The stock mirrors on my 1998 Kawasaki KLR650 died honorably, in the line of duty. The left one bit the dust when my KLR tipped over after a challenging hill climb. As three of us stood around catching our breath, the small foot of the kickstand sank into the soft dirt and the bike fell over, shearing off the mirror when it hit the footpeg on my buddy’s BMW F650GS Dakar. The right one bought the farm when I dumped my KLR on a challenging downhill, its glass shattering into a million pieces, just like my pride.
Knowing that replacement OEM mirrors would suffer a similar fate, and wanting mirrors that offered a wider range of adjustment, I contacted Ned Suesse, owner of Doubletake Mirrors. You probably recognize Seusse by name. We’ve reviewed his Dual Sport Riding Techniques DVD, and earlier this year he was the only American to complete the rigorous Dakar Rally, aboard a KTM that he built in his garage.
Suesse’s depth of experience in dual-sport riding/training and rally racing, including the Baja 1000, led him to develop what Doubletake’s website claims is “the only mirror you’ll ever need…” Each Doubletake mirror consists of three parts: a RAM base, a RAM arm (short [2 inches] or long [3 inches]) and a mirror. The made-in-the-USA mirror is 8.5 inches long and consists of an arm made of reinforced Zytel (a high strength, abrasion- and impact-resistant thermoplastic polyamide made by DuPont) with a RAM ball on one end and 4-inch-diameter mirror with an SAE-spec convex lens on the other. The entire mirror unit is guaranteed against breakage.
Doubletake allows you to build your mirror to spec on its website, with fittings for BMW, Honda, Husqvarna, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha, or you can order specific components. The mirror and short/long RAM arms are the same across all models, but the threaded stud on the RAM base, which is designed to screw directly into the existing mirror mount, can vary from model to model, or you can specify a RAM ball base plate for a more universal fit. For my KLR650, I specified two mirrors at $25/each, two long (3-inch) RAM arms at $12.50/each, and two RAM ball stud bases at $10/each, for a total of $95. The MSRP for Kawasaki OEM replacement mirrors is $43/each, or $86 for the pair, so the Doubletake mirrors are just $9 more—well worth it given their greater durability and wider range of adjustment.
Installing the mirrors took only a few minutes, as the RAM base fit into the existing mirror housing as promised. A big wingnut-like adjuster loosens the two halves of the RAM arm, allowing the RAM balls on the base and the mirror to slip into their respective sockets. Positioning the mirrors requires some fiddling and a firm crank down on the adjuster, but it can be done easily without tools. I found that the balls would slip in the sockets and the mirrors would move around unless I tightened the adjuster as much as my strength would allow, but once done they stayed put. Using a little sandpaper to scuff up each ball may be necessary to prevent slippage, which is the only complaint Suesse ever receives from customers, and relatively few of them at that.
The true test of the mirrors came during a three-day dual-sport ride in the Kern Plateau of the southern Sierra Nevada. The mirrors stayed put during several hours of high-speed freeway riding on the way to the Plateau, and they offered a relatively clear view even though the KLR650’s big single vibrates a lot. The trails we rode were very technical, with lots of rock gardens and dog paddling over terrain that felt like an observed trials course. Despite repeated hard hits, the mirrors never moved from the position where I set them. And when it came time to bomb through some singletrack with lots of bushes and tree branches, folding the mirrors out of the way was easy to do. Again, returning them to their original position required some fiddling, but it gets easier with practice. During one tip-over, I smacked the right mirror against a rock. Rather than shearing off or shattering the lens like the stock mirrors did, the Doubletake mirrors simply rotated within the RAM sockets and were as good as new after some minor readjustment.
Durable mirrors, just like durable hand guards and skid plates, are essential gear on a dual-sport or adventure bike that spends a fair amount of time off-road. After putting a set of Doubletake Mirrors through a rigorous test, I’m now a believer: they are the only mirrors I’ll ever need.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Fitment, pricing and ordering can be done on Doubletake’s website (doubletakemirror.com), or contact:
Adventure Mirror, LLC, PO Box 224, Colorado Springs, CO 80901; firstname.lastname@example.org; (888) 501-0599