As I was riding home today, I started to wonder what was the best bicycle mirror for safety. I’ve tried three different types of bicycle mirrors currently on the market. The first mirror that I tried was the handlebar mirror, followed by the helmet mirror, and now a RearViz Classic Bike Mirror.
I had the RearViz Classic bicycle mirror strapped to my arm, and quite honestly I’m very pleased with it even though it’s not perfect. Then again, no bicycle mirror is perfect because each one has their pros and cons. But here’s the thing.
Bicycle Mirrors Increase Our Chances Of Survival Against Reckless And Road Raged Drivers
We all know that having a bike mirror is much safer than riding without one. Bike mirrors allow us to pay attention to what’s ahead of us, while still keeping track of traffic behind us.
I’ve found that by not having to take my eyes of the road from turning my head to see what’s behind me, I’m much more capable of noticing unsafe traffic conditions developing, and able to create an escape plan if necessary. The same goes for what’s occurring behind me.
Without a bicycle mirror we’re unable to see how close traffic approaching behind us is getting. There’s no way of knowing if a road raged driver is driving recklessly or purposely trying to run us over. I’m not saying that there’s a guarantee that a bicycle mirror will definitely save your life. But from personal experience with using multiple types, they definitely increase your chances of staying alive.
There’s been many close encounters with distracted, reckless, or road raged drivers where I was able to move over in time because of a bicycle mirror. Being able to see how fast or close a vehicle was approaching me from behind, gave me the few extra seconds I needed to move myself out of harms way.
Here’s What the Pros And Cons Are To the Handlebar, Helmet And RearViz Classis Bicycle Mirror In Comparison
As you can probably tell, I’m a huge advocate of bicycle mirrors whether you’re commuting, road bike racing, or mountain biking.
Of course, I wasn’t always a huge fan of bicycle mirrors because I thought they looked dorky and wouldn’t provide much value to my riding safety.
But I’m glad I took the leap because now I wouldn’t dare ride my bicycle without a mirror. After many miles of testing the three different types of bicycle mirrors on the trail, the streets and sidewalks I now have a good idea of what I like and don’t like about each one.
But the question still remains. What’s the difference between the handle bar, helmet and RearViz Classic bicycle mirror? And which one out of the three different choices is best for you?
The only way to find out is to explain how each one is used and what their pros and cons are. I’m going to try my very best to explain the three different types of bicycle mirrors so that you can make the best possible choice. So let’s begin. Shall we?
The Handlebar Cycling Mirror Vs. the Rearviz Classic Bicycle Mirror
The first type of bicycle mirror that I started with was the handlebar Mirror. A handlebar mirror attaches to the end of the handlebar where the hand grip is located.
How To Usually Install Bike Handlebar Mirrors
You usually have to remove the handgrip plug in order to install a handlebar bicycle mirror. In order to do this you’ll need a flat head screwdriver.
If your handgrips, such as ergonomic types don’t have a plug at the end you’ll only have a few choices.
You’ll either have to buy new handgrips. Or poke a hole in the end of your handgrips and hope you don’t destroy them. Personally, I paid too much for my handgrips and like them too much, so replacing or ruining them isn’t an option.
Clip-on Version Of Bicycle Handlebar Mirrors
They do have some clip-on versions but they usually don’t stay on during rough riding or hitting moon sized potholes in the street. Also, because they are usually made of plastic they can become brittle in very hot or cold weather causing the clips to snap off.
Another problem that happens is that your hands can keep hitting them because they are constantly in the way.
Benefits Of Handlebar Bike Mirrors
Handlebar mirrors usually have larger mirrors that provides a much larger view of oncoming traffic from behind. Normally, handlebar bike mirrors range from 2.5 inches to 3 inches in diameter. Some handlebar bike mirrors come in larger sizes, but that’s not very common.
Handlebar mirrors also are very secure if tightened into the bar end properly. Most handlebar bike mirrors are tightend with a phillips head screwdriver. A wedge like section goes into the bar end and spreads out as you tighten the screw. The end result is a bicycle mirror that doesn’t move around while riding over rough surfaces and bumps.
Disadvantages Of Handlebar Bike Mirrors
Even though handlebar bike mirrors are tightened very securely into your handlebars, they receive a lot of abuse. The front end of your bicycle experiences a lot of vibrations and knocks from potholes and bumps. All this abuse causes your handlebar mirror to loosen up over time, requiring frequent tightening.
