As smartphones now appear to play a significant role in the human experience, more motorcycle riders than ever before are depending on these handheld devices as their primary GPS navigation tool. After all, why fumble around with a dedicated GPS device, when our phones, these tools that do so much more than just GPS routing, can do the same. Often better, and more reliably.
I've been testing a couple of popular handlebar mounting options on the market, RAM's X-Grip® and the Quad Lock® system and have some comments that may help in your decision on which is the best motorcycle phone mount for you:
Best Motorcycle Phone Mount Contender #1
The Quad Lock: The Pro's
Locking Mechanism - The Quad Lock folks designed a certain, crisp, definite locking mechanism that leaves no doubt that your smartphone is locked in place. There are even testimonials out there about riders crashing and destroying their motorcycles, while their phone stayed in position and mounted in the Quad Lock.
Speed & Ease of Use - Fast and easy to mount and dismount, expect your average "twist on" mounting time to be 2-3 seconds, and removal to take 1 second or less. Yes, it's that simple. Best solution possible for photographers, motovloggers, and those trying to make sure they don't miss out on opportunities, see the video showing just how easy this system is to use.
Full Screen Access - Unlike its competitor, the Quad Lock system allows full access to our phones by not having any rubber bands or similar covering useful corners of the screen.
Adaptability - It's extremely convenient to use the standard 1" RAM Ball so many of us already have on our bikes in combination with the Quad Lock. Purchase Quad Lock's 1" Ball Motorcycle Kit Universal Adaptor, and mounting is fast and easy.
Quality of Construction - While it's mostly just plastic, the moldings and pieces that go into the Quad Lock feel sturdy, long-lasting, and have a minimum of moving parts and pieces that could possibly fail. No parts to fall-off. Very little that could possibly wear out with time.
The Quad Lock: The Con's
Quad Lock Case Necessary - The Quad Lock system requires the use of their proprietary protective cases made specific to all the major smartphones on the market today. Not a big deal as most of us seem to prefer having protective cases for our phones anyway, so does this really even qualify as a "Con?"
Using their Adaptor - In order to use the Quad Lock, we ultimately need to buy their Universal Adaptor or one of their connecting mounts in order to use. Perhaps it's silly to even mention this, as it's like saying "in order to use their product, one must buy said product." Duh, really? Again, barely a Con, and only about a $30 piece anyway.
Parts Could Wear Out - Key word here being "could." Because the Quad Lock mechanism is ultimately about a 'shearing & sliding' action between a couple of plastic pieces, in theory, these could wear out with time. We've seen no such significant evidence of this yet though, and honestly, by the time you could possibly wear-out this mechanism anyway, your smartphone will be dinosaur, meaning you'll have a new phone and need a new case for it anyway.
Best Motorcycle Phone Mount Contender #2
RAM X-Grip: The Pro's
Does What it Claims - Pretty straight forward here, if you use the X-Grip as instructed, with all 4 corners of the included rubber band straps, it does hold a smartphone in its place securely.
RAM X-Grip: The Con's
Difficulty of Use - Mounting and dismounting your phone into the X-Grip cradle itself is a matter of fumbling around with the spring-loaded lever-action cradle pieces, and then finding, stretching, and strapping all four corners of a rubber band system into place to act as a backup to the cradle itself.
I'll declare those rubber straps a 'backup' as the cradle alone should not be depended upon exclusively for holding the phone to the X-Grip. As witnessed in that video footage we captured, even just using 2 of the 4 corners of the rubber band as Dermot did on some fun dual sport terrain in Thailand was enough to eject his phone into the jungle floor. Fortunately, the video camera was rolling so we could look back and find his phone in the foliage.
Rubber Bands Break - While the bands on our tested device haven't broken yet, we've seen others that did, and everyone knows that ultimately rubber bands will break with time, heat and sun exposure, etc.
Slow for Photography - Along the lines of the "difficulty of use" point above, the slower and more cumbersome a mounting solution is, the longer it takes us to get the phone on/off for use, the less-likely we'll be to capture that elk siting along the Oregon Trail, or that moment when your riding buddy launches his twin cylinder adventure bike up some crazy ravine in Patagonia. I've found the X-Grip to be so cumbersome, that I've even ignored some photo opportunities just based on the extra 15-seconds of hassle that go into getting my phone back into my hands and ready to shoot.
Rubber Pieces Break & Disappear - As is evident in the video, those corner grip pieces fall off inadvertently and disappear, and while still in position, they even tear and split open in fairly short time. Without them in place, the phone will be improperly mounted, therefore less secure, and possibly digging-into and damaging your phone's case.
Feeling & Construction - It's okay, I guess, but the gritty feeling that develops in the X-Grip's arm action from dust and dirt falling in, combined with the rubber bands that can break and corner pieces that tear and disappear, and it just doesn't feel incredibly well-built.
And The Winner of The Best Motorcycle Phone Mount is...
As perhaps you'll notice, I'm challenged to find anything bad to say about the Quad Lock, while at the same time, the X-Grip has been a bit of a disappointment. Yes, perhaps those of you with a more relaxed riding schedule won't mind the little inconveniences, but when I'm out guiding a motorcycle tour or on a research trip like the one we recently finished in Baja, each moment of a long day is precious time, and fumbling with anything extra or tedious just doesn't fit in.
At the risk of appearing to toss all credibility out the window here, you're welcome to a discount on a Quad Lock purchase by using this link, but please trust me, whether they gave us that link or not, I will only be using the Quad Lock from now on. Or at least until a better motorcycle phone mounting solution is developed for using a smartphone as GPS on my motorcycle.
If you're a visual learner here is a in depth video review on this topic