This article is about the methods I've used to try to carry my iPhone while I bike and, more recently, how to get good performance from the Runkeeper or iMapMyRide apps while I ride.
The rating method is a simple "gut feeling" score from 0 to 5. With 5, of course, being the best.
Shirt or shorts this is not really a great idea for several reasons. The Runkeeper app is unreliable in the pocket. Either it misses getting a good GPS fix, something turns the phone on and the app spazes or some other malady befalls the setup and I don't get a reliable trip track. In addition, it is not a good idea to have the phone in your pocket when you are perspiring as well as the potential for a massive ejection from the pocket if something goes wrong. Resist the temptation, get some more secure method.
Score 0 out of 5
Rear trunk bag
Runkeeper worked well in my Topeak rack mount trunk bag but the phone is not readily accessible and, knowing me, I'd leave the phone in the trunk bag and need it or the thing would get ripped off.
Score 2.5 out of 5
Customized Water Bottle
I took an old water bottle and hacked it up to hold the phone. This worked fairly well. Nice and inconspicuous. That fancy phone is well hidden but also not very accessible. Runkeeper did work fine in the water bottle but don't forget the phone is in there and fill this bottle! Bummer that it takes up a water bottle mount so for longer rides I'd look at something else. Plus there is the possibility of water bottle ejection although, as long as it did not open up and barf up the phone, I think the bottle would protect the contents. Anyone what to try and fill me in?
Score 3 out of 5
Arm band around the arm
Do I look like a runner to you? One try and I took the uncomfortable hunk of material off after about 5 minutes. I have a bike so why not make it do the work of carrying this thing? It does work fairly well though so if this is your cup of tea go ahead and drink it. From me it is more like Kool-Aid. Look too much like a runner and you may become one! My knees hurt just thinking about it.
Score 3 out of 5
Arm band wrapped around the bike frame
Different bikes required different mount spots because of cable routing. On the Shark it worked great. On the Teesdale MTB I have set up for urban riding it works well but the top tube mounted cables can get in the way. If I were to use this method often I'd just make a small spacer to lift the arm band up off the tube.
On the Bontraeger, in real off-road conditions, I was not as confident that the phone would not eject at some point. The phone is Velcroed in pretty well but I don't need the worry of an airborne phone when blasting through the single track.
For all the tests I added a bit of neoprene under the phone to help damp vibration.
Score 3.5 out of 5
I had high hopes for this pack as it is specifically designed for the iPhone and also to mount on the top tube of the bike. For the most part the iPhone operated well in the iBikePak with a nice benefit that the touch screen works well through the plastic cover. The phone is very secure inside a special pocket but if you need to answer a call it takes unzipping the bag, opening the cover and tugging the phone out. Not especially convenient but that is OK I don't need to be bothered while I am riding anyway.
So, if I were strictly basing my rating of the iBikePak on how well it works for using the phone on a bike I'd go 4.5 out of 5.
But, and for me this is a reasonably significant but, the bag it really too wide for me. To accommodate the iPhone in a horizontal position so you can read it while riding it has to be this way but when climbing out of the saddle it interfered with my knees. Couple that with the fact that the strap system, while pretty secure on my Schlick Smitty
, allowed the iBikePak to rotate around the top tube enough to list to the left and exacerbate the knee issue. I think the strap issue could be remedied by lining the strap with rubber or something with more grip instead of the bare velcro straps. That leaves the width issue which, if you want the iPhone visible, can't really be overcome. In the end this bag may work for certain riders and especially on bikes like the Schlick Shark
or recumbents where you are not climbing out of the saddle, but for me it is still not the solution I was looking for.
Score 4 out of 5
If you think the iBikePak might suit your needs you can get it here:
Banjo Brothers Top Tube Bag
This is the second top tube bag I've tried. I use it on my Schlick Smitty to carry my iPhone while running either iMapMyRide or RunKeeper and, so far, I am impressed! It is obvious that the folks at Banjo Brothers are riders, test their products in real world situations and have the imagination and ability to design and build a product that works great in real-world situations.
The Banjo Brothers Top Tube Bag is relatively small with 6.25”x 3.25”x 2” dimensions. This is plenty of room for the iPhone, my keys and my wallet. The narrow 2-inch width of the bag is great because it is narrow enough not to interfere with my knees while climbing out of the saddle. It does mean that the phone needs to rest on its side but for performance of the GPS apps that is fine. Besides, I don't often need, or want, to answer my phone while riding but if I did the bag has a clear plastic, velcro-fastened cover that makes whipping the phone out a breeze. BTW, don't forget to restart your app after answering the iPhone!
I also like the way the Banjo Bros bag attaches to the frame. The Velcro straps are lined with a grippy, rubber material and split double straps around the head tube that keep the bag in a locked and upright position. Thank you, please fly with us again!
Score 5 out of 5
Loving Those Banjo Bros! The Banjo Brothers Commuter Backpack
The Cell Phone Holder on the Banjo Bros Commuter Backpack - Another big thumbs up for this one. The iPhone fits fine but I'd like to see a bit longer strap for this particular phone. Over all though the reception, accessibility and security are all top-notch. I don't use the backpack on every ride but when I do this is the way I roll.
Score 5 out of 5
Banjo Brothers has a bunch of other cool bags too and are available at better bike shops or online. Check it here: http://www.banjobrothers.com