Getting the right bike for you takes some time and experimentation. If you’re like me, you won’t even settle for one bike, but evict your car and fill your garage with one for every occasion. Once you have the right bike(s) for you, there is the all-important job of accessorising!
While a road bike needs bottle cages and bike computers, and a trail/commuting bike needs racks and panniers, what about the bike we use just for riding round town? There are other ‘optional’ extras which can make your life – and that of your bike – just a bit more pleasant.
One of my favourites, that I’d be absolutely lost without, and which I’d never thought I’d ever need, is my mirror.
My mirror is possibly the best safety feature I can recommend. Anyone who knows me, knows I am not a fan of fluoro.* It’s up to you to wear what makes you happy, but I for one feel a heck of a lot more confident if I can see behind me.
I found myself first wanting a mirror when my regular commute changed to include a fairly steep, but short, climb followed by a right hand turn. Wobbling along up the hill, barely making 10km/h with parked cars on my left, cars speeding up behind me, I didn’t like my odds of keeping straight while doing a shoulder check. I went looking for, and found, a nice little round mirror to pop onto the end of my handle bars and now *always* look back!
The most surprising thing I’ve noticed is how much space most vehicles are actually giving you. They sound a lot closer than they often are. The confidence I now have to do a shoulder check – quick glance in the mirror tells me that that noisy car is still a wee way back and a shoulder check confirms it – means I feel safer and happier on my bike.
Of course, a mirror shouldn’t replace a shoulder check. Objects in the mirror may appear distorted and limit your view. My dad taught me when I was young, to at the very least turn my head slightly, just to indicate to the driver behind you that you are aware of them. It’s something I still do to this day. The addition of a mirror means you can monitor the flow of traffic behind you, and an added bonus is that if riding with a friend, you can keep an eye on them, or even have ‘face-to-face(in-the-mirror)’ conversations.
It is easily one of my favourite ‘safety’ accessories!
(* If it makes you feel safer, more visible or confident then that’s great. Personally I’d like to see us get to a point beyond where people think it’s necessary. I am a big fan of hi-vis when referring to reflective strips, or lights which enable you to be seen at night. But, think that proper bike training and road positioning are far more important than an item of clothing. I don’t want to get into a ‘shifting the blame/taking responsibility for your own safety’ discussion here.)
Next week: my coffee cup holder!