When was the last time you left home without your phone? We’re in the age where we take our phones everywhere, and that includes while we’re biking.
Whether you are out on the paved road, winding up backcountry switchback trails or simply commuting to work and around town, being able to easily access and use your phone while riding is a nice advantage. Why? Well, there are several reasons:
Accessibility — Being able to quickly answer your phone when it rings is handy. This happens to me quite often if I have reception while out mountain biking. Having a phone mounted has also come quite in handy when I’m not completely sure where to go. I use Google Navigation enabling me to keep my hands off my phone and on my handlebars. Lastly, if you use any of the Android or iPhone cycling apps, being able to readily check the time, distance traveled or route map in real-time is awesome!
Comfort — If I’m commuting around town, the last thing I want is a bulging phone in my pocket. It’s just annoying.
Safety — Ever seen someone text and bike? I’m guilty as charged. What about holding the phone and riding? Again… I’m guilty. And I know I’m not the first, and certainly not the last, to do it. I find that having the phone mounted, despite being directly in front of me, reduces the temptation to take my hands off the handlebars and use it, while still allowing me to… use it. The whole idea is to get or make a mount that allows your phone to be readily accessed. But should you need to react quickly to a situation, your phone won’t go flying.
Secondly, I’ve taken calls and put them on either speakerphone or my Bluetooth device and continued to ride — no need to stop, unless I want to (depending on who it is).
What about the safety of the phone? Of course, there are some concerns when it comes to mounting your phone, such as moisture, stabilization and toughness, which is why you’ll want the best smartphone mounts. That’s what I’m about to show you!
What To Look For In A Phone Mount
When it comes to mounting your phone, there are some more obvious precautions such as waterproofing and making sure the mount you choose is sturdy and secure, but those aren’t the only considerations to keep in mind.
When it rains or snows, you want to be confident that your phone will be protected. Some phones, such as the Defy XT (which I own) are already waterproof. Most phones will require a waterproof mount or bag to keep them safe. Later in this article we’ll cover some waterproofing solutions if your mount doesn’t have this feature.
Sturdy, Secure And Durable Materials
These three are all related, yet still different. Durable materials mean the mount will be sturdy and hopefully won’t move around, slip or break. You also want your phone to be secure in the mount, so the mount must be able to fit the phone snuggly.
Universal And Versatile
Fitting the phone snuggly, as mentioned above, isn’t all that simple. There are a lot of manufacturers that design mounts for specific phone models, which is great while you have that phone, but once you get a different one, that mount will be obsolete. You want a mount that will fit pretty much any phone.
I hate to bring this up, but this has very little to do with aerodynamics and much more to do with if you crash. In the case that you rocket over the handlebars and your bike does a double front flip, you don’t want the phone mount to catch on anything upon impact. I seem to do this quite a bit, and the mount that I have has held up great. That’s partially durability, but it also sits fairly close to the handlebars. In addition, the closer your phone is to the handlebars or stem, the more stable it will be, and less shaking and rattling will occur.
Minimal Turning Parts
This is more of a personal preference. There are good mounts that have the ability to change from portrait to landscape, however, be careful. The reason solid-state drives are superior to traditional hard drives is for this exact reason — moving parts. The more parts that move, the more probability they have to malfunction or break.
The last thing you want to mess with is spending two or three minutes trying to get your phone into this snug, secure and durable mount. Contradictory right? Well, yes, but if you’re wondering if you can have all of these while your phone is mounted, the answer is yes.
Phone Mounts You Can Buy
Low-end: Arkon SM432 Mega Grip Bike Mount
Arkon’s Mega Grip mount with safety strap meets all the necessities of a mount. The side-grips are adjustable from 2.25″ (5.7cm) to 3.25″ (8.3cm), allowing for various sizes of phones and cases. The side-grips combined with the elastic band secure your phone to the mount, while also enabling quick mounting and release. Compared to some other mounts, such as the Satechi CR-3800 Universal Wrench Mount (which is a viable alternative), there are very few moving pieces.
The mount is on the high side, height-wise, although compared to others it’s not as bad. Like most mounts, the height position does vary depending on how you configure the mount and where it’s installed (e.g. if a mount is on the stem, it will typically be lower than when mounted on the handlebars).
