I love looking down at my bike computer. Love it.
I know, I know. I should be looking around, at the great outdoors and stuff. But sometimes I just can’t stand the thought of taking in another majestic mountain range. I find myself rolling my eyes at picturesque valleys and burbling streams.
There are times, quite frankly, when the thought enduring yet another waterfall makes me want to scream.
But staring at my Garmin 510 never gets old. The speed! The time! The elevation, grade, and total ascent!
My heart leaps, just looking at that rich mine of information, all there for the seeing.
Garmin’s done a good job of making a suite of GPS devices for bikes. As I’ve written before, I’m a big fan of the Garmin Edge 500, and next week I’ll be writing a long-term review of the Garmin Edge 510.
But whether you use a Garmin Edge 200 (the entry-level model) 500, 510, 800, or 810, you’re going to need a way to put that GPS on your bike — a GPS mount.
There are a lot of different kinds out there, and not all of them are equally awesome. But I’ve been using some of the most popular ones for a while, and think I can give some good guidance for which ones you ought to use.
The In-The-Box Options
To their credit, Garmin ships a pretty darned good mount with the GPS you buy: a light, round little disc that you put on your stem with a couple of the included tough-but-stretchy O-rings (several are included, with different lengths to match different stem circumferences).
The GPS twists on (or off) with a quarter turn, and you’re ready to go:
The problem with this mount is that, as the Garmins get bigger, this mount has a tougher time holding the GPS in place. With the 500, I never noticed the GPS drifting to one side or another. With the 510, a rocky ride will make the mounted GPS slide to one side or another.
Some Garmins — the 510, for example — also come with a mount that sticks out beyond the bar:
For road bikes in particular, this type of mount is fantastic: you don’t have to look down as far to see the GPS when the mount puts your computer further forward.
(For mountain bikes, this kind of mount is a bad idea; they put your GPS in too exposed a place for when crashes happen.)
But of all the mounts in this blog post, this is the only one I recommend strongly against.
Why? Because it damaged a very expensive GPS. One time, when The Hammer was descending and went over a cattle guard using this mount with her Garmin 510, suddenly her GPS flew off her bike, tumbling to the road.
To Garmin’s credit, the strong casing prevented the GPS from being broken altogether. It’s a little banged up, but still works.
However, the interface to the mount was damaged. Take a look at the left side of the disc — the tab has broken off:
This broken-off tab means that The Hammer’s GPS no longer sits as securely on any mount.
Did this break happen because of the GPS or the mount? I don’t know for sure, but both are broken in the same place, and both are from Garmin…and I’ve never had this happen with any other mount on a Garmin GPS. So for myself, I’m swearing off this particular mount forever.
For the Road: Bar Fly 2.0
Instead of the Garmin mount, I am now using the Tate Labs Bar Fly 2.0 as the mount on our road bikes:
Honestly, I have nothing but nice things to say about this mount. It goes on very easily with just a single bolt tightening down a plastic clamp — so no worries about damaging your carbon bar, and it’s simple as can be to adjust the viewing angle of the GPS.
Then the shape of the mount means that whether you’re using a smaller Garmin (a 200 or a 500) or a larger one (the 510, an 800, or an 810), it’s going to fit without any adjustments made to the mount. Pretty elegant.
Same bike, same mount, different-sized Garmins. A 510 on the left, a 500 on the right.
And Tate Labs has done a great job with the product material: it doesn’t seem to be wearing down the tabs on my GPS very quickly at all.
Finally, if you’re using a Shimano or Campy electronic shifting setup on your road bike, the Bar Fly 2.0 has a place to put the shifting module out of site on the underside, a nice tidy place for that little black box.
By way of full disclosure, the guys at Tate Labs sent me one Bar Fly 2.0 to try out. I liked it well enough that I’ve bought additional ones for all of the road bikes in the family.
Two Great MTB Mount Options
On your mountain bike, you don’t want to have your GPS sticking out past the handlebar; it’s just not a good idea to lead with an expensive piece of electronics. There seems to be agreement that a mount that puts the GPS over your stem is a reasonable compromise between visibility and protecting the GPS.
There are two mounts that I think are just about perfect, and the fact that they arrived at their solution in different ways is pretty awesome.
Bar Fly 3.0 (MTB)
Before I say anything else, let me say this: someone at Tate Labs needs to hire a guy to name their mounts. “Bar Fly 3.0 (MTB)” is just terrible. They should have named it Bar Fly MTB Mobius:
Or something like that.
Boring name aside, this is a fantastic mount, using the same thinking that makes the Bar Fly 2.0 great (good plastic, one-bolt fastening to the bar, fits any Garmin) and turning it around so the mount is over the stem:
You can’t tell it from this photo, but this puts the mount above the stem cap and faceplate hardware, so that any size Garmin will mount on, no problem. Here’s The Hammer’s 510:
You can see that with the super short stem The Hammer (correctly) runs, the 510 wouldn’t fit with Garmin’s mount on the stem. It fits — no problem — with the Bar Fly.
K-Edge Stem Mount
K-Edge has a couple of different mounts that go around the top of your steerer tube, fastened down by your top compression cap:
Replacing a 5mm spacer, this mount has a couple of pretty fantastic advantages. First, it takes up no real estate on your handlebar at all, so if you’ve got a GoPro or a phone mount that needs to mount on the handlebar on both sides of the stem, you’re still in business.
Next, since this sits above your stem, your GPS is going to fit, no matter how short your stem.
And finally, with the adjustable version (like the one shown in the photo above), you can adjust the viewing angle by loosening a bolt.
Designed and made in Idaho by cycling gold medalist Kristin Armstrong’s family, these K-Edge mounts — made of machined aluminum — are far and away the coolest-looking GPS mounts out there.
This is the GPS mount that The Hammer has on her singlespeed, and she loves it. Enough so that I’ve bought one (the one on The Hammer’s bike was sent to us no charge) for my own new singlespeed, though I’ve bought the less-expensive non-adjusting version:
All in black for me, of course. If I could have things my way, there is no bike product that would not be available in straight-up black, with no color accents allowed, with the exception of white and silver.
The adjustable version of this mount does have one pretty significant drawback: price. $39.99 MSRP (and a street price of $35.99) is a lot to pay for a mount, no matter how cool and shiny it looks.
PS: My next post will be a review of the Garmin Edge 510, now that The Hammer and I have been using it for about a year. Spoiler: I don’t like it as much as I like the 500.