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Looking Back at My Chuck Harris Rearview Mirror

Even though statistics show that being hit from behind is rarer than a lot of folks would think, I still like to know what's going on behind me.
Over the years, I've tried all kinds of mirrors. One flavor attaches to the bars. They were OK, but the image was too small for me to get more than a vague idea of what was happening to my rear.

They'd also vibrate, change position and get broken when the bike fell over.

How about a helmet mirror?

That sounded like a good idea. I went through several of these. Most of them used some kind of stickum to attach a plastic stem to the side of the helmet.

Since I'm left-eyed, this worked very well because the mirror would mount on the left side of my helmet, the traffic side (at least in the United States). A quick glance up and a sweep from left to right will keep you updated about what's coming up.

Are you left or right-eyed?

[Want to know if you are left or right-eyed? Point your index finger at an object in the distance. Close one eye and then the other. The one that lines up the object with your finger is the dominant eye.]

The only problem was that the stickum would frequently become non-stickum. And the cheesy plastic stems were easy to knock out of adjustment.

I joined the Chuck Harris cult

I read the phreds talk about a rearview mirror handmade by some guy named Chuck Harris out of broken mirror pieces, bent spokes and heat shrink tubing.

Hubbub is my source

I had to see what the mirror cult found so special about this thing, so I tracked them down to treatments of vitiligom.com/”>Hubbub Custom Bicycles in Cleveland, OH. They sell both the helmet mount and eyeglass mount mirrors. They brand them with the store logo and sell them for about half the price I've seen them at other places. (Although, I have to point out that the price has gone up about $6 since my first purchase.) Unfortunately, they are at the mercy of Chuck Harris to produce the product, so they are frequently out of stock.

If you order one, tell Diane Lees hello for me. She's good people, a great bike advocate and a Yoga instructor who can bend you into a pretzel and, hopefully, back again.

I'm a hoarder

Over the years I've bought more than a dozen of them to give to friends and family. Because they are custom-made and hard to get, I never let my home stash get lower than two. I have one eyeglass mount version, but have never used it because my frames are too thin to make it work.

These puppies are bombproof. Once you get it installed and adjusted, you'll never have to touch it again. You can, literally, pick up your helmet by the mirror's stem and it won't change adjustment.

I've only had one mirror fail in eight or so years. On a ride across the state last year, I noticed that my mirror seemed to need adjusting. It turned out that the spoke had broken where it attached to the helmet. Even then, the heat shrink tubing kept it going long enough to finish the ride.

A bargain if you're in Canton

If you live in the Canton, OH, area, the Stark County Bicycle Club will sell them for $10, but only to club members (and they don't ship).

Mark Boyd, one of my favorite phreds and the God of Goop, has been a long-time Chuck Harris user. Over the years, he's worked out several ways to adapt the bits and pieces when they eventually wear out.

MessengerMirror an inexpensive alternative

Bruce, below, suggested I take a look at his mirror. Here's the full review of the MessengerMirror. It's worth a look.

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19 comments to Looking Back at My Chuck Harris Rearview Mirror

  • A shameless plug – I couldn’t find a mirror I liked or could afford, so I made my own. Please take a look… messengermirror.com
    Thanks, BK

  • Bruce,

    Nothing shameless about telling us about something that looks like it has utility at a great price.

    I can’t wait to try one and write about it.

    I love my Hubbub mirror, but I’ve got an open mind.

  • gary sherck

    ken, more to follow, but a few weeks ago, on a tip (missed this on your site) an Oberlin friend, told me about Chuck Harris. Well, first thing, when I go to GOBA, in Logan this year, I stood in line, with my helmet for a Chuck Harris helmet mirror. Gosh, he is a legend. Suspect of the 2,400 GOBA riders this year, half had CH mirrors. I will have a picture of church and his wife on my Crazy Guy journal in a few days. Take care, gary

  • Fritz Hocking, Chicago

    This is a pretty old post, but I had to chime in.

    Recycling broken mirrors and spokes is cool, but I’m concerned whether these are glass mirrors. If so, there’s a danger of getting glass shards in your eye in a crash. (My ex wife is an ophthalmologist. Oy; the stories!)

