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As mobile phone battery life gets better and top-end phones are increasingly capable of withstanding the elements, the feasibility of using your phone instead of a Garmin to both record and navigate your rides improves. Provided, that is, you have a secure means of fixing your phone where you can see it. The Cyclomount from Oso is a somewhat ungainly but effective means of doing so, keeping a firm grip of your phone with not one but two retention systems. Designed, perhaps, for those with an expensive phone and a nervous disposition.
At first glance, the Cyclomount looks like a mash-up of those one-size-fits-all £5 ebay car mounts and a Finn. But whereas the Finn is a rather elegantly simple solution, this... erm... isn't. It is effective though.
There's an oversized plastic band clamp which tightens with a nut and bolt. It's around 35mm in diameter, so needs the included rubber shims to fit bike handlebars. These shims are supposedly different sizes to suit different handlebars, but mine all seemed to be the same thickness, which was about right for a 31mm bar. You could perhaps double up if you were using an older 26mm bar, but probably less securely. Minus the rubber, it would just go around a modern stem, too, allowing a different mounting position.
Attached to the clamp is a rubberised ball-joint, which is tightened with a plastic screw-down collar. This gives quite a wide range of fixing positions, although they are almost inevitably with the phone raised a good couple of inches above the handlebar – something to remember if you're in the habit of inverting your bike to mend a puncture. You can mount the phone in landscape or portrait orientations just by rotating the ball joint.
The phone itself is held between a pair of sprung jaws, each of which has a grippy silicone insert. There's a small thumbscrew on the back that allows you to adjust the closed width of the jaws by around 20mm, making the Cyclomount suitable for quite a wide range of phone sizes. Oso says that it's suitable for phones between 55 and 93mm wide, which I reckon is about right.
The key parts are all moulded plastic of reasonably good quality. Some ebay phone mounts break the first time you try to use them, but the plastic here feels tough and like it should stand up to a good deal of use. I pulled and pushed on it pretty hard without anything cracking.
Correctly adjusted, the jaws do a decent job of hanging on to the phone over most surfaces, but there's extra reassurance from the red sheet of silicone that stretches out and around the corners of the phone to further retain it. Belt and braces, as the expression goes. Certainly over the cracked tarmac and bumpy towpath where I normally commute there was never a suggestion that it would lose its grip on my phone.
One issue that I did have, though, was that it was quite difficult to position the phone such that neither the jaws nor the silicone straps were pressing on hardware buttons (my Sony Xperia Z3 Compact has a power button, volume rocker and camera button down the right-hand side). It wasn't impossible, it just took a little longