Four Advantages Of Your Motorcycle Mirrors And How You Can Make Full Use Of Them

Your Motorcycle Mirrors and Their Importance - MOTORESS
Your Motorcycle Mirrors and Their Importance

When controlling and riding a motorcycle, your vision is key to your defence.  As you ride along, you have a good view of what’s in front of you, yet we know as well, that checking blind spots and what’s around us prepares us to react in time if need be. Your motorcycle mirrors are one of your best resources to spotting potential hazards out of your immediate field of vision. Good mirror visibility is an important aspect of performance and truly contributes to overall riding enjoyment.

All motorcycle mirrors are different and vary from manufacturer model to the type and style of motorcycle. For example, sport bike mirrors are designed to be aerodynamic like the bike. They often don’t provide much of a view in traffic. Most motorcycle mirrors are easy to view through.  In fact, mirror visibility should be an important concern when buying a motorcycle. Being able to see correctly is the value with regard to your motorcycle mirrors. Furthermore, mirrors provide various types of information and all these details are really important to rider risk management. And don’t overlook the quality of your mirrors. For example, mirrors that vibrate or offer poor rearward visibility can make for a stressful and tiring ride.

Get the Most Out of Your Motorcycle Mirrors

Generally your motorcycle mirrors will either be mounted to your motorcycle handlebars or front fairing. The stalks of handlebar-mounted mirrors are held in place with an adjusting nut. Make sure the mirrors themselves move freely, but are not so loose that they will move with the wind.

Before adjusting your mirrors, however, quickly review your posture and (if needed) riding position. It may not make a tremendous difference in your field of vision, but it will optimise not only your mirror positioning, but it will ensure a level of comfort that will help you keep more attention on other things while you are riding.  Obviously, your posture depends on the type of motorcycle you ride to some extent, but you generally want to keep yourself straight and centered. Ideally, you want to prevent slumping and ensure you’re in the centre of your motorcycle seat. Leave some space in front of and behind you and only shift in your seat while turning and braking (or accelerating really, really hard, if you happen to be doing so for whatever reason).

Sit on your bike, bring it to an upright position, and point the front wheel straight ahead. Now adjust your mirrors so that just the very tops of your shoulders and elbows are shown. If your stalk-mounted mirrors prevent this, then loosen the adjusting nut, adjust and then tighten the nut back up. If you have fairing mounted mirrors, you obviously don’t need to do this and you can just concentrate on fine-tuning. This will be your baseline adjustment. You’ll likely need to perform minor adjustments while stopped in traffic out on the road.

You want to see the road behind and to either side of you in the majority of your mirrors. Therefore, if you find that seeing the very tops of your shoulders means your mirrors look high, then adjust them down. Some riders adjust their mirrors so that the view converges behind them as much as possible, but others adjust mirrors so that you see what’s coming up in adjacent lanes.


A) Your shoulder and the lane behind.

B) About half of the lane behind you and as much as possible of the lane next to you.

C) The lane behind.

B) About half of the lane behind you and as much as possible of the lane next to you

The mirrors will cover half the lane behind you each, giving you whole lane visibility. You also then need to be able to see as much of the adjacent lanes as possible so you can keep an eye on traffic. Remember that you will still have a blind spot and will need to look over your shoulder before changing lanes[/toggles]

Style Versus Effectiveness

Mirrors can be square, round, oblong, or other. There are a wide range of types and styles. Your mirrors can also be mounted in many ways, from the standard handlebar-mounted types to those attached directly to a fairing or cowl or in some cases, underneath the handlebars. Amidst all these choices, the reality remains that mirrors that are easy to see in make your riding experience richer, safer and more enjoyable.

After market mirrors are often a stylistic choice, but if you feel as if you can get a better view from a set of after market mirrors, then you should definitely explore them as a functional option. You may also be interested in blind spot mirrors. These convex mirror additions give you a slightly wider view of what’s going on behind you, so if you think you can live with about one and a half or so fewer square inches of space on each of your stock mirrors (provided they are large enough!), then you might want to try them out.

Don’t Rely Only On Your Mirrors

Mirrors will help you stay aware and stay safe.  The information we get from our mirrors – when riding a motorcycle, this source of information allowing us to reduce risks and make many important decisions. Yet no matter how you adjust your mirrors, you always want to complement them with frequent shoulder checks and blind spot checks. Many riders become complacent and often omit blind spot checks but this is the only way to really see what’s around you.

More attention is needed to our mirrors and how the issues of visibility and viewing ease have been approached. As a rider, you’ve really got to be able to intuitively sense the difference.

Good Practices to Reflect Upon

Position, adjustment ease, wide rearward visibility and ease of reading traffic conditions – these are the features to seek from your motorcycle mirrors.  It’s unlikely you’ve consider mirror visibility when selecting your ride.

Mirrors that provide excellent viewing ease greatly expand the pleasure of motorcycle riding.

Safe riding!

~Vicki Gray~

1 Comment
  1. Good post, Vicki.
    The only thing I might add is that the value of a good pair of convex/racing/blind-spot (call them what you like) mirrors cannot be overstated. Convex mirrors give an outstanding field of vision behind your vehicle. Literally a 180 degree view.

    The trade-off, of course, is that the images they display are somewhat “shrunk” in terms of actual size. Items that might appear in them…(as the passenger-side mirror on your car says) “may be closer than they appear”.

    The trade-off is well worth it, however, because it is far more important to know IF something is there than to know how far away it is. The proximity of anything appearing in the mirror, if necessary, can and should be determined with a shoulder check or by simply switching your focus to the “regular” stock mirror.

    I have inexpensive, self-adhesive, aftermarket convex mirrors attached to BOTH of my factory mirrors, and I don’t mind that they occupy up to half of the space on the stock items because their ability to totally eliminate blind spots is critical to knowing what’s going on around me.

    If you love someone who rides, give them a pair of convex mirrors. And pick some up for yourself while you’re at it!

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