What is the best bike phone mount for commuting, riding rough terrain, or both? In 2019, what mount and case combo most easily fits into your daily routine? After researching 30 models, we bought nine bike phone mounts for side-by-side testing. We then took to the streets and trails to evaluate how these performed in regular commutes as well as rough road and trail conditions. We also evaluated each one for water resistance and dust resistance. Finally, we put them on dirt bikes for the ultimate durability and vibration tests. Our findings surprised us, as some of the cheapest options performed great for many applications.
The Best Bike Phone Mounts
Not only is this our favorite mount, but it's also the least expensive option tested that can be operated with one hand. It's much cheaper than the Quad Lock and Rokform and much easier to switch between bikes. The case is the slimmest we tested and is not much thicker than a standard protective case. For this reason and the fact it has a built-in magnet, we choose to make this our everyday case. The Quad Lock and the Mount Case both have bulkier cases that were just a little thicker than we wanted for putting in a pocket for daily use. Also, because neither of those other cases with a magnet, it was often hard or clunky to add a magnet to the back of the case. Morpheus sells their CarMount but just about any "air vent" mount will work. The bar mount is secure and never loosed, even on a 65-mile punishing mountain bike ride. It has the most natural one-handed operation of any mount tested. It's relatively fast and easy to swap between bikes and bars and does not require any tools like the Quad Lock and Mount Case do. If you want to add mounts permanently to many bikes, bar mounts are half the cost of much of the competition.
The main drawback is that it only works with iPhones. Android users are out of luck. The mount is a little bulky and not nearly as streamlined as the Quad Lock. It weighs 2.5 ounces which is over an ounce heavier than the Quadlock or Morpheus It can be difficult to center the mount on your bike, depending on your stem size. While it is usually fast to swap between bikes, if the bar sizes vary dramatically, it can take a little time. If you want the case to be waterproof, you have to buy an extra cover that does not have the best touchscreen sensitivity. Overall, this is our favorite mount. If you already use an "air vent" mount in your car, this case will save purchasing magnets and repurchasing them when they fall off.
This is a moderately expensive bike phone mount that is also the sleekest both for style and wind drag. It's fast to get on and off if you want to take a quick photo or remove your phone from your bike. The case is not much thicker than a standard phone case (but thicker than the Morpheus). Depending on your bar size, it can be effortless to center the mount on your bars. Or a pain in the butt. You have two options of how to attach it to your bike: the Bike Mount Kit or the Out Front Bike Mount. The Bike Mount requires zip ties and we found those zip ties can loosen over time. The Out Front Mount is sleeker but does not fit all bar widths.
The main downside is the cost. Not only is there a high upfront cost, if you have multiple bikes that you switch between, you'll also have to spend per additional mount. If you use a magnetic mount in your car, you either have to switch to a different case or add a magnet to this case, which can be clunky. This is where the Rokform and Morpheus systems excel: one case works in your car, on your bike and in your pocket. Installation can be tricky, depending on your bar size for both the Out Front Mount and the Bike Mount. It's hard to keep the mount tight with zip ties and you need to adjust it often. Our mount loosened in rough terrain, the phone flipped to face the ground and then a rock cracked the screen. That was a bummer. While the "waterproof half" of the case is burly and protective, it doesn't have excellent screen sensitivity when compared to a dedicated waterproof phone case. For this reason, unless it was raining, we usually left the screen protector (as shown in the photo above).
This is one of the least expensive phone mounts you can put on your bicycle and yet it performs well. For many people, this may be all they need at a fraction of the cost of the mounts above and below. It's simple to swap between bikes and requires no tools. It stays close to your bar unlike the Roam model below that sticks way up and is quite bulky. Models like the Roam made their way loose when on bumpy terrain but the Ailun stayed solid.
It has limited mounting orientations. You can only view the phone in portrait when on your handlebar and just in landscape when on your bike's stem. This is the main advantage of the VUP bike phone mount below. The VUP spins into whatever orientation you want. It's also easier to get 6-inch phones in and out of the VUP. When we put a bulky waterproof case on our iPhone 8 Plus, we were barely able to get it in the Ailun.
We tested the Rokform Crystal Case with the Sport Series Portable Mount. This is our favorite set up for any case that the Morpheus does not serve (Android). The mount is secure, even over rocky terrain and is relatively streamlined. This is a good set up at a reasonable price. We choose the Crystal case over the Rugged case because it's plenty protective for our needs and less expensive. We are happy with the case and the mount, but there are some improvements needed (see below). If you are looking to shave weight and want a magnetic case, it's less than half the weight of the Morpheus.