Eventually, the handlebar mirror can no longer be tightened resulting in a mirror that doesn’t stay in place. As you probably guessed, when this happens you have no choice but to replace your mirror.
Another disadvantage of having a handlebar mirror is the extra width it adds to your handlebars. I’ve lost count of how many times I accidentally hit the handlebar mirror against the door frame while rushing out the door in the morning.
Every time this happened, I had to readjust the mirror while racing to work.
A handlebar mirror can also add approximately 3-4 inches to the width of your handlebars, making it difficult to squeeze past car doors and mirrors during traffic jams.
Comparing the Bicycle Helmet Mirror To the Rearviz Classic Bicycle Mirror
The good old bicycle helmet mirror. Loved by bicycle commuters, but hated by road bike cyclists.
Even though a bicycle helmet mirror isn’t as secure as a handlebar mirror, I still like it better.
Benefits Of A Bicycle Helmet Mirror
I current own two folding bikes, a Tern Link D8 and a 2-speed Brompton. These aren’t your typical commuter bikes because they fold. The benefits to owning folding bikes is that they are easy to store, can travel with you, and don’t need to be locked up outside.
The problem is that it’s not easy to attach a bicycle mirror to them. Folding bikes have handlebars that fold down, making it impossible to fold with handlebar mirrors on the bar end. With a helmet bike mirror there’s no need to worry about this problem.
Also, a helmet mirror can be attached to your bike helmet so there’s no need to buy separate mirrors for each bike that you own. This makes it much cheaper and convenient because you only need one mirror.
Disadvantages Of A Helmet Mirror
Helmet mirrors attach to your bicycle helmet in two ways. The first method is by attaching it with a sticky pad.
When you buy a helmet mirror it usually comes with two sticky pads and an alcohol cloth to clean the surface. Before you press the sticky pad to the helmet, you use the alcohol cloth to clean the dirt off the helmet surface.
You then stick the sticky pad onto the mirror bracket and then press it onto the helmet. Getting the helmet mirror secured properly is very important but also aggravating. If you place the mirror too close to your eye it will interfere with viewing what’s coming up behind you. Place the mirror too far away and you’ll strain your eye.
Now if you get this whole process wrong, you have to remove the mirror and start all over again. Removing the bicycle helmet mirror can be a huge hassle, because the residue from the sticky pad gets all over your fingers and helmet. This requires a difficult cleaning process depending upon the surface material of your helmet.
Another huge problem that I faced with the helmet bike mirror is the difficult adjustment. While riding the helmet mirror would vibrate making it hard to see traffic behind me. All this vibrating would sometimes knock the mirror out of adjustment, especially large bumps.
I’d have to constantly stop while riding to adjust it. This would require pulling over to the side of the road with vehicles flying past me. Or riding up onto the sidewalk.
Also, every time I removed my helmet I’d accidentally hit the mirror which would move it completely out of place. This would result in hours of fiddling with in order to get the adjustments close to right again. And still it never seemed right.
How To Clean A Bicycle Helmet When Removing A Helmet Mirror
On my Specialized bike helmet the glue was stuck on it like cement. Fortunately, I was throwing this helmet away because no bike helmet is good past five years old.
My Triple Eight bike helmet was much easier to clean. All I had to do is apply a squirt of Simple Green to a paper towel and rub it gently. It came off super easy.
For helmets that are difficult to remove the residue from, most people use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover.
Opting For A Clip-on Bike Helmet Mirror
You can always choose a clip-on helmet mirror as an option but these might not be suitable depending upon your type of helmet. Clip-on bike helmet mirrors attach to your bicycle helmet visor. If you don’t have a visor, like I don’t on my Triple Eight Helmet, there’s no way you can use a clip-on mirror.
Some clip-on mirrors attach to your sunglasses, but don’t always fit depending upon the shape of your sunglasses lenses.
The RearViz Classic Bicycle Mirror
One night after being super frustrated with my bike helmet mirror, and throwing it into the garbage, I was desperate for a different option.
Earlier that day I was discussing the issue with my dad, who said he’s been having the same problems with his mirror. My dad got so irritated with the current bike mirrors on the market that he decided to give up on them completely.
On the other hand, I wasn’t so eager to give up on bike mirrors because I feel much safer with them than without.
That’s when I went on a dedicated search on Google. Tired of handlebar and helmet mirrors, I became curious whether a mirror that strapped to your arm existed.
What I found was a company based out of Australia called RearViz.
