Mirrors?

Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy

Mirrors?

Postby Downhill » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:30 am

Recently I bought a convex rear view mirror. I thought it would make things a little safer when in traffic.

I discovered that it was good for seeing if you had a tyre sucker, or if anyone was trying to over take you on the PSP's, but that was about it. Vehicles travelling at 80 kph are on top of you before you can see them. Plus you can't be watching the mirror the whole time.

I think knowing what's behind you is a case of 85% hearing, 10% head checks, and only 5% mirrors. But 5% is still 5%.

Is that a reasonable assumption? Or are some mirrors better than others?
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by BNA » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:06 am

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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Oxford » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:06 am

flat mirrors that do not alter the image. plus the closer the mirror to your eyes, the wider the range of view for the same size. I have a glasses mounted mirror, glass is no bigger than say a 50cent piece and gives me a great view and wide field of vision. also being glasses mounted I can change the field of vision with slight movements of my head. so yes not all mirrors are created equal.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby CommuRider » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:18 am

Some mirrors are definitely better than others. You get what you pay for.

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Re: Mirrors?

Postby find_bruce » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:28 pm

Or you can just read BikeSnob NYC
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby il padrone » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:09 pm

Not sure why you'd want a mirror that demanded you taking a hand off the bars to use it :?

I use my mirror.... lots. Glance in it maybe 2-3 times a minute, and when I'm preparing to/making a lane change or right turn, I may take a good long view in it for say, 10-20 seconds to check the traffic speed and look for a gap. I've used various mirrors for the past 25-30 years, all of them have been convex.

You may need to give it time and get used to it. Over time you do get used to judging the speed and distance. I can happily pick out traffic and judge their speed and position on the road to make safe traffic manouvers. Some mirrors may be too convex and give too distorted a picture. For many years I used a Blackburn Mirrycle, then later a Rhodegear mirror. For the past 5-6 years I have been using the Busch & Muller Cyclestar short stem mirror. It is quite stable, resists vibration and is easily able to re-position if it does get knocked.

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Downhill wrote:I think knowing what's behind you is a case of 85% hearing, 10% head checks, and only 5% mirrors. But 5% is still 5%.

Nup, really knowing what's behind and where & how fast depends on sight. 85% mirror vision, 10% headchecks and 5% hearing for me.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby human909 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:20 pm

I head check constantly in busy traffic. Once every ten seconds. Some people may see that as a chore but I'm paranoid of other drivers.

I've seen too many cyclists who ride head down looking straight ahead and expecting cars to make way for them. Even when they are crossing lanes, crossing slip lanes :shock: or weaving out from parked cars. It quite frankly is suicide.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Mulger bill » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:25 pm

Mirror, headcheck, signal, maneuvre. In that order.

I use my IRBM and ears for situational awareness but the headcheck is a great way to let the smokeboxers know something is up.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby il padrone » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:39 pm

Different order - I do mirror, signal, headcheck (occasionally) then manouver.

Signal first, it is an indication after all. Gives the drivers time to wake up and ease off the pedal. Usually works well, someone lets me in. With my mirror I find that most times I can make manouvers with solely the mirror. A head check is handy mostly to get more of a reaction from drivers before I move lanes.

Just my experience.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby il padrone » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:41 pm

human909 wrote:I head check constantly in busy traffic. Once every ten seconds. Some people may see that as a chore

Hence the value of the mirror :wink:
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby CommuRider » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:41 pm

Ip, how are you finding the B&M compared to the Mirrcycle? Image clarity? B&M is cheaper but is the quality better?
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby wombatK » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:49 pm

Downhill wrote:Recently I bought a convex rear view mirror. I thought it would make things a little safer when in traffic.

I discovered that it was good for seeing if you had a tyre sucker, or if anyone was trying to over take you on the PSP's, but that was about it. Vehicles travelling at 80 kph are on top of you before you can see them. Plus you can't be watching the mirror the whole time.

I think knowing what's behind you is a case of 85% hearing, 10% head checks, and only 5% mirrors. But 5% is still 5%.

Is that a reasonable assumption? Or are some mirrors better than others?

