An ode to my dorky new best friend: the rear-view mirror

Say what you will about my fashion sense (and plenty has been said about it), but I’ve found a sparkly new accessory that I just can’t live without.

A rear-view mirror.

ThirdEye Rearview mirror

You know, one of those super-nerdy contraptions that stick out of your helmet? There’s one guy I almost always pass on the trail who’s cycling gear reminds me of some futuristic military garb. His mirror is always glinting just over his left eye, and I’ve taken to referring to him as the Borg in my head.

I’ve been assimilated.

Rearview mirror 1

All of my close calls while commuting have been from behind. Speeding semis, cars and Metro busses that simply haven’t seen me, no matter how many blinkies and neon vests I wear. I’d become quite adept at looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was coming, then checking constantly as they approached to make sure they were going to change lanes, rather than simply planning to barrel through me.

It was nerve-wracking, to say the least.

I finally pestered Rob into getting me a rear view mirror. Keeping in character with his love of bike parts, he actually brought me two—a Reflex and Third Eye. I decided to try the Third Eye first, and we got it stuck on the helmet—easy, since it just attaches with a adhesive sticker.

After some trial and error in getting it positioned correctly, using the rear-view became second nature. It’s helped me relax, which has made me actually look forward to my commute again. Well, that and the increasing daylight. Oh, and the fact that I’ve decided to stick to the sidewalk until I get to the Green River Trail.

Metro can’t harass you on the sidewalk.

Rearview mirror 2

My new mirror also helps me perform my latest favorite defensive cycling technique: The Weave. When I notice that someone’s coming up behind me without changing lanes, I weave back and forth across my lane a couple of times. That has the dual effect of helping them to notice that they’re about to run over a cyclist, as well as worrying them that I’m out of control and they should give me a wide berth.

The last thing a driver wants is for some crazed, unstable cyclist to crash into their Lexus and scratch the newly-waxed paint job.

So far this has been 100% effective in getting people to actually give me space—way more effective than simply taking the lane, since cars would just drift partway into the left lane, still brushing by me at 45mph.

Overall, I’m pleased with the new setup.

Have any of you tried rear-view mirrors? Or any other nerdy cycling accessory that you now find you can’t live without? Do tell.

10 thoughts on “An ode to my dorky new best friend: the rear-view mirror

  1. Love the pics! You can totally pull off the nerdy mirror (think it’s the boots and the spoke cards :D). A mirror is somewhere at the low end of my priority list, but every time I pass someone with one (and only have to signal to them, instead of shout things), it occurs to me that they’re probably having a more relaxing ride. It would definitely be useful to have one for touring, and for riding down bike-sketchy roads (like the ones on your commute)… Oh, and the weave! Is awesome. Have you been reading “Just Ride”?

    • Laura–they’re totally having a more relaxing ride. 🙂 I forgot to write this above, but what I like best about this helmet mirror is that it can fold up out of the way when I don’t need it. I can pull it down for the sketchy sections, then put it away. (I’ve found that even when I’m not on sketchy roads, though, I still like having it down.)

      I haven’t read Just Ride, but I’ve meant to. I’ll move it further up my reading list.

  2. There’s an intersection on my commute where the opposing traffic has a left turn arrow that goes to a regular green light in both directions, and I got tired of people failing to yield as I tried to cross the street. I used self-fusing silicone tape to strap a marine air horn to my handlebar stem and it looks ridiculous but it gets people’s attention.

  3. I use handlebar mirrors instead of helmet mirrors, and I don’t ride without one. My neck is just stiff enough that it’s hard to look far enough back over my shoulder to see what’s coming. I find it very useful to know what’s coming up behind me so that I can take appropriate measures.

    Mountain Mirrcycle Mirrors are good for flat/slightly curved bars. On my road bike, I have an old mirror from the 90’s that straps to the brake hoods. They work great.

      • It’s definitely harder to find good ones that work with drop bars. The one I use on my road bike was one I got in the 90’s,I think. Rivendell carries a mirror that you can fasten to brake hoods or various other places. It works pretty well too.

  4. Nice!!! I have a handle-bar mirror and LOVE it. My first one broke when I didn’t unclip and balance properly and I landed on it (oops!) and I promptly purchased a new one. I have glasses, can’t wear contacts, and my eyes are bad. So, I can turn my head to look all I want, but I essentially have NO peripheral vision, so I have to do an owl-head move to see. Without that mirror I have to rely entirely on my biking partner to yell and instruct me when it’s safe to cross, etc. Having a mirror, literally, gives me independence to ride by myself! That makes me not give a crap about how dorky I might look!

    I got the handlebar one because I was worried the helmet one would make me nauseous, being so close. Do you experience any of that? I don’t like the handlebar ones because it moves a lot and I have to keep adjusting it.

    • I have to adjust my helmet one all the time, too. The first time I used it, I kept leaning in to give my guy a kiss and then knocking it out of place. We’ve finally learned how to kiss without me having to readjust my mirror, but still every time I take my helmet off it bumps it.

      I don’t experience any nausea–you’re not focusing on the mirror itself, but rather the image it’s reflecting, so it’s like your eyes are actually focusing farther away. It does bounce around at times, which can be irritating. 🙂

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