Location, Location, Location: WHERE to Mount your Phone
For various reasons (such as when I’m on call for my firefighting job) some of us have to take our phones with us when we ride. Others just choose to. To do it safely, the goal should be:
- to mount your phone securely (you don't want to be worrying about it falling off!)
- in a location (handlebar, brake/clutch, mirror, windshield, etc) that
- doesn't interfere with driving, and
- where you can easily glance at it
In my last article I focused on (1). In this article, I address (2), because it’s just as much a contributor to (3) and (4).
Because we have customers riding everything from scooters to sportbikes to cruisers (and even Spyders), the answer to the question “where should I mount my phone” is going to be different for each rider. But here are some location options (with pros and cons).
HandlebarThis is a great choice for cruisers, most of which tend to have standard (i.e. round) handlebars. You don’t have to mount in the center area if you don’t have the space (although it does look nice there!) - at least not with Leader mounts. Thanks to the way we designed our mounting bracket, you can even mount completely vertical if that’s what works for you!
The thing to be aware of (like many things related to motorcycles) is space. Sometimes the handlebar is ‘tight’ to the tank, or has cables running all along it, or has other obstacles to getting your phone in a good position.
Thanks to our super-slim URBAN Handlebar Bracket, even motorcycles with very little room in the “cockpit” area can mount a phone on the handlebar.
Another thing to consider is whether mounting on the handlebar will pull your attention down too far; you want to be looking out as much as possible. Not like this guy!
Brake or ClutchI like the URBAN Brake/Clutch Brackets because they work on so many kinds of motorcycles. Simply put: if you have two bolts that hold your brake or clutch assembly together - even if they point up rather than out - you can use them to mount your phone!
There’s no chance the windshield or the gas tank will be in the way which is good. And the bracket is slim and unobtrusive. However, depending on how wide your handlebars go, some riders may find this puts the phone too far to one side or the other.
MirrorMy personal favorite is mounting to the mirror stem. Why? Because it’s up a little higher (i.e., closer to my eyeballs) and more in line with where I want to be looking as I ride. Our URBAN Mirror Stem Bracket is also very low-profile; when my phone is not on the bike, all you see is a 1.25-inch square.
WindshieldWhat can I say about this? There isn’t any other location that puts your phone more front-and-center than mounting to your windshield.
There are, of course, windshields where this isn’t practical (such as on sportbikes) or where the curve of the windshield isn’t conducive to what you’re trying to do (which is to easily see the phone screen while riding). But for those who have a windshield with the brace across it, this is a great option.
If you’re considering a Windshield Mount, take a quick test ride on your motorcycle and pay special attention to how much vibration is generated from the street, through the bike and into your windshield. Some bikes (yes I’m thinking of Harleys here!) have so much vibration it can scramble your phone’s brains (although it won’t affect our mounts, which are solid stainless steel!).
- Tracey Cramer
New Desert Dawgs Fitment for Kawasaki Vulcan 1600
Did you know we now make TWO Desert Dawgs fitments for the Kawasaki Vulcan 1600? Whether you have a Cobra brand engine guard bar, or the factory (OEM) highway bar, you can get the Desert Dawgs to keep legs and feet warm and dry – and minimize updrafts and helmet buffeting!
The Desert Dawgs are American made from high-quality leather-touch vinyl. Easy-on, easy-off, the Desert Dawgs require NO special tools or maintenance, and can be rolled/folded and stored in a saddlebag when not in use.
WHY DESERT DAWGS?
- minimize cold updrafts & helmet buffeting
- repel road spray from front wheel and flared front fender
- keep bug juice off motorcycle chrome (and legs!)
- allow engine cooling - NO temperature restriction!
- does not affect bike handling
- accommodates all standard foot peg settings (6-inch opening)
- Ultra-Pockets on both sides for extra carrying capacity (garage door opener, sunglasses, camera case, etc.)
- Tracey Cramer
Video Tutorial: Choosing a Phone Mount That’s Right for You
In my last article I listed seven things you might want to consider about how you want to use your phone while riding. My intention is to help you do it in the safest way possible.
In that article, I said you want to:
- mount your phone securely (you don't want to be worrying about it falling off!)
