17 March 2009

bikefix Exclusive Review: CycleAware Viewpoint mirror

This product came my way by accident from my father-in-law who couldn’t make it work on his cycling glasses. I’ve seen other people use them, so I thought I‘d give it a shot on my commuter glasses. If you ever see people using cycling mirrors, you might notice that they tend to be older folks, and this is probably one reason why I had a natural aversion to this product. After riding with this mirror, I have to say that my aversion has only grown.

For those of you who don’t recognize the product from the photo, the Viewpoint is a rear view mirror designed to “stick” to the inside of your cycling glasses' lens. It is supposed to allow the rider to see what is behind him/her without having to turn their head all the way around. This is an admirable idea, because it is common for a cyclist to veer in the direction that he turns his head in, but the reality is that this mirror doesn’t work that well. The first problem you encounter is whether they will even work on your particular riding glasses [CycleAware do have a selection of approved eyewear available through their website]. If your eyewear fits too close to the face, or the lens is too curved, the mirror will not align correctly and you can’t see behind you. The second problem is that it is a fair bit of a struggle to find the perfect spot on the eyeglasses to put the mirror. Boom! Two problems right out of the box and we aren’t even riding with them yet. That said, the Viewpoint's real let-down is in its use. I found the mirror very disorienting (bordering on vertigo), due to the fact that my eye was constantly focusing and then refocusing to accommodate the incredibly short focal length of a mirror that is only an inch or two away from my eye. At the same time, the eye has to turn quite far to the left and this created a recipe that was much more dangerous (for me) than a quick glance over my shoulder. I really did get a bit dizzy at one point. I’d surmise that this might get better with practice, but I’m not going to make it that far with this product. Potential buyers should also be aware that I also noticed that the backpack that I use on my commuter bike got in the way of the mirror’s ability to see behind me.

All in all, this product has little to recommend it. The only people who should consider using this mirror are: riders that know they tend to veer into the lane when they look back, riders who are terrified of that (and therefore won’t look back), and riders that can’t physically turn their head around (that includes recumbent riders). There are other mirrors out there that perhaps look dorkier, but surely work better. The Viewpoint is just one choice in Cycleaware’s line of cycling mirrors, and many of the others look like they might have worked better for me. The ViewPoint sells for $15.00.



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