Oberon Bar End Mirrors Review
wBW Quick Look by Rick K. for webBikeWorld.com
High quality with custom-made appearance but I couldn't get one side to stay put.
Ducati owners know that buying the bike is just the first step in what is sure to become a wallet-draining extravaganza of customization.
The world is full of retailers selling the zillion or so Ducati accessories in your choice of chrome, billet or carbon fiber and every Duc can be draped from axle to axle with every high-tech gadget imaginable.
I love it! I'm certainly not immune to the bug, and since I'm partial to the café racer look, I figured the GT1000 would make the perfect victim.
The first thing that had to go was those big lollipops. Yep, they work great, but when I looked up the definition of "uncool" in the Merriam-Hipster's dictionary, there was a big photograph of the GT's mirrors.
I had a few choices; the Napoleon bar end mirrors (review) are pretty easy to find and I have a pair on the '86 BMW R65 "S". They also adorned the '99 Triumph Thunderbird Sport we sold a while back. But the GT1000 is a more modern retro (?) and the Napoleon mirrors just wouldn't look right gracing the handlebars.
Lots of Monster owners go for the CRG Hindsight bar end mirrors (review), but I wasn't fond of all the hardware that seems to be hanging all over the CRGs. Besides, I wanted something that would replace the GT1000's very-easy-to-remove bar end weights instead of the clamp-on style mirrors.
Then I found an ad for the Oberon bar end mirrors shown here and I thought they looked pretty cool. Oberon Performance (UK) makes a variety of aluminum "billet" parts for many different brands of motorcycles, and these bar end mirrors are very unique.
They're available as a clamp-on style also (shown in photo below) and in black or the raw aluminum shown here. I believe they'll custom anodize a set also to your specifications for an extra charge.
The order arrived promptly from the UK but the mirrors and the bar end adapters felt much lighter than I expected. I wondered how this would affect the vibrations in the GT's handlebars, which are damped somewhat by the heavy 184 gram (6.5 oz.) stock bar end weight.
So I put everything on the webBikeWorld Polder scale, and I was surprised to find that the combination of the "raw" aluminum Oberon mirror and bar end adapter weighs nearly the same at 156 grams or 5.5 ounces, and most of the weight is concentrated in the bar end adapter itself, rather than the mirror.
The black anodized Oberon clamp mirror is definitely lighter than the Ducati bar end weights at only 89 grams or 3.125 ounces.
I also wanted a pair of the black clamp-on mirrors (photo below) for comparison, but I ordered only one mirror by mistake. For some reason, the bar end versions are sold in pairs and the clamp-on mirrors are sold as single units, so beware.
The unique feature of the Oberon bar end mirrors is that they can be oriented in an almost unlimited number of positions. This, and their smooth and simple good looks, is what sold me on this particular brand.
The stock Ducati bar end weights are very easy to remove. Loosen the set screw on the end and the weights will come right out of the handlebar end. There are no tricks or traps in the handlebar like there were on the strange handlebars on the Triumph Thunderbird Sport, which necessitated all sorts of tricks to mount the Napoleon bar end mirrors.
The Oberon bar end weight adapter that hangs out of the handlebar has one threaded set screw hole on the end (axial) and one on the surface (radial). This allows the mirror to be located either out the end of the weight or up or down, depending upon the owner's choice.
Note that the mirrors can not be adjusted to these other positions whilst riding. In the photo below, the set screw is shown partially threaded into the end of the bar end weight adapter, and the mirror is shown about to be placed into the radial hole on top of the weight. The set screw and the mirror stem would be reversed if the mirror was to be located out the end of the weight.
Inside the bar end weight adapter (not visible in the photo above) lies another set screw that, when tightened, expands the collet that is placed inside the handlebar. The expanded collet holds the bar end weight adapter on to the handlebar. Once the mirror stem is located in the desired position, the set screw is tightened, where it presses on to the stem at the cut out fit that can be seen just above the tip of the mirror stem.
Then the mirror is tightened to the stem via a small set screw in back of the mirror hub. This set screw can just be seen on the hub in the photo showing the selection of mirrors.
This is where the mounting procedure for the Oberon mirrors gets a bit tricky. I first snugged up all the set screws, then sat on the bike and got everything oriented as close as possible. I tightened everything up again and went for a short ride while I adjusted the mirrors until I was satisfied.
I then noted the positions of the mirrors and took everything apart and added some "Blue" Loctite thread locker to all of the parts and reassembled the mirrors, snugging them up fairly tight. One more test ride to make sure everything was lined up and then back for a final tightening.
