30 January 2008

Product review/eulogy: Mirrycle MTB bar end mirror

Mirrycle MTB bar end mirror round, at Niagra Cycle Works. As seen in my user pic!

I'd never desired a rearview mirror on my bike, but there it was, preinstalled on the used Jazz Voltage (or at least that's what it said on the frame; it's possible the frame was all that was left of the original) that the guy at Zion Cyclery had brought out to show me after scoffing at the Murray I'd dared try to bring him for a professional tune-up. I thought, why in the world would I want a rearview mirror on my bike? One hundred dollars (my first paycheck!) and a short ride to Kenosha and back later, I wondered how I'd ever managed without one. It's that useful. I'd call it essential if you plan to do any riding at all on main urban thoroughfares or busy rural highways. You'll appreciate it on the Lakefront Path as well--no more fast riders taking you by surprise from behind. If that's never a problem for you, then kindly stop being such a *&^%$#@! asshole. Thank you.

What a rearview mirror attaches to is a matter of personal preference. Some can be mounted or attached to a helmet, and some clip easily to your glasses and just as easily off. Many people prefer those because the mirror moves around with your head. I don't for precisely that reason (it gave me motion sickness). And some are mounted or attached to handlebars, but exactly how depends on what kind of handlebars you have.

If you have MTB handlebars and you'd prefer a rearview mirror mounted there, I recommend the Mirrycle. As the full product name suggests, it's round and it mounts to the bar end. It's easy to install (hex wrench included), easy to uninstall and then reinstall if you later want to put it on a different bike, and easy to adjust at any angle you want; it swings out of the way when you don't need it, and it is seemingly indestructible. The one included with my old Jazz lasted more than seven years and was nicked, knocked, and banged around quite regularly. As for the Jazz, I can no longer say.

Unfortunately, the Mirrycle is not, in fact, indestructible. The first part to wear out will be the head of the primary bolt that keeps it attached to the bar end. This is the part that sticks out the farthest when the mirror is folded out of the way, so it will encounter the most abuse. In addition, this bolt needs to be as tight as possible or the whole arrangement will be knocked out of alignment by a stiff breeze and you will waste a lot of time readjusting it. So after six or seven years the hole had so worn out that it was less a hexagon than a circle, making it extremely difficult to loosen or tighten.

Finally, the Mirrycle was destroyed once and for all last night when I fell (blizzard, long story) and it took the brunt of the impact. The durable polycarbonate plastic did not snap in twain, but bent, taking the primary bolt along with it, and then shattered. It took me nearly an hour to extract the whole mess from the handlebars, with the bolt being now both worn out and crooked and a few chunks of plastic still wedged firmly inside the bar end once the bolt was removed. Strangely, the mirror itself and the arm it was on were both unscathed.

So while I do recommend the Mirrycle on account of its durability, note that if it ever does break it won't do so cleanly, and you will almost regret it.
While I'm at it, a couple of random photos:


At 30 January, 2008 23:17, Blogger David Johnsen said...

Sorry if I've used this anecdote before... I loved my glasses-mounted mirror until the $15 mirror snapped the arm of my $80 sunglasses. Anyway, I thought I could get along without a mirror after that since so many other cyclists do. Alas, I completely lost my nerve for riding in traffic. I never realized how much I relied on it. A few weeks ago I got a helmet-mounted mirror from HubBub that people often rave about on the Touring e-mail list. I haven't tried it on the road yet, being a wuss about winter riding, but if I'm ever going to tour again, a good mirror is mandatory.

At 31 January, 2008 00:26, Blogger Jennifer said...

If you did, it wasn't with me. Eep.

By the way, I forgot to mention that an advantage of a glasses- or helmet-mounted mirror is that it attaches to you, not the bike, so you only need to buy one of them and you never have to swap it out. Which is only a problem if you own more than one bike, of course, but once you've reached that level of craziness it's important to remember these things.

At 31 January, 2008 00:42, Blogger Jennifer said...

Oh great, thanks a lot for that link. Now I'm drooling at a jacket with "so many technical aspects... they can't all be listed here." I can't even guess what the armpit zippers might be for, but now somebody is going to insist that I need them. Right now I just like that it's bright yellow and apparently breathable.

Biking really is cheaper than driving, I swear, honest...

At 31 January, 2008 13:10, Blogger Fritz said...

Okay, I'll insist you need the pit zips :-)

I have pit zips on a couple of my jackets -- on rain gear they keep the sweat from collecting too badly. I consider them almost eseential for cold/wet weather jackets. If you don't sweat, though, they're not so important.

I use eyeglass mounted mirrors, always careful to not damage my specs. I purposely ride without the mirror a couple of times a week so I don't become too dependent on them.

At 31 January, 2008 13:11, Blogger Fritz said...

Oh, here's some more on pit zips.


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