    In this YouTube video it looks like the glass is well encased, and I assume well-affixed to the backing with glue:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad0-6dl3Vu0

    I really like the Take-a-Look mirror which is polycarbonate. Mine is zip-tied to my helmet visor.

    Bruce’s Messenger Mirror looks good too. The glass area is small enough that it’s unlikely to shatter in a crash. AND the price is right.

    • Pat

      About the only thing that will break a Harris mirror is being dropped on a super hard surface like cermaic tile or granite. Asphalt usually doesn’t phase em.
      He builds up a layer of some short of plastic on the back of mirror that holds the forward facing design and is also what the spoke arm anchors into — and this effectively reinforces the glass mirror surface.

  • Ed Badger

    I’ve had 2 of Chucks mirrors so far and they both failed from sweat getting to the mirrors silver and causing it to go black. In both cases they lasted a max of three years. Other than that they’re sturdy and very adjustable, unlike some of the plastic armed mirrors I’ve tried.

  • Mark Herman

    I bought a Chuck on GOBA last year. Not being from Ohio, I had never heard of them. Best mirror I’ve ever had. Found this post looking for pictures. I screwed mine up in storage and I’m trying to bend it back into shape. Thanks for the photos!

    • Mark Herman

      I meant XOBA. Sorry. Will see you at GOBA this year. If Chuck’s there then my kids will be getting Chuck mirrors too.

    • Mark Herman

      I probably should mention why I like them so much: the size of my chuck mirror surface is almost double the standard commercial mirror – so you can actually see something. Also, the octagon shape makes it seem less intrusive than a similar sized rectangular mirror.

  • Thank you for your excellent post…even if it was dated back in 2008. I know I visited this site when I first heard of the “Legend of Chuck” during my first year of riding in 2010. Being an Ohioian, it is nice to know that I will have numerous opportunities to bump into Chuck to continue to replenish!

    I referenced this web page in my write up about being part of the “cult” since you did such a nice job explaining the spectrum of mirros. No need to re-invent the wheel when it is already “true” and rolling.

    Here is where I wrote my piece on “Cager on Wheels” and the specific link:

    http://cageronwheels.blogspot.com/2011/04/dont-leave-home-without-ityour-cult.html#more

    Remember: Ride Safe!

    • Glad you liked the review.

      I’ve been sitting on an update where I look at a new mirror from Hubbub that is modeled after the Chuck Harris mirror.

      I need to get on the ball and post it. Thanks for the nudge.

  • Mary Lou Hicks

    Have you reviewed the Hubbub mirror modeled after Chuck’s yet? would love to know whether it is as good as his (even if not as ‘green’)
    thanks

    • I have one that I’ve been using for at least six months. I like it as well or better as the Chuck Harris. The nice thing is that if you have had a Chuck Harris mirror on your helmet, the Hubbub mirror is threaded the same way, so you can swap them out with no hassles. I’ve been sitting on a formal review for way too long, but I’m working on some other projects right now.

  • bob

    There is a guy in Florida making mirrors that are similar to Chuck Harris only they are better. His mirrors are custom made. The Venice police dept. in Florida are wearing them. You should go to http://www.monkeymirrors.com and check them out. They are awesome.

  • yoursurprise-bellatio-4

    Howdy would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S Apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  • [...] While I have always had a lot of empathy for the tens of thousands of Chuck Harris mirror owners and friends of Chuck who have probably taken exception to Hubbub’s decision to produce their own mirror based on Chuck’s original design, in the real world supply chain’s can make or kill a business or product. ¬†As noted in Hubbub’s explanation as to why they finally developed their own helmet mirror, you will find comments by folks who used to buy the Chuck Harris mirrors form Hubbub that mention back-order issues with the hand-made mirrors, such as the mention in this article. [...]

  • Chuck Harris, I see, has passed away. I remember Chuck not only had his mirrors, but some unusual items, like bike sculptures, hard to find type freewheels and other parts. He had a bike, he custom made, with like the largest freewheel sprocket at like 48 or more teeth. I’m thinking 60 but that seems like too much. Maybe it was the front chainring with at least 60 teeth. But it was the wildest geared bike I’ve ever seen. My Dad used one of his mirrors for years.

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