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Rear View Visionary

Friday, December 3rd, 2010 by CGIT

The safety benefits of a bicycle rear view mirror cannot be overstated.  It takes a confident and experienced rider to look over their shoulder, judge a gap, indicate and turn across fast moving traffic. There’s a right hand turn across a 60mph road on my commute to Cyclorama HQ. To make it even more treacherous many drivers travel in excess of the posted speed limit down there. I’ve often done a ‘life-saver’ look over my shoulder just as I’m being passed too close by a speeding vehicle. Really not nice. At the very least a mirror would let me establish when it is safe to look behind for a big enough gap to complete my manouver.

Trouble is I gave up on rear view mirrors on my bikes a very long time ago, not because they were useless or unnecessary but simply because they stuck out and got bashed whenever I leant my bike up against a wall. Virtually every time I stopped the mirror would get nudged out of adjustment and require re-setting but eventually it would be smashed off all together, either by a close encounter with a wall or by my frustration with the ‘gosh-darned’ thing.

I persevered, I really did. I tried them all. Starting circa 1975 with a chrome plated number on a stalk (which wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Vespa scooter). It couldn’t be tightened up enough to stop slipping around the bar. Useless. They are still available. You still find them in the shops but never see actually any on bikes. I can only assume that every one sold gets binned shortly after purchase.

When I first saw the American Mirriycle in a magazine I thought my prayers had been answered. A high quality product, it required the installer to completely remove the off-side brake cable, carefully trim the brake lever’s rubber hood with a knife and the near impossible task of stuffing a 13mm spanner upside the then ubiquitous Weinmann brake -lever body. If you were having it done professionally the labour cost of fitting usually outweighed the RRP (£16.99 in 1985. Why do I remember that ??) And then of course it would loosen off in the first week, requiring a replay of the installation. Yawn. When it did work it worked well but I tweaked mine out of adjustment on every wall. It was the kind of thing which had to be adjusted precisely so every re-adjust took an age – a safety concern in itself – with my eye on the mirror rather than the road I invariably wobbled off line whilst manhandling the hecking thing back into place.

I tried the expensive Rhode Gear handlebar-end mirror which attached to the bar with a velcro strap (huh? are you expected to remove it every time you park the bike?), a cheapo bar-end plug mounted one, a helmet mounted one and even a sunglasses mounted one (made by a beardy weardy from Oregon out of bits of old wire). All of them worked perfectly well right up to the inevitable moment they got bashed. They all got bashed because they all stuck out.

Adjust ……. bash, OMG.

Adjust ……. bash, FFS.

Adjust ……. bash. Smash.

I wonder how many cyclists have been killed over the years whilst re-adjusting their rear view mirrors….

...I'm looking at the (white van) man in the mirror...

So, I want the safety benefits of a rear view mirror – I wouldn’t drive my car without one – but I can no longer tolerate the frustration of bashing them at every opportunity. Enter the Bike-Eye. I’ve been using one for a couple of weeks. I know it’s a terrible cliche but I really don’t know how I’ve done with-out this product for all these years. A bicycle rear view mirror which doesn’t stick out and is therefore immune to being knocked. Not so much genius as eureka, it’s such an  obvious solution that it makes me wonder why it took humanity so long to invent it. The Bike-Eye attaches to the bike frame at the junction of the head and down tubes with a couple of cable ties. Easy to fit, simple to adjust with the included socket tool and well out of the way. You do need to move your leg out wards slightly to clear the mirror’s field of vision but this isn’t an issue in use and soon becomes second nature.

In addition to the mirror’s usefulness as an awareness aid in traffic Tony McGuiness the Bike-Eye’s inventor has noted some other ‘benefits’ of his product. He regularly rides out with a group and he usually is the only person to notice when a fellow has fallen off the back! It invariably falls to him to turn around and lend a hand or a new inner- tube.

It has its limitations; a pannier or a tall trailer will obscure its view and its field of vision is a bit limited but these aside it does what it sets out to do. In fact I like it so much I just bought one for SWMBE to fit on her tandem.

Highly recommended.

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3 Responses to “Rear View Visionary”

  1. [...] Tony from Bike-Eye kindly provided me with a fresh rear view mirror after mine was purloined by Caz for her tandem. Indispensable. [...]

  2. Hello I want to buy the mirror, I live in Italy. Can you tell me how should I do? Thanks, Luciano.

  3. Mick Allan says:

    Hi Luciano, contact the manufacturer directly through the contact page of their website, here: http://www.bike-eye.com

    All the best,

    Mick