Rearviz makes stylish, compact mirrors that attach to your arm by an adjustable strap.
RearViz makes a few different types of mirrors but the one that I was mostly interested in was the RearViz Classic Bike Mirror.
What Makes the RearViz Classic Bike Mirror Different Than Other Bicycle Mirrors?
Unlike traditional bike mirrors, the RearViz Classic Bike mirror doesn’t attach to your handlebars or helmet.
Instead, the RearViz straps to your arm by a velcro strap.
Benefits Of the RearViz Classic Bike Mirror
The RearViz Classic bike mirror doesn’t attach to your bikes handlebars or helmet making it much easier to use.
You don’t have to worry about your bicycle mirror increasing the width of your handlebars. Or trying to attach your mirror to your helmet using a cheap sticky pad.
It’s also much easier to adjust the RearViz Classic bike mirror. You don’t have to worry about attaching your mirror to your handlebars at the right angle and tilt.
There’s also no need to constantly worry about adjusting the mirror because once you adjust it, it never moves out of place.
The RearViz Classic bike mirror has a cover that you flip open while using it, and close when not in use. This protective cover not only protects the mirror but also makes it very easy to travel with. You can easily toss this bike mirror into a bag and not worry about it.
How To Use the RearViz Classic Bike Mirror
Before you can use the RearViz Classic bike mirror you must first attach the Velcro strap to the base. Just slide the strap through the two slits and secure it with the velcro at both ends of the strap.
Then you slide your arm through the velcro strap and mirror base and tighten the strap until it feels snug. Press the velcro ends onto the strap and PRESTO! Your RearViz Classic bike mirror should be secure.
What I like about the way the RearViz attaches to your arm is that the mirror doesn’t move from vibrations while riding.
Every little bump doesn’t make the mirror move out of place requiring you to constantly readjust it.
Adjusting the RearViz Classic Bike Mirror
At first the RearViz mirror is going to feel awkward to use, especially if you’re not use to having a mirror strapped to your arm. But after you ride with it for a while it will start to feel totally natural.
It will also take some trial and error to find the best place to strap the mirror to your arm. I found that having the mirror about 4-5 inches above my wrist and rotated to around 10’ O clock is the best position for me.
You might find that a different position works for you, so fool around with it until you do.
The mirror also rotates within the base making it easier to adjust. At first it will feel like the mirror doesn’t rotate but once you give it a firm twist, you’ll find it very easy to use.
Once you have the mirror strapped in the right location and have the mirror rotated to the proper position there’s not much more to worry about.
All you really are left adjusting is the tilt of the mirror when you flip open the cover.
You Can Also Attach A Camera To the RearViz Classic Bike Mirror
What makes the RearViz Classic bike mirror much cooler than other bicycle mirrors is that you can attach a camera to it. With a special camera mount that’s sold separately you can attach a camera by removing the colorful insert located under the mirror cover.
What I Didn’t Like About the RearViz Classic Bike Mirror
Overall, I like the stylish look and quality of the RearViz mirror. The only thing that it is lacking is a clearly written instruction manual.
While trying it attach the velcro straps and adjust the mirror, I found the instruction to be very vague and not easy to follow.
A few things I was confused about was how to strap the mirror to my arm. With a little trial and error I discovered that I had to slide my arm in between the mirror base and stap, not between the straps itself.
Another problem was how to remove the colorful inserts under the mirror cover. I’m not using a camera, but it would be nice to have better instruction such as how to remove the cover. And the fact that I’d need to purchase a camera mount separately in order to use it.
Overall Impression Of the RearViz Classic Bike Mirror
Overall, I found the RearViz Classic Bike mirror very stylish and extremely durable. It’s very easy to adjust and doesn’t require any tools to attach or crappy glues that don’t last.
The only thing that I’d recommend is a better instruction manual, but that’s not a huge issue once you get the hang of using the mirror.
Besides the vague instruction manual I’d highly recommend the RearViz Classic bike mirror. I definitely like it better than the other types of mirrors on the market that I’ve tried.
As you can see there’s many different choices of mirrors available for whatever type of riding you prefer. There’s mirrors for road biking, mountain biking, and regular commuting that attach in all different kinds of ways.
Some mirrors attach to your handlebars, your helmet, or strap to your arm.
It doesn’t matter which type of bicycle mirror you prefer to use. All that matters is that you stay safe out there while riding by using the type of mirror that you feel most comfortable with.