July 25, 2014
Smartphones are becoming a pretty standard piece of equipment for anything from a casual day ride to an expedition tour. You can use them as a cyclocomputer, GPS navigation, ride trackers for later uploading an analysis, service directory, and bicycle maintenance guide. I've even heard rumors that you can make phone calls in case of emergency.
Generally it's not a problem to toss a phone in your back jersey pocket on a ride, but it's not the most convenient place to have it if you're using your phone for route tracking, or ride stats. To make your data more readily accessible, there are a lot of companies making phone mounts for your handlebars. Here are three different mounts we've had the chance to check out this summer.
Avaliable for iPhone 5/5S or 5C phones, you get BarFly's waterproof Optrix case along with a handlebar mount. The mount is pretty sturdy compared to a lot of other products I've tried out. It mounts in two places on the stem, and is stable on paved roads and packed gravel roads. It is claimed to only fit 31.8mm bars, however, if you have a smaller diameter bar, I was able to make it work with some rubber shims.
The Optrix case is impressive, and rotates on the mount to give you either a landscape or vertical view of your phone's screen. The case is made from a hard molded plastic, but feels solid, and is totally waterproof. If you want to shoot video or take photos from the bike, the mount includes a replaceable window for your camera. Just tilt the mount so that the camera window is facing forward, and go to town. This unit retails for $99.95.
When running a lot of applications on your phone, especially ones that use GPS, you can really drain your battery in a hurry. For 2-3 hour rides, this isn't a problem if you start with a full charge, but when you're out on a vision quest, you might want some additional juice. Nestled inside the Bike2Power Power Plus mount is a small 1,100 mAh battery that will give you one additional full charge on your phone. It doesn't add a lot of girth or weight to the overall package, and can be recharged through a microUSB cable.
The full package is waterproof, and attaches to your handlebars or stem. The case can also be rotated for vertical or horizontal viewing. Retail for this unit is $69.95
This is billed as a universal smartphone mount, but it might as well be a universal anyphone mount. Using a strong silicone band, and aluminum clips, you're more or less strapping your phone down securely to a wide silicone platform. There's no full body enclosure for this mount, so your phone will be vulnerable to the elements, but it does win out for ease of installation and removal. The band also limits some of your viewing area. Don't limit yourself to just phones with this, though. You can also strap down energy bars, or spare tubes. I found it to be a good way to secure a mini bike pump to my seatpost. Retail is $19.99, which is pretty hard to beat.
TOURING GEAR & TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's memberservices department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead. Look for Josh's "Fine Tuned" column in Adventure Cyclist magazine as well.