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Take-A-Look Mirror


Take A Look MirrorThe Take-A-Look mirror is often called the best rear view mirror for cyclists and after using it for 3 years, we’d have to agree.

We call this mirror our lifesaver because it provided a constant view of what was happening behind us. When a car was approaching too quickly or about to pass too closely, the Take-A-Look mirror ($11.90 from CycloCamping or $16.95 from REI) gave us the vital extra few seconds we needed to react and either get out of the way or signal our presence to the car driver.

For such a valuable tool, the Take-A-Look mirror is very simple. An acrylic, square mirror sits on the end of a wire. That’s it. There are no fancy mounting systems to deal with. You just slip it over the arms of your sunglasses or onto your helmet. We always used it on our helmets.

Watch this video where we explain the mirror, or scroll down to read the rest of the review.

The mirror can pivot in all directions, and the wire that allows the mirror to attach to your glasses or helmet also swivels, helping to ensure a secure fit. That said, once you find the perfect position for your mirror, most cyclists like to fix it in place with a bit of tape or a zip tie and this makes double-sure that it doesn’t fall off unnoticed while you’re riding.

1026274Adjusting The Mirror
Getting the mirror in the right position can be a bit tricky the first time around so give yourself at least a couple days to play around with it and find the sweet spot. Try not to get frustrated. The convenience of being able to see what’s going on behind you with a simple glance upwards is priceless and definitely worth the time it takes to figure the mirror out.

We got so used to having our Take-A-Look mirrors and using them that we found ourselves trying to look behind ourselves using the mirror while walking down the street. Our eyes would roll up and slightly to the left…. and then we remembered we didn’t have our helmets on!

One tip for finding that perfect position: get someone hold your bike steady while you hop on the bike and then fine-tune the mirror’s angle. Just being in the riding position helps you to get a feel for where the mirror needs to be. When you get the mirror where you want it, a little bit of duct tape will keep it in place long term. The only time you need to readjust it is if you change helmets or go cycling in a country that drives on the other side of the road.

Aside from the safety factor, there are 3 things we really appreciate about this mirror:

1. It’s indestructible – We can’t tell you how many times we dropped our helmets or banged them against something. Often the mirror took the brunt of the collision. Despite this, there’s not even a scratch on it after 3 years of heavy use. The metal is also still in fine shape.

2. It’s a conversation starter – A helmet-mounted rear view mirror is still a novelty in most of the world. We aren’t exaggerating when we say 100s of people asked us where we got it and how they could find one too. These questions were often the opener to some of our most memorable encounters on the road.

3. No vibrations – We’ve seen handlebar mounted mirrors that vibrate so badly, it’s hard to properly see anything in them. We never had that problem with the Take-A-Look mirror.

It’s hard for us to think of any bad points about this mirror, other than the slightly difficult initial adjustment. Once you have it set up though, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

See the Take-A-Look mirror on REI or check out other recommendations for rearview bicycle mirrors.

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20 Responses to “Take-A-Look Mirror”

  1. Louis-P says:

    It is a MUST have.

  2. Ingrid says:

    I use the Third Eye mirror. It’s the same system like yours, only the mirror is round not square. Mine is made of plastic. Very useful.

  3. Amaya says:

    I’m on my 4th mirror–definitely should have started with your Take-a-look system. Thanks for the useful info.

  4. Mirrors are an essential part of our gear. But I don’t wear a helmet when touring and many times I don’t wear sunglasses. So I got a Cat Eye Bm-300g on my handle bars. No problem with vibrations. This Take-A-Look mirror is an interesting item but I can’t imagine it being comfortable when mounted on sunglasses, though. Maybe two, one each side, to keep the balance….?

    • friedel says:

      We always mounted ours on our helmets, so I’m not sure about sunglasses. It’s very light though, so I don’t think you’d need one on each side for balance ;) Here’s a link to the Cat Eye mirror, if others want to see it: http://www.cateye.com/en/products/detail/BM-300G/

      • Bruce Adams says:

        I wear Rudy Project Ekynox SX glasses with the mirror on the left earpiece, and do not even notice what little weight it adds to the earpiece. It has saved me from a few uncomfortably close passes, though!

  5. Frederike says:

    Hi guys,

    did you use the Original or the Compact Take-A-Look mirror? We’ve been told that the Original mirror can only be fixed on the right hand side of the helmet or glasses, whereas the Compact mirror doesn’t go on the helmet at all, just on glasses, but you can swap sides with this one. I assume you used the Original mirror – did you manage to swap it over when you went to countries who drove on the other side of the road?

