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Old 07-27-08, 11:09 AM   #1
Lifelonglaugh
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Do you use a mirror?

I am new to touring, but have been cycling for a long time. I know some people like to use a mirror - helmet, glasses, or handlebar. I used one for cycling a long time ago, but found it distracting. Any comments on touring with or without, and if with, what kind?

Thanks!
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Old 07-27-08, 11:15 AM   #2
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Depends, town/errand riding/touring? Yeah, I use a bar mirror. If I'm racing, no.
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Old 07-27-08, 11:22 AM   #3
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I use a bar end mirror, forget the make, but is is fairly small on a movable mount that allows you to adjust the field of view. I find it useful for a number of maneuvers, but I do not rely on it 100%. I still look over my shoulder when I'm making a lane change, turning etc... unless I'm positive that there no traffic around at all.

For touring (I commute on the same bike) I use it a lot to check for traffic that's going to pass me at speed when I'm on roads with small or poor shoulders. I just like to know when that semi is going to whizz by doing 50 mph, I'll make sure I have a good grip on my bars and that I don't chose that moment to drift over into the lane. I know my commute route so well, that I don't need to check the same way and can just rely on auditory signals
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Old 07-27-08, 11:33 AM   #4
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For touring (I commute on the same bike) I use it a lot to check for traffic that's going to pass me at speed when I'm on roads with small or poor shoulders. I just like to know when that semi is going to whizz by doing 50 mph, I'll make sure I have a good grip on my bars and that I don't chose that moment to drift over into the lane.

For that very same reason, I have a helmet-mounted mirror that I use during my commute. My commute takes me down one fast road with some big trucks. I've become used to watching all cars as they come up behind me, so that I know how much room they are giving me and how fast they are coming. So far, all have seen me and I've never had to bail into the shoulder. But if one comes in a big SUV talking on a cellphone while putting on her makeup (I've seen it), I can move over.

The other day, I started counting the number of people in afternoon traffic with a cellphone pressed against their ear. About 15% of drivers were holding one (no handsfree in this counting). You have to watch out for yourselves out there.
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Old 07-27-08, 12:47 PM   #5
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Hi,
Don't know the brand of helmet-mounted mirror I have, but it is quite cheap, and is affixed with electrical tape. I keep it pretty far, and high into my periphery so it isn't a distraction, and have come to rely on it greatly, and feel naked without it. The payoff in "situational awareness" is HUGE. I ride where there are a lot of trailers of varying sizes (boats, rv's, landscapers, etc). The trailers can surprise an unsuspecting rider and are often wider than their tow vehicle so it's really helpful to be aware of them. Sometimes just the sheer size and sound of a giant semi truck going relatively slowly is enough to cause my arms to buckle a bit and cause a front-wheel wobble, which on a narrow road can be disastrous. If I know it's coming I can do my best to prepare for it. Nice to to be able to see into the future, even if it's behind me.
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Old 07-27-08, 01:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lifelonglaugh View Post
I am new to touring, but have been cycling for a long time. I know some people like to use a mirror - helmet, glasses, or handlebar. I used one for cycling a long time ago, but found it distracting. Any comments on touring with or without, and if with, what kind?

Thanks!
My girlfriend and I used mirrors for the first time on our Baja tour last winter. At first they seemed clunky and awkward to use, but after a day or two, using them became second nature (and were much appreciated on the generally shoulderless roads of Baja). Much like learning to use the various mirrors on a car, with a little practice you figure out what the field of view of your mirror has, and this will limit your need to constantly look over your shoulder.

The mirror has stayed on my bike since the tour, and quite frankly, I don't see any reason to remove it. In fact, I used it all day yesterday during the Roan Moan Century particularly on the high speed cold and rainy descent from Carvers Gap.

A mirror won't cut out all rearward glances, but, at least for me, it has allowed me to keep my head pointed ahead without giving up knowing what is behind.

We use Busch & Müller mirrors available at http://peterwhitecycles.com/mirrors.asp

I would also highly recommend this one from Rivendell http://tinyurl.com/5lgmvb

hope this helps,
jb
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Old 07-27-08, 01:19 PM   #7
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I use a mirror on my glasses some of the time. Seems like I'll use one for a while and then break it or lose it and be a while before I pick up another. I've gotten used to hearing and looking back in those cases when I don't have a mirror.

Last year I did a long cycle tour (bikerussia.com). I started out with a mirror and got pretty used to it for occasionally checking back for traffic. After 9165km, I somehow lost the mirror stopped at a small cafe. I looked around it and couldn't find it. Felt pretty awkward for a few days but then got used to it again.

I find the mirror most helpful with narrow, poor condition road with higher speed traffic and also on a recumbent where it is harder to turn. On the poor condition road, the mirror lets me know when I can sometimes drift to the center to get around potholes and major cracks such as on some of the roads on my trip last year.
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Old 07-27-08, 01:48 PM   #8
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I'm in the no mirror camp. I generally rely on riding as if cars were overtaking at any time I don't know. I tend to think that my job is to ride a predictable line and the car's job is to miss me. Some will pass kind of close, but of the many thousands of cars that have passed me in the last 50 years, only a few have brushed up against me. Most of the closer passes were when training on the road bike in suburban areas. I think cars tend to give bikes with panniers a bit more room and very few have passed particularly close when on I was tour.

I rely on my hearing to some extent and look over my shoulder when I need to check.
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Old 07-27-08, 02:12 PM   #9
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We always use mirrors, its nice to know when that 18 wheeler is going to pass by. And with strong headwinds sometimes we don't hear them.
But I have to add when crossing the street I still turn to look, I wont trust them with my life.
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Old 07-27-08, 03:45 PM   #10
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I poke a spok threw the left botum of the helmet, sink the elbo into the stirofome and dab on some epoxie. put a bend in the ft end and epoxie a mirror to the spoke. This is much more dourable than the plastic mirrors. I saw this on crazy guy some time ago.
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Old 07-27-08, 06:03 PM   #11
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I consider my mirror attached to my glasses, one of my most important pieces of safety equipment. I would not want to ride without it. I ride narrow roads, lots of corners. Allows me to keep an eye on what's behind me, and if they are giving me room. If I had to glance over my shoulder to see what's coming, I tend to not keep a straight line.
Especially valuable when meeting traffic on narrow roads, to make sure no one is coming up behind.
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Old 07-27-08, 09:49 PM   #12
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Roads (some shoulder-less!) are inherently dangerous places, and I think it's very foolish to not take every advantage of important safety equipment such as mirrors. I've found the 'Take a Look' helmet mirror to be the best for a rearward distance view, and a handlebar mirror to keep a quick check on closer traffic. A beautiful ride on a nice bike could turn ugly very quickly with guessing about what's only a foot to your left! Here's a recent article where it seems the rider didn't turn around and look sharply enough for whatever reason - I'm thinking that some good mirrors may have saved her life. http://www.calvertnews.info/news/967...ed-calvert-rt4
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Old 07-27-08, 10:09 PM   #13
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I have a mirror, or I had a mirror. It was the cat's eye, and it was not the cat's meow. It didn't fit my bike, and I was angry, it shifted, and moved, and wasn't very good. I could see what was coming behind me (if I adjusted it to point backward instead of down). I like mirrors, but I have not had a very good experience with mine. Then I saw something this Swiss guy did. He got a motorcycle mirror and attached it to his bike (diy ambition needed here). It was sturdy, it didn't move, it was big and it was chrome. Apart from the chrome part I was sold, and I will be doing the same. I just need to go to the motocycle shop to get one.
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Old 07-28-08, 06:12 AM   #14
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The time when I look most carefully in my mirror is actually when there's oncoming traffic, especially on narrow roads or roads without shoulders. If I see in my mirror that there's also a vehicle coming up behind, who maybe has the choice of sideswiping me or hitting the oncoming vehicle, I think it's not such a bad idea to know about it.

Of course you need to use your ears too. But no way can you rely on them. For example, when more than one vehicle is coming up behind you, it's usually easy to hear the first one, more difficult to hear subsequent ones. And it's the subsequent ones who've had their vision of you impeded by the car in front of them. Mirrors do a better job in this situation.

I'm a little ambivalent about mirrors with wide fields of view (rather than flat mirrors). They obviously let you see more but also make it more difficult to calculate distances and angles.

And I generally find handlebar mirrors easier to use because you don't have to adjust your head position to get the mirror in the right spot -- that is, until you change riding position (like standing on the pedals) and then it's the handlebar mirror that's in the wrong spot. If I was better at multi-tasking I might even have more than one.
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Old 07-28-08, 06:29 AM   #15
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We love our take-a-look mirrors and wouldn't ride without them now. Very occasionally if we are in a town and just running a quick errand we don't put on our helmets and we find ourselves glancing upwards to check our mirrors.... it really helps you see what is going on and we can see if a car is slowing down or moving over behind us. I think it could well have saved our life on a couple occasions when there was a crazy driver and we had to get off the road quickly.
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Old 07-28-08, 09:06 AM   #16
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I wouldn't ride without a mirror, especially on tour, where I often have to ride on roads with less-than-ideal shoulders. On my recent tour in northern Idaho and Montana I found myself a few times on roads with no shoulders at all, and where the edge of the pavement was broken up. I had no choice but to ride a foot or more into the traffic lane. I kept my eye out for people coming from behind. If they weren't going to swing wide I often had to pull off the road. When the approaching vehicle was a big truck and there was someone coming in the opposite direction at the same time I always pulled off. I'd rather lose a few seconds and be inconvenienced than be run over. To me, mirror is essential.

