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Bike Mount REVIEW

April 2012

Mike Cobb, a cargo bike veteran who I’ve been working on the Farm Hand Carts with, lent me his Yuba Mundo a few weeks back so I could try it out for CSA share deliveries. One of my favorite features on the bike was a little iPhone holder on the handlebars by RAM. The only problem with it was that it wasn’t waterproof and my phone doesn’t have a waterproof case so when I got home I looked up waterproof cases. RAM makes one that Mike is using on his new bike, but I found another that seemed a little lower profile by BioLogic. I was fortunate enough to have a birthday recently and to receive one of these mounts, along with another item that Mike tipped me off to, a waterproof bluetooth stereo headset (which I also review here).

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The Bike Mount is excellent, the case is well made, seems pretty water and dust tight (as long as you leave it closed - I’ll get to that later), and allows you to access all of the essential features of the phone. There are a few limitations which I’ll list below. I was partly interested in the case not just for biking, but also for farming since I use my phone quite a bit in the field for a variety of tasks.

 

Basics for the case

The case is basically a clamshell with a very solid, but easy to use latch. There are two little clips on the top and bottom edges that keep the top and bottom tight, and they seem like they could be wear points over time, they also make it harder to get the case open and closed properly, but they seem pretty essential for keeping it sealed. Inside there’s a rubber cradle for the phone, and mine came with two, one for iPhone 4’s and another for the older 3’s. The cradle cushions the phone nicely, but it means that there’s no room for any other kind of case on the phone. I normally have a Moshi case on mine just to make it less slippery so I have to pop that one off each time I put it in the Bike Mount.

There are ports for the headphone jack and usb cable, in case you want to use those while the case is on. There are also little windows for the cameras, although they seem to distort the edges of photos a bit (which means I’ve taken to removing my phone from the case for critical photos, which isn’t hard, but does let dust in if I’m not careful). There are also buttons to operate the main round button on the front and the top button on the phone. There is no way to access the three volume buttons on the left of the phone while the case is on, not a huge deal usually, as the volume can usually be adjusted through the screen if you really need to, or through your headset if you’re listening to music and your headset of choice has that kind of control.

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The screen is fairly clear, and touch features work great (if you’re not wearing gloves that don’t have conductive fingertips - I’ve discovered that wet gloves conduct nicely, allowing them to work with the screen). It is however plastic, which means that it will be more prone to scratching than the glass on the iPhone, which I’ve found to be incredibly scratch resistant over my four years of use in terrible conditions. I haven’t explored the option of one of those annoying disposable plastic screen covers to go over the case’s screen, maybe that would prolong the life of the case? One thing that I have found is that if you have the auto brightness set on the screen the sensor is covered when you close the case so the phone thinks it’s dark out and dims the screen. Minor detail, I’ve chosen to turn the auto brightness off when I use the case and set the brightness to full strength.

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The Handlebar Mount

The mount for the bike handlebars mounts like a regular hose clamp using a 6mm allen key, which is included. I ordered two extras, one for a second bike, and another for my Farm Hand Cart so I can have it handy in the field. It will wrap around any round tube that’s up to 1.5”, and and it wraps nicely around the 1.25” square tube we’re using on the Farm Hand Carts. The case slides on and latches onto the mount. It also rotates with detents every 15 degrees (that’s 6 positions between portrait and landscape mode). It’s easy to rotate when it’s mounted, although I found if I was too aggressive I could accidentally twist the case out of the handlebar mount. I don’t think it would ever unintentionally come out on its own.

One feature of the RAM mount I liked better was that it was out on the end of a arm with a ball mount which allowed more motion. This is obviously a heavier mounting option, but it allows the screen to be more in your line of sight as you look down the road. It’s extra distracting to have to look down at the bars on the screen. I’m considering trying to figure a way to make my own arm to move the mount farther up and out from the handlebars when I’m riding, not that I actually use the screen that much. I mostly use it for the clock, but BioLogic also has a very nice bike computer app that’s free (which I review here).

 

Farm Use

The case definitely adds a bit of bulk to the phone, but I’m actually pretty comfortable with it in my pocket when it’s not on the bike. This actually makes it useful for taking it into the wet field. I use features on the phone like the timer, and even Numbers spreadsheets for data collection and to do lists, not to mention actually making calls on the thing. And on the topic of making calls, with my bluetooth headset I don’t even actually have to have the phone within reach to make a call since I can use Siri to tell it what to do (I just have to trust that Siri will understand my mumbling).

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One Year Later (June 2013 update)

The case has held up pretty well, especially considering I've dropped it, with the phone in it, twice while riding at a decent clip. Make sure it's clipped in. Sometimes it doesn't clip completely, which is a definite problem. The good thing is that it completely protected the phone both times, but I think I probably got a little lucky. The case now has a few scratches, is missing the top and bottom supplemental latches and has a slightly torn rubber plug for the headset port. It still works well though and I use it pretty much daily. It really is a good case for the farm, as it protects from dust, as well as moisture, and I don't have to worry about having muddy hands when I get a want to check the time or notes. I do have to open the case to talk on the phone though I can flip it open without actually touching the phone itself.

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