I’ve been riding bicycles for a long time without ever having used a helmet mounted mirror, 33 years to be exact. And I know plenty of cyclists with far more miles under the belt who scoff at the idea of attaching a shiny piece of metal to their brain bucket as a matter of principle.
But recently, I pledged to myself to become more conscious of all of the things that I can do to be as safe as I can be on my bike. My three year old daughter and three- month old son have been a big part of my inspiration for this.
So as a part of this effort, I decided to give the whole helmet mounted mirror thing that old college try.
To begin my experiment in rearward awareness I ordered the best looking helmet mirror that I could find from our distributor QBP. As soon as my Dimension Helmet Mount Mirror arrived, I peeled off the sticky tape and stuck it on my helmet and went on my marry way.
Now I have to admit that having now found a mirror that works for me, I realize that even the best of mirrors takes some time to get used to. But with that said, the barrier for entry to this finicky device is made even higher if that device is, to be blunt, a piece of junk.
So here is my review within a review of the Dimension Mirror: #1. It was very difficult to adjust into position. #2. Once in position, it would come out of position with the slightest bump. #3. Even in position, the mirror did not provide a very worthwhile rear view. Not liking this first mirror I tried several others from QBP, also with similar lackluster results.
At Interbike last Fall, I was on the lookout for interesting tools for our new tools department that we are experimenting with at www.CampfireCycling.com. The Efficient Velo Tools booth was displaying an intriguing lineup of high-end specialty tools for bicycle repair shops. After inquiring into the nature of their market and informing the booth babe (a surly gentleman in bike mechanics garb) what www.CampfireCycling.com is all about, he lead me off the scent towards their consumer product (I am guessing designed primarily to entertain lookie lous like me at trade shows).
Behold the EVT Safe Zone Mirror. Right away this mirror looked different from other mirrors I’d seen simply because of the sizable diameter of the mirror, 2 and 3/8″ to be exact.
The other feature that stands out is the ingenious use of linkable nozzle pieces normally utilized for aiming spraying coolant while machining. The helmet mount and the mirror have been molded to engage with these linkable nozzles. The seven articulating plastic joints become the infinitely adjustable arm for the mirror to perch from. Efficient Velo Tool’s inspiration for their mirror design in fact came while machining their bicycle tools.
Having been disappointed by my first foray into the land of helmet mirrors, it took me a bit more time to get around to mounting the EVT mirror to my helmet. The safety monkey was gripped tight to my back and got the better off me within a month or so. Mounting relies on running zip ties through the helmet and through slots on the long curved mount.
Immediately, I had the sense that this was going to be a very different experience. I was able to tweak the mirror into a somewhat useable right away and I was off.
I’d like to say first and foremost that these mirrors actually work. They are both stiff yet adjustable so you can move the mirror into position and it stays. Second off, not only do these mirrors work, they work very, very well. They actually hold their position and they are truly adjustable for any configuration.
Huh, It Works
So I finally had an effective helmet mounted mirror. With something that actually works as intended, the question became, do I actually like the thing?
I found that getting used to having a mirror took some rewiring of my brain. With the new found ability to see behind me, I was constantly glancing into my mirror to the degree that I felt like I was loosing some of my concentration on the road ahead. And when I wasn’t glancing into the mirror, its presence in my field of vision was irritating.
For the first month or so, the mirror caused me to feel slightly distracted and disoriented. I decided to stop trying to get used to it by using it obsessively and to just get used to it being in my field of vision. That was the ticket, after another month, I’d grown used to the mirror and was occasionally using it to my benefit.
Basically, the helmet mirror has become a useful tool for certain situations. I most commonly use the mirror when the road ahead has something troublesome and I want to know what to understand what is going on behind me. For example if there is someone parked in the bike lane, and I need to go into the main traffic lane, glancing in the mirror gives me piece of mind. On the occasion that I find myself riding in highly trafficked areas especially if the bike lane is narrow, those are the few times that I really find myself constantly glancing into the mirror.
While I use the EVT Safe Zone Mirror to inform me of traffic’s whereabouts, I don’t rely on it when making a left turn. Just like in a car, I always check my blind spots with a look back.
An unexpected experience with the mirror is using it with a sunrise or sunset at my back. In these circumstances, glancing into the glaring sun render the mirror useless. I consider myself to be fortunate in having a westward ride into work, eastward on the way home. With the sun at my back, I generally don’t even wear my sunglasses. But depending on what time I ride in and ride home and the time of year, the sun in my mirror can render it useless.
I think my favorite part about the mirror though is the fashion statement aspect. Be bold, be daring, never look back… except whenever you need to with ease.