- in a location (handlebar, brake/clutch, mirror, windshield, etc) that
- doesn't interfere with driving - and where you can easily glance at it
In this article I’m going to focus on (1), or what we often refer to as the “gripper” portion of a motorcycle phone mount.
Just like you may use a holster or case to protect and carry your phone on your body, you need something that "holds" (or "grips") the phone that can be attached to the motorcycle.
This is important, since it can be a "weak point" and cause your phone to fall from your bike. (We've road tested many a product, and most are not made with motorcycle vibration and the condition of today's road surfaces in mind.)
Although many motorcycle phone mounts are labelled "universal," the sheer volume of phones and phone sizes (not to mention cases and covers for them) means that what works for one will not necessarily work for another. Personal style or preference also plays a part. That's why we make mounts with different "grippers," each of which excels at different things:
- Some are better for today’s larger phones, and/or if you want to mount the phone horizontally (example: SLIDE mounts)
- Some are better if you need to plug your phone in while you ride (example: X-Grip Adaptor mounts)
- Some are specific to the iPhones
- And some are waterproof (examples: Hydra & Caddy Buddy)
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth 10,000!
To help you decide which works best for your phone and case, check out this video, which shows you the pros and cons of different "grippers" and what type/model phone each is most ideal for. All in under three minutes!
- Tracey Cramer
Phones on Motorcycles: Seven Things You Should ConsiderI'm not going to tell you not to use your phone while riding. I think that goes without saying (unlike this guy!) and if you're old enough to ride a motorcycle, you're old enough to make your own decision about phones and motorcycles!
I will just say this: do it the safest way you can! By that I mean, mount your phone securely (you don't want to be worrying about it falling off!) in a location (handlebar, brake/clutch, mirror, windshield, etc) that doesn't interfere with driving - and where you can easily glance at it.
To that end, we've tried to make mounting a phone on a motorcycle simple (in fact, it's less complicated than learning how to USE some of these phones!) by designing secure and classy phone mounts.
But how do you know which motorcycle phone mount is best for you? It's a good idea to decide what functions of the phone you are most likely to use when riding (this can help you narrow down your mounting preferences).
Here are seven things to consider:
- Do you use the phone to see who is calling? Or do you wait until you’ve stopped to check? The answer to this question can affect your choice of case/cover as well as mount.
- Do you play music via your phone? If so, you may need to look into speakers or Bluetooth.
- Do you want to be able to take pictures with your phone as you ride? Then you’ll need a mount that doesn’t cover or obscure your phone’s photo screen.
- Do you use a GPS (navigation) feature on your phone? If you do, you might want to be able to mount the phone horizontally as well as vertically (which all our phone mounts can do).
- How often do you need to touch the phone’s screen? If you need to touch it often, you’ll want to make sure whatever mount you use makes it easy (and safe) to do so.
- Would you like to be able to tilt or turn your phone ‘on the fly’ if you get sun glare?
- Do you prefer to mount your phone in the ‘typical’ vertical fashion? Or is it easier for you to view features (such as GPS) in a horizontal position? Will you need to be able to change it from vertical to horizontal depending on how you’re using it that day?
I hope this helps get you started on safe and convenient phone use while riding. Check out our Phone Mount Tips for even more!
- Tracey Cramer
Riding in the Rain: Get Visible
In my first article, I talked about a number of ideas for finding the right gear and clothing for rainy riding. In the second I covered skills and tactics. The third article in this series gave three ideas for keeping your electronic devices (like phones etc) dry.
Now I’m going to address visibility. My focus will be on simple steps you can take to be more visible when you ride in the rain.
#1: Bright Colors
Like many bikers, I love black and leather. But when it comes to riding in the rain, I want to be seen at all costs. After all, decreased visibility is one of the main contributors to accidents (rain or not!).
The BEST idea is to get a bright-colored motorcycle. (In fact, some police departments and emergency services are going all-out in that regard)
But the reality is, most of us are NOT like this guy; we don’t want a neon green or bumble-bee yellow bike. I’ve never once chosen my motorcycle (in over 30 years) by the color, but rather by an intuitive desire, and I’d be willing to bet you’ve done the same.
So, the next best thing? Wear bright clothing. Take a tip from the construction industry: they wear yellow or orange to stay visible when working in a high traffic area. So why wouldn’t you do the same?
If you don’t want a neon-colored riding jacket, then wear a reflective vest.
