By Amy Roberts
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Using a smartphone mount while biking is a boon for anyone who wants easy access to their device. But with phone price tags approaching—and topping—the $1,000 mark, you want to be sure your device will stay firmly attached. After riding with 23 smartphone bike mounts over 90 miles' worth of smooth and rough roads, we conclude that the Quad Lock mounts are the ones we'd use for our own phones.
The Quad Lock cases (available for iPhone and Samsung Galaxy) and the Quad Lock Universal Adaptor combined with the company's Out-Front Mount (which we prefer to the stem mount that comes in Quad Lock's case-and-mount kits) proved to be the confidence-inspiring solutions for securely attaching any smartphone to any bicycle. In our tests, phones vibrated hardly at all—let alone rattled or shook—in the Quad Lock products, no matter how bumpy the road became. Both the phone cases and the universal adapter twist to lock into place on the mount, which in turn clamps onto a bike's handlebars. The iPhone 8 Plus case we tested didn't interfere with phone functions, and we're confident, based on the Quad Lock cases we've tested for other guides, that it would protect the phone in daily use. (Also, you can use the cases and adapters with the many other mounts—for car dashboards and running armbands and more—from Quad Lock.) The indented socket on the case's back was among the least noticeable of the case-type bike mounts we tested. The Universal Adaptor sticks out from a phone's case (or back), like most such adapters, which you may find annoying—you may want to buy a separate "bike ride" case for your phone.
The Nite Ize Wraptor provides a simple, well-designed solution for riders who want to be able to mount their phone on their own bike or a bike-share bike, and who generally ride on smooth, paved roads. The silicone straps that attach phone to mount and mount to bike feel much sturdier than those of other, similar mounts. Because of the stretchy nature of silicone, we did find our test phones would vibrate in the Wraptor more than they did in the pricier Quad Lock mounts when we rode on rough terrain, but it was nothing like the rattling we witnessed with other silicone mounts and even some case-based mounts. The Wraptor fits handlebars of all sizes and is a cinch to install and remove. Likewise, the straps fit phones of all sizes, and they don't get in the way of the phone's screen or buttons—a problem we had with other silicone mounts. You can also easily rotate the phone from portrait to landscape (and vice versa) even as you pedal. The entire mount is small enough to tuck into a pocket when not in use.
Why you should trust us
I ride my bike regularly around New York City, mostly for recreation or commuting, though I've completed one triathlon and am about to do another one. I'm not such a serious cyclist that I want to invest in a bike computer—I usually just use my Garmin GPS watch or the Strava app on my phone to record my rides. I've owned several smartphone bike mounts, none of which I loved, mainly so I can follow Google Maps biking directions on my weekend explorations of the outer boroughs.
I also chatted at length with Wirecutter senior staff writer Nick Guy, our iPhone case expert who's been on that beat for seven years, on what makes a good (or at least passable) phone case.
Who this is for
A smartphone bike mount is a worthy investment for bike commuters or recreational riders who want to have their phone within sight and earshot on their own bikes or on ride-share bikes. It's also of use to someone who wants to record their rides for fitness purposes but doesn't need the bells and whistles of a dedicated cycling computer. And, as my colleague Dan Frakes once noted, people do use their phones for music (and other things) during rides, despite the risks of doing so, and it's a lot safer for a rider to use a phone that's visible and easily accessible than to fumble around with the device in a pocket or bag while speeding down the road.
How we picked and tested
I began my research by looking at how cycling-enthusiast publications and websites, such as Bicycling, Cycling Weekly, and BikeRadar reviewed mounts and which models were their favorites. I also searched Amazon for its best sellers and several cycling-specific online stores to see what people buy (and how happy they are with their purchases), and what the in-the-know retailers choose to sell.
Bicycle smartphone mounts come in a wide range of designs; we looked at three of the most common types of mounts. The first consists of two parts: a phone case or a stick-on adapter (to put on your own case), and a compatible base that attaches on the bike. The second uses silicone bands or plastic brackets to hold up to an extra-large smartphone. The third fully envelops a phone—you view its screen through a clear plastic cover.
