Introduction: $9 Bike Mount for GPS or Phone
Okay, so the actual cost was $9.01 at my local big box home and garden store. However, that was for everything.
I was scheduled to go on a bike ride the upcoming weekend, and wanted an inexpensive way to mount my expensive iPhone to the handlebar of my bike. This was so I could use a biking GPS app while riding.
I already had a LIFEPROOF® frē case and matching belt clip for my phone, so the $9.01 doesn’t include that. However, my bike mount could work for most any holster and case. The LIFEPROOF® frē combination does make my setup pretty bulletproof, though. I’m not associated with LIFEPROOF®, but I like the frē case because it’s shockproof, waterproof and dirtproof. (Please see their web page for details.) The belt clip that matches the case has a rotating belt attachment and a unique feature: A lock switch that secures the phone in the cradle-like clip. When that switch is in the locked position, the phone is not coming loose, not without destroying the holster. The holster itself is made of very tough plastic, so that’s not likely to happen with the kind of riding I do.
Let’s move on to the actual bike mount. Here’s the finished product, sans the iPhone. (Please ignore the lawn mower the bike is leaning against.)
As you can see, this mount will place the device front and center on the handlebar, right in front of the rider.
Parts you’ll need:
2 each ¾” conduit hangers
4 each ¼”-20 nylon self-locking or “safety” nuts
2 each ¼”-20, ¾” long machine screws
Roll of ¾” wide, 7/16” thick rubber foam, self-adhesive weather stripping (you actually only need two pieces about an inch-and-a-half long.)
Plastic outdoor-use, single-gang, blank electrical box cover (you could use anything you want here, as long as you think it’s sturdy enough: Wood, plastic, metal, whatever.)
Step 1: Measure and Cut the Plastic Blank Cover
This is the piece the belt clip will actually clip onto. It’s too wide for the clip to attach to well, so it must be trimmed.
Find the center of the cover.
Line the belt clip up on the cover with the center point and mark where the clip ends.
Use a small T-Square or other right-angle device to carry your marks to the edge of the plate. Then use your favorite cutting tool to cut out the waste. I used my Dremel.
Hint: Cut on the waste side of the lines. This plastic material is easy to work with and it’s easy to trim more plastic off, but impossible to add plastic back.)
Here’s what you should end up with.
The belt clip goes on like so.
What you’ll find, though, is that the plate isn’t thick enough and the belt clip will wiggle around a lot. Help keep it secure by adhering two strips of the rubber foam to upper side of the plate, above the cutout.
When you're done, the belt clip will attach to the plate quite nicely.
Step 2: Attach the Mounting Brackets
The mounting brackets are the two ¾” conduit clamps. Take the clamps and the plate out to your bike. Dry fit the clamps to the handlebar, on either side of where the upright stem attaches to the handlebar.
Then lay the plate on the clamps and line up the bottom edge plate with the holes in the clamps. Center the plate over the stem clamp. You could get all measurey and stuff, but I just used my Mark I Improved eyeballs ("Improved" because I wear glasses.)
Mark the plate at the edge where the holes of the clamps line up. The actual mounting holes in the plate will be drilled on the long centerline of the plate. In my case, I was able to put the clamps hard against the stem clamp. You may have to move your clamps out further.
Transfer the hole marks on the plate to the centerline of the plate.
Drill the holes big enough for the ¼”-20 screws and attach the clamps to the underside of the plate with the ¼”-20, ¾” long screws and the ¼”-20 self-locking nuts.
Make sure the nuts are on the underside of the plate. Also, notice that the clamps have a square hole and a round hole where their clamping screws go through. Each clamp uses a ¼”-20 carriage bolt that is designed to fit into that square hole and allow tightening the nut without using a screwdriver on the head of the bolt. The square hole is where the smooth, rounded head of the bold will be exposed. You want that end facing you while riding. Make sure the square holes of the clamps are both pointing the same way and will be towards the bike’s saddle after this rig is mounted. You want pointy stuff, like the ends of threaded end of screws and bolts, pointed away from your soft, tender parts while riding.
Step 3: Attach the Mount to the Handlebar
Spread the clamps out enough to get them over the handlebar. Don’t use the ¼” nuts that came with the clamp. Instead, use a ¼”-20 self-locking nut on each clamp. Conduit clamps don’t see much vibration in a building, where they’re usually installed. A bike is a different story. If you don’t use the self-locking nuts, or at least a lock washer on the nuts that came with the clamp, they’re liable to loosen up on you while you ride.
Fasten the clamps to the handlebar, leaving them a tad loose. This is so you can sit on the saddle and adjust the angle of your phone for your viewing pleasure. After you’ve got the angle right, tighten the nuts on the clamps.
Step 4: Attach the Phone to the Mount
This is the simple part. Just clip the belt clip to the mount and then put the phone in the belt clip. On the frē belt clip, slide the lock switch to the “locked” position and the phone is secure.
The belt clip I use swivels, with indents, so I can turn the phone to whatever position makes sense for the app I’m using.
Again, you could modify this mount for other devices and their belt clips. For example, with a simple modification, I could use my Garmin eTrex GPS with this.
The belt clip itself on the Garmin is too thick to fit between the stem clamp and the underside of the plate However, if I added some spacers between the clamps and the plate to increase that distance, it would work just fine, and still work with my iPhone.