Updated by Ian Buckley, January 2017
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 travelled 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 snugly.
Universal And Versatile
Fitting the phone snugly, 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
Despite it’s uninspiring sounding name, the Vibrelli Universal Phone Mount Holder is arguably the best budget general use phone mount on the market. The side grips are spring loaded, and a maximum width of 11.4cm (4.5″) means it will fit pretty much any phone currently available.
Alongside the side grips, the Vibrelli uses a silicone web to keep the phone in place. The mount comes with three of these webs, which stretch over each corner of the phone to secure it. For most use, just one of the webs is required, but if you are the more adventurous cyclist, you may want to stack two webs on top of each other for total peace of mind. There is a downside with this design however, as the silicone webs may not fit over waterproof cases or bags if they are bulky or irregular shapes.
The mount is based on a sturdy ball joint which is tightened and loosened between the phone and mount. This allows for complete control over the phone’s orientation, which is very useful if you need to quickly switch between portrait or landscape, or need to adjust the screen to avoid glare on sunny days.
The same tightening bolt can be unscrewed all the way to allow you to take the mount off the bars, leaving the fairly inconspicuous plastic ball joint only.
The unit attaches to the handlebar with a simple nut and bolt tightened with an Allen key provided in the box. They also include some extra fitting pieces designed to fit inside the clamp to allow sturdy attachments to even very thin handlebars.
This case will be sufficient for almost all day to day use, and is perfect for those on a budget as it currently costs less than 20 dollars.
- Expansion arms allow for various-sized phones, and protective cases and waterproof bags
- Affordable (Currently at $19.97 USD)
- Silicone web hold phone securely, and can be doubled or even tripled up
- The style of mount allows access to most charging and auxiliary ports.
- No top coverage of the phone is concerning
- No stem mount option
- Silicone webs may not work with some waterproof covers
Mid-range: Tigra BikeConsole
If you are looking for something more weatherproof and generally rugged, The Tigra BikeConsole might suit you. It is available for the iPhone and various Android phones, and gives the highest level of protection for a case in this price range – and currently it is on offer – only $29.95 on Amazon.
This case has some really impressive reviews, though possibly more telling are the customer reviews on what happened to their devices when things went wrong. One Amazon reviewer took a fall on their mountain bike and reported that both phone and case were totally unscathed. Another reviewer got into a motorcycle accident, and their phone was undamaged. While the case did break in this instance, it is still far preferable to having to buy a new phone!
The mount replaces your phone cover with an IPX4 waterproof and shockproof case. While you probably shouldn’t go swimming with it, the case should hold up to extreme weather and various knocks and bangs without much of a problem. the case its self is rather bulky, with the iPhone 7 version measuring 6.5 x 3.5 x 1 inches. This isn’t something you’ll want to carry around in your pocket when you are off the bike, but then again that isn’t really the function of this case so it isn’t too much of an issue.
A nice touch here is the ability to plug in both a charger and a pair of headphones whilst retaining almost all of the protection against the elements. Tigra provide a jump cable from the phone to the case’s cable outlet, and a small flap at the bottom of the case allows you to plug in your charger.
Depending on the model, the case clips on to a mounting bracket, and secured in place with a finger tightened bolt. Removing it from the mount is quick, the finger bolt is spring loaded, and once loose the phone can be lifted forward and out in a simple motion. Newer models use the “FitClic” system, which is even faster, requiring only pushing in and a half turn to release the case. In all models, the case can be angled by hand on the fly to any direction desired.
The mounting bracket can be attached to either the stem or the handlebars, and attaches using an Allen key which is provided. An extra rubber sheet is also included to go between the bike and the clamp to make it totally secure. There are a couple of small issues here. The clamp is quite bulky even when the phone is not attached. On top of this, due to the way the clamp attaches, it
is not a very quick thing to remove. This being said, since this case is designed for very rugged use, these issues are probably not going to be too much of a dealbreaker for people looking for something really bombproof.
- Incredible protection from both the elements, and accidental damage
- Great value for money (especially at the time of writing)
- Ability to use headphone and charging ports whilst sustaining protection
- Adjustable angle
- Stem or handlebar mounting possible
- All in one package, no extra waterproofing or protective case needed
- Both case and mounting are bulky, won’t suit everyone for day to day use
- Mount takes time to attach and remove to handlebars/stem
High-end: Quad Lock Bike Mount Kit for iPhone
Australian based Quad Lock started as a Kickstarter in December 2011, setting out a plan for a sleek, secure and low profile mounting system. since it’s release, both the system ranks highly in almost every list of handlebar and stem attachments since it’s release. They have since branched out, adding arm band and car mounts which work using the same patented mounting system, along with phone accessories such as tripod adapters, wall mounts and belt clips.
The core mechanic of the system is the ease with which you can attach and remove the phone from the bike. Twist on, and it clicks into place, push the blue locking clip down and twist to remove. Another important selling point is the case for iPhone. They are designed to be as streamlined as possible without sacrificing protection, and while the lock makes it wider than standard cases, it still is small enough to fit in your pocket.
The iPhone version also comes with a “Poncho” designed to fit over your phone when it rains. Whilst it may not provide as much protection as the Tigra BikeConsole case above, it will be enough for almost all day to day usage. The waterproof cover, like the case, is as low profile as possible.
The mount attaches to the stem or handlebars using strong bungee straps, though cable ties are also provided for extra security if required. Much like the rest of the design it is quite low profile, and can attach to either the stem or handlebars of the bike.
Currently, the dedicated case and poncho only covers the iPhone 4-7, and the Samsung Galaxy S4. They do make a universal kit which attaches to the back of an existing case, making it compatible with any phone, though this is not without it’s problems.
Firstly, if you have the Quad Lock attached to the back of your normal case, you then have very few options for waterproofing your phone and still attaching it to the bike. Many people may also be wary of the fact that the lock is attached to their case with adhesive which while strong, will likely not be as secure as the dedicated case.
This may be a dealbreaker for some Android users, and at the time of writing it does not appear that Quad Lock are looking to expand their range to include phones other than the iPhone. Despite this, the ease of use, wide product range, and sleek design make Quad Lock a strong contender for the best overall mount available currently.
- Excellent design and ease of use
- Low profile case suitable for day to day use
- Large range of accessories available for off the bike uses
- Universal Kit for Android makes rain protection difficult
- Adhesive on the Universal Quad Lock may not adhere to certain phone cases
Mount and Storage combination: Ibera Bicycle Top Tube Phone Bag
While the first three examples have concentrated solely on securely mounting and protecting your phone, another consideration is storage. Ibera’s Top tube mounted bag protects your phone from the elements, and also provides a 1.1 litre storage pouch for essentials you might need during your ride. This case is perfect for those who wish to take certain items with them without needing to carry a rucksack or extra pannier racks.
The case is stated to fit all modern phones up to iPhone 7 plus and the Samsung Galaxy S7 and 7 Edge, and provides a small opening for headphone cables At the time of writing the case costs $20.99, making it a great value purchase, though due to it’s Velcro mounting straps, it does lack some of the quick attachment convenience of the other cases mentioned here.
One possible point that may be an issue for some it the position of the bag on the top tube. If you are using your phone your navigation, it may be inconvenient to look down to your top tube to follow directions.
Overall, for the price, this is a highly functional phone case which will be the perfect solution for some riders.
- Cheap and effective protection for almost any model of phone
- Storage under the phone for essentials means only one bag to attach and remove for short rides
- Position on top tube may make it difficult to refer to for directions
- Bag may catch on the knees depending on frame size
- Lacks easy “click on/click off” functionality of other mounts
Waterproofing Solution: USmile Cellphone Dry Bag
If you choose to go with a non-waterproof mount, such as the Vibrelli Universal Phone Mount Holder, you will probably want the assurance of a completely waterproof solution. The bags from Usmile 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.
While there are many bags like this on the market now, the thing that sets this one aside is the overwhelmingly perfect reviews it receives from its users.
Another option you might look into is getting a waterproof case.
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.
All of the mounts featured above allow access to the phone’s charging port, except from the Ibera Top Tube bag – though if your charger is a small enough profile you may well be able to use it though the headphone cable opening.
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.