Where would you like to go? In any case, it's better to have your mobile phone on the handlebars than in your hand
Photo: Luis Alvarez / Getty Images
Whether on holiday or cruising through the big city, the smartphone helps us to find the most beautiful or shortest route to our destinations. In addition to specialized apps such as Komoot and Strava, free services such as Google Maps and Apple's "Maps" app are now masters of route planning for cyclists.
But this only works if you keep an eye on the smartphone, i.e. if you can attach it to the handlebars. There are many mounts: from simple silicone straps that fit into small pockets when not in use, to system solutions whose bracket is permanently attached to the handlebars or stem. The smartphone is then attached to it with the help of a special case. In some cases, even suitable power banks are available, which are supposed to extend the runtime of the smartphone.
While silicone straps fit almost any smartphone, the cases are always tailored to a specific smartphone model. iPhone owners have the largest selection: Due to the widespread use of Apple devices, most providers have cases for different iPhone models in their range. But there are also offers for Samsung and Google phones.
Owners of less common smartphone models can resort to universal cases. These are often designed as pockets with a transparent film above the display. The mobile phones do not sit as tightly in these bags as in the adapted cases, but these cases are usually waterproof. But here, too, you have to pay attention to the size: not every smartphone fits in every mobile phone pocket. Alternatively, there are solutions with clamping jaws.
Whether you need a waterproof case, you have to decide for yourself. We did not include any such cases in this test. On the one hand, they limit the usability of the mobile phone, the touchscreen is not usable, and it is hardly possible to make phone calls. On the other hand, many modern smartphones are waterproof anyway. Smartphones with protection classes IP 67 and IP 68 should offer sufficient protection in the event of a shower. But: It is better to check the technical data of the smartphone to see if it meets this requirement.
A Question of Cargo
For a tour in the city, one battery charge is usually sufficient. On the other hand, the battery capacity of smartphones is not sufficient for day trips, the navigation apps suck properly on the battery. If you want to charge the battery while riding, you have to take a power bank with you as a reserve – unless you have an e-bike with a USB charging port.
All tested cases offer the possibility to connect a charging cable. Three systems in the test field can optionally be supplemented with their own power bank – this saves tinkering when attaching your own solution. If the power bank is then equipped with an inductive charging function, you can also save the cable.
Finn consists of a specially shaped silicone strap that is swung around the handlebars and hooked to the four corners of the smartphone. The mechanism is quite clever and you should first look at the small instructions before mounting the strap. As a result, the back of the smartphone rests on the thick part of the silicone, which dampens vibrations. The tension of the elastic material allows the smartphone to sit securely. When driving over cobblestones, the smartphone shifted slightly in this suspension, but stuck securely to the handlebars.
Manufacturer Bike Citizens states that smartphones with its product can be attached to all types of bicycle handlebars. That's not entirely true, because the system reaches its limits when combining large smartphones with thick handlebars. Then the material has to be stretched to such an extent that it threatens to crack. This raises the question of how well the respective smartphone can withstand this tensile load. However, if you have a thin handlebar and/or a small smartphone, you will be able to use Finn. It remains unclear how quickly the silicone ages and possibly becomes brittle.
What I like about Finn: The strap holds almost any smartphone securely, is small, light and also inexpensive. You can always have it with you.
The less: Attaching the smartphone is time-consuming. Bike Citizens has not provided for an additional security in case the material fails.
Who Finn is for: Finn is perfect for your work bag: If you borrow a bike during your lunch break or on the way to the customer, you can use it to clamp your smartphone to the handlebars as a navigation aid. Finn also belongs in his holiday luggage.
With »Compit«, the accessory manufacturer SKS has a comprehensive system on offer: There are three brackets for mounting handlebars, mounting stems or Velcro, which are supplemented by universal and special cases that can be clicked on. With its cases, SKS covers almost all iPhone models, many Samsung phones, older Google Pixel phones and the five-year-old Huawei P20. We tested the adapter with handlebar mounting together with a case for the iPhone 14 Pro as well as the power bank "+com/Charger", which is available in a set with the holder.
The power bank from SKS is powerful and very well integrated into the system
Photo: Markus Linden
The adapter is mounted in the middle of the handlebar. Two clamps on the left and right can be adapted to different handlebar diameters with different inserts. The installation with Allen screws is a bit cumbersome, but the adapter then sits firmly and securely. The adapter plate can be tilted forwards and backwards - if you want to change the angle later, you have to loosen two of the six screws.
The smartphone in its case is placed on the adapter offset by 45 degrees and turned vertically. Optionally, it can be positioned horizontally.
