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Old 06-28-09, 03:21 PM   #1
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Helmet Mirror

I just put a rearview mirror on my helmet. Until now I as doing the "turn your head all the way around" method of checking behind me.

I took the bike out for a brief ride and have some observations and questions. Is it fairly normal to have to turn your head a little to see behind you? I was hoping to be able to just move my eyes to see behind me but it seems like if I move it to a position where I can see around my head to see behind me, I have to practically go cross-eyed to see the mirror, and then it's hard to see clearly. I found that if I adjusted it further forward, I can't see around my head so in order to see behind me I have to cock my head maybe 10 degrees in order to see directly behind. Is this normal?

Also, I found myself looking in my mirror almost as much as I was looking forward. Is this just a novelty thing, and once the novelty wears off, I will not look into the mirror all the time? It seems more distracting that helpful right now.

Once I get used to it, how much will I notice cars approaching from behind without consciously looking at the mirror? Does it get to the point where the mirror is automatically part of my situational awareness?

Thanks in advance for your comments and/or tips.
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Old 06-28-09, 03:36 PM   #2
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My preference went to handle bar mirrors.
With a helmet mirror, before I got on the bike I would reset the mirror.
I did the adjustment by focusing on an object behind my left shoulder.
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Old 06-28-09, 03:39 PM   #3
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Once I get used to it, how much will I notice cars approaching from behind without consciously looking at the mirror? Does it get to the point where the mirror is automatically part of my situational awareness?
Let's just say you will eventually find yourself walking down the street, hearing something coming up behind you and you will instinctively glance at your non-existent mirror.

I ride road bikes primarily so I have to move my head a bit to see behind me. I adjust the mirror so I see it through the top left corner of my sunglasses. Then adjust it so I see the top of my shoulder and almost see my ear. That seems to be the best starting point but I often make a minor adjustment once underway. It takes a bit of getting used to but, after riding with it, I wouldn't ride without in any kind of traffic. I have 2 helmets, commuting and road, and have a mirror glued to each.
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Old 06-28-09, 03:56 PM   #4
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I decided to go with a helmet mounted mirror because I have 4 different bikes I ride. I only have one helmet, so I figured helmet-mounted would be more economical.
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Old 06-28-09, 07:40 PM   #5
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I just put a rearview mirror on my helmet. Until now I as doing the "turn your head all the way around" method of checking behind me.

I took the bike out for a brief ride and have some observations and questions. Is it fairly normal to have to turn your head a little to see behind you? I was hoping to be able to just move my eyes to see behind me but it seems like if I move it to a position where I can see around my head to see behind me, I have to practically go cross-eyed to see the mirror, and then it's hard to see clearly. I found that if I adjusted it further forward, I can't see around my head so in order to see behind me I have to cock my head maybe 10 degrees in order to see directly behind. Is this normal?

Also, I found myself looking in my mirror almost as much as I was looking forward. Is this just a novelty thing, and once the novelty wears off, I will not look into the mirror all the time? It seems more distracting that helpful right now.

Once I get used to it, how much will I notice cars approaching from behind without consciously looking at the mirror? Does it get to the point where the mirror is automatically part of my situational awareness?

Thanks in advance for your comments and/or tips.
The bike I'm mostly riding now is the first one that hasn't had a 'mirrocycle' mounted on the brake hood. The one I have now is at the end of the handlebar and with bar ends, it's not at its most ideal angle. Thusly, the helmet mirror to complete the rear view.

