At TWC we're hot on safety, especially when we're on the bikes. Regardless of discipline, safety is a priority of us, but one area where we believe it's key is commuter cycling and riding amongst traffic.
Many people love the idea of riding to work to gain those few extra Strava miles, keep travel costs down and for having just another excuse to ride our bike. However, the reality of cycling in the city and on busy roads can be quite off-putting for some.
There are many tricks and tips you can use to help improve your comfort and safety: Ring-a-ding bells come in all shapes and sizes to help you be heard. Reflective accessories help you remain seen in low-light conditions, and even wearing appropriate underwear can help keep you comfortable, rather than wiggling around in your saddle.
One of the most difficult manoeuvres to master whilst cycling in traffic is glancing around to check for cars behind you, without inadvertently turning the bars. Swiss company, Sprintech may have the answer to making the whole process easier...
After suffering two major accidents on the road, Carlo Dondo made it his mission to find a practical and innovative way to make road cycling safer for everyone. In 1996, the first drop bar mirrors were launched, scooping up the second prize at the Innovation Exhibition in Martigny, and the Gold medal at the Brussels International Exhibition. From there, Sprintech was born.
Sprintech has designed a mirror attachment for both drop and flat bar bikes. They serve the purpose of providing rear visibility to cyclists so they can focus the body ahead, without having to turn around (though a blind spot check is required before you actually move!).
We were set a pair of the Sprintech Racing mirrors, and what better way to test them out then on a 100 mile road ride?
Fitting the mirror to the drop bar is easy as pie. No tools are required, just a little brute force. The mirror system is comprised of a plug, which fits into the drop bar, and the mirror, which fits into the plug.
To fit, you simply remove the existing bar end on your drop bars, and replace it with the Sprintech plug. The plug has flexible "wings" which bend and deform to the width of your bars, and their downward slope acts as ample resistance to prevent the mirror from falling out.
I did have to get a rubber ended hammer to gently bash the plugs in a little. Although it required some force, it did inspire confidence that they wouldn't be wiggling their way out when riding over rougher terrain.
Once the plug was firmly in place, it was just a case of popping in the mirror via a ball joint. The great thing about the ball joint is that is allows you to rotate the mirror with a fair degree of movement so you can find the perfect height and angle for your riding position.
The shape of the mirror is fairly aerodynamic, and in line with the bar shape. The body encasing the chrome shatter-proof mirror is a shockproof ABS plastic which allows it to remain weatherproof and strong.
You can buy Sprintech mirrors as pairs, but in the UK we cycle on the left, so it only seemed appropriate to have a mirror on the right hand side of the bike. The additional 20g weight on the right side was negligible, and had no effect on the handling of the bike whatsoever.
The convex shape of the mirror surface provides greater visibility, and allowed me to see a lot more of my surrounding area. Having the ability to glance down at the mirror, rather than turning my body gave me a greater feeling of confidence whilst riding.
Throughout the 100 mile ride, I was able to keep an eye on my riding partner who cycling behind me, and it came in handy on the country lanes when cars would creep up from no where.
Having cycled through varying terrain, cobbles, gravel and even sand, I was super pleased that the Sprintech mirror stayed in the exact place I had originally set it.
A pair of Sprintech Racing drop bar mirrors retail for £23, however I feel that only one is really necessary. Despite the plastic and chrome mirror surface being strong and super light, the product does feel a little cheap in the hand. The design is certainly for function with lesser attention being given to style.
Saying that, the product works really well. It's functional, easy to fit and comes in a variety of colours if you were keen to coordinate them with your existing bike theme. At the end of the day, Sprintech mirrors do help improve rider safer by limiting how often you need to twist your body to look behind you, and anything that improves the safety of a cyclist is worth its weight in gold.
Sprintech also offer City style mirrors which are designed for flat bar riders. These mirrors affix to the bike via a bolted bracket and can be manoeuvred in the same way as the drop bar equivalents.
With so many reasons and incentives promoting cycling to work, and with the rise of safety products like these, it's easier than ever to hop on the bike each morning.
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