The iPhone 14 Pro sits securely in its case. This is a bit thicker than usual smartphone cases, if only because of the adapter integrated at the back. Nevertheless, the smartphone still fits well in your pocket and the case looks neutral. The only annoying thing is that the buttons for volume / volume down are stiff. The scope of delivery includes a narrow safety strap that can be threaded into the bottom of the case. We used it when riding our mountain bikes, but the smartphone also sat securely on the handlebars for "wilder" rides.
To connect the system to the +com/charger power bank, it can optionally be placed between the smartphone case and the handlebar adapter. It has the same mechanism as the case and handlebar adapter - a nice system solution, as you can start flexibly with or without a power bank.
Since the power bank can also charge wirelessly, you only have to activate it on the side switch if necessary. In the test, it fully charged an iPhone 14 Pro 1.5 times. If you use a cable (USB-C or USB-A), you get two iPhone charges out of the power bank - energy is lost during wireless charging.
What I like about the Compit system: The adapter and the case sit stably on the handlebars, the case can be easily put on. The integration of the power bank is great.
The less: The iPhone's buttons are difficult to use in the case. If you need a rain cover, you have to buy the universal bag from SKS, with which inductive charging via power bank does not work.
For whom the Compit system from SKS is suitable: It is perfect for all touring and sports cyclists who want to ride with or without a power bank and value a stable fit on the handlebars.
Topeak offers customized cases for Apple devices only. For other smartphones, there is a universal holder with silicone tensioners. Both variants are not waterproof. Optionally, however, there is a waterproof universal cover in two sizes.
We tested the case for the iPhone 14 Pro with the RideCase mount for the Ahead cap, which can be mounted on Ahead stems instead of the lid. What sounds complicated is a matter of a minute: loosen the Ahead lid with an Allen tool and screw in the RideCase mount in its place, done.
The adapter allows a continuous adjustment of the inclination, which can no longer be changed after installation. The »RideCase« cover has a rail on the back with which the smartphone can be pushed onto the adapter. A small lever on the adapter is used to loosen the connection. It is possible to rotate the smartphone from a vertical to a horizontal orientation at any time. If you don't have an Ahead stem on the bike, you can alternatively use an included clamp for handlebars or stem to attach the adapter. The clamp construction is not as tight as the Ahead lid replacement, but it is a viable alternative.
The iPhone fits exactly into the sturdy case and is easy to use, including the buttons. On the back, the case has a fold-out stand so that the smartphone can be placed on the table during a break. Unfortunately, only vertically.
Topeak also has a power bank on offer. This is not as optimally integrated into the "ride system" as the power banks from SKS and SP Connect (see below) are integrated into their systems. The scope of delivery includes a tension strap with a rubber spacer, which allows mounting under the stem or top tube. In order to attach the power bank together with the smartphone, you need the "UTF Multi Mount" – an adapter that can accommodate the smartphone at the top of the RideCase, a GoPro camera or even the power bank at the bottom. In any case, you have to use a cable to charge the smartphone. Topeak has integrated two sealed USB-A sockets so that another device can be charged in parallel in addition to the smartphone. We were able to fully fill our iPhone 14 Pro with the power bank.
Here's what you like about Topeak's RideCase system: The small bracket on the Ahead lid is as compact as it is stable. The iPhone is well fixed by the case.
The less: Topeak's power bank cannot charge inductively and is not easy to attach. The design of the iPhone case is a bit rough and not to everyone's taste.
For whom the RideCase system is suitable: Anyone who is looking for a lightweight but very stable, uncomplicated mount and can do without inductive charging or even a power bank.
Thule Smartphone Bike Mount
Thule's smartphone holder has a special design: Similar to many smartphone holders for cars, the smartphone is clamped on the left and right by two spring-supported jaws - but here additionally fixed with silicone strap. This double belay ensures that it sits well on the handlebars and hardly wobbles. Even during a trip over cobblestones, the smartphone was easy to read and did not slip.
The design makes clamping easier: Unlike Finn, the smartphone is already in the right place before you tighten the silicone straps. But here, too, the following applies: In smartphones with narrow bezels, parts of the screen are covered by the bands. A special feature: The jaw clamp can be detached from the holder together with the silicone strap. Then - as with the cases - only the actual adapter remains on the handlebars. It is fastened with four screws. Adapter rings for different handlebar diameters are supplied by Thule.
