the life of the bicycle has been peppered with more than just a few innovations that, if not immediately recognisable as complete turkeys, have certainly provided cause for concern after one or two rides. as a kid, i recall a fad for attaching several playing cards to one front fork leg in order that i might sound like a motorbike riding round the neighbourhood annoying all and sundry. and one or two girls of my acquaint when at the same age, had multicoloured streamers attached to the end of their handlebars for no discernible purpose.
however, if we're to concern ourselves more with inventions designed to have greater effect on the pedalling experience, perhaps we might consider shimano's biopace chainrings. though rotor have pretty much revived the concept recently, the idea that oval shaped chainrings would improve pedalling dynamics by eliminating the so-called dead spot at the top of each pedal stroke was perhaps more marketing rhetoric than real science. not to diss those currently on offer, they are set at a different angle of rotation than their biopace counterparts. only a few years later, shimano produced biopace ii with less pronounced ovalising before capitulating completely and returning to the round chainrings that feature on all their current groupsets.
then there was those cinelli spinaci bars, allegedly providing a cut-down version of full-length time-trial bars. the basic idea was that by positioning them as close to the stem as practical, they'd reduce the potential drag factor. however, this paid scant heed to the fact that time-trials tend to feature one rider alone against the clock as opposed to several dozen closely packed in pelotonic formation. an agglomeration of riders all with hands on their spinaci bars scarcely enhanced the braking capabilities, given how far both hands were positioned relative to the brake and gear levers.
perhaps it's little wonder that the uci, in their infinite wisdom, banned them from mass start racing.
on receiving my review sample of the rearviz, arm-mounted rear view mirror, i'd be fibbing if i didn't harbour more than just one or two reservations over the efficacy of the device. basically, the rearviz consists of a shaped, moulded plastic mount, featuring a round, hinged mirror that rotates on its mount. this is all held in place by a velcro smothered strap designed to hold the mirror in place on a bare arm, jersey sleeved arm or even over a bulky mavic duvet of a thermal jacket.
once in place, the angle of the mirror can be adjusted via both the hinge and the rotating mount as well as the vertical and rotational placing of the entire affair on your arm. this latter arrangement was initially the most difficult to accomplish basically because you really need to do so while riding your bicycle to ensure that the mirror is ideally positioned to show the road behind without the need to adopt any advanced yoga position. however, once achieved, repeating the process for each subsequent ride is a pretty simple affair.
but the question you're all asking yourselves is "does it work? or is it a device worthy of consigning to ignominy along with the spinaci bars and biopace? as i stated earlier, i had serious misgivings over the rearviz, not least because it looks like the very appendage no self-respecting cyclist would be seen wearing in public.
however, appearances can be deceptive. for starters, the rearviz weighs sod all. despite its less than svelte appearance, after less than a few kilometres, i'd forgotten i was wearing it. secondly and most importantly, it actually works. there's no denying that on less than billiard table roads, the road chatter pretty much prevents you clearly seeing vehicles more than a few metres away, but i figure the point is more to let you see when there's someone hugging your back wheel. additionally, the format and size of the mirror distorts the relative size of a following vehicle; when i'd thought there was a white fiat 500 sized motor driving behind me at blackrock, you can imagine my surprise when a large gleaner fuel tanker edged past on the straight.
however, though size undoubtedly matters, your actions or reactions ought not necessarily to be conditioned by the proportions of that driving behind you. perhaps the most obvious disadvantage, however, is that, having set the position for riding with hands on the lever hoods, when you move to the drops, the mirror simply reflects the grey sky above. in that sense, it seems designed more for those on flat bars than road-going drop bars. that said, few of us spend too long in the drops, particularly in heavy traffic and it's simple enough to move back to the hoods when necessary.
where the rearviz really scored, however, was along singletrack roads when riding into a headwind. though the aforementioned practice may not be one applicable to all, there's no denying that the noise of a headwind mostly obscures the sound of any vehicle approaching from behind. it is thus common practice for the hebridean cyclist to continually look behind on the perennial lookout for the large articulated trucks that serve the island's distilleries. or in the summer months, the many renegade visiting drivers who have scant knowledge of singletrack roads and their attendant passing-places.
the rearviz has reduced the strain on my neck muscles.
so, what initially appeared to be a rather bizarre, dare i say it, laughable australian invention has proved to be close to indispensible. i don't mind admitting that, despite having completed the necessary review period, i'm still quite content to wear the rearviz at the least opportunity. it's not perfect, but it is quite impressive and sturdy enough not to offer any misgivings over its longevity. available in classic, slimline and sports editions, from only 35 australian dollars (approx £21), while not a major necessity in the rural idyll, if your commute takes in urban or inner-city roads, a rearviz is probably pretty close to a compulsory necessity.
i can't believe i ever doubted what an excellent device it has subsequently proved to be.
sunday 12 february 2017..........................................................................................................................................................................................................