The main drawback is how hard the mount is to install. For thicker bars, we needed to have our Gerber Dime pliers to pull the tab far enough to lock on our thicker mountain bike bars. Without these pliers, the mount would have been useless. Even on thinner bars, you need a fair amount of hand strength to pull the tab on enough. The locking and release mechanism works, it's just not nearly as easy to use as the Quadlock or the Morpheus. This is a good set up, it's just not as good as the competition. There is a more permanent option with the Pro Series Mount. However, this mount is nearly double the price and doesn't include the case.
It may not be as slick as the Quad Lock, but this Tigra offering goes on many more handlebar widths and attaches more securely. The Quad Lock edges ahead because it attaches and detaches more quickly (both the phone and the mount) and has a more refined design. It's our top recommendation for bike commuters. That said, there are some significant advantages for some people with the Mountcase II. For one, the Mountcase attaches to just about any bar width very securely. We've dirt biked over 1000 miles of rugged desert trails and never had this case come loose. It's what we continue to use as our motorcycle GPS. The Quad Lock universal mount, on the other hand, broke away after our first crash (we replaced the rubber bands with zip ties and it's now more secure but still not as secure as the Mountcase). Also, the Mountcase attaches to short stems while the Quad Lock does not. Buying additional mounts for the Mountcase much less expensive that the Quad Lock mounts. For mountain biking and dirt biking, we take the Mountcase over the Quad Lock. It's worth noting that the cases and covers of the Quad Lock and Mountcase are similar, it's just the actual mount that differs much.
Installing the Mountcase can be a pain if you don't have the right Allen key (the key works but is a little short). By comparison, swapping the Quad Lock is a lot faster and uses a much more standard size Allen key. The look is un-refined: it looks like the tail of a giant zip tie. While the mount is super secure, it can be a little tricky to get the phone on and off sometimes. It's not a big deal unless you are riding and come across a split second photo opportunity. Like the Quad Lock, each phone needs a specially designed case: you can't just lend this to your partner or friend if they have a different phone. When you change your phone, you need to change your case. For example, when upgrading from the iPhone 6+ to iPhone 7+, the phone dimension was the same but the camera moved a fraction of an inch, which meant you had to remove it from the case to take a photo. Lastly, when you put on the screen side of the case, the touch screen is not that precise as with the Quad Lock.
The advantage of a bike computer over a bike phone mount is that you get a much more streamlined package. Even the smallest smartphone is much bulkier than the biggest bike computer. Some of the cheapest bike computers are less expensive than some smartphone mounts. You also get better battery life.The downside to bike computers is that higher-end models cost a lot. Also, some of the newer apps have many more features and feedback than most bike computers. While some bike computers update their software, the apps tend to update more frequently. Since many people carry a phone while cycling anyway, there may not be much increase in weight.
This mount is a tremendous value and has some advantages over the Ailun above. It rotates, which allows placement on the stem or handlebar (the Ailun works on the handlebar in portrait mode). It accommodates larger phones better than the Ailun (above) and works with a big waterproof case with a 6-inch screen (but it's a stretch). With this style, you get to keep your current case and don't have to swap between phone-specific options.
The downside to this style is that it takes a little time to secure and remove the phone. It's only a few extra seconds, but it does make it less likely you will quickly capture a photo opportunity. The rubber attachments are not that burly. Once one piece of the "spider web" breaks you have to throw away the whole unit. In comparison, the Roam unit (below), while not recommended, does come with extra replaceable "spider webs" that you can replace if one breaks. NOTE: there are a lot of phone cases that look like this from different brands on Amazon.
While we're not fans of this style of mount, this is one of the more robust options we've come across and it's very affordable. It protects your phone and has enough room for repair tools, sunglasses, a light windbreak and a snack. Just about any phone will fit in here.
The giant problem is the usability of the phone. The plastic is so thick that touchscreen accuracy is weak. We usually just took the time to remove the phone from the bag to use it, which is a pain and defeats the whole purpose of a bicycle phone mount. Specifically, we had a tough time making the home button works. There are some workarounds, but none are that great. As with any top tube bag that is wider than the top tube, your knees may graze this bag, depending on your bike's geometry. Overall this is a cheap bag that fills some bike needs but has an inferior screen interface.
If you want storage on your handlebars, this is a good option. It keeps the phone right in your field of view. Installation is relatively fast and easy. Space is adequate for most of your biking essentials. Because it's off the top tube, this bag doesn't run into your legs when pedaling.
