ZEFAL SPIN REAR VIEW MIRROR
51g €7.95 (£6.92 at time of writing)
The Spin Mirror, from Zefal, is a fully adjustable, bar-end mounted, rear view mirror, aimed at road and touring cyclists. It meets the design brief very well, with some distinct advantages over less adjustable members of the species. By the same mark, that flexibility comes with a downside, which you may find more or less of an issue, or not be bothered about at all.
Pros: light, adjustable, portable costs little.
Cons: best on smooth surfaces or at commuting speeds.
Chrome-plated plastic – described as “unbreakable” – promises effective resistance to clumsy folk, such as I, carelessly propping the mirror against the wall, as well as other forms of attack. Likewise, three-sixty adjustability allows it to move safely out of the way, if necessary. The mirror is shiny plastic.
Movement through three planes allows for precise adjustment for different bikes and riders. Given its bijoux, convex, mirror area – 15cm square – getting things in the right place is pretty important. Two of the planes can be secured by tightening retaining bolts, however, the horizontal adjustment cannot. More of that later.
It should fit any round profile bar between 16mm and 22mm. Two plastic shims are offered to help keep things secure. Or you could resort to that cyclist’s friend – a cut of old inner tube.
Needless to say, the Spin can be fitted to the left or right; a boon for cross-English Channel commuters, or holiday-makers.
Simply extract your bar end plug and replace with mirror and, if needed, shim. I’ve also used mine on the ancient MTB which now serves as the tractor for my Surly Ted Trailer. With the MTB grips, I just found a spare and sliced the end off.
Firstly, try not to scuff it against the wall in the rush to beat the coach party that just pulled in to the cake selection at the café. Although you are unlikely to cause much real damage it is easy to forget the mirror is there. Mind, some folks like a few scuffs to demonstrate ruggedness.
More importantly day to day use, give the mirror a wipe with an optical cloth, or almost anything lint free. You can use cleaners, but avoid the more abrasive or acetone-based potions. I’ve found it needs no more than a breath and wipe with my spectacle cloth.
Initially, I wondered what the view would be like, given the small reflective area. The key to getting a clear view is to adjust carefully. When you have it in the right spot it can be secured in two planes by gently tightening a couple of retaining bolts. Don’t overdo it. After all, you’ll only chew the thread and reduce ease of adjustment on the fly.
The view is actually very good, giving plenty of warning of vehicles on single and dual carriageways, with clear perception at around two hundred metres (i.e. rather than just knowing something was there, I felt comfortable judging speed etc.). On those rare occasions when I’m out front with a group of friends, it is more than sufficient to see if they look as knackered as I feel.
Adjustment on the fly is easy. This is a good job. It really does not like bumpy surfaces. The mirror sometimes shifts vertical position, leaving a beautiful view of the sky. Given the state of some back lanes, let alone of forest track or UK cycle route that can features on a tour or leisure ride, developing the
ability to push it back into place on the go is pretty much a requirement. Mind you, some countries look after their roads better than others. Having said that, on a half-decent road surface, position has remained solid. Moreover, some strategically place electrical tape around the ball joint helped to keep things solid.
Importantly, in the horizontal position, vibration has much less impact, but I found vision less favourable. That could well be a personal thing. In fact, on flat bars, flipping the mirror out to horizontal was the way to go.
To combat unwanted movement, I tried strips of electrical tape placed around the joint. Helping, rather than solving things 100%, it made a difference without preventing adjustment. After a while, you’ll get used to where the mirror should be. The tape provided a bit of a marker for that, too.
The hoods are my default hand position. Riding on the top of the bars and in the curve of the drops are, likewise, of course, not really affected by the Spin Mirror. The extended flats of some traditional bars, such as Velo Orange’s Grand Cru Rando, can still be used, even with the mirror in a vertical position, but I have not found it a comfortable match. Compact bars more so. On the other hand, flat bars and wide-sweeping moustache types, should offer fewer or no issues. However, if you love your drops, or have big hands, you’ll appreciate a longer stem between bar end plug and mirror.
In fairness, hand-space is less of an issue with the mirror horizontal rather than vertical. At your destination, just flip it into the vertical. The Spin certainly caters for personal preference.
Cateye’s BM45 is similar - very small, ball-joint, and comes in at £11.49. Bike Eye models are significantly pricier, though direct comparison is unfair; the latter are possibly more appropriate for faster riders who want to cut air resistance and manoeuvre at higher speeds. Moreover, they employ higher spec optics.
The Spin is a flexible and adaptable fully-adjustable mirror that functions well on the road. Handy for road riders with a mixed fleet, and those who commute or tour with flat bars. However, a more secure fixing in the upright position would, in my opinion, make it even more attractive.