Bicycle Mirrors – Should You Use Them

Bicycle Mirrors - Should You Use Them

Bicycle mirrors have been a topic of debate for years. Cyclists are either for them or against them; there is rarely an in-between. 

If you are thinking of installing bicycle mirrors, you may be confused over the controversy and debate of the topic. 

The main reason people use bicycle mirrors is to increase the safety of their ride. However, some people say the mirrors can introduce even more hazards. So which side is right?

This article will cover everything you need to know about bicycle mirrors, including what they are, why they are important, and if you should use them. 

By the end of this guide, you will know more about the topic and be confident in knowing whether you should use a bicycle mirror or not. 

What Is a Bicycle Mirror?

A bicycle mirror is a separate piece of equipment that you can install on your bike. They are small, rear-view mirrors that allow you to see behind you without turning your head.

Bicycle mirrors function very similarly to car mirrors. 

Typically, bicycle mirrors attach to the handlebars, but there are a few different kinds of mirrors that you can get. 

The Different Kinds of Bicycle Mirrors

Handle Bar Mirrors

HANDLE BAR MIRRORS

The first and most common kind of bicycle mirror is handlebar mirrors. These mirrors typically go on the end of your handlebars and stick out enough to be wider than the cyclist. 

The one downside of handlebar mirrors is that you will have to buy a new pair for each bike you own. Handlebar mirrors are difficult to uninstall from the bike. 

However, many people prefer these mirrors since they are easy to maneuver and do not have to be on their helmet or lens. 

On Lens Mirrors

On lens mirrors are tiny mirrors installed into the lens of glasses (mostly sunglasses). 

One of the main reasons people purchase lens mirrors is that they are impossible to notice by onlookers. You will not need to have wide, bulky mirrors to see traffic behind you. 

However, you will have to turn your head considerably more than with other bicycle mirrors to see anything.

The mirror itself is also very small, so it will be more difficult to see anything.

Helmet Mirrors

HELMET MIRRORS

Another type of bicycle mirror is the helmet mirror. There are two main types of helmet mirrors: mirrors that glue on and mirrors you will need to screw on.

You will either attach the mirror to the helmet’s outer shell or glue it on with a patch. 

Some people will have two mirrors on the helmet; others will only have one. It will depend on your preference. 

This bicycle mirror will sit at eye level or just above eye level. They will be to the right or left of your eye. 

These mirrors are typically small and round and are attached to a long metal or plastic arm that sticks out from the helmet. 

The main disadvantage of these mirrors is that they are not very stylish since they stick out so far from the helmet.

Onlookers will be able to notice the mirrors easily. However, they are easy to install and one of the cheapest bicycle mirror options.  

Eyeglass Mirrors

Eyeglass mirrors work similarly to helmet mirrors. These mirrors attach to the temple or bow of eyeglasses using a three-point mounting system. 

The mirror sits right at eye level or just above it. Typically cyclers will only have one mirror on their eyeglasses.

You only have to turn your head 10 or 20 degrees on one side and 45 degrees on the other side to see the traffic behind you.

Why Is It Important?

Bicycle mirrors are important for a few reasons. 

They Prevent Cyclists From Veering Into Traffic

THEY PREVENT CYCLISTS FROM VEERING INTO TRAFFIC

One of the most dangerous aspects of cycling is when you shoulder check. Since the bike comes with no rearview mirrors, riders must completely turn their head over their shoulder to check for traffic. 

This action can be dangerous for a few reasons. 

When you turn your head to shoulder check, your bike inevitably will veer in the direction you are turning your head.

No matter how good of a cyclist you are, the bike will turn. This could lead you into traffic and could cause an accident. 

Furthermore, when you are busy shoulder checking, you are completely blind to what is in front of you.

A car, another cyclist, or a pedestrian could suddenly cross your path when you look the other way. 

However, bicycle mirrors shorten the time your eyes are off the road in front of you. They will also prevent you from veering into traffic. 