Like the Ibera above, the thick plastic makes controlling the phone's touchscreen very difficult. We were frustrated most of the time and usually just removed the phone from the case to make all but the most basic operations. The bag creates bulk on your handlebars. This limits the field of vision a little, but the main issue is that it looks and feels bulky. It makes you look like a bike tourist, which if that is what you're going for, mission accomplished!
While we initially thought this model was a contender for best value, we came to dislike this style. It's not without upsides: it works with any size phone, is inexpensive and the spider-web-like rubber parts are replaceable. The attachment to the bar was more durable than some other models that broke when tightening (we don't list any of those models in this review). However, the cons outweighed these pros.
First off, it's very bulky compared to the Best Buy winners above. It sticks out on your bars. More importantly, after many miles or when going over rough terrain, the mount would loosen. You then had to stop and retighten. Over time, this became especially annoying when so many other mounts did not have this issue.
Why You Should Trust Us
Lead author Chris McNamara bikes to work over 200 days a year with a phone on his handlebars. Many days he is able to bike comparing two or more different mounts side-by-side. The standard commute involves everything from smooth bike paths to rugged trails. He also tests these in all conditions from rain and snow to high heat and glare. In addition to testing these for commuting applications, our teams tests these on 50+ mile bike rides as we generally prefer to use a smartphone with a handlebar mount instead of a bike computer. We have tested these on the 130 mile Lake Trail around Tahoe as well as the 203 mile Tahoe to Mammoth ride. We continue our testing of the magnetic cases while driving around the Western United States on large road trips.
One of the main advantages of a bar phone mount is the ability to load a route and follow it. We recommend you learn how to load a GPS file on your phone
The most important decision is which of the three styles of bike phone mount do you want: A lock mount specific to your phone, a universal mount or a bar-mounted bag? Here are the pros and cons of each. The right style for you will depend on your budget and everyday use.
This is the most secure, durable and sleek option of the three. After installing the bar mount, the phone locks into place and only comes off with a two-step process of squeezing a locking mechanism and twisting the phone. This style is the fastest to get on and off your bike, which is convenient for taking photos or quickly going into a store or your destination.
Not only is there a big upfront cost, because the bar mounting systems are slow to move from bike to bike, but you might also have to buy multiple mounts for other bikes you use frequently. Anytime you change your phone, you need to rebuy the case. If you don't like the case enough to use as your everyday case (either because the style or the extra bulk of the locking mechanism), you have to remove your phone and transfer it to a case you do like.
Universal Bar Mounts
It attaches to your bar and will work with just about any type of phone. Sometimes there is a clamp and almost always there is a "spider web" that goes over the phone's corners. These are the least expensive options. As long as your case is relatively low profile, it should be compatible. You don't have to switch between cases that are specific to the mount.Cons
Few of these options are waterproof. If you add a waterproof case to a bigger phone, it may be too bulky to work. Some models are quite bulky. Durability varies wildly. Some mounts broke on installation. Some mounts also require constant tightening to keep from slipping on the bars. Usually, this mount will not work on bumpy terrain or when mountain biking. It also can be difficult to center the phone over the bar.
Universal Bar Bags
These bags are inexpensive and will work with most phones. They are relatively easy to install and secure. They add enough storage space for a tube, light windbreaker or some snacks.Cons
The main challenge is touchscreen usability. The plastic sheet may keep you from accessing your phones Home button, which makes using the phone hard. There may be a workaround, but even then, phone usability is still usually much slower and prone to errors. These bags are a little bulky. If mounted on the top tube, they can hit your legs when pedaling. When mounted at the stem, they are a bulky mass in front of you. It takes a little time to remove the phone if you want to take a photo or you reach your destination.
Keeping Your Cell Phone Away From Your Body and Cancer Risks
According to the National Cancer Institute (NIH), there is concern about the radiation cell phones emit but studies are not yet conclusive on how and if cell phones cause cancer. That said, the NIH recommends that people who want to reduce radiation exposure should "place more distance between the phone and the head of the user." Keeping the phone out on the handlebars may help increase the distance depending on where you normally keep your phone during rides.
If you have the money and use your bike a lot, the locking style cases are the way to go. However, they take some fidgeting and require changing every time your phone changes. For many people, the universal bar mounts are more than adequate. They are super inexpensive, fast to install, light and low profile. If you need to store things on your bike, the universal cases can be handy, don't count on great touchscreen functionality.
— Chris McNamara