From my initial list of 29 mounts, I nixed several because of iffy reviews or stock issues. I then called in 22 mounts for testing, including both the phone-specific and universal versions of the two-part systems.
I tested with both an iPhone 8 Plus—to represent an extra-large model and one for which the mount companies make a specific case—and a Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, which served as our more regular-size smartphone and the one on which I'd test the adapters. I eliminated a few mounts right off the bat if the phones didn't fit well in the cases or mounts, if they seemed particularly insecure in the mounts, or if some part of the mount impeded the usability of the phone screen or buttons.
I installed each remaining mount on the handlebars (31.8 mm diameter) or stem of a Trek Lexa road bike. I took each for a 2-mile spin on the roads of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, where I was working remotely. Just that short stretch contained four different surfaces: gravelly old asphalt, rutted dirt, newly poured concrete, and very recently repaved asphalt.
- how easy (or not) it was to install and remove the mount on the bike, and any tools it required
- how easy or difficult it was to affix and remove the phones on the mounts
- whether the phones could be mounted in portrait or landscape view, and how easy it was to switch views
- the convenience and aesthetics of the mount location on the bike and the phone viewing angle while riding, and if the latter could be adjusted (and how easily)
- how much (if any) rattling, shaking, vibration, or other movement the phones experienced over the different surfaces, and if any part of the mount came loose during that brief trip
Taking the six mounts that performed the best so far, I tested them on a borrowed mountain bike. Two mounts didn't fit on the much skinnier (22 mm) handlebars—so out they went. I rode with the remaining four in varying conditions and until I was confident in my picks. (A few that fell by the wayside in these last tests earned a favorable mention in the Competition section, as they may be good choices for specific bikes or riders.)
Our pick: Quad Lock Bike Mounts
A Quad Lock case (available for iPhone and Samsung Galaxy) or Universal Adaptor used with the Out-Front Mount held our test phones supremely stable when riding over all sorts of road surfaces. We recommend this combo above other mounts if you're a regular rider who intends for a smartphone to be your frequent copilot when you tool around town.
The sockets for both the phone case and universal adapter twist and lock firmly onto the mount bracket on the bike and won't let go without your releasing the safety lever, which you can do with one hand.
We found it easy to put the iPhone 8 Plus case on our test phone. It fit well, didn't interfere with the side buttons or wireless charging (Quad says its cases should work with "most Qi Certified chargers"), and had a lip that was high enough to protect the phone if it were to fall face-down on a flat surface. The socket on the back, though noticeable, was among the least bothersome of any we tested.
Quad Lock makes cases for most iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models; people who own other phones can use the Universal Adaptor, which sticks firmly to a phone or case with a high-bond adhesive. The company suggests either affixing the adapter directly to your phone, if the phone is made of suitable material (very few are) or to a case made of a material on the approved list. I didn't see the list before we purchased the test cases for my Samsung Galaxy S8 Active—and there are limited case options available for that phone anyway—but even still, on my non-approved TPU case, the adapter remained sturdily attached.
The Out-Front Mount, which is made of glass-filled nylon, clamps onto 31.8 mm handlebars with a single Allen bolt; it comes with a hex wrench as well as the rubber shims to fit 22 mm and 25.4 mm bars. Quad Lock sells a pricier Out-Front Pro Mount, which we also tested. It's made of anodized aluminum and designed to be more aerodynamic; the non-Pro feels plenty sturdy, though, and we believe that few recreational riders would want to spend the extra cash for improved aerodynamics. Plus, the Allen bolt on the Pro screws in from the bottom, making it harder to attach than the non-Pro mount.
Quad Lock sells bike kits that include a phone case or the Universal Adaptor with the company's Stem/Handlebar Bike Mount. I tested this mount; although I found it stable and secure, I liked it less than the slightly pricier Out-Front Mount for several reasons. This mount is best attached to the stem of the bike, but you can't adjust the phone's viewing angle there. It can also go on the handlebars, but the mount wouldn't fit, lengthwise, on my test road bike in the narrow space that wasn't taped, and it jutted out awkwardly on the mountain bike's skinnier bars. It also has two means of assembly, both of which are tool-free but not without flaws. The first, a pair of strong silicone O-rings, is reusable but not easy to put on and take off; it's also unclear how many times you could do this before the rings would snap. The second, a set of zip ties, provides greater peace of mind but isn't reusable. In addition, the phone case kits come with a fitted rain cover (also sold separately). I found it a struggle to get it on and off, and given that most new phones are water resistant anyway, it seems unnecessary.
