I should have known I was in trouble when I “read” the “English” instructions for mounting the bicycle mirror. It was like they were describing a car and I only knew about travel by horse. No. It was like reading Greek or Russian in our alphabet equivalent phonetics. I could make the sounds, but comprehension was lacking. Looking at the exploded diagram of a brake lever with all the mirror components added in almost made me nauseous. When step one said, “Disconnect the brake cable from… “ and I looked at it, scissors briefly came to mind.
The mirror had been recommended by an experienced cycling friend. It ranked highly in amazon reviews, and it claimed to “mount quickly.” Unfortunately, I was not aware that I needed to understand the finer differences between hand brakes, and the part of the description that mentioned “models” of brakes slipped right by me, like jello on a hot day. Hot jello is also what my brain felt like after attempting for half an hour to fit a “lock nut” where the instructions said it should go, but where it did not fit on my bike brakes.
My engineer husband had tried to get me off to a good start. His only mistake was assuming that I would buy the right mirror for my bike. He showed me his secret drawers of tools in the dark corners of his workshop and helped me find the correct ones for the job. He helped me disconnect the brake cable in a less violent way. Then, on his way out the door to work, he promised to come back. That was very brave of him, since he knows what these projects do to me.
Looking back and forth from my bike brakes to the instructions, while crawling around on the garage carpet in order to problem solve the inner spaces of the brake lever, was making me dizzy. I couldn’t seem to keep the instructions in my mind for the time it took to look at the bike. In retrospect, this may have been because my bike brake was the wrong kind, although, I do give myself credit for using my pinky finger in very creative ways to hold the “lock nut” inside the too long brake shaft space while trying to attach the mysterious, but too-short-for-my-brake-lever-case, “hollow bolt.”
Finally, something clicked … or snapped … or something-like-that in my brain. I noticed that the sketch of the handle bars on the package were not the kind on my mountain bike. They were the kind that circle down like ram’s horns, such as my road bike has. Thus, I decided, since all else had failed, to switch bikes!
I had most wanted the mirror on the mountain bike so that I could use it to pull grandkids in the chariot-style bike trailer in the near future. I was also planning on outfitting my road bike with a mounted mirror later, for solo road trips. Well, road trips for me are about an hour long, but we all have to start somewhere.
It turns out that my low-end road bike has the dreaded “style 4” brake levers listed in the instructions; not to mention the “rubber hood” that is briefly spoken of in the tone of, “We are really sorry if this is on your bike. Do the best you can.” For style 4 brake levers, the manufacturer recommends the “average” bike owner use a drill press.
Amazingly, I know what a drill press is, since my husband asked for one for Christmas a couple years ago. I have even used it under careful supervision for a project we completed together with PVC pipe. I was not going to go anywhere near the thing alone. It is the kind of machine that I’m sure will become sentient when I walk into the shop by myself.
All this is how I decided I actually don’t need a frame mounted bike mirror. Well, that and some (belated?) therapy research on amazon.com’s best bike mirrors list, which convinced me that there is a lack of consensus about the reliability of bike frame mounted mirrors. It seems every type of mirror has made a segment of the population crazy. Been there, done that.
It also occurred to me to ask a cycling guru from the local cycling group I have participated with now and again. The suggestion was the hubbub route 66 helmet mirror. Maybe that will be less of an issue in my field of vision. Its installation is probably less likely to end up with me in a straightjacket, too. We have to consider all the unintended possibilities of these “quick” upgrades.