IPMBA News

Tiger Eye Helmet-Mounted Bicycle Mirror, Part I

by Rance Okada, PCI #246T
Westminster (CO) Police Department (retired)

Before we start, let me be clear: a mirror does NOT take the place of a rear scan.   It is used WITH a rear scan to increase safety.  Let’s move on…

I tested the Tiger Eye Mrrflector  (Mirror-Reflector) helmet-mount model which has retro-reflective material on the front face.  The mirror is an optical-quality glass mirror screwed onto the end of a bicycle wheel spoke.    A series of twists and turns forms the section that clamps the mirror onto a helmet, much like a gigantic paper clip clamping onto twenty sheets of paper.

The mirror fits on the left front quarter of the helmet.  When I first installed the mirror, it kept drooping down until I bent the spoke to where it clamped hard onto the helmet.  Tiger Eye has a video that shows how to install the mirror as well as the proper position above your line of sight.

The mirror swivels on the spoke, enabling one to align the mirror correctly.  Combine that with the spoke’s ability to bend without breaking means unlimited adjustments to suit the rider.

I received the mirror a few days before an IPMBA Instructor Course in Houston, Texas.  I had to remove the mirror before loading the helmet into my suitcase.  To ensure I could replicate the positioning of the mirror on the helmet, I traced the outline of the spoke on the helmet with a Sharpie.  Once in Houston, I snapped the mirror on with no problem.

At first, I used the mirror without the helmet visor installed, so that adjustments to the mirror could be made more easily.   I noticed a high-frequency vibration that degraded the quality of the image.  The bicycle’s road vibrations were transferring to the mirror, which was too bad because the mirror has the best image quality of any of the mirrors I’ve previously used.

I snapped the visor back on and to my delight, no more vibration.  The visor rested very lightly on the spoke, dampening or eliminating the vibration.  I highly recommend visors for police work; they shade your eyes from the sun, and during night patrol they keep street lights and vehicle headlights out of your eyes.  Using both mirror and visor results maximizes the benefits of both the visor and the mirror.  For those of you who don’t use visors, Rich Scott from Tiger Eye said he’d investigate using a higher-gauge spoke to address the vibration issue. 

I’ve been using rear-view mirrors since the mid ‘90s, so getting used to the Tiger Eye mirror was easy.  To initiate a rear scan, merely look up into the mirror and pan your head left and right.  You’ll get a terrific rear view with an arc of observation better than from a shoulder check.

If you intend to make a lane change, do a mirror scan first, and then a shoulder check rear scan.  When not making a lane change, use the mirror to check your rear, and do it often.  The mirror increases your 360-degree situational awareness without having to make constant shoulder checks.  The mirror scan won’t work for lane changes to the right.

The mirror has no effect on weapons handling.  I dry-fired my pistol while wearing the helmet with mirror.  The mirror stayed up and away from my eye-to-weapon sight line.  Peripheral vision wasn’t obscured, since the mirror sits higher than the horizontal line of sight.

Photo A* shows the mirror mounted without the visor.  I recommend fitting the mirror without the visor because it is easier to put on and remove.  It took me three tries before the spoke fit my helmet properly.  Hint:  use pliers to bend the spoke.

Photo B* shows the visor attached.  The visor rests very lightly on the spoke and completely eliminates vibration.

Photos C and D* are close-ups of the spoke as it clasps the outside and inside of the helmet.  The spoke has to fit tightly to prevent the mirror from working loose from the helmet.

If you carry your helmet and gear in a helmet bag, the mirror could get dislodged.  That happened to me twice during the Instructor Course.  Once I carried the helmet in my hand and when I dropped it, the mirror popped off.  The mirror sustained no damage, and I merely pushed the spoke back onto the helmet.  The lines I made with my Sharpie insured repeatability of the installation.  With a mirror mounted, you have to be really careful when carrying your helmet or stowing it in a bag. 

Photo E* shows what the Mrreflector looks like when hit by light.  That model has retro-reflective material on the front face.  Combined with a bright headlight, it should offer added safety and conspicuity for night riding.  However, during night patrol, bike cops often have to go to stealth mode and retro-reflective material facing forward could be a tactical disadvantage.  I’d order one without the retro-reflective front face.  In fact, Rich said he’d talk to Bicycle Patrol Outfitters about offering that option. 

Tiger Eye will, with a minimum order of 12 mirrors, put a custom graphic on the front face of the mirror:  department badge, city logo, shoulder patch, etc.  Tiger Eye’s website, www.teamtigereye.com, has pictures of existing front face logos.

The helmet-mounted mirror weighs 17 grams.  That’s light enough that I don’t notice the mirror when I’m riding.  I’m not aware of the mirror until I look up and left to see what’s behind me.

So in summary:

Pros:

  • durable
  • superb optical quality
  • lots of adjustments possible
  • enhances safety when combined with a shoulder check rear scan
  • when used properly, affords a terrific view to the rear

Cons:

  • takes time and effort to get the mirror installed and adjusted on your helmet
  • vibrates unless the spoke contacts the visor
  • can get dislodged during routine stowing and carrying of the helmet

Tiger Eye cautions customers to use eye protection, since the mirror is glass and can break.  Well, IPMBA members, we are all about eye protection, aren’t we?

The Tiger Eye mirror is available at a discount to IPMBA members through the Product Purchase Program.  Place your order at Bicycle Patrol Outfitters (http://www.police-bikes.com/mirrors.html) and enter IPMBA2016 at checkout.

*To see the photos referenced in the article, visit http://ipmba.org/images/uploads/IPMBA_News_-_Winter_2016Web.pdf.  

Rance Okada retired from the Westminster Police Department in 2008 after 28 years of service.  He was a police cyclist for 15 years and a SWAT member and sniper for 20 years.  He was awarded his department’s Medal of Valor, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Purple Heart.  He has been an IPMBA Police Cyclist Instructor since 1997 and has taught more than 44 Police/Security Cyclist Courses.  He was certified as an Instructor Trainer in 2014.  Rance is a Master Firearms Instructor, a Colorado POST Full Skills Instructor (Firearms) and teaches at a regional police academy.  He can be reached at abnrgrcol@comcast.net.

(c) 2016 IPMBA.  This review appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of IPMBA News

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