But: Is the construction with the removable clamp bracket smart? In order to use it normally, you have to detach the smartphone from it and stow the holder. This only makes sense if you only want to park your bike for a short time and take your smartphone with you – for example, to a café along the way. In the vast majority of cases, it might be better to leave the jaw clamp and silicone strap on the bike and take the smartphone solo with you.
Thule's holder accommodates smartphones up to a size of 8.9 by 17 cm. The rather large Google Pixel 7 Pro could at least be clamped well, as could the slightly smaller iPhone 14 Pro.
Here's what you like about the Thule Smartphone Bike Mount: Smartphones of different sizes can be securely clamped with and without cases and used flexibly in vertical or horizontal orientation.
The less: On the Google Pixel 7 Pro, the jaws always press the centrally mounted volume/volume down buttons. In any case, it will remain silent.
For whom the Thule Smartphone Bike Mount is suitable: For all those who want to securely clamp smartphones without special cases.
Fidlock Vacuum Phone Case
The Fidlock system is based on a combination of suction cup and magnetic mount. If you're skeptical now, the tester was the same at first. But it turns out that the concept is actually working. The tested »Handle Base Flex« adapter for the bicycle handlebars has a suction cup and an integrated magnet. The smartphone case contains the magnetic counterpole and a smooth surface to match the suction cup.
To attach the smartphone to the holder, all it takes is an approach of about one centimeter, then the system snaps in, sucks in the case and sits firmly. Even when driving over cobblestones, the smartphone remained safely in place. It can be rotated in fine steps as desired, as the fixation is made via finely corrugated, interlocking rings. At the same time, Fidlock manages to keep the smartphone case very thin, which looks good. To remove it, a lever is operated on the handlebar adapter, which releases the vacuum.
There are cases for many iPhone and some Samsung models. Unfortunately, Apple's magnetic system Magsafe does not work with iPhones. If you have a completely different smartphone model, you can use Fidlock's universal holder, which is glued to any smartphone case. Their magnetic ring is also thin, but of course not as inconspicuously integrated as in Fidlock cases. The range also includes mounts for the windshield or fan grille in the car as well as a small tripod.
What I like about the Vacuum Phone Case: It looks like a normal cover, can be attached to the bike in seconds and sits securely.
The less: There is no power bank for the Fidlock system. Cautious natures would certainly like to have a safety strap, but Fidlock does not supply it.
For whom the Fidlock vacuum system is suitable: Anyone who frequently puts on and takes off their smartphone – no other system makes this as easy as it is here.
SP Connect Phone Case
SP Connect is a comprehensive system of phone cases and adapters for attaching smartphones to bicycles, motorcycles and cars. The Austrian company recently updated the interface between the handlebar adapter and the smartphone case or holder and renamed it SPC+. Each product comes with an adapter plate for the older SPC so that existing components can continue to be used.
There are special cases for almost all iPhones, many Samsung, newer Google and some Xiaomi phones. In addition, there are universal cases with clamping function and brackets for sticking on standard cases. We tested the case for the Pixel 7 Pro and the universal handlebar adapter »Universal Bike Mount«. There are other adapters, including for the Ahead cap. The Universal Bike Mount has the advantage that it can be adapted to different handlebar circumferences with a simple rotary wheel and the angle of attack can be freely adjusted. For the latter, an Allen tool is required. We also had the power bank »Wireles Powerbank SPC+« compete for the test.
The case is placed on the adapter offset by 90 degrees and rotated into position. You have to hit the 90 degrees exactly when touching down – this is not always possible immediately. Spontaneous rotation from vertical to horizontal position is not provided. To do this, the adapter must be adjusted with an Allen tool.
The case for the Pixel 7 Pro looks very similar to Google's original. The integrated SPC+ interface is hardly bulky. In addition, the case makes the Pixel 7 Pro compatible with Apple's magnetic hook function Magsafe.
The smartphone sits securely on the adapter. It resonates slightly in the event of vibrations, but that may be better for the phone than a connection that is too rigid. Even on rough roads, the smartphone remains easy to read. Similar to the SKS system, the power bank can be clamped between the mobile phone and the holder, as it has SPC+ mounts at the front and rear. It charges the smartphone wirelessly and also has a USB-C interface. Wirelessly, the iPhone 14 Pro can be fully charged to about 80 percent, via cable.
What I like about the SP Connect system: It is the most comprehensive system in the test. You won't find so many accessories anywhere else. The cases are high-quality and chic, the holder is strong. The power bank is also pleasing.
The less: Spontaneous rotation from vertical to horizontal orientation is not provided.
For whom SP Connect is suitable: For those who change smartphones frequently or have multiple vehicles, there are many different solutions in the SP Connect system.
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