Based on the amount of new product announcements coming through Bikerumor’s inboxes lately, the problem of mounting a cell phone to bicycle handlebars has kept many inventors busy. It seems every week there is a new method or invention that would allow you to place your phone right where you need it so that it can do multiple duties as a GPS, music player, and even a light.
Rokform is not so new to the game, and they offer their own handlebar mount for the Samsung Galaxy S4 (and any other phone they make a case for thanks to their modular system). The recently announced Morsa mounting system said it was compatible with Rokform’s products, so I gave them a combined look.
Does mounting a large smart phone to your bars turn your device into a connected wonderland? Take a read inside and see what we think…
The Rokform case is pretty attractive, and their idea is that you can put the case on your phone, and then have their 1/8th-turn mounting platforms on all sorts of things, bikes, cars and belt clips, and then be able to mount your phone in any way that you need it. There is also a rubber pad that is replaceable with a magnet-filled pad, for making the phone stick to any steel surface. While it looks nice, it was pretty klunky to install, and actually peeled up the edges of the screen protector as it was put on.
The handlebar mounting system was pretty straighforward, using a rubber Quick Fist style clamp to hold the mounting surface to the handlebar. Different than other Rokform products, it also had a locking tab on it so that your phone was not accidentally sent into some endo-powered orbit. The rubber strap was stretched to fit a 31.8mm bar, but it seems they had smaller bars in mind, since I had to grab the tab with a pliers to pull hard enough to snap it into place.
While putting the phone on the bars might seem like a good idea, it really isn’t. Putting your expensive device out where it can be impacted is a risk, but more common, it will get dirty, and that dirt can get into the buttons and speakers, drastically reducing the lifespan of the device. After only a few miles on pavement, the Galaxy was covered in dirty, muddy water from the street that was sprayed up off the wheel.
I do not typically use my phone during a ride, but I (reluctantly) ran Strava, and was actually pretty impressed at the detail the GPS unit was able to pick up on the singletrack. Could it have picked up the same signal in my backpack? Maybe.
Rokform provided this pretty simple Ziploc-style bag for protection of the phone, but it really did nothing. It was completely sealed, so it would not be able to be used with the handlebar mount, but even worse than that, the Samsung phone didn’t even fit in it. For a $48.99 case and mounting system, they should at least know what size to make the included accessories.
How did the Rokform shake out in the end? Well, I wouldn’t recommend it on the handlebar. The idea of mounting an expensive phone to your handlebars is questionable at best, and it seems that Rokform missed a few essential details on bringing it to market. There is a lot of competition in this area to be first, and because of that, a lot of products are seemingly being rushed to market. In addition to test-fitting all items they put in their package, these companies might also take a step back and decide if putting the phone on the bars is the right thing to do in the first place.