Cape Town - Contrary to what most car drivers believe, motorcycle mirrors do have blind spots – big ones. Particularly sports bikes, especially Italian ones. How many times haven’t you read: “The mirrors on the PastaNelli 900 Sport give you a magnificent view… of your own elbows.”
But seriously, motorcycle riders cannot see anything on either side in an arc of about 45 degrees between the limit of their peripheral vision and the edge of a conventional mirror - and are often startled when a low-slung car appears, seemingly out of nowhere, under their elbow.
So Scottish inventor and motorcycle enthusiast Stephen Hunter decided to do something about it - and came up with the Riderscan scooter and blind-spot safety mirror.
WHAT IS IT?
It’s essentially a wide-angle mirror, with a few tweaks especially for bikers. It’s curved through 180 degrees in the horizontal plane, so you should be able to see everything aft of your handlebars – except for the segment that’s masked by your own body.
That gives you exactly the same view of yourself that you get of a MotoGP rider from a tank-mounted camera, which can be distracting to some riders.
It’s also curved through about 70 degrees vertically, which means it’s not affected when you lean into corners; the curvature also reduces dazzle, even from the sun rising over your shoulder (or a camera flash), to an unproblematical spot of light.
HOW’S IT FIXED?
The neatly finished mounting kit included with the basic, R795 Riderscan package is intended to be mounted inside the screen of a tourer or adventure bike with two self-adhesive pads. Additional bracketry is available (at additional cost) to extend the mounting beyond the edge of a sports-bike screen (more about that later) or, for naked bikes, to clamp the mirror on to either 7/8 or one-inch handlebars.
You need to get the inside of the screen seriously clean - and bone dry - before sticking the mounts on. I left out the stickers provided to conceal the pads form the outside so that I could visually check the integrity of the adhesive joint and after a couple of months - including some nasty weather - the Riderscan mirror in the pictures shows no signs of coming loose.
DOES IT WORK?
In a word, yes. But, and this is a very big but, don’t use the Riderscan as a substitute for that life-saving look over your shoulder before you turn or change lanes. Objects in the mirror, as they say, are closer than they appear - a lot closer.
We mounted the Riderscan on the notorious Loose Goose, our 1981 Moto Guzzi Le Mans - not because it’s Italian but because it’s in everyday use. Correctly adjusted for maximum view, the mirror obscures the top third of the instrument panel, and we would have had better results had we used the extension bracket to mount the mirror further up.
Nevertheless, once I’d learned to ignore the image of myself moving around on the bike, I found that its field of view neatly filled the gaps between my peripheral vision and the conventional mirrors - and cars that previously would have startled me by appearing under my elbows, now showed up in good time for me to take evasive action.
Which is why, after the end of the test period, the Riderscan is still on the Goose – and likely to stay there.