    Thanks,
    Frederike

    • friedel says:

      Hi Frederike, we used the version linked to in this post, the Take-A-Look mirror that has an arm measuring about 3 inches. I am almost positive that is the ‘original’ mirror, although it doesn’t come labelled ‘original’ anywhere. We were able to use the mirror on both sides of the helmet. We just set it at a slightly different angle, depending on which side it is on. I think this might be best explained in a video and we have new helmets so we have to mount our mirrors anyway! I’ll try to film it so you can watch.

      • Frederike says:

        Sounds great – looking forward to seeing the video.

        We found an Ebay seller in the UK, so will give the mirrors a go.

        Thanks,
        Frederike

  6. Kobus says:

    I always wonder with these on-helmet mounting mirrors how they will react if you actually crash or fall. I am a bit hesitant to try them due to fear of it unluckily falling in such a way that it ends up in my eye. Very unlikely to happen, but it will never happen with a bicycle mounting mirror. Am I just paranoid or does this make at least some sense?

    • friedel says:

      Interesting scenario and not one I’d thought of, to be honest. I think it would be a pretty slim chance, and you could also come up with similar arguments for the handlebar mounted mirror. Maybe on your handlebars, it wouldn’t end up in your eye but would get caught on something while cycling and pull you over, causing a crash… I think the risk of traffic is the greater risk here, so the important thing is to have a mirror that you like and use to be more aware of your surroundings. Which one you prefer doesn’t really matter.

  7. David says:

    Just my two cents… On the advice of this website and a few other favourable reviews, I decided to get one, and sadly my first impressions are that it’s a bit rubbish. The quality of the mirror and the metal arm is fine, but it just seems to be very impractical by design. I didn’t really think hard about the physics of the mirror, but after riding with it, I found:

    1) With a natural riding style of head facing down slightly, I had to raise my head significantly in order for the mirror to ‘see over my shoulder’. Fine for a very upright tourer I suppose, but not for me. With the natural position, all I could see was my shoulder and sky.

    2) I had to really bend it outwards quite a bit in order for it to be wide enough to see past my ear (when it was pointed straight forward, half of the mirror was my ear)

    3) When I bent it outwards, I could see a bit more of the road behind me BUT then it really strained my eyes into the corner of my eye sockets in order to see the mirror, and I also found myself closing one eye (the one further away) because it was straining more than the closer one.

    4) That the only way to see clearly and comfortably using the mirror was to bend it back to facing straight forward, and then move my head to the side until the road behind came into view (which allows the mirror to give a fuller view behind and avoiding your own head getting in the way, while also avoiding straining the eye), but it took some time to ‘calibrate’ and find the centre, due to the tiny size of the mirror and unfamiliar cues. I suspect I’d get more used to this over time, but it did mean that I wasn’t able to keep an eye on the road in front of me, and it also took a number of seconds to see and recognise what was behind me, an unnerving about of time for me to take my eyes off the road, personally, especially when tilting your head sideways disrupts your centre of balance and it’s harder to tell if you’re cycling straight or starting to veer off course.

    In short.. while I’m happy with the build quality of the mirror and I accept I’d probably get more used it with more ‘practice’, I think there are some fairly serious shortcomings to the design of a mirror so close to the helmet. :( I think a bar-end mirror, while more bulky, must be far easier to use at a glance. It was ‘only’ £20, but I wish I hadn’t bothered!

    • Friedel says:

      Sorry to hear you didn’t get on with it, David. Obviously our experience was much more positive, but that’s the wonderful thing about the world – we’re all different. I hope you find a bar-end mirror that suits you better, and maybe someone will buy your take-a-look mirror off you. They’re in short supply in the UK!

      • David says:

        I might need to revise my previous comments. They were spoken in frustration after initial testing at night and were probably slightly rash and overly critical. I found it harder to use at night than at day for obvious reasons – our eyes have more trouble focussing at night, but particularly when a mirror is bouncing as I’m cycling along imperfect roads, what I would normally see clearly becomes a bit of a blur. I suppose it should be expected and is not necessarily a fault of the mirror. It’s certainly more usable during the day.

        I’ve also since made a change that seems to have helped a little. I’ve mounted it further forward on my visor. However, the visor starts to curve inwards and doesn’t have a flat surface to mount against at that point, which means the ‘legs’ don’t hold it as securely and it keeps popping off by itself, but a little duct tape seems to holds them in position, albeit with a bit vibration while cycling. I’ll work on minimising that, maybe the tape just needs to be tighter. As a result of it being on the curving edge of the visor, I also have to bend it outwards more so that it’s parallel with the side of my face. Hopefully I’ve not done any permanent damage to the metal arm.

