Introduction: Sportbike Smartphone Ram Mount - 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 ABS
If you are looking for an professional looking way to mount your smartphone to your bike, you've come to the right place.
As a GPSaholic myself, one of the first things I do to any bike I'll be riding is:
A - A way to mount a phone
B - A way to charge the mounted phone
This instructable will be taking care of the first part.
There are plenty of ways to mount a phone holder to a motorcycle. But if you're looking for a reliable mount, as OEM looking as possible, that leaves the phone in a symmetrical, stable position, this is as good as you're going to get on anything smaller than a Goldwing. And it's easy and cheap to do. Keep reading to learn how. Also, this DIY may be updated over time. To see the latest version, click here.
Tool Requirements: Easy-Intermediate
Time: Less than 1 hour
Working on any vehicle can be risky to both yourself and the vehicle. No warranties or guaranties, explicit or implicit, are made or implied regarding the compatibility, suitability or effect on functionality, safety or any current warranties. All modifications should be made within the reader's capability and under their own exclusive responsibility.
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Step 1: Easy, Bolt-On Option - Fork Stem Base
Okay, if you don't want to modify your bike and simply want to buy a single item you can bolt on (without damage to the bike) and be done with it, go with this:
Ram Mounts Fork Stem Mount w/ Short Double Socket Arm and Universal Phone holder
That bolts straight on in a few minutes in the hole under the black cap under the handlebar. See the picture attached for more information. It comes with everything included so you wouldn't need to buy any other accessory. It's a great option if you don't want to tap your handlebar, which is understandable. To see how to install it, click here.
Another option for an ever tighter fit would be this one: 1" Ball 12mm Hexagon Hole GPS Mount. Many users prefer the metal mounting stem rather than the rubber one on Ram Mounts Fork Stem Mount.
For more options or a more OEM looking solution keep reading.
Step 2: Ram Mount Options
Here we'll go into a more detailed explanation of the options.
When it comes to helmet-bluetooth intercoms, everyone's going to point you to Sena. When it comes to phone mounts, they'll point you to Ram Mounts. It's almost fair to say that, for the moment, there isn't even a second-best choice. They're currently the industry standard.
That said, there are still a few decisions to make. More than a product, Ram Mounts offers a Lego-like system where you pick and choose what you like and what you need, depending on your application. The phone mount itself is called the "Universal X-Grip", and you have one model for "normal" small and medium smartphones and one model for large Smartphones. They are both identical, except that the "large" version is for phablet sized phones.
The real options come at the mount-to-bike side. Here you'll have plenty of choices. I have my favorite, but I'll step you through a few, just in case any of them should suit you better.
- RAM Handlebar Rail Mount: Suitable for semi-permanent mounting to a bar. Might very well be among the better options for a continuous handlebar (motocross style). Perfectly stable, but not the most aesthetically pleasing option. Great for portable or temporary use, too.
- Ram Mount Motorcycle Fork Stem Base: Excellent option if you have a hollow steering column or triple tree bolt head. Especially if the other options don't fit. This is the quick & easy solution from step 2.
RAM Small Tough-Claw Base: There are different sizes for different size tubes. This is the best portable, temporary option for quick on and off. Not the best option for permanent or semipermanent use.
RAM Torque Handlebar/Rail Base: More aesthetically pleasing and permanent alternative to the "RAM Handlebar Rail Mount".
RAM Combination Brake/Clutch Reservoir U-Bolt Mount: I dislike this option because the GPS would be both non-centered on the handlebar, and move around every time I turn (which I find annoying, and a risk if using a charging cable). Nonetheless, the option exists.
RAM Large Gas Tank Mount: If you are attracted to this style of mount, and it's compatible with your bike, go for it. For the sportbike crowd with a leaned over position, the viewing angle would not be great so I'm hard pressed to see the advantage. Plus, refueling next to a charging, hot phone (or having to remove it to refuel) doesn't sound attractive at all.
As you can see, there are plenty of choices. But by far, my favorite choice for an OEM looking, aesthetically pleasing, non obtrusive design is the "Ram Mount 1-Inch Ball with 1/4-Inch 20 Male Threaded Post". To boot, it's one of the cheaper options, too. This Instructable will be centered around installing a phone mount via this option.
Step 3: What You'll Need
I will be installing this on a 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 with an X-Grip Mount using a 1/4-20 Male Threaded Ball, which, after doing a handful of phone mount installations, is my favorite way to do the install. Regardless of the bike, the tools needed and process should be virtually the same.
Ram Mount 1-Inch Ball with 1/4-Inch 20 Male Threaded Post: This is the actual part we will be installing.
Ram Mount Cradle Holder for Universal X-Grip Cellphone/iPhone with 1-Inch Ball: For small to medium phones (your typical Samsung Galaxy smartphone), this is my favorite phone holder. If you have a phablet or large smartphone, buy this one instead.
Ram Mount Composite Short Double Socket Arm for 1-Inch Ball Bases: Depending on your application, you might want a shorter or longer arm. Or even multi-articulated. But for most people this will work just fine.
- Hand Drill (preferably pneumatic): I prefer pneumatic since it's lighter and easier to control one handed in delicate tasks like this, but the day I made this Instructable my pneumatic drill was being repaired so I used an electric drill instead with no issues.
- Drill Bit Set or a 5mm Drill bit / #7 / 13/64 Drill Bit: To make the hole prior to tapping.
- 1/4-20 Tap Set: I really like these small sets from Irwin, since they include all three taps (the third being for blind holes) as well as a nice carry case. It's certainly nice to have around in the sizes you need. Note: If the hole you're drilling is blind, as in the drill bit doesn't go all the way through the material (like in triple tree head bolts), you'll need a blind tap.