- Expansion arms allow for various-sized phones, and protective cases and waterproof bags
- Affordable (Currently at $11.82 USD)
- Elastic bands add security
- The style of mount allows access to most charging and auxiliary ports.
- Elastic bands cover screen, potentially preventing use such as answering a call
- No top coverage of the phone is concerning
- Mount is slightly high and bulky, making it a poor choice for mountain bikes or bumpy commutes.
- No stem mount option
- No landscape position
Mid-range: Delta Caddy II Handlebar Mount
This is the mount that I use. Prior to getting it, I didn’t know a whole lot about bicycle phone mounts or really what to look for, and I would say that I got pretty lucky in picking one out given my knowledge at the time. The Caddy II from Delta Cycle has lived up to my expectations, and in some instances (like when I wreck), it’s surpassed them.
You can tell from the picture that the mount has had it’s fair share of scuffs, yet the material has proven durable and my phone has never popped out of the mount, even with the bulky Otterbox Commuter case on it. To give you an idea of what I put it through, I cross bumpy bridges on a full rigid (no suspension) bike, like this:
And fall off logs like this…
The phone can be quickly secured with the flexible bungee cords, which also give it the ability to fit various phone sizes up to 2.9″ (7.4cm) wide, 5.5″ (14cm) tall and 5/8″ (1.6cm) deep. The bungee cords could pose a weakness in the mount, as over time they could wear and snap. So far, I haven’t had this happen, but it’s been.
The mount can be rotated vertically to the desired position with the joint shown in the image below.
This mount comes with a waterproof bag that you can slide your phone into and then put it on the mount. If you’d like to install the mount to the stem, rather than your handlebars, you can do that with this piece from the manufacture’s website.
- Flexible bungee cords: quick attaching/detaching, compatible with all phones height-wise and fits securely
- Width of unit is comparable to most phones
- Fairly low profile
- Adjustable angle
- Stem mount option available from company store
- Durable, based on first-hand experience
- Easy access to screen and phone ports
- Comes with waterproof bag
- Plastic casing, though durable, slightly limits width and depth phone compatibility
- Landscape position may work, although not intended (won’t work with the stem mount option)
- Bungee cords could wear and snap over time
- Open screen may be a concern for some (screen protector recommended)
High-end: Ibera IB-PB16 Waterproof Smartphone Case
If you are looking for waterproof mount (no additional pieces like a bag), this case and mount is it. It supports phones up to 5.6″ (14.2cm) in height, 2.9″ (7.4cm) in width and 0.5″ (1.3cm) in depth, which should work for most phones. Unfortunately, if you have a case you probably won’t be able to fit both into this one.
Because Ibera claims this case is waterproof, as opposed to “water resistant” like many other cases claim to be, I contacted them and they told me “in heavy rain it’s OK, but we don’t suggest putting them into the water directly” – surprise, surprise!
Overall, I’m quite intrigued by the IB-PB16 case and mount. The case can be easily removed from the mount itself, which prevents the mount from being stolen when the bike is left in a public place, and also allows for quick attaching and detaching. Removing the phone itself from the case can be a bit more tedious, as the top must be rolled down.
There are also three options when purchasing both the IB-PB16 (waterproof) and IB-PB6 (water resistant) mounts: stem mount, or bottle cage or MiniBar bar clamp mount.
All of these three options have a low profile, durable materials and although it can move between landscape and portrait positions, the joint appears to be sturdier than methods used on other mounts.
- Waterproof against heavy rain (but don’t submerge it)
- Slim, compact and very low profile
- Case can be quickly attached/detached from mount
- Sturdy, two-way joint allows for portrait and landscape positioning
- Great mount options: bottle cage, MiniBar, stem mount
- Case dimensions likely don’t allow phone cases, and potentially some phones.
- Waterproof case prevents any access to phone ports.
- Could be slightly cumbersome when putting in/taking out phone
Waterproofing Solution: Simply Waterproof Cellphone Sleeve
If you choose to go with a non-waterproof mount, such as the Arkon SM432 Mega Grip or Ibera IB-PB6 Water Resistant Mount, you will probably want the assurance of a completely waterproof solution. The bags from Simply Waterproof are excellent for this — they’re affordable, will fit your phone (likely even with the case on), and can be compacted into tight spots, like a bike mount.
