Out of the several car accidents I’ve been involved in during my life, my favorite was in 1989. I was sitting at a red light in my new Ford Ranger when a Nissan Sentra plowed into the back of me hard enough to have my head dent the roof. After making certain the Nissan’s driver was physically unharmed, I left her crying on the curb to inspect the damage. The Ranger’s steel rear bumper was scratched, the license plate ripped off, and one of the plate’s luminary bulbs was crushed. Then I looked at the damage to the Sentra and felt the kind of pride that only a demolition derby winner could appreciate. The front end of the Nissan was crushed, with the radiator shoved far back into the engine block – the car was easily three feet shorter. It also had a large Yin and Yang puddle of oil and antifreeze underneath. I was elated.
‘You think I can drive it home?’ Sniffled the Sentra’s driver from behind me.
As much fun as it was to get rear ended in an American made pickup truck by a feather weight Crapanese import, I know it would be a very different experience on my motorcycle. To help prevent this from happening and be aware of what’s behind me while riding I constructed a crude rear facing periscope using two small mirrors and some old milk cartons. But everything looked upside down and the cartons smelled bad so I ended up just buying a purpose built mirror for my motorcycle.
And what a mirror it was! Made by Acerbis, it attached to the handlebars using a plastic split clamp that was fastened with three jewelers screws. In order to get the clamp tight enough to prevent the mirror from moving at speed while on the asphalt, I had to crank down on the tiny screws until the slotted heads began to strip out and Carpal Tunnel set in. Out on the road the mirror provided a view behind me. Not what was actually behind me, because vibration from the bike and the wind caused the reflection to be completely blurred. But I was aware that something was behind me – possibly a runaway ferris wheel or inbound meteor. The lack of a clear image was eventually solved when the screws stripped and the ball joint became so completely worn out (after repeatedly having to retighten it) that I had to hold the mirror steady with my hand if I wanted to look behind me. So I tried another mirror.
This one seemed more promising. It featured a metal stem, a jam nut to hold it’s adjustment, and the actual mirror itself could be moved up and down the stem to improve the field of vision. At speed on the open road, vibration was much less significant and I had a nice clear view of my armpit. After a few low speed crashes and tip overs out on the trails all the adjustment points lost their strength. Now the wind would easily push the mirror until I was looking at a scenic reflection of the sky. This was preferable to my armpit. The upshot was that if conditions were right, I could quickly swivel the mirror around and use the suns reflection to blind on coming motorists. Eventually I tired of this and went back to the Acerbis mirror, which, of course, put me right back in the last paragraph. Finally I became disgusted enough to find a better alternative.
I’d been aware of the Double Take mirror for a while, but it seemed a bit pricey for just a mirror. Now that I’ve gotten one I have to say it’s the mirror to have. More than likely it’s also the last mirror I’ll have to buy. Of course this came after I’ve already spent more on three cheap bolt on mirrors that didn’t perform than I would have spent on a Double Take to begin with – and still have enough change to buy a beer. A very large imported beer.
There’s nothing elaborate about this product, it mounts quickly and adjusts easily. It’s not so much what the Double Take mirror can do as what it won’t do. It won’t flop around in the wind or vibrate to the point where the reflection looks like an abstract expressionist painting. I hesitate to say it won’t break because I imagine someone could break it if they really tried – but if you break this mirror in an accident there’s going to be a long list of other broken things you’ll be more preoccupied with. The mirror and accompanying split clamp, ball, and RAM Arm, are all really well crafted, stout, and sturdy.
Being the minimalist I am, I did find it a little on the large side. Measuring a hair over 4 inches in diameter (actually 1/8″ over – so think nose hair from your Slovenian Grandmother), it does provide a good field of vision on the street, but I was concerned it wouldn’t fold down far enough to be low profile on the trail. Turns out the double ball and stem system gives the Double Take a huge range of positions and it tucked down nicely behind my headlight cowling – much further than my previous mirrors. I went with a 2″ RAM which was sufficient for both visibility when in use and concealing it when not. A 3″ RAM is also available and will fold further into the center of the bike and provide better visibility on the road for riders that present a more formidable obstacle to see around. Using an existing mirror mount eliminates the need for the split clamp, making the entire set up slightly cheaper.
If you do require the split clamp, keep in mind that mounting location can affect visibility and how well the mirror folds into the center of your bike. Initially, I attached mine to the left of my decompression lever where it was butted up against my grip. This gave me an excellent view of what’s behind me but sacrificed being able to conceal most of the mirror behind my headlight assembly. Moving to the right of the decompression lever greatly improved tucking it into the center, but did forfeit a little in regards to my rear field of vision. If this is a concern err on the side of caution and choose a 3″ RAM.
While you don’t have to use a Double Take mirror on your Dual Sport, you do have to use something – by law a rider is required to be able to see a given point 200 feet behind him while on the road. But then again I’m sure any law enforcement official would be very sympathetic when you explain the reason it took six miles to pull you over was that your cheap mirror vibrates so badly you thought his cruiser was merely a satellite in really low orbit. Just make sure you’re ready to take a field sobriety test.
For more information on Double Take products check out their WEBSITE.