A clamp on bicycle mirror shows a cyclist behind.

Published on September 10th, 2014 | by Pam Emerson

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Rear-View Mirrors For Bicycle Touring

There are several variations of mirrors available to cyclists these days. As a tourist I’ve personally tried three kinds: clamp-on, bar-end, and helmet. There are pros and cons to each, but ultimately I use a helmet mirror, and want to share my experience with each:

The bar end mirror

  • Pros
    • Permanently attached to bicycle
    • Ability to make slight adjustments.
    • Easily moved from left to right side for changes in traffic patterns.
  • Cons
    • May not be able to see around panniers on a loaded touring bike.
    • Only slight adjustments can be made.
    • Susceptible to road vibrations. {the chip seal of Texas made the mirror unusable}
    • Cannot use on bike with bar-end shifters.

The clamp-on mirror

  • Pros
    • Easily removable; can be moved from bike to bike.
    • Easily adjustable to see past panniers on loaded bicycle.
    • Easily moved from left to right side for changes in traffic patterns.
  • Cons
    • Highly susceptible to road vibrations.
    • Can get knocked about.
    • Needs frequent adjustments depending on how tightly it’s clamped on.

The helmet mirror

  • Pros
    • Not susceptible to road vibrations.
    • Easily adjustable
    • Can easily see past panniers.
  • Cons
    • Needs frequent adjustments
    • Takes getting used to: it does block a small portion of your field of view.
    • May not be easily moved from left to right side for change in traffic pattern.
    • Glass models can be fragile and crack if dropped

After trying all three types of mirrors, I decided to go with the helmet mirror. Unfortunately, the Tiger Eye I have is not able to be switched to the right side of the helmet, which I’ll need for our tour in New Zealand. However, the helmet mirror gives the best view behind, which is so important. Any time I need to see what’s coming up behind, I simply glance up, turn my focus to the mirror, and then my eyes are back on the road. Simple, efficient. Just how I like it.

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About the Author

is an avid bicycle tourist who enjoys sharing her love for bicycling with all she meets.



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