Helmet Mirror – Finger Lakes Cycling Club

Helmet Mirror

These mirrors are no longer available. I’ve left information about them up purely for historical reasons– a place to remember Chuck Harris and look at his handiwork.

August 2012 — Regrettably, the Chuck Harris mirrors we have are the last we will ever have — Chuck Harris passed away on August 18, 2012, at the age of 76. I’m sad that I never knew him — I only spoke to him on the phone a couple times about getting more mirrors. But, in a way, that’s as it should be; he was a man who kept to the edge of the societal whirl, very much thinking and acting locally and letting the global results come as they may. He was literally world-renowned for the mirrors,  with requests pouring in constantly. But, he never entered the internet to facilitate marketing; rather, you had to contact him personally, by phone or in a letter, in order to get a mirror. He was a down-to-earth, conscientious, and unpretentious guy who took satisfaction in creating something useful out of what others threw away.

As to mirrors — while the originals are gone, the Chuck Harris mirror has a very respectable successor: the Hubbub Helmet Mirror.  This mirror was developed by Hubbub Custom Bicycles in Cleveland, Ohio, in order to increase the supply of helmet mirrors beyond what Chuck Harris was able to provide and, while they were at it, to make a few improvements. It’s not made of recycled materials, but it’s well made and guaranteed for five years. It’s also more expensive. So it goes. Anyway, I can highly recommend the Hubbub mirror and will definitely get one if my original Harris ever gives out. To my knowledge, there is no other producer of comparable mirrors.

September 2011 — For those who got the mirror but can’t figure out  how it goes on the helmet, I’ve put up some pictures that might be helpful: Installing the Mirror

To mirror or not to mirror?

Periodically there is some discussion of whether a mirror is a good or silly idea. Those of us who are too stiff of neck or wobbly of bike to turn around and look, however, have scoured the marketplace for something to make that rearward glance easier. In my experience and opinion, the best solution is a mirror originally made by the legendary Chuck Harris who turned discarded bicycle spokes and scraps of mirrors into a remarkably durable and useful piece of safety equipment. There are many other bicycling mirrors, ones that glue to the side of the helmet, clip onto eyeglasses, attach to handlebars. I’ve found problems with all of them — but all of them have devoted and happy users, so I don’t mean to condemn any product. These are just the personal reasons I find the Chuck Harris-type mirrors good.

  • Attaching to your head is better than attaching to the handlebars because you can “aim” the mirror by moving your head, whereas moving the handlebars is not usually feasible. Also, the angle of view from a small mirror close to the eye is larger than the angle of view of even a large mirror on the handlebars.
  • Attaching to the helmet is better than attaching to eyeglasses because some people don’t wear glasses, some people don’t wear them all the time, and because most people would be attaching and removing the mirror all the time because they probably wouldn’t  want a mirror on their glasses when not bicycling.
  • On the other hand, attaching to the helmet means you can leave the mirror in place all the time and it will always be there when you put on the helmet.
  • Of mirrors that attach to the helmet, the CH-type are best because they will not loosen. The spoke-wire is very stiff and holds firmly once put in place; I can pack my helmet in a backpack with the mirror on, and it will still be in position when I take the helmet out. At the same time, the mirror can be removed if necessary and reattached just as firmly as before.

But, whatever kind of mirror you select, I really urge all club riders to consider getting one. In racing or “serious” riding, a mirror may be unnecessary or even a distraction. Those are very specialized situations drawing on a skill set that is not part of the ordinary cyclist’s repertoire. But, for us ordinary cyclists — biking for recreation, commuting, fitness, etc — a rear view mirror makes no more or less sense than the rear-view mirror in a car. That is to say, a rear view mirror is necessary.

Feel free to comment, below, if you disagree.