am in traffic.

Do you ride with a mirror, and if so, what kind? If not, why not?

About The Author

By Randy Rasa, editor/webmaster at Kansas Cyclist, the web's premier Kansas cycling information site, featuring authoritative guides to Kansas cycling clubs, bike shops, organized bike rides, touring, trails, and much more. [learn more]

7 responses to “Riding Blind”

  1. KC says:

    I used bar-end mirrors for years and still have them on 2 of my bikes. When I got a new touring bike last year with barcons, I planned to get a take-a-look. But I didn’t got around to it. At first I found being without a mirror very disconcerting, but I got used to it.

    I do like having one when riding on a multi-lane road where I need to merge. It’s nice for quick-checking prior to a head turn. Otherwise, I’m surprised that I really don’t miss it much.

    I have to admit, I didn’t have nearly as stable and complete a head turn as I’ve developed since riding without a mirror.

  2. Rob says:

    no, I dont have a mirror, I just stay as far right as possible, what good is a mirror? if they come up fast, they will hit you anyway/

  3. Randy says:

    I think a mirror helps in a number of ways. Say you need to dodge a pothole or debris in the road — a quick look back lets you know if it’s safe to move to your left, or if you need to slow to let motorists pass. Or when you’re planning to turn left, and need to merge into the flow of traffic — again, a look back lets you know if you should merge before a line of traffic passes you, or after. Or perhaps you’re riding in a group, and need to know when to single-up, or when it’s safe to ride two-abreast.

    Yes, turning your head and looking back accomplished the same thing, but I find the mirror more convenient and safer.

    For me it’s about awareness. The more aware you are of what’s going on around you, the better.

    But to each his own…

    @KC: I found myself much more comfortable by the end of my mirrorless ride, but I seemed to be much more oblivious to my surroundings as well.

    @Rob: I think a mirror can actually help in collision avoidance. Yes, sometimes things happen too fast to react, but often you can see trouble coming. There have been several occasions when I’ve taken evasive actions to avoid a reckless driver (usually someone passing unsafely). Not sure if that would have happened without the mirror…

  4. Don says:

    I use a Third Eye and wouldn’t be without it. With it, I can move out into the traffic lane a little more when traffic is not coming, then get over quickly to the far right when I need to. I have had trouble getting the Third Eye to stay glued to the helmet. A couple helmets ago I could wedge it between the outside liner and the foam (not very classy but it worked), but with newer helmets thats not advisable. I think I’ll try the Take A Look.

  5. Matt says:

    For along time I used a bar-end mirror (cheap Cateye) on my mountain/commuter bike that worked great. I recently repalced it with a more expensive one ($10 I think) with a real glass mirror. Much better view but not very durable. Shattered the first time my bike fell over! Now I’m using a helmet mounted mirror. I’ve used them in the past but I could never really get the hang of it.

    The mirror I’m using now is the Safe-Zone Helmet-Mounted Mirror. Its made by a small company call Efficient Velo Tools. The mirror seems larger than ones I’ve used in the past and the adjusting arm is great.

    Like many, I feel naked without it!

  6. Randy says:

    Thanks for the comments, all. Seems like a lot of folks have opinions on this subject!

    FYI, there are some good comments over on Facebook as well.

  7. Robert says:

    Using the mirror and looking back time to time has been efficient for me. Looking back while in traffic leads to what I call the magnet effect. What ever to are looking at seems to magnetically draw you closer. We are all guilty of it, if you say nay you are lying. I did not start out with a mirror but once I had got one I was disappointed I had waited so long it has made my ride much safer.