Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mirror mirror on the wall

ACCESSORY 36: Mirror $13 @ Walmart

Though not thought to be as useful as my current mirrors, the size of Mike's mirrors definitely caught my attention in a good way. My current Blackburn Multi Mirror sticks out beyond the width of the tires. I'd be lying if I said I haven't run these mirrors into lamp posts and hedges during my sidewalk rides. A small pair would be ideal not only to allow me to ride through tight spaces, but hopefully would be better aerodynamically for my 20mph laps.

For the price of $6.57/each at Walmart, I couldn't pass it up. Yes, I cheated. I hadn't gotten to my 200 mile mark before buying this. At this price point, I'm worried that by the time I'm ready to buy, there's a good chance that Walmart may not stock this product anymore. I dropped by during my lunch break and picked up a pair. The total with tax for two mirrors was less than 70% of the cost of one of my Blackburn mirrors!

Thinking I might return it if I didn't like it, I took the packaging apart very carefully as to not rip anything. The packaging was decent. I had remembered from my ride last week that the mirrors were not really glass, but some sort of reflective tape. The reflection on the face of the mirror was a bit distorted and wasn't nearly as clear as the Blackburns.

The size difference though is drastic enough for me to take a shot to see if it'd be worth keeping. Notice there is not dial knob on the Zefal mirror. This "spin" model is a lot more sleek.

Can you even tell there's a mirror on the right side of this photo on the handlebar? Barely. The Zafel mirror is nice too b/c it folds away nicely when not in use.

I hadn't previously considered this mirror b/c the retail price I saw online was $13-16, much too close to the $19 I paid for the Blackburn Multi Mirror shipped. The Blackburn product got better reviews and seemed to have more adjustment technology built in. There's a rotating locking ring that holds the angle of the mirror in place. When installed properly, vibration is minimal.

The sheer size of the mirror makes the Zafel Spin worth considering. Though competitor's larger models show more in its reflection, they tend to be more exposed to street obstacles like hedges and lamp posts. In its use, my Blackburn Multi Mirror has suffered scratches on the backside from ramming into things. It's also not the most convenient when turning the trike over on its side during maintenance and cleaning. Sticking out, the Blackburn mirror is the first thing to hit the ground.

I admit that I had installed the Zafel mirror with a 45% intention of returning it. I didn't think the size would be large enough to be useful.

I was wrong.

After 23.5 miles of using these mirrors, I can say that the size takes a while to get used to but still works for my needs. Vibration is also improved over the Blackburn mirror. The Zafel Spin is just so small and lightweight that there isn't really much to bob around during bumps on the road.

While the Blackburn mirror comes loose on a regular basis and needs readjustment, the Zafel mirror holds well in place. Though I've only ridden it once so far, the mirrors hold in place very well. So well in fact that I'm not hesitant to fold the mirrors away as it was designed to, knowing that I can easily flip it back open and put it back into place.


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