One of the wonderful things about riding a motorcycle is how easy it is to customize. While other vehicles, such as cars, may be customized as well, these customizations are much more difficult to attempt and execute. Even if you are not a grease monkey yourself, it’s very likely that there are tons of things that you can do to your motorcycle with a little bit of research and not so much training.
One of the easiest things to update on your motorcycle are the mirrors. Mirrors are actually an interesting study in motorcycle laws, considering how the rules governing them differ so much from state to state. In some states, you are not required to have motorcycle mirrors at all. In others, you only need one. In yet others, you need to have both motorcycle mirrors in order to be street legal. It’s important to understand the rules of your particular jurisdiction before modifying anything about your motorcycle, particularly if you are thinking about removing one or both mirrors.
While there is no doubt that it’s a bit easier to check your surroundings in a motorcycle as compared to the inside of a traditional vehicle, even without mirrors, we definitely do recommend that you have both mirrors on your motorcycle whether you are legally required to or not. Having mirrors makes checking blind spots and ensuring that you are riding safely far easier.
Whether or not you are a devotee of the two-mirrored approach, there are many different types of motorcycle mirrors to choose from. In fact, due to the ease of swapping out mirrors, this particular modification is one of the more common modifications that motorcycle enthusiasts make to our own rides.
In this post, we are going to go over the finer points of how to choose a motorcycle mirror. Of course, like virtually anything else regarding a motorcycle, a lot of this is up to your personal preference.
Motorcycle Aftermarket Mirrors
Generally speaking, mirrors are found on one of three locations on a motorcycle: on the fairing, on the hand controls, or at the end of the handlebars. The location of these mirrors depends highly on the variety of motorcycle you are riding, but typically you only encounter mirrors on the ends of handlebars as an aftermarket addition. The mirrors at the end of the handlebars are called bar end mirrors, and we’ll discuss the specifics of these later on.
Mirrors that are found on the hand controls or on the fairing of a motorcycle are typically referred to as standard mirrors. And within this class of mirror, there are plenty of choices for you to peruse.
For example, if you find that you are having trouble with your blind spots or seeing behind you when using the mirrors that came stock on your motorcycle, you may want to look into eyeball mirrors. These mirrors have a concave surface which can make blind spots virtually disappear. Eyeball mirrors are also an especially stylish addition to more vintage-looking motorcycles.
Another reason to swap out your motorcycle mirrors may be if you are in pursuit of a more streamlined appearance. For example, many people who own sport bikes are not particularly fond of the way their turn signals look mounted to the fairings (some compare it to antennae). If this is you, you may want to look into motorcycle mirrors that have integrated turn signals. This can provide a more streamlined look for your bike.
People who own dirt bikes may prefer to install motorcycle mirrors that can easily be folded out of the way. While you may be required to have mirrors in order for your bike to be street legal in your state, when you are on the trail the mirrors are not necessary. Particularly if you own a dual-sport bike, foldable mirrors are an excellent choice for convenience.
Bar End Mirrors vs Standard Mirrors
As mentioned earlier, a more popular aftermarket mod to make to your motorcycle mirrors involve installing bar end mirrors. As opposed to standard mirrors, bar end mirrors are literally inserted into the end of your motorcycle handles. Just like with any other modification to a motorcycle, there are many pros and cons to this approach.
One of the major pluses to bar end mirrors is they tend to be smaller and more compact than standard mirrors. Many varieties of bar end mirrors can fold down to make storing the bike easier. They also provide you with a very wide angle of sight, and you have to worry much less about your own body or the bike being in the way of your mirror. Bar end mirrors also virtually eliminate blind spots. They provide a more “stealthy” appearance to the motorcycle; many people like them for their aesthetic looks alone.
One of the negatives to having bar end mirrors is related to vibration. Depending on the road that you are driving on or the condition of your bike, you may encounter some variety of vibration in your handlebars. Vibrations in your handlebars can make your use of the mirrors difficult if the mirrors are attached to the handlebars. Additionally, installing bar end mirrors often involves drilling into the end of the handlebars themselves. Thus, you need a relatively comprehensive tool kit in order to actually install the mirrors yourself.
Finally, bar end mirrors make the motorcycle slightly less maneuverable as there’s a greater chance of the mirrors hitting objects on either side of the motorcycle as compared to if they are mounted closer to the center of the bike.
As stated at the beginning of this post, ultimately your choice on what motorcycle mirrors you choose to install on your bike is completely up to you. Most of the time, the choice of motorcycle mirrors should be practical in nature. That is, if your motorcycle mirrors are more stylish than they are useful, they’re probably not contributing as much to your riding experience as they could be.
If at all possible, it’s a good idea to try and take several motorcycles with different styles of mirrors out for test drives. Particularly if you are considering installing bar end mirrors, you definitely want to know whether it is something that you actually like the physical use of and not just the look.
Ultimately, the best motorcycle mirrors are found through research and a careful understanding of your own riding style.