Do Bike Mirrors Really Work?


Do Bike Mirrors Really Work?

The idea of bike mirrors, or any mirror on a bike for that matter, is hard to believe. Some people may think it’s counterproductive for one reason or another, but bike mirrors are actually used more often than you might think.

Some cyclists use them to make sure they don’t miss an opportunity to turn. Others use them to brush back their hair and see if they are smiling while cycling. And it seems like they work just fine.

What are bike mirrors?

Bike mirrors are actually in every modern day bicycle, but it wasn’t until the 1950’s that the first road bicycles equipped with them were developed. The earliest bike mirrors were actually made up of a sheet of black fabric and a reflective white plastic plate.

They were fixed to the bicycle frame, and when a bike was in motion, the plastic mirror cast a shadow that could be seen by the driver of the vehicle. After World War II, mirrors became relatively common on road bicycles and BMX bikes.

The first bike mirrors on mountain bikes were introduced in the 1990’s and became fairly common around the beginning of this century.  Mirrors on a bicycle are in your front headlight which is connected to the rear reflector and to the rear light of the bike.

Why do they work?

Theories vary, but a theory most people can agree on is the driver will think that there’s a cyclist behind him, no matter what. The action of mirroring causes drivers to slow down to check for other cyclists and to follow the mirrors, making them more likely to notice and react to you.

(The study wasn’t able to provide any reason why other cars don’t change their behavior when mirrors are there, but when a mirror is turned off drivers don’t use it.) What about the fact that they are two sided?

Interestingly, it turns out that because mirrors are split down the middle, drivers can still see right into the mirror but cannot see into the other side, which is where the mirror user is looking. When mirror users are looking back, the driver sees them.

Types of mirrors

There are a few different types of bike mirrors.

Visible mirror — similar to car side mirrors, the visible bike mirror tracks the mirror’s location on the road. This ensures that you don’t miss any opportunities to turn, and helps you to be more aware of your surroundings.

Dot — when looking through a dot mirror, you have to turn your head to follow the line. But since you don’t need to look around, this could help you to spot potholes and other obstacles in the road, while keeping your eyes on the road. However, it’s not an ideal solution for busy intersections where drivers and cyclists can be too close to each other.

How to install bike mirrored

There are multiple options available to cyclists who want to add mirrors to their bike. Most people choose to mount them on their handlebars and on the top of the helmet. There are also mirror kits available that include the mirror and a base to hold it.

Or, you can even buy them from bike shops and install them yourself. They certainly are not inexpensive, and cycling enthusiasts don’t tend to be easily swayed by prices. Nevertheless, they are not a gimmick, and they do actually work, as long as they are installed properly.

Here is some helpful information about using a bike mirror:  Clean mirrors are meant to act as a mirror and reflect light off the bike, not dirt or dust. As a rule of thumb, the mirror should not have any rips or other creases in it.


Not only have bike mirrors become a popular choice for cyclists, but they are more widely accepted than ever. As we get more comfortable with our bikes and not afraid to take them off-road, bike mirrors will only get more common, and at the very least, are a lot more fun than a helmet.

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