Do you drive a car ? And use your rear view mirror just 5% of the time, and find it no use in detecting vehicles that
are speeding towards you ? Or checking for vehicles bearing down on you at 80 kph before you pull out from
the kerb ?

Is hearing the major factor when you drive and if so, how do you check for quieter vehicles - like electric ones, and
bicyclists ?

I check my rear view mirrors constantly when driving, and would not drive without one. Same goes for riding a bicycle,
for exactly the same reasons.

In the former case, the authorities are so convinced of their value to driving that we have Australian Design Rules
that set out standards the mirrors must comply with. So you don't have to ask the question, are some mirrors better
than others - because every mirror has to be good enough to pass the standard. For a convex mirror, it must have
a surface area of at least 64.5 sq cm - which is equivalent to a 9 cm diameter for a circular mirror.

Unfortunately, for bicycles, there is no equivalent standard. IMHO, and having wasted a fair bit of money on inferior mirrors, some mirrors are much better than others. I don't know if there are any 90 mm diameter mirrors suitable for bicycle mounting, but I find
a 75 mm diameter Mirrycle mirror is highly effective. Probably because its closer mounting on the handle-bars makes up for the lack of size.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby il padrone » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:42 pm

CommuRider wrote:Ip, how are you finding the B&M compared to the Mirrcycle? Image clarity? B&M is cheaper but is the quality better?

The Mirrycle has a slightly larger mirror, and a better mount (more secure against vibration, less prone to getting knocked off line). The image clarity is comparable. The move to aero brake levers always was a blow to the Mirrycle design for road bikes though.

I really should use the Mirrycle, but they don't make a mount design that will work with my handlebar/bar-ends combo. So I use the B&M. It does do the job very well all the same.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Downhill » Thu Feb 16, 2012 12:30 am

No arguments there, WombatK. What I found was that the image in the 80 mm dia. convex was really just too small with the mirror mounted in the drops. At highway speeds the vehicles were on me before they could be distinguished from the background. No problem on congested city streets or crowded PSP's though. It might just be that particular brand. I'll check out the alternatives suggested here.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby wombatK » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:51 am

Downhill wrote:No arguments there, WombatK. What I found was that the image in the 80 mm dia. convex was really just too small with the mirror mounted in the drops. At highway speeds the vehicles were on me before they could be distinguished from the background. No problem on congested city streets or crowded PSP's though. It might just be that particular brand. I'll check out the alternatives suggested here.

Mounting a mirror on the drops puts it 30 cm or more further away from you. That makes a big difference to your field of view, and
hence the mirrors efficacy. Some people really like the small bar-plug mounted mirrors for road bikes, but their small field of view didn't work for me.

Not sure what kind of bike you have, but Mirrycle have ones that put the mirror about 15 cm above the handlebars - either on the bar-end for a flat bar bike, or on Shimano STI levers. The B&M one that Il Padrone posted above also puts the mirror much closer to you.

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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Xplora » Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:06 pm

I get where Downhill is coming from - unfortunately, you're kidding yourself if you think you're fully in control of the situation on a busy 80kph road. Mirrors are good to see a couple hundred metres, but you can't watch it all the time.

I use the US eyeglass mirror, I wish I could remember it's name. anyway, it's great. Can be positioned to be seriously awesome, full vision behind without much head motion! I don't think I'd like a bike mounted mirror, but the Italian racing mirror <?> for the drops might be nice for a different perspective.

You cannot see enough of behind you. Ever. You can normally make a decision to check more, but honestly, if I know I'm taking the lane and the run is a quick one, I don't check the mirrors because I already know they are there. Just pedal faster to get away from them :mrgreen:
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby il padrone » Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:58 pm

Xplora wrote:I get where Downhill is coming from - unfortunately, you're kidding yourself if you think you're fully in control of the situation on a busy 80kph road. Mirrors are good to see a couple hundred metres, but you can't watch it all the time....

......You cannot see enough of behind you. Ever.

Well....... just not my experience, in the last 30+ years, and especially in the last 5-6 years.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Downhill » Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:22 am

Xplora wrote:I get where Downhill is coming from - unfortunately, you're kidding yourself if you think you're fully in control of the situation on a busy 80kph road. Mirrors are good to see a couple hundred metres, but you can't watch it all the time.