As we noted in our guide to iPhone cases, Quad Lock offers additional mounts for many other uses, including car dashboards, motorcycles, and running armbands, that work with their cases and universal adapter.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Though the Quad Lock case's mount socket isn't as obtrusive as those of similar products, it still creates a bumpy dent on the back of the phone that may bother some people. The Universal Adaptor adds enough bulk that I wouldn't want it there all the time; you might consider buying an approved case just to use with the mount.
I found it tricky to align the socket with the mount, often fumbling with it and peeking under the phone to see why things weren't matching up; I did discover that depressing the lock release lever can help get it to go on with less futzing.
You also can't change the phone from portrait to landscape mode without releasing the lock on the base. I didn't find myself needing to do so very often, as portrait is generally the orientation that works best with apps. Still, other mounts, including our budget pick, do this more readily.
Budget pick: Nite Ize Wraptor
The Nite Ize Wraptor is a great choice for occasional riders and anyone who wants to easily add or remove a phone mount from their own or a bike-share bike. It won't hold your phone as motionless as the Quad Lock mounts will, but it's less than a third of the price and works with the case you already have.
With the Wraptor, silicone straps both hold the phone in and attach the mount to the bike. The ones that secure the phone to the mount are wider and thicker than most others of this style. Nite Ize says that the Wraptor will fit regular- and plus-size phones, with or without a case; the straps on ours accommodated our iPhone 8 Plus in a Speck Presidio Grip case (our pick for the 8 Plus for extra protection), and they held the smaller Samsung Galaxy S8 Active firmly as well. They also didn't cover the buttons or screen in a way that impeded the use of the phone, unlike some silicone mounts we tested.
A hefty silicone strap secures the mount to the bike's handlebars; you stretch the strap around the bars and hook one of the strap's holes on the peg at its base. The phone on the mount rotates between portrait and landscape orientation, clicking into place every few degrees as you turn it. The whole thing is compact enough to tuck into a pocket when you're not using it, making it especially convenient for bike-share users.
Because silicone is inherently stretchy, the test phones vibrated more in this mount than in the Quad Lock when I rolled over bumps and potholes. Out of all the easy-on, easy-off silicone mounts I tested, though, the Nite Ize was the most stable—the ones from Vibrelli and VUP+, for example, shook and bobbed at even the slightest change of surface texture. In fact, this mount fared better than two of the more expensive, and ostensibly sturdier, case-style mounts, the SP Connect and the Tigra.
Still, although we saw no indication of wear during our tests and we've used similar straps for years with no problem, we do recommend inspecting the straps regularly.
Currently available only for iPhones, the Morpheus M4s Bike Kit has a phone case with a very nice fit and feel, but its lip is lower than the 1 mm minimum that Apple recommends for screen protection. You need no tools to install the base, and the whole thing is extremely stable while riding, as long as you tighten the thumbscrew well. However, the Morpheus case prevents Qi charging; a Morpheus representative told us that Qi compatibility and versions for other phones are in the works.
The concept of the iOmounts Nomad Universal Bike Phone Mount is great: You stick a magnetic disc the size of a half-dollar to the back of your phone or a compatible phone case, loop the mount base around the handlebars, and pull it tight like a zip tie. And the magnet did indeed keep the phone stable and secure. However, the base was challenging to get snug and downright frustrating to release and remove. The mount is also not compatible with Qi charging, thanks to that metal disc.
The Thule Smartphone Bike Mount is unlike any other mount we tested; it has a hefty base that attaches across the center of the handlebars and a spring-loaded bracket plus silicone straps to hold in any size phone. It's bulky and time-consuming to install, but once it was in place on the road bike's handlebars, my phone stayed put. Unfortunately, the mount wasn't compatible with the test mountain bike, even with the included plastic shims.
