Should You Change Your Motorcycle Mirrors?

New jackets and gloves aren’t the only accessories available for motorcyclists. Just like with cars, there are a variety of ways for you to modify your bike, from handlebars to heated grips. And a common modification is swapping out the standard motorcycle mirrors for some aftermarket ones. But is it a modification worth pursuing?

Why do people change their motorcycle mirrors?

The rear 3/4 view of a maroon 2021 Indian Scout Bobber on the street
2021 Indian Scout Bobber rear 3/4 | Matthew Skwarczek

Motorcycle mirrors serve the same purposes as the ones on cars and trucks: expanding your field of view. But while automotive mirrors tend to be mounted on the doors close to the windshield, bike mirror positions are a bit more varied.

Some manufacturers mount them on the handlebars close to the dash. Other companies attach them to the front fairing, Motorcycle Central reports. And some, like the ones on the 2021 Indian Scout Bobber, are bar-end mirrors, attached to the ‘ends’ of the handlebar.

But why the variety? For one thing, aesthetics. Bar-end mirrors, for example, are a common modification because they’re less obtrusive than the standard ones, The Drive reports. Because there aren’t any long stalks in front of the rider, the bike itself looks ‘cleaner.’ Which, if you’re riding a stripped-down bobber, café racer, or similar model, is practically a necessity.

However, there are more practical reasons for changing your motorcycle mirrors. Even more so than drivers, riders need to have good side and rear visibility. Not only are they more exposed, but motorcycles don’t have standalone rearview mirrors—the side ones are all they have. And the first bike with blind-spot monitoring, the Ducati Multistrada V4, only recently hit the market. As a result, swapping out your standard mirrors is sometimes about expanding your field of view.

A red 2012 Triumph Street Triple R in front of a maroon 2021 Indian Scout Bobber
2012 Triumph Street Triple R (right) and 2021 Indian Scout Bobber front 3/4 | Matthew Skwarczek

I can personally attest to the efficacy of bar-end mirrors. The ones on the Scout Bobber gave me more side visibility than my Triumph Street Triple R’s mirrors.

And there are some situations where you actually want to narrow that field—sort of. It’s not uncommon for off-road bikes to snap or damage their mirrors on the trail, Cycle World reports. Aftermarket folding ones, if your motorcycle doesn’t offer a factory option, help prevent this.

Before you buy some new bar-end mirrors, try adjusting the ones you have

A female motorcycle rider reflected in one of her Harley-Davidson mirrors
A female motorcycle rider reflected in one of her Harley-Davidson mirrors | KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images

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Aesthetics are a personal subject. But if you’re shopping around for bar-end mirrors because you want better visibility, see if your current mirrors are properly aligned. Doing so will improve your riding safety and might save you some money.

Positioning your motorcycle mirrors is part of adjusting the bike to fit you better, Motorcyclist reports. Ideally, the mirrors should show as much of the lane behind and to either side of you. And try to minimize how much the mirrors overlap, Rider reports. Don’t try to get a duplicate view—your goal is to maximize how much of the road behind and around you is visible.

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And you have to scan them frequently once they’re positioned correctly. Especially when you’re coming to a stop, Motorcyclist and Cycle World report.

Is it worth swapping out the ones you have now?

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That being said, if you can’t adjust your motorcycle mirrors enough, going aftermarket is a logical next step. You can even mount multiple ones on each side, though that’s not always the best or most elegant solution, Motorcyclist reports.

There are a variety of aftermarket motorcycle mirrors available, bar-end and otherwise. Some even come with built-in turn signals, Cycle World reports. And quality mirrors aren’t necessarily the most expensive bike accessory. Some fairly minimalist ones can cost about $100, Motorcyclist reports. And the cheapest Rizoma mirror rings in at over $70, Motorcyclist reports. But there are cheaper alternatives.

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So, should you exchange your current mirrors for some aftermarket ones? If you’re going for a specific look, that’s entirely up to you. But if it’s a matter of better visibility, if you can’t adjust the ones you currently have enough, it’s worth a closer look.

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