Third Eye Mirrors

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I mentioned in the comments section of an earlier post that I tried a helmet mirror in the past and didn’t really like it. I’ll admit though, the one I tried was old and the Velcro that attached it was worn out. The result of that loose connection was that the mirror vibrated slightly and it was that movement in my peripheral vision that really bothered me. So really I should give mirrors another chance, right? I know quite a few cyclists who would never consider wearing a helmet mirror, but I also know quite a few cyclists who swear by them. It seems like a lot of cyclists have pretty strong opinions about them. The late Sheldon Brown was a fan of helmet mounted mirrors, so that alone is reason enough for me to give them another try.

Tony, a designer at Third Eye Mirrors, was nice enough to send me a selection of their products, so I am going to try each one and see what I think. Currently, I have the bar end mirror that you see here mounted on my fixed gear commuter bike (sorry for the poor photo quality, it was dark and wet this morning when I took this shot). Anyway, installation of the mirror was a cinch. I just removed the bar end plug, inserted the mirror, and twisted it clockwise to tighten. As the bolt inside compressed the rubber grommets, they expanded to make the connection nice and secure. Once I got the angle of the mirror right with my drop bars, I tightened the screw at that connection and that was it. I have only been riding with this mirror since late last week, but I like it so far. It is there when I want to glance at it and otherwise is out of my way. I have only ridden once with it on a very busy road with peak traffic, but I can say that it is nice to be able see what is happening behind me at a glance. I plan to ride with this one for a while before I try the helmet mounted mirror, the eyeglass mounted mirror, and finally the tiny on-lens mirror that goes inside a pair of glasses. Once I get to them all, I will share my thoughts on each.

In addition to the mirrors, Tony also sent me a few of their ChainWatchers. I already installed one on my cyclocross bike, which has a compact crankset with a standard Ultegra 9 speed front derailleur. In muddy conditions I have occasionally dropped the chain on a downshift in the front even with the derailleur adjustment dialed in. I am looking forward to seeing if the ChainWatcher corrects that problem. It seems like a nice, simple little device, so stay tuned for my thoughts on it as well after I have used it for a while.

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9 Comments

  1. dolan August 13, 2008 at 1:39 pm -  Reply

    Never have gotten the hang of mirrors.

    As for chain watchers, you should really give the N-Gear Jump stop a try. The guy who makes them is very friendly, and the price is right. Seems to work better than anything out there. It saved me numerous times back when I was MTB racing on flexy frames with dubious drivetrains (back in the 90s). As far as I can tell, he’s still making them.

  2. Robert Anderson August 13, 2008 at 3:55 pm -  Reply

    I have mixed emotions about mirrors. They always give me a headache (I’m pretty myopic). I’ve tried to use eyeglass-mounted mirrors, but ultimately find it easier (and safer) to just look backwards. Looking backwards while cycling without swerving is a basic skill anyways…

  3. Anonymous August 14, 2008 at 12:53 am -  Reply

    I see bicycle mirrors regularly on my commute. More often than not they are broken from crashes and all taped up. So I think a mirror makes you crash more.

    Enough joking, right? Better to learn to look back without swerving too much. Then note the traffic situation behind you and take your space with confidence.

    When you look back, note whether there is a line of cars or only one car approaching. Note buses, trucks and other big vehicles. After the cars have passed and there is a pause in overtaking traffic, take another glance to get an update on the situation behind you. Adjust riding style and position according to the traffic situation behind you. If you think a car should overtake you but nobody does you should guess that the driver is too afraid to do it and you can give a signal to encourage.

    In summary: consider yourself part of the traffic, not an obstruction.

  4. bikesgonewild August 14, 2008 at 1:51 am -  Reply

    “don’t look back…they might be gaining on you”…thank you, satchel paige…always the premise i’ve worked w/ too…

  5. James August 14, 2008 at 11:27 am -  Reply

    Thanks for the tip Dolan,, though the plastic chain watcher looks like it might do the trick.

    Robert and anon, after 20+ years of road riding and racing, I am pretty confident in my ability to look back while holding my line. In fact, it is something that I do without really thinking about it. I have always been somewhat skeptical about mirrors (which probably makes me a good person to try them). Maybe some will disagree, but I don’t see them as a substitute for looking back when changing lane position. I agree that is a basic skill that all cyclists should have. I just view the mirror as a tool to give the rider more information at all times (not a bad idea for commuting during rush hour). I haven’t tried the helmet or glasses mounted mirrors yet, so I can’t say if I will be able to get used to having something in my field of vision. I do plan to use them for a while before forming an opinion, because I expect that it will seem strange at first.

    • George Stock June 29, 2014 at 10:30 pm -  Reply

      Good luck looking back when you’re 70+ and have fused cervical vertebra! There was a time I could do that but no more. A good mirror is a life saver for old guys like me. I use the Third-Eye helmet mount (07) and while it took some getting used to I wouldn’t ride without one now

  6. Major Icehole August 19, 2008 at 3:20 pm -  Reply

    I use a helmet mounted mirror that folds out of the way when not needed. Truth is, I feel naked without it. It doesn’t eliminate the need to look back but it is a very nice (if dorky looking) safety enhancement.

  7. Aaron August 23, 2008 at 8:59 pm -  Reply

    I have used a mirror mounted on my helmet, and more recently on my (fading) sunglasses, for about a year. I’m now so accustomed to it that I’m hardly aware that I use it. However, I had detached it the other day and forgotten to remount it before my daily commute; running a bit late, I continued without it and realized how useful it really is. Without effort, I’m fully aware of what is happening around me at all times, not just for the few seconds after a backward look. It definitely took some time before it transitioned from a nuisance to a natural extension of my vision, though.

    Of course, after my recent experience without it, I wonder if I’ve become too dependent on it. As a previous poster commented, I too feel naked — or, more precisely, partly blind — without it.

    By the way, I find that mounting the mirror on my sunglasses is more effective than on my helmet. I can have it closer, widening my field of view. Additionally, I’ve found that my sunglasses are a more stable platform than my helmet.

  8. RiderB July 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm -  Reply

    Over the years, I’ve had almost every helmet mirror ever made. I prefer a helmet mirror because you can “aim” them and cover a wider area behind you than a handlebar mounted mirror. Additionally, you don't have to look as far away from your line of travel as far as the handlebar jobs. They vibrate less, too. The only one that I liked was an all metal job that clipped onto the edge of the helmet, but it’s not available any more, and wouldn’t work on the contemporary helmets anyway.

    My current favorite mirror is the Steady Eye mirror, which I have been using for 8 months now. It takes no adhesives, as it just clips onto my helmet visor. It has a short stiff arm that just about negates vibration, and I can swap it from my bike helmet to a baseball cap or a visor. The pivot joint has adjustable friction, unlike the plastic ball joints used on most other mirrors. The whole thing (other than the mirror itself) is metal. I like that.

    My problem with the plastic ones is three fold. Most are stuck onto the helmet with adhesive that tends to unstick. Most have long plastic arms that are prone to vibrate and mess with your vision. The ball joints used don’t hold the adjustment. The last plastic one I had wore out in two months in that the ball got so loose the mirror flopped in the wind. With no friction adjustment, it was shot.

    The Steady Eye mirror addressed all these issues. Plastic stinks. Metal rules.

    I got mine off an ad on eCrater, but a Google search for “Steady Eye mirror”
    will find it too.

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