With most mirrors, you can simply glance down for a few seconds or slightly turn your head to get a good view behind you.

Since you never have to look over your shoulder completely, there will be a much lower risk of accidents. You will also still be able to see what is in front of you with your peripheral vision. 

Overall, bicycle mirrors will greatly lower the chance of having an accident related to shoulder checking. 

Bicycle Mirrors Allow You To Detect Cars Much Earlier

Cyclists that don’t have mirrors rely on sound to detect cars behind or near them. Relying only on one sense will shorten the amount of warning you get. 

When a cyclist hears a car, they will only have a few moments to react. Furthermore, if you are not completely visible to the oncoming car, they will not have a lot of time to react to you on the road

On the other hand, cyclists who have mirrors can detect cars much earlier than without mirrors. This will give you time to position yourself most ideally. 

For instance, if you see a car quite a ways back, you can position yourself to be more visible to the car. This action will give the car more time to slow down and properly pass you safely.

Or, you can decide to move to the sidewalk if it is a wider vehicle. 

Should I Have It?

While many people use bicycle mirrors, they are not mandatory. So when should you use them?

It will depend on the kind of cycler you are that determines whether you should use a mirror or not.

Let’s take a look at a few kinds of cyclists that may benefit from using mirrors. 

Cyclists Who Ride on the Road

CYCLISTS WHO RIDE ON THE ROAD

Many people ride on the road; it is a great and green way to commute to work. However, cycling on the road poses more risks than taking a leisurely ride in a park. 

On the road, you will have to ride alongside vehicles. Since cyclists are so small compared to vehicles, motorists will have difficulty seeing them a lot of times. 

Furthermore, it can also be difficult to change lanes on the road since so many motorists will not do anything to help the cyclist. 

For cyclists who ride on the road, a mirror may be very beneficial. They will allow you to see what cars are coming behind you with only an eye movement.

A mirror will also allow you to plan your next move since you can see far behind you compared to a short turn of the head. 

Turning your head to shoulder check may also be a bit more dangerous while riding on the road. If you unconsciously veer to the right or left, you could hit another car, which could be deadly. 

For Beginner Cyclists

As we mentioned before, one of the main cons of not having a bicycle mirror is that you have to turn your head to shoulder check.

While experienced cyclists may have mastered this maneuver, newer cyclists could have trouble with this. 

Shoulder checking on a bike can be a bit of a balance game for newbies.

Furthermore, they will have a bit less control over their bike, so they will be more likely to tilt to the side they are shoulder-checking (we have already covered why this can be dangerous).

Having a mirror can help new bikers check their surroundings quickly and safely. 

Cyclists Who Have Trouble Hearing

CYCLISTS WHO HAVE TROUBLE HEARING

Since cyclists rely on sound to detect oncoming cars, those who have trouble hearing could benefit from bicycle mirrors. 

Even if you only ride on trails or the sidewalk, there will still be other people and cyclists out that could sneak up behind you.

Having a mirror will guarantee that you will notice all traffic around you, even when you can’t rely solely on your hearing. 

Conclusion

There are several reasons why you should use bicycle mirrors. 

First of all, using a bicycle mirror will prevent a cyclist from veering into traffic. 

When cyclists don’t have mirrors, they will have to turn their heads to view whatever is behind them.

Doing so will inevitably cause the bike to turn in the direction you are shoulder-checking.

With a mirror, you can simply glance down and be able to tell what is behind you. 

Second of all, bicycle mirrors will allow a cyclist to detect cars in advance. In most cases, cyclists only rely on sound to detect traffic.

However, this tactic is not the most ideal since you will only hear cars when they are very close to you. 

Using a mirror will allow you to notice cars ahead of time so you can plan your positioning. 

Overall, bicycle mirrors are great for cyclists who ride on the road, beginner cyclists, or those who have trouble hearing. 

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Last Updated on May 6, 2021 by Matthew Carpenter

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