        I still have a couple of so far unresolvable issues though.

        One is due to my body’s position while cycling. As I had alluded to previously, I do think that you have to cycle quite upright to be able to use it properly. If you cycle with drop bars or are otherwise in an agressive cycling position (I don’t, I have flat bars, but I still find myself having to ‘sit upright’ to use it) I’m not sure that the position of the mirror will allow you to see behind you over your shoulder. So that’s something that I think people considering the mirror should be aware of.

        The other issue is that the mirror surface is distorted along the edge where the arm is mounted to it. It’s not something I’ve caused by bending it, it was there when I first received it. Is this something that others have too, or is mine particularly bad…? should I return it? Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

        http://img46.imageshack.us/img46/9316/201103060002.jpg

        It doesn’t look quite like that when I’m cycling (I deliberately tried to find an angle/lighting that showed the distortion well), but it is noticable when cycling. I guess it’s caused by the bulge of the arm inside the acrylic mount for the mirror?

        Apologies for making such an issue out of my experiences with it, but hey, we’re discerning travellers here, and it’s important to make informed decisions on products like this. :)

  8. friedel says:

    David,

    First, don’t be sorry. All feedback is good! It will help other people make a decision.

    Our mirrors don’t have a distortion, as such. You can see the metal arm inside the mirror but there is no distortion actually not the surface (nothing you could feel, for example). I would say that sounds like a defect.

    Our mirrors also don’t vibrate when we’re cycling – that’s why we like them, the picture we see is much clearer than with other mirrors. Maybe more tape would help, but we don’t have a lot on ours… not sure. It’s so hard to fix these things online. I think you should come to Holland for a weekend and visit so we can sort it out in person :)

    Friedel

    • David says:

      Sounds like a good idea, that trip to Holland. I’m just on the other side of the North Sea (London). :)

      Yours may not vibrate because it has a more secure mount on the visor though. I’ve noticed that it definitely vibrates when you give it a twang. Not quite road conditions, to be fair, but it’s not ‘solid like a rock’ by any means. But the vibration isn’t a deal breaker anyhow. It’s not a constant annoyance, it just flares up when the road is bumpy.

      Oh, and here’s a better example of ‘real world’ distortion that I’m experiencing:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khEsyt_UA_g

      The more detail in the mirror, the more obvious it becomes. Particularly straight lines, as you can see. If you’re not experiencing that, then I’d say it’s a flaw in mine. For the record though, I don’t feel any distortion with my finger either, it FEELS smooth, but obviously isn’t. As the Hubble Space Telescope designers found out, a tiny imperfection in a mirror makes a big difference to how it functions. ;)

  9. Gniargh. I only just refitted the handle gripping foam. Had to uninstall my trusted rearview mirror to do that – only to find I had cut the bracket too short, and couldn’t get it over the new, thick and fluffy foam… Though, well, I went without a mirror before, can do it again – boy was I wrong! Boy had I gotten accustomed to the darn lil thing! Am thinking about actually cutting the foam in halves just to accomodate the mirror again.

  10. Fritz Hocking, Chicao says:

    +1 on the Take-A-Look mirror. GREAT product!

    I drilled 2 small holes in my helmet visor [please remove helmet from head before drilling ;-) ] and used small zip ties to secure the mirror arm. The attachment is bullet proof.

  11. Patrick says:

    So far, so good with this thing.
    As I was trying to get the adjustments right, a well-intentioned friend commented that the mirror is too small. When I thought about it geometrically, however, it occurred to me that it is actually huge. If I hold up an 8×6″ [20x15cm] card at arm’s length, that ‘tiny’ mirror hides it. Ergo, an equivalent mirror at arm’s length would need to be 8×6″. That’s effectively bigger than most mirrors on cars or motorbikes.
    and
    Hey Fritz, what makes you think some people wouldn’t welcome the idea of drilling a couple of small holes in their head and installing the mirror as body art? I don’t have any piercings, but a rear-view mirror? That would be so… ummm… bitchin!

  12. I’ve been using the Mirrycle Road Bike Mirror for a few weeks and it has served me well. Road vibration can be an issue depending on the road quality and tyre pressure and knocking it out of position on the door frame on the way out is a pain, but other than that, it’s perfect. There is even a full list of spare parts on the manufacturers web site if anything snaps. What more could you ask!

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