I love my red/white/blue Conspicuity Reflective Vest, but a yellow or orange reflective vest is even better. They don’t have to LOOK like a construction vest, either - nowadays you can get very stylish vests (see Conspicuity).
#2: Extra lights
“Fog lights” aka auxiliary driving lights typically come in two varieties: lights that project a somewhat short but wide light pattern (a 30 to 35 degree spread is common) and lights that project a longer and narrower light pattern (20 degrees). Either type added to the front of your bike will make you more visible to traffic.
This article from Webbikeworld does a good job of breaking down which type of light is best for you.
#3: Ride Defensively
Altering your position in the lane can make you more visible by creating an abnormal driving pattern (and light pattern) that car drivers are more likely to notice. A gradual shifting to the right and left also gives you more opportunity to spot upcoming traffic situations.
Stay away from cars whenever possible, especially their blind spot. Many riders won’t turn their head before making a lane change, especially if they’re also trying to see through a rainy windshield. If you must pass, do it quickly and get into a situation where you’re better seen by all cars on the road.
Use your brake light as a blinker by tapping on the brakes several times in quick succession. This can catch the attention of a driver behind you and/or - heaven forbid - a tailgater (which this guy is apparently expecting)!
- Tracey Cramer
Riding in the Rain: Waterproofing your Phone, GPS, etc.
Now that I’ve talked about waterproofing YOU, the rider (It’s All About the Gear) - as well as things you can do to ride more safely in the rain (Traction & Tactics) - what about your motorcycle? Specifically, what about electronic devices you need to use, like a phone or GPS?
Our phones, in particular, have become an extension of us. We don’t go anywhere without them, and we use them for everything - from using a navigation/GPS app, to checking email, to taking photos - we even use them to keep track of our schedule and for updating our Facebook profile with pictures from our rides!
So it goes without saying that waterlogging your phone is a bad thing. Besides the inconvenience, these mini-computers are no longer cheap to replace!
So how do you protect your phone while using it on a motorcycle? Here are some ideas for waterproofing your phone.
Nowadays there are many waterproof phone cases to choose from; Otterbox and Lifeproof are two better-known waterproof phone case brands.
If you have a cover like that on your phone, it adds bulk (size) and weight. So when you consider mounting it on your motorcycle, it helps to know the total dimensions (width, height AND depth) of your phone in its case. Then you can choose a mount that accommodates that. (Helpful hint: check out our Phone Sizing Guide).
If you don’t want a bulky waterproof cover on your phone, here are several suggestions for keeping your phone dry. (BTW these apply nicely to GPS, iPods and other devices as well.)
Approach #1: Zip-Lock BaggieKeep a few zip lock bags in your saddlebag (or pocket) and simply slip one on over your phone. Make sure you get a high-quality brand so the ‘zip’ really ‘locks.’ This method has worked for me in light to moderate rain (although truth be told, I prefer one of our mounts!).
Approach #2: Caddy BuddyThe Caddy Buddy Waterproof Phone Mount is made of a vinyl material with a harder ‘backing’ sewn in for support. It has a slim, unobtrusive profile and the clear cover allows you to operate the phone’s touch screen through it. The back side features a swivel mechanism so you can tilt/angle the phone, with both vertical and horizontal options.
The Caddy Buddy fits phones up to 3-7/8 inch wide and 6-1/8 inch high. Depth capability depends in part on size of phone but is best under ⅝ inch. You can run wires out of it either at the top edge (it has a velcro closure) or by snipping a tiny hole in the exact place you need it.
Approach #3: Hydra Waterproof CaseIf you’ve got a large phone - or you have a thicker case or cover on your phone that you don’t want to have to remove every time you ride - the Hydra waterproof phone/GPS mount may be of interest to you.
The Hydra is a case with a zipper closure on three edges. It has a special waterproof ‘plug’ to run wires out if needed and is available in several sizes. Because it has a thicker vinyl front, it can be harder to use the touch screen functions (some phone screens are more touchy than others). The Hydra also has a swivel mechanism connecting it on the back so you can tilt/angle the phone, with both vertical and horizontal options.
Both the Caddy Buddy and the Hydra can be mounted in a variety of locations: handlebar, brake/clutch, mirror stem, windshield and more. So you can always get your phone in a position that is easy for you to see and read.
- Tracey Cramer