Since the Oberon bar end mirror parts are made entirely from aluminum, care must be taken so that the threads aren't stripped. That's why I think the semi-permanent thread locker is a better solution than risking over-tightening the screws.
Well, it only took about a half-dozen rides before I lost the left-hand mirror. I have no idea what happened -- it was there when I left and about 10 minutes later I looked down and it was gone. I thought the mirror was solidly installed, but I guess not.
I now feel that the all-aluminum construction of the Oberon mirror doesn't allow the set screws to be tightened as much as they could or should, because it's too easy to strip the threads in the soft aluminum. Also, I could not tighten the expanding collet enough to hold the mirror in the handlebars of the Ducati (see Oberon's response in the Comments section below).
The mirror and bar end is lost, but the expanding sleeve was still in the handlebar, but somehow the outer set screw worked loose, even with the Loctite. Too bad, because I really liked the clean styling of the Oberon mirrors, but I ordered a set of Constructor's Racing Group bar end mirrors instead and will report back on those soon.
Note in the two photos below that I mounted the right-hand bar end mirror using the axial location and the left-hand mirror using the radial location. Don't ask me why I did this -- I didn't realize it at first but it has actually worked out very nicely, as the right-hand location places the mirror just that much farther out to catch what's going on behind me on that side.
I may switch the left-hand mirror to the same orientation, but so far, I'm pleased with the arrangement, even though it may look strange (although no one seems to notice until I point it out).
When I first opened the box, I was afraid that the Oberon mirrors would be too small -- they looked like dentist's mirrors when compared to the big Ducati versions!
But although the Oberon bar end mirrors definitely have a smaller surface area than the stock Ducati mirrors, and I do have to move my head around a bit to look into them, I honestly think they offer much more visibility to the rear than I originally anticipated.
And by the way, although Oberon claims that both mirrors are made from flat glass, I'd swear that the right-hand mirror is one of those "closer than they appear" magnifying types.
The Oberon bar end mirrors are apparently CNC machined but they definitely have that custom craftsman-like hand-made appearance. I think they look much better than the tall stock Ducati mirrors. Here's a photo (below) that illustrates the stock mirrors compared to the Oberon bar end mirrors on the GT1000:
Here's another photo of the GT1000 with the Oberon mirrors installed, along with the National Cycle fly screen (review coming soon), which also adds to the café racer look:
While I had the Ducati bar end weights off, I decided to replace the hard rubber Ducati hand grips. I had a set of the old-fashioned "root beer barrel" type hand grips that were popular way back in the day. The problem, I found out after much sweating and cursing, is that the Ducati throttle control has a weird little arrangement of hooks that are designed to hold the hand grip at its end.
Just as I was about to give up, I found a brand-new package of soft foam grips I had laying around. They had a price tag of $4.99, which is a steal. I actually use a pair of these on the BMW R65 also.
Fortunately, they slipped right on both ends of the GT's handlebars with just a touch of soapy water. I also sprayed some 3M Super 77 Adhesive on the left-hand side of the handlebar just for good measure.
Everything worked out fine, except that you may notice in the photo of the right-hand grip (four photos above) that the foam grip on the right-hand side does not reach to the end of the handlebar. This grip had to be squeezed to fit on to the rotating throttle control, which does not reach to the outer edge of the handlebar. If the grip was stretched to fit right out to the end of the handlebar, it would interfere with the throttle action.
So how does this all work? In a word, fantastic! I honestly think that the combination of the bar end mirrors and the soft foam grips have changed the nature of the GT1000 for the better. The soft foam grips absorb more (not all, but more) of the GT's vibrations, especially at the lower RPM range.
Also, the foam grips are much thicker and "beefier" than the hard, stock Ducati grips. The right-hand foam grip is very slightly thicker than the left because it's bunched up over the throttle, but the added thickness actually helps me to keep a two-fingered grip on the front brake lever as I work the throttle.
Also, I can now easily blip the throttle while my first two fingers are on the brake racing-style, like when I'm braking and downshifting from high speed for a slow corner. I could do this with the stock Ducati grip, but only with difficulty.
Sure, the soft foamy grips do slightly reduce the feel for the front end, but the benefits are worth it. Motorcycle race bikes usually have rock-hard, diamond-plate grips to give the racer the ultimate in feel. But we really don't need that on the street, right? Besides, the hard grips are uncomfortable, especially if the rider is (incorrectly) placing too much weight on their arms.
