Thursday, February 28, 2008

Looking Back- Mirrors

It is amazing how many comments people make about my mirror. Living in a mid-sized city makes you continually conscious of the traffic. Turning your head to look behind you puts you in several dangers: the proclivity to swerve slightly when turning your head around, the momentary lapse in attention to the doors of parked cars and the chance that a pedestrian might choose that time to step out. Using a mirror can mitigate some of these problems, though it is not always wise to exclusively rely on it.

Mirrors come in two basic flavors. There are the mirrors which either strap on or attach to the handlebars and the mirrors which stick to the helmet or attach to glasses.

On the pro side, handlebar mirrors have a greater reflective surface and can stick out further. On the con side they vibrate with the bike, are farther from your eye, don't show what is behind you if you are turning and make you wider.

Helmet mirrors have all of the opposite pros and cons. They don't vibrate, but have a smaller reflective surface. In addition, if you attach them to your glasses... you have to wear glasses. During the day, this is not such a problem. At night however, if you don't normally wear prescription glasses, you have to wear clear lenses or safety glasses.

My preference is for the latter. Although there is a period of adjustment, the close proximity to my eye allows me to shift my attention quickly from the road to the mirror and back. In addition, wearing glasses is a good practice anyways to keep bugs and debris out of your eyes. Someone commented to me that it must be annoying in the rain, however I use a Giro helmet with a visor and this keeps most of the rain off my glasses.

I find it amusing that while searching for a picture of my mirror, I found this article on the Icebike site. They have the full address for the company which makes my mirror (the Take-a-Look), though I got mine from my local bike shop. It is also important to point out that mine came out almost unscathed from being fully stepped on, when foolishly left on the concrete sidewalk. Its reflective side kissed the concrete. The result was one small scratch on the top border. The thing just folded up and protected itself. You don't "bend" it as cited on the Icebike site; it is jointed in three places to allow for adjustment.