I use the US eyeglass mirror, I wish I could remember it's name. anyway, it's great. Can be positioned to be seriously awesome, full vision behind without much head motion! I don't think I'd like a bike mounted mirror, but the Italian racing mirror <?> for the drops might be nice for a different perspective.

You cannot see enough of behind you. Ever. You can normally make a decision to check more, but honestly, if I know I'm taking the lane and the run is a quick one, I don't check the mirrors because I already know they are there. Just pedal faster to get away from them :mrgreen:


+1. Especially when approaching busy highway intersections. You need to focus forward at that point, but you also need to listen for vehicles approaching from behind. The more senses you use, the safer you are. The eye glass mirrors sound like a good idea. I'll check them out.

Here's a completely hypothetical question: Who is at greater risk: a cyclist who is completely deaf and uses a mirror, or a cyclist with perfect hearing who doesn't use one?
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Aushiker » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:46 am

I use Zefal Spy Mirrors (not exactly big) on three bikes, all with drop bars. I have no issues with judging traffic position ... simple matter of learning to use them correctly. BTW they show the traffic as being further away than it is. If I have any doubts or the sun/headlight glare is making a judgement hard, I simply head check. However for most of my riding they work sweet in the city and out in the country.

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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Xplora » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:58 am

il padrone wrote:
Xplora wrote:I get where Downhill is coming from - unfortunately, you're kidding yourself if you think you're fully in control of the situation on a busy 80kph road. Mirrors are good to see a couple hundred metres, but you can't watch it all the time....

......You cannot see enough of behind you. Ever.

Well....... just not my experience, in the last 30+ years, and especially in the last 5-6 years.

I'm not saying someone can't see enough - I'm saying that you can't see enough to be satisfied if you're worried. I think the OP's comment is related to confidence more than necessity. I don't bother checking behind AFAIK when I don't care because I'm taking the lane.

I reckon a convex might not be the best option for confidence. The little eyeglass mirror I have attached to the old Oakleys is absolutely fantastic, but even then I wasn't comfortable on the M4 - that was a truck related issue, not a vision issue. :oops:
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Mulger bill » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:47 pm

Got a pic of this glasses unit X? Might be worth a MacGyver test, just as I did before going the IRBM.

Do you have any issues with the mirror hindering peripheral vision?

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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Xplora » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:48 pm

http://www.mtbr.com/cat/accessories/extras/bike-peddler/take-a-look-original-mirror-with-adapter/prd_359076_117crx.aspx

Take a Look, that was it. I've got the identical unit to the picture. I actually put mine on the left hand side, that's my better eye plus you actually get a great view because you can turn your head to the left slightly to get a good look around your body. I have mine angled at more than 45 degrees, and roll my head down and to the left, getting my head out of the way for a really good look. Gives the widest sideview as well if you don't tilt your head as well. Best advantage is that you have your entire right field of vision open, objects on the left aren't really a big deal on a bike as a rule, compared to the right side. I DO have some really intense vision block issues on one corner on the commute, it's just like the old car pillar problem on the wrong angle curve. But it's ONE corner, out of 110 minutes of riding each day. And I'm getting fine at managing it. :lol:
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Oxford » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:56 pm

I've got the same one, worth its weight in gold. gives a great field of vision due to close proximity to your eye and as Xplora says, a slight move of the head has you seeing and panning an even wider area.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Mulger bill » Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:22 pm

Cheers X, time to get me MacGyver on. :)

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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Xplora » Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:48 am

If you're hunting for parts, it seems to be the same stuff that prescription glasses wire is made of, with the same sheathes. I think the cost of the mirror is just too low to justify trying to build one yourself, because it is VERY reliable. Only beef is that you can't set and forget. If you throw the glasses into the helmet with a phone and gloves, you'll probably need to adjust it.
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Re: Mirrors?

Postby Mulger bill » Sat Feb 18, 2012 5:27 pm

I've already got the parts I need in an old spoke, some heatshrink and a small mirror that the GLW doesn't know came from one of her makeup thingies. Too busy today with chores for the MiL who has just moved house, not even a ride yet :( I should be able to have a crack in the morning.
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