You have to adjust the helmet mirror so that you can just see the upper outside edge of your ear. It didn't take more than a few minutes to get used to it, but for me, it's complimentary to my other mirror, not my main rear view.
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Old 06-28-09, 07:45 PM   #6
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I use a take-a-look mirror on my helmet. It's very easy to adjust (you get used to it) and yes, i do move my head slightly to scan behind me. . .but you can adjust it to have a clear view of oncoming traffic without having to move your head much. Things that affect this are distance from your eye to the front and distance from your eye to the side. It may take of bit of experimenting to get this dialed in for you preference. . .but once you do you'll likely not want to ride without it. Handlebar mounts don't give you that scan ability that helmet mirrors do.
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Old 06-28-09, 07:45 PM   #7
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The problem I had with a helmet mirror was that whenever I took the helmet off, the mirror got knocked out of place, and I was always having to readjust it. Finally took the darned thing off.
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Old 06-28-09, 08:32 PM   #8
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Yes, it is normal to have to move your head slightly. As to whether or not you will look in the mirror less that is entirely a decision that is up to you. You do get used to the mirror though. When you hear something, know you're in a tight spot, or need to turn left up ahead you will instinctively look in the mirror. I love having my mirror. Helmet mounted mirrors are nice because you can change where you're looking by moving your head slightly.
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Old 06-28-09, 09:00 PM   #9
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I have to move my head a little. If I move the mirror far enough over that I can see behind me without moving my head, it's outside my eyeglasses range so I can't see well.
Bike mounted mirrors have never worked for me. With helmet mounted mirrors, eventually you get to where you just know what's behind you without being conscious of having looked, the same as with car mirrors; it just becomes part of your perception.

Ditto the comment above; I got so used to it that even when there are loud noises like something falling on the floor, or fireworks, when I'm just walking around, I don't spin around to look, I look to my (nonexistant) helmet mirror.

BTW, I used to use take-a-look but switched to a Cycleaware Reflex after a crash pushed the take-a-look's somewhat sharp edge into my face and caused me to get 12 stitches to close the gash. The Reflex has much smoother edges.
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Old 06-29-09, 12:59 AM   #10
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take a look makes the best. rei.com is where you can get them.
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Old 06-29-09, 05:55 AM   #11
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I prefer a glasses mounted take-a-look. I don't have to turn my head to monitor anything coming up on my left, it just takes a quick glance, followed by a head check if I am going to actually change my position on the road. If I want to scan the entire area behind me, I have to turn my head some. I usually have it adjusted so that I can just (barely) see the side of my face and my shoulder, for reference.

Yes, after some time you will get over the habit of constantly looking in the mirror, and treat it just like you do the mirrors in your car...you don't always look in those, do you?
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Old 06-29-09, 07:36 AM   #12
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Take-a-look is indeed very functional, but really about the same as the Cycleaware Reflex, but the Reflex is a lot safer. Take-a-look gouged my face in an accident and I'm really pretty sure the Reflex would not have at all. If you're in the market, just look at both and imagine if either of them got crammed forcefully into your face. I don't like the take-a-look's very stiff, straight bare wire and brass tube that close to my face, either.
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Old 06-29-09, 07:54 AM   #13
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Take-a-look is indeed very functional, but really about the same as the Cycleaware Reflex, but the Reflex is a lot safer. Take-a-look gouged my face in an accident and I'm really pretty sure the Reflex would not have at all. If you're in the market, just look at both and imagine if either of them got crammed forcefully into your face. I don't like the take-a-look's very stiff, straight bare wire and brass tube that close to my face, either.
I tried the Reflex...crappy, easily-scratched plastic mirror with a convex lens that makes objects 'closer than they appear'. I tossed it after a week. YMMV
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Old 06-29-09, 08:11 AM   #14
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I got some kind of LBS plastic brand. I never considered what happens in a crash; that's good to think about.

I did the commute with the mirror today and I felt confident enough with it to make lane changes without actually turning around. I can scan well enough to see everything back there. One issue I noticed is when the sun is low and either right behind me or right in front of me, the mirror isn't as effective because the image in it is either too light or too dark.
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Old 06-29-09, 08:22 AM   #15
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Let's just say you will eventually find yourself walking down the street, hearing something coming up behind you and you will instinctively glance at your non-existent mirror.
This happens to me all the time when I'm walking.

With my helmet mounted mirror, there is a blind spot, just like in the rear view mirror of a car. Beware of the blind spot.
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Old 06-29-09, 08:42 AM   #16
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With my helmet mounted mirror, there is a blind spot, just like in the rear view mirror of a car. Beware of the blind spot.
Orly? I thought I could pretty much scan from curb to curb. The only blindspot I can think of is over my right shoulder.
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Old 06-29-09, 08:49 AM   #17
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I got some kind of LBS plastic brand. I never considered what happens in a crash; that's good to think about.