I find it interesting that several people endorsed their Take-A-Look mirrors. I've always used a handlebar mounted mirror, but I finally bought a Take-A-Look this summer and tried it on my sunglasses. It didn't work for me. To each his/her own.
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Old 07-28-08, 10:06 AM   #17
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I always ride with the Take-A-Look eyeglass-mounted mirror. A lot of the roads I ride have no shoulder, and sometimes there is debris/broken pavement/or a really rough cold-patch on the right side of the lane. I like to check for traffic before moving left to avoid this stuff, and as someone said earlier, I have a tendency to drift left if I look over my shoulder (55 years old and not as flexible as I used to be).
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Old 07-29-08, 08:04 AM   #18
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We mount our take-a-look mirrors on our helmets. Didn't like them on the glasses but on the helmets they work a treat.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:08 AM   #19
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I consider my mirror an indispensable touring aid. There is no best mirror. Experiment until you find one that works for you. I have used mirrors that mount to a helmet, brake hood, side of the handlebar, and bar end.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:17 AM   #20
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I wouldn't ride a bike without a mirror, any more than I'd drive a car without a mirror.
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Old 07-29-08, 10:24 AM   #21
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take-a-look mirror on my helmet- - -always. I've used other mirrors, both helmet and bar mounted and haven't found anything as durable and easily adjustable as the take-a-look.
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Old 07-29-08, 03:11 PM   #22
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A mirror can provide a near continuous source of situational awareness whereas the 'looking over the shoulder' method is more akin to a snapshot. This is especially true of helmet or glasses mounted mirrors because one doesn't need to move his/her eyes much to check the mirror. To achieve the same degree of situational awareness with the 'looking over the shoulder' method would require a significant amount of looking back. This might compromise safety to some extent. That said, both methods work and, like most things in cycling, is a matter of preference.

For me the mirror provides knowledge of a number of vehicle behaviors that I find useful with respect to making riding decisions. Are vehicles accelerating or decelerating, what are the closure rates, are vehicles making lane changes, are turn signals operational, are there erratic or aggressive maneuvers being made. In heavy traffic I check my mirror every few seconds to stay up-to-date.

When I need to make a lane change I can watch for an opening in traffic without needing to look over my shoulder numerous times. When continuing straight where a right turn lane exists I'm able to watch for vehicles that may attempt to accelerate around my left side to make the right turn.

I've used both handlebar and glasses mounted mirrors. My current favorite is the Take-a-Look helmet/glasses mounted mirror. It provides a wide view (but not a wide angle/distorted view) and, being glasses mounted, provides a rearward view whether seated or standing. It took me a few weeks to become comfortable with it but now I do appreciate it. The only downside is the blind spot in your peripheral vision where the mirror is. However, though I initially found this to be annoying, after a few weeks I've adjusted to it and simply move my head slightly to check the blind spot.
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Old 07-29-08, 04:02 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Lifelonglaugh View Post
I am new to touring, but have been cycling for a long time. I know some people like to use a mirror - helmet, glasses, or handlebar. I used one for cycling a long time ago, but found it distracting. Any comments on touring with or without, and if with, what kind?

Thanks!
I also have bar end mirrors recently purchased. They came from Topeak as a pair. They look like regular bar ends but have flip out mirrors. I find them hard to flip out from outside but are open on the inside so you can use your thumb. They have good quick adjustability and although the field of view is small they work OK for me. I got them to use at tricky spots on my commute but didn't want a mirror out there all the time as I was sure I would break it off.
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Old 07-29-08, 04:10 PM   #24
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I am mostly a tour / commuter type. I always ride with a mirror. I like to instantaneously know what is behind me. Plus, its so much easier to take a quick look using a helmet rather than turn your whole head. / All that head turning takes so much time, its not a wonder you don't ride into a lamp post. / My favorite mirror is the take a look, glasses mount. Its less giggly, and with a slight turn of your head you get a bigger view of your surroundings.
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Old 07-29-08, 04:55 PM   #25
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I love my helmet mounted Take-A-Look mirror. In fact, the other day I was walking down a busy sidewalk and I caught myself trying to look at my mirror to check the pedestrian "traffic" behind me.
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