Who has your back when you’re out riding? Unfortunately, the answer is not really anyone. Motorcycle riders need to have a heightened sense of awareness, especially with today’s distracted riders. Knowing what’s around you at all times is crucial in keeping the rubber side down. That includes what’s coming up behind as well. But with the wrong mirrors, you could be oblivious to what is actually back there. By choosing mirrors that best fit you and your bike, you can better watch your six to be able to get the hell out of Dodge if you need to.
Motorcycle mirrors aren’t always at the top of everyone’s aftermarket list. And many stock mirrors are chosen to best fit the “average” rider. You’re not average, though, are you? But if you can see behind you without any problems, then you are good to go. This post if for the rider who is seeing mostly their own shoulders or off the road in the reflection.
A lot of riders choose their mirrors based on aesthetics. While it’s reasonable to want them to look nice on your bike, it’s not too much to ask for them to also be functional. Otherwise, you might as well save your money or buy accent pieces that make more of an impact on the bike’s styling.
Before looking at new mirrors, you can make things easier by doing some preliminary work with your stock setup. Set your bike up in a driveway or parking lot so that a car is behind you at a traffic following distance. While you sit in your normal riding position, have a buddy hold your removed stock mirror in different locations. Do this until the best field of vision is achieved. Try to measure the distance and angle from the stock mounting position and also from other mounting options. These locations would be the end of the handlebars or by the perches. With those measurements, you will have an idea of how long the mirror stems need to be to get your desired results.
There are three main mounting options for motorcycle mirrors. First, there are handlebar mounted mirrors. These are either mounted by screwing into the perches or by the use of a clamp. The clamp style are more universal and can be mounted on most bikes with conventional style bars. With the right length stems, you can achieve a reflection above and around your shoulders.
Bar end mirrors are mounted like their name implies. They use expansion anchors to fit snugly in the ends of hollow handle bars. These are common on sport bikes and standards and allow the mirror to be at a wider placement. The wider placement allows for a wider field of view and has the greater likelihood of providing vision around the sides of your shoulders.
For most faired motorcycles, you have the option of fairing mounted mirrors. On bikes that require a full-tuck position, this style of mirror is a necessity. Because your head is positioned over the bars, the mirrors need to be mounted further forward. Aftermarket options with wider lenses and longer stems can provide a bit more coverage if you are having trouble seeing around your shoulders.
Once you have decided on the mounting style, you need to consider the type of glass that is used. Your options are either flat glass or convex glass.
Flat glass portrays the most accurate reflection of what’s going on behind you. It’s like any household mirror. The only problem with it is that flat glass does not have the widest field of view. If you go with larger mirrors and can set them up so that you can still see a part of your shoulder and directly behind you, then they are the way to go.
Convex mirrors are a great choice if you want an expanded field of view. Like the side mirrors on a car, they are able to capture a broader view, though it is a bit distorted. Like the sticker says, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” Most mirrors are convex, so most riders are already used to the distortion. With that understanding, convex are a great option because they reflect more of what is around you.
Some mirrors do come equipped with blind spot mirrors. These are the small circular mirrors located in the bottom corner. These are more severely curved and provide an even greater view of what is behind you. You will still have a less distorted view from the main mirror.
Once you have decided on the style of mirror that will work best for your motorcycle, you will need to mount them. Vibrations can cause even the best mirrors to become blurry. To help prevent shaking on mirrors with mounting studs, use red Loctite on the threads. This will prevent them from loosening over time.
With better fitting motorcycle mirrors, you will be able to watch your six more effectively. And when you can see what’s going on behind you, you can ride more confidently and more relaxed.
Ryan is one of the lucky ones who gets to combine their passion with work. He has enjoyed powersports his whole life and now gets to write about it. Ryan has been around the industry since High School and continues to enjoy learning and sharing about powersports with others in his role at DK.