I did the commute with the mirror today and I felt confident enough with it to make lane changes without actually turning around. I can scan well enough to see everything back there. One issue I noticed is when the sun is low and either right behind me or right in front of me, the mirror isn't as effective because the image in it is either too light or too dark.
One other issue is that some sunglass frames get in the way.
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Old 06-29-09, 09:00 AM   #18
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I did the commute with the mirror today and I felt confident enough with it to make lane changes without actually turning around. I can scan well enough to see everything back there.
Stop right there, amigo. Thou shalt not make a change in your position relative to other traffic without a head check...just like you should do when driving a car. You know those drivers who claim they didn't see what they just ran into (or ran into them)? Don't become one of them.
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Old 06-29-09, 09:10 AM   #19
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If there's any traffic around, yeah, head check. If I scan and see nothing, no really, nothing in the mirror, and can't hear any approaching traffic... what's the point? I guess I need to understand more about this blindspot blindsue is talking about. In a car you get that as a result of the c-pillar. There are no pillars on a bicycle to obstruct my view, and I can do a full headscan, to see probably 300 degrees, with the other 60 degrees being the curb on my right. What am I missing here?

I'm not disagreeing here; just trying to understand based on the experience and wisdom that is BF (okay, maybe just experience....)



I'll tell you what's wonderous about a mirror though... I've been picturing what cars do behind me, and kind of take it on faith that they are going around me when I'm in the lane. It's nice being able to see that happen and actually know where the cars are. Kind of empowering.
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Old 06-29-09, 09:42 AM   #20
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If there's any traffic around, yeah, head check. If I scan and see nothing, no really, nothing in the mirror, and can't hear any approaching traffic... what's the point? I guess I need to understand more about this blindspot blindsue is talking about. In a car you get that as a result of the c-pillar. There are no pillars on a bicycle to obstruct my view, and I can do a full headscan, to see probably 300 degrees, with the other 60 degrees being the curb on my right. What am I missing here?

I'm not disagreeing here; just trying to understand based on the experience and wisdom that is BF (okay, maybe just experience....)

I'll tell you what's wonderous about a mirror though... I've been picturing what cars do behind me, and kind of take it on faith that they are going around me when I'm in the lane. It's nice being able to see that happen and actually know where the cars are. Kind of empowering.
There was no traffic around Saturday evening as I took a quick glance in the mirror and moved to avoid dead coon...only to find that my wife, who was on my wheel, had already moved left and begun to pass me!
Even with a headscan, there are blindspots that take a little extra effort.

Mirrors are great for situational awareness and planning though.
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Old 06-29-09, 10:05 AM   #21
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I never trust the mirror completely. I'll use it to guage when I have an open spot then look back to ensure it is clear. I'm not about to cross 3 lanes of 55 MPH traffic without looking in my car or on my bike.

I started with a Third Eye helmet mounted mirror. The adhesive on the hook and loop fastener lost its grip so I just glued it to the helmet. I decided to go for the Third Eye glasses mounted mirror when I got my new road bike helmet. I had to remove it after every ride as it deformed the nylon arms on the glasses. Even being careful, I eventually broke off part of the mount so I just glued what was left to my helmet and it works fine.
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Old 06-29-09, 10:22 AM   #22
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Third Eye... I think that's the brand I got.

I will need to consciously do a headcheck as well as rely on the mirror. It's very weird right now, but eventually I think it'll get integrated into my general situational awareness. When I took my test ride yesterday I was skeptical as to how useful it would be; today's commute seemed better and I'm sure it will only be more helpful with experience.
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Old 06-29-09, 10:25 AM   #23
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I tried the Reflex...crappy, easily-scratched plastic mirror with a convex lens that makes objects 'closer than they appear'. I tossed it after a week. YMMV
Mine's dead flat with no magnification, and it's still totally unscratched after 3 years of use. YMMV, too.
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Old 06-29-09, 10:25 AM   #24
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One dark morning I let all the car head lights in my mirror pass me by before I switched
out into the lane. Instinct had me look back,yup the car ninja would have had me dead bang.
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Old 06-29-09, 10:28 AM   #25
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I rarely head check, but that's because almost all of my commute is on two lane road, and the traffic is not much. In almost every case, there simply aren't any cars around.

Also, I can see better with my mirror than trying to look back over my shoulder; I can't see very well at all that way.
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