But I think the biggest benefit to installing the bar end mirrors comes from removing the stock mirrors. It sure feels to me like the GT's vibration problems have been reduced -- the vibes seem much less hectic and more muted.
I actually feel like I can use one gear higher than I could before, without the vibration. I believe that some of the vibration felt on the GT1000 was due to the very tall mirrors, where the mass of the mirrors was shaking back and forth at the end of those long mirror stems, resulting in more shake transmitted to the handlebars.
All of the mass carried up high in the mirrors when it's shaken back and forth must have been transmitted down into the handlebars. Although far from smooth, I can tell you is that my GT definitely feels better and the vibes seem much farther away in the background than they did before I removed the stock mirrors and replaced the grips. Perhaps this would work for other types of motorcycles also.
The Oberon bar end mirrors have that real custom-made, precision craftsmanship look and feel that just seems to be missing from many over-the-counter accessories today.
It did take some extra time to get them lined up correctly, which is a result of their ability to be mounted in nearly unlimited positions. But overall, they were very easy to install and I'm very pleased with their looks and performance.
|wBW Review: Oberon Motorcycle Bar End Mirrors|
|Manufacturer: Oberon||List Price (2006): £55.32 (or £65.01 including VAT at 17.5%).|
|Colors: Black or Silver.||Made In: U.K.|
|Review Date: October 2006|
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From "K" (April 2013): "Perhaps late for this comment, but I have the same mirrors on my 2007 Sport1000BP. I like them a lot, with only the view adjustments being the only pain.
I've taken them off for maintenance on other items of the bike at least 3 times since installing them some 25,000 miles ago. I've used the same hardware since new, with exception of losing one of the tiny set screws.
Part of the reason I like these mirrors is the fact that they are the only bar end mirrors I've dealt with that have not come off, and adjustment is rock solid once dialed in. While my experience does vary from yours, it may be as you mention that mine are circa 2009 or so.
My complaints with these mirrors are that the lenses should be convex for wide angle views and the small set screw at the mirror head should probably be a thumb screw or some method not requiring a tool. Oberon (UK) has provided great support to me in the past for other products. I do feel somewhat guilty for not buying USA made CRG's, though! Thanks for your reviews. They are extremely useful."
From "E.B." (7/09): "(About) the article/review on Oberon mirrors. You claimed they fell off after a dozen or so rides. I've now had mine installed for months, and they have not loosened at all. They feel just as solid as the day I put them on. Oberon did tell me to really tighten them, and to not be afraid to put some torque on it. I just don't see how they could fall off if they were tightened correctly.
Just reporting my experience with them...Thanks!"
Editor's Reply: Can't explain it. Mine fell off within a few rides. I could never get them tight enough. Oberon may have changed something since 2006 when we reviewed them, or we may have received a bad pair, or they weren't a good fit for the bike, or they were installed wrong (doubtful, especially with the use of Loctite) or the Ducati GT1000 has too many vibes in the handlebars to work with the internal locking collet on the Oberon mirrors (most likely).
I have experienced no problems with the CRG bar end mirrors I installed in 2006 and have not touched them since they were new, and I think they give a better and clearer view behind, but that's my opinion.
From Oberon: "It has been brought to my attention that you have featured our Bar End Streetfighter Mirrors on your web site, while we are pleased that you have taken the time and effort to review so many products accurately, I am a little disappointed that you stated;
''UPDATE: Well, it only took about a half-dozen rides before I lost the left-hand mirror. I have no idea what happened -- it was there when I left and about 10 minutes later I looked down and it was gone. I thought the mirror was solidly installed, but I guess not.
I now feel that the all-aluminum body of the Oberon mirror doesn't allow the set screws to be tightened as much as they could, because it's too easy to strip the threads in the soft aluminum. The result is that the expanding collar apparently can not be tightened up enough to hold it in the handlebars.''
Because of this we need to point out to you the following:
The expanding COLLET (not collar) is in fact made from brass, the bolt is stainless steel, and therefore you can tighten the fittings an extreme amount before you are able to strip any of the threads. This was purposely designed to allow a firm fastening.
If you had tightened the fasteners as much as you need too, then they would not have fallen off. We have now have had a number of emails questioning this article, thousands of these mirrors have been installed successfully, and I am happy to send you another mirror assembly to test the theory and report your findings, with the Collet sufficiently tightened of course.
Every Oberon product is covered by a 100% money back guarantee ... "