The low-profile forged aluminum frame of the Delta Cycle X-Mount Pro can only fit under a bike's stem cap—there's no other way to attach it and no way to adjust the angle it sits at. The sturdy silicone bands hold a regular or extra-large phone securely, though in portrait orientation only.
Two-part mounts with phone-specific cases or universal adapters
I tested nearly the entire line of Rokform bike mounts, including both the Rugged and Crystal cases for our iPhone 8 Plus, the Universal Mount Adapter for our Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, and the Pro-lite Mount. None were as good as the Quad Lock, yet they cost more.
The SP Connect Bike Bundle, available with cases for iPhone and Samsung Galaxy or a Universal Adapter for anything else, comes with two low-profile mount bases that attach to the stem and the handlebars, respectively. The handlebar option lets you adjust the viewing angle before tightening it on, but our test phones shook more there than when attached to the stem mount. There's no angle adjustment with the stem mount, and when I used it on the road bike, I worried I'd hit my knees on the iPhone 8 Plus if I stood up to pedal. The universal adapter felt looser in the mount than did the cases.
The Tigra Sport FitClic Neo line is similar in concept to the Quad Lock and Rokform models but not as well-executed. The case for the iPhone 8 Plus obstructs the phone's side buttons. The process for locking and unlocking the phone and mount, involving a skinny plastic level, isn't very user-friendly. The standard mount is more stable than the out-front one, but our test phones rattled more in both locations than we'd like.
The Topeak Ridecase for iPhone lacks an adequate protective lip, and it isn't wireless charging compatible. Also, extracting the phone to swap it to a different case is challenging.
Mounts with universal-fit silicone straps or plastic braces
With both TrailKase products from Bikase that I tested, the test phones rattled and shook over every bump. The TrailKase Quick Release 360 Degree Bracket has a heavy metal mount base that projects quite a lot, while the lower-profile plastic mount for the TrailKase Original feels flimsy.
The Topeak Omni RideCase DX seemed sturdy. Unfortunately, its wide silicone brackets obscure the home button on both the iPhone 8 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy S8 screen.
The Vibrelli Universal Bike Phone Mount, which holds a phone using silicone corner straps and a plastic bracket, is far less involved to mount than the similarly styled Thule. But its base feels less sturdy, with a plastic ball-in-socket mount that you tighten with a plastic ring nut.
The VUP+ Silicone Bike Phone Mount is an easy-to-install, inexpensive silicone-bracket mount popular on Amazon. Unfortunately, the test phones rattled, quaked, and bounced way too much on my rides, and the lower strap got in the way of the home button on the iPhone 8 Plus.
Another low-priced Amazon best seller, the AILUN Bike Silicone Strap Phone Mount Holder, felt so much flimsier than similarly styled mounts that we didn't dare test it on a bike. Its straps could also get in the way of a phone's home button.
The lower strap of the Team Obsidian/Davandi Silico Bike Mount (the company is rebranding) covered both phones' home buttons, and I struggled to stretch the thick silicone straps onto the 8 Plus in the Speck Presidio case.
Getting our phones in and out of the Delta Cycle Smartphone Holder XL and Hefty Holder was challenging, and both are large, awkward, and, frankly, ugly.
The Nite Ize HandleBand feels durable and secure. However, the wide straps cut across, and block part of, the phone screen.
Mounts with waterproof universal-fit phone holders
The Topeak Smartphone Drybag, which we tested in its 5-inch size, was a tight fit on the iPhone 8 Plus in its case. However, we were more concerned with how much the test phone rattled and bobbled up and down at the slightest pavement change, regardless of whether the bag was mounted to the handlebars or stem.
The iKross Universal Waterproof Bike Mount Holder, a mount that I've used casually and liked, appears to be now discontinued.
The Bikase Handy Andy 6, which attaches with two Velcro straps, was easy to put on a bike and take off, and I noticed minimal phone movement and shaking on the road. But the plastic window reflected so much glare that I couldn't see the phone screen at all.
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