Phone Mounts You Can Build
If you would prefer to make a your mount yourself, either to save money, for fun, or both, there are hundreds of ways you could go about it. Here are just a few ideas I found.
If you’re wanting a DIY bicycle phone mount, I highly suggest you give this one a shot first. It’ll only set you back a few dollars and has proven itself far beyond expectations. The originator of this method, Ethan, didn’t just make it, write about it, and then discard the mount. Years later he’s still using the same method, despite there being purpose-built phone mounts available now that are far better than they were in 2009:
Four years after posting that blog post, I’m still using the same setup. I’ve since then upgraded to a Samsung S3 smartphone, bought a new case for it, and glued the bracket onto [the case]. In order to better enjoy the thin-ness of the phone, I first sanded down the bracket as best I could with a power sander: I placed it in a vice, and shaved off a millimeter or two, leaving the bare minimum needed to allow it to attach to the bike.
I’ve used the phone on my bike like this over tens of thousands of kilometers of road cycling (100 a week just commuting to work and back), as well as hundreds of off-road, cross country trails. The phone has never fallen off the bike.
That email right there sold me on this mount. It can be easy to look at the date an article was written and render the content and methods obsolete. This is definitely not the case here. You can check out his article for specific instructions. He is still active in replying to comments on the article, but you may also send him an email from his contact page.
Other Good DIY Options
Both of these options are decent. The Velcro used isn’t just a small piece like some DIY mounts, but instead it covers almost the entire back of the case. It’s then attached to a light switch cover, which is then mounted to the bike with zip ties.
Upon studying the inner tube mount, it also seems viable. Inner tubes are flexible, sturdy and you can probably get an old one from your local bike shop for free. Then simply take any foam from a package, place it between the phone and bike stem, and wrap the tubes around your phone. The only problem with this method is it’s slightly dependent on the shape and style of your handlebars and stem. If your bike stem is too much at an angle (like mine) this might not work as well.
Waterproofing your DIY mount is a little trickier. For the light switch cover velcro mount, I would actually suggest just getting a waterproof sleeve from Simply Waterproof and attaching the Velcro to the back of it.
Two other options are to use a pop bottle as pictured below, which technically may not be completely waterproof due to the open bottom, but when positioned at the right angle, and going forward, water will have a pretty difficult time getting to your phone.
Another solution is to use a condom. Yes, you read that correctly. A reader commented on an article on Cycling Experiences about his solution to waterproofing his phone with a condom:
I have used my mobile as a bike computer for years now by just covering it with a unlubricated extra-large condom. Then I put it into my mounting bracket which goes on my bike, and I am good to go.
He does point out, however, that the condom may not allow you to use the screen if it is capacitive. You also might find you get a few funny looks from commuters at the lights.
Low Battery? Charge Your Phone While Riding
Charging your smartphone while riding is fairly new technology to the market, but several companies are making way with various designs and solutions to keep your electronics powered while on the go.
The charger that stands out over the rest is The Atom by Siva Cycle. It started off as a Kickstarter project and is now available for anyone to order for $99 USD. It’s lightweight, weather resistant, highly efficient, and designed to power any of your electronics via USB as long as your wheel is spinning.
- Delta Cycle Caddy II
- Ibera IB-PB6
- Satechi Bikemate Slim Case 3 (wasn’t covered in this article)
- All DIY options featured in this article
Bottom line, you’re producing electricity while riding, you might as well take advantage of it. It’ll be especially helpful to have a charged phone in an emergency.
Always Ensure The Mount Is Tight On Your Bike
It’s always good to quickly check the tightness of the screws and security of the mount before going on a ride. It takes only a second and can prevent a broken phone and/or mount.
Consider A Rugged Phone Case
Although you intend to get the best phone mount for your needs, having a rugged phone case provides that additional insurance just in case something happens. We’ve covered several awesome tough cases for iPhone and Android phones, as well as for some specific models like the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Nexus 4. Brands like Otterbox and LifeProof are both excellent, but you’re not limited to only those.
Don’t Forget To Enjoy The Ride
Having your phone with you while riding is great, but don’t forget to enjoy the sounds and scenery around you!
I hope you found this article helpful. Or perhaps you already have a solution of your own. If you use any of the mounts, including the DIY methods, mentioned here, or have a different one, we’d like to hear what you think of it.