How to detect what’s behind you while riding?

  • Jun 2, 2022
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It might sound like a silly question, but it’s one that definitely needs to be explored.

Riding a two-wheeler in India is not the easiest thing in the world. We take it for granted every time we take to the road with our bike, but navigating the chaos that is Indian roads on two-wheels, without the safety of being in an enclosed metal box (read: car) can actually be quite dangerous. And one of the chief concerns when riding on our road is figuring out what’s behind you. So we thought we’d compile a few tips which should make your life a little bit easier in this regard.

Use your mirrors

This seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of riders seem to ignore this basic safety device. Before you start riding, adjust your mirrors so that you have a good video of what’s behind you, ensuring that they’re set angled outward enough to not be dominated by reflections of your own arms. Also, the mirrors need to be adjusted such that they’re clearly visible when just glancing down from your riding position, rather than having to tilt your whole head down to be able to see them. Before setting off, you also need to ensure that the mirrors are tight and won’t lose their position once you start riding.

So when you’re riding, every once in a while, it’s advisable to take a quick glance at the mirrors to build a picture of what’s around you, especially before executing any maneuver such as taking a turn or changing lanes.

Stock mirrors are (usually) good enough

A lot of people end up either removing or swapping out the stock mirrors that came with their bikes for aesthetic reasons. While removing them entirely is a strict no-no in our books, we would recommend against aftermarket mirrors as well. While most of  these do look good, they usually don’t provide as clear a picture of what’s behind you like the stock mirrors of your bike do. And even if they do show what’s behind you well enough, if they’re smaller than stock or positioned differently, they might require you to spend more time to looking at them to form a cohesive picture of what’s behind, or might require you to turn your head too much to see them in the first place. And of course, folding your fairing mounted mirrors up into “bunny ears” is just a stupid idea, no matter how cool you think it makes your bike look.

Full face helmets aren’t a problem

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A lot of people believe that full face helmets restrict your visibility and hence will either go without a helmet or use a less safe half face one. This is not strictly untrue, and full face helmets do restrict your visibility to a certain extent, but only in the vertical axis. So unless you’re interested in glancing at aircraft flying overhead, or intricately examining the road surface exactly under your bike, it shouldn’t be a problem. If you have a well fitting, certified full face helmet, your peripheral vision will be unaffected. 

Turn your head once in a while

Ok, so this is not strictly about detecting what’s directly behind you. But traffic that’s to your side and a little bit behind might be in your mirrors’ blindspot. So in order to build that picture of what’s around you (or situational awareness), you should look left and right every once in a while when riding, provided of course that you have nothing in front of you that might need your immediate attention. 

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