Phones make trusty MP3 players and cycling computers -- as well as handy phones -- so they can replace a pocket full of gear on your daily commute or monthly trek. But short of lashing them to the handlebars with duct tape, you need a decent way to keep them front-and-centre, without them flying off to become the puck in a horrifying game of car hockey. You'll be needing a mount.
With all the mounts we tested, we were surprised how much we enjoyed having our phone at our fingertips while pedalling. Not only did our sat-nav apps benefit from having a clear line of sight to the satellite-soaked sky, but we could answer calls and see texts as they came in, while a quick switch between podcasts was much easier without having to root around in our pockets.
But hopefully it goes without saying that you shouldn't get distracted by your iPhone's beauty and go ploughing into lampposts and pedestrians. Drive safely, people! Try to stay at least as attentive as a white-van driver is while he's smoking a fag, talking on the hands-free, typing into the sat-nav and reading the Sun.
We took three of the top bicycle iPhone holders for a test pedal to see which one kept our little touchscreen buddy safe and sound. Read on for the scoop on what helped and what hindered our desire for wide-open spaces.
The Ram Rail EZ-on was the most complicated of the iPhone holders we tested, because it took some flat-pack-style assembly. It even involved a screwdriver to connect two plastic pieces, which made us wonder why it wasn't just moulded as one piece.
Once we put it together, attaching the mount to our handlebars was a simple matter of tightening a couple of cable ties. We liked that Ram included a sticky rubber sheet to wrap the handlebars and ensure the bracket would lodge solidly.
The Ram Rail EZ-on was our least favourite mount, however. The quick-release part wasn't easy to release, and didn't feel terribly secure. We also felt the collection of springs and parts was over-complicated, which means more bits that could break over time.
The bracket that holds the phone was bulky, and it was impossible to put the phone in our pocket while it was still attached. That meant parking the bike involved removing the bracket, lest it be nicked, then separating it from the phone and storing it away.
On the other hand, we had no trouble using the EZ-on, once it was installed. The phone never dislodged, even bouncing through London potholes and speed bumps, and it was held in a good position on the handlebars.
Ram also makes mounts for plenty of other, non-iPhone devices and for heaps of other, non-bicycle modes of transport.
£19.99 from Amazon.co.uk
The Velotrac Pak was the only iPhone bicycle holder that was suitable for the rainy days and tossed cans of cider that occasionally make riding such a pleasure. Instead of attaching the phone to the handlebars, the Velotrac attaches to the top tube and packs the phone into a clear pocket in the lid of a small gear bag.
We took the Velotrac out in a heavy rainstorm and although it did a good job of protecting the phone, we did find a good deal of condensation inside the pouch after a half-hour ride.
The Velotrac attached easily to the frame with three velcro straps that are more than long enough to surround the fattest tubes. It's not a permanent connection though, so we had to remove the whole thing every time we parked the bike to thwart the thieves.
The iPhone screen was visible through a clear plastic window, but operating the phone was not easy and it wasn't as bright as it was without the cover. On the other hand, it was handy that Velotrac included a rubber orifice to pass the headphone cable through, although we prefer Bluetooth headphones when we're on the bike.
It was very tough to remove the phone from the pouch, which would thwart any cheeky chappies who try to grab your gear like the brass ring on a merry-go-round. With the other brackets, we thought someone might be tempted to have a go at grabbing the phone. Although it would be hard to wrench it out of any of the brackets, unless you already knew how to twist it out, it could have damaged the phone, so the Velotrac is a good choice if you fear the weather or scalliwags.
Velotrac also offers a free iPhone app (iTunes link), which you can use with any bike mount -- or just save the coin and put it in your pocket. You can also use the Velotrac with any phone that fits in the pocket, not just the iPhone -- but it'll have to be the same size or smaller than an iPhone 3GS to fit.
£22.00 ($29.95 plus $4.95 shipping to the UK) direct from Velotrac
We had our doubts about entrusting our pricey
piece of silicon and glass to the GoRide, with its simple one-piece
bracket. But a few laps around the city reassured us the phone was
solidly held by the slim-line mount and the two cable ties that held it to the handlebars.
We particularly liked how the low profile of this bracket kept the phone close to the handlebars, reducing stress on the mount. The rubber foot clung solidly, although we would have liked a rubber sleeve like the Ram EZ's to keep the cable ties from slipping over the long term.
Another benefit of the GoRide is that the phone holder is slim, and could even double as a case for the iPhone. It's easy and fast to remove from the mount, and you don't have to take it off to slide the phone into your pocket.
In our tests, the GoRide was a clear winner, with no significant drawbacks -- unless it's a rainy day.
£25 ($29.95 + $9.99 shipping to the UK) direct from Bicio