- Center Punch: To prevent the drill bit from slipping and ruining your day. A must have in any toolbox.
- Tap Wrench: I personally prefer the ratcheting variety since it's quicker, but you can use whatever you have at hand.
- Masking tape: Just to help prevent markings and marring. A few old towels or rags wouldn't hurt, either.
- Pencil: Cus' measuring twice and cutting once only matters if you're marking where you're cutting.
- Measuring tape and/or rulers: See the point above.
- Thread locker: Either blue (medium strength) or red (high strength) are fine.
- (Mechanic's Gas Tank Apron): If you work on your bike regularly, this is a must have. A single paint chip on your gas tank made by a ratchet-wielding, 200lb gorilla will cost you a lot more distress than the cost of this apron. It's one of those buy once, use a lifetime items which makes it pretty useful.
(Drill / Tap Guide): While by no means necessary, for jobs like this I really like using a drill / tap guide to make sure the drilling hole is 100% perpendicular. Drilling straight is the most important detail when it comes to tapping, so it's crucial to get it done right, regardless of using crutches like this or not.
(Tapping Oil): Motor oil (or any viscous oil) will typically do just fine, but if you tap with any frequency, it's nice to have. It helps make nicer threads and reduces the risk of breaking a tap.
(Superglue): Just your typical cyanoacrylic glue. Not necessary, but it's useful if you have it on hand.
*Items in parenthesis mean optional.
Step 4: Prepare the Area and Pick a Location
The first step would be to pick where you want the Ram Mount bolt to be installed. My personal favorites are the triple tree head bolt itself, or on the handlebar mount.
Since I was doing other installations, the front fairings of my bike were mostly removed, anyway. This is by no means necessary, of course. If you feel like removing something to reduce the risk of damaging it (like the windshield), go ahead.
Step 5: Measure and Mark the Drill Location
Measure and mark where you are going to want to drill. Make sure that it is centered and exactly where you want it before bringing out any tools.
Step 6: Center Punch the Drill Location
In an area like this, where the drill bit dancing off center would mean one horrible day, I'd consider using a center punch non-optional. Even if you don't have an Automatic Center-Punch like the one pictured (which I prefer), center punch with anything at hand (even a nail) before even thinking about drilling.
Step 7: Protect the Area
Mask around the drill zone to prevent any marks made by mistake. In my case, I knew that the drilling guide used later on tends to leave marks where it contacts the work surface, so I simply covered the surrounding zone.
Also, lay around some rags just in case you drop a tool, or simply to protect any surfaces from the machining chips.
Step 8: Drill
Once you're ready, drill.
I used a 5mm drill bit (I'm a metric guy, what can I say), but the "proper" size is #7 or 13/64". Since motorcycles vibrate a lot, you want a tight thread (which is why I went with the slightly undersized 5mm).
Make sure the drill bit is completely perpendicular to the work surface (which is why I used a drill guide). Go really slow to keep the drill bit from damaging whatever is underneath the drill location (if you're drilling all the way through). Since in this case we were indeed drilling a through-hole with another component beneath, I placed rags underneath the drill location to catch and stop the drill bit once it had gone through the handlebar mount but before damaging the triple tree.
After that, brush or blow away the chips.
Step 9: Tap the Hole
Now it's time to make threads suitable for the Ram Mount attachment. Depending on if you've ever tapped a hole before (boy is it hard to say that with a serious face repeatedly...), this may seem either trivial or intimidating to you, but don't worry, it's easy.
All you need is a drill bit (slightly smaller than the thread you will be tapping), a tap, and a tap wrench. You drill the slightly undersized hole, and then the tap (which has a cone shape) slowly removes material little by little until it's created a thread in the size you need. There really isn't any more to it. The only tips to keep in mind are to lubricate, to start perpendicular, to go slow, and to backup a turn every time the tap gets stuck. If you have any more specific questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.
Step 10: Mount the Ball
In my case, I used a Ram Mount 1-Inch Tough-Ball, simply because I was curious if there were any differences between that model and the normal version, but honestly, I don't have a clear preference between either. I suppose the hex threads are nice on the tough model, but the other model looks simpler which I also like.
I put a nylon washer under the ball to keep it from marring the handlebar mount, but that's totally optional and unnecessary. What isn't optional is using threadlocker. Motorcycles vibrate a lot, so make sure you loctite every bolt you install yourself.
Step 11: Finish It Up
Now all that's left is to make the finishing touches, screw on the extra Ram Mount pieces and put the fairings on.
Step 12: C'est Fini!
Hopefully all went great and now you have an excellent way to check your emails while at red lights just like the rest of the cagers out there! But hopefully you're more sensible than that and will use it for GPS above all.
In any case, I hope it was helpful! If you completed this project, I'd be more than happy to see the results and your bike in the comments below. Also, if you want to check out what other mods and upgrades I've done to my bike, check out my 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650's upgrades list.
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5 months ago
Hi. Wouldn't it be easier to use a stem mount and an extension arm?
I own a 2020 Ninja 650 (so it should have the same triple-tree / handlebars system), and I was also frustrated for not having a place to place my phone. In the end I used an Oxford CLIQR combination (stem mount and pivot arm), but later on I also found stem balls using the same stem system (so you can use pretty much any ball system you like). This way I avoided altering components. I know Kawasaki is not the friendliest one for this approach (having a hex hole), but this all-rubber system was quite OK: good grip and a bit of flexibility, dampening vibrations. One extra step was to add a rubber washer (like the ones used on your shower hose) when installing the stem mount, as placing the base piece in direct contact with the metal would have been canceled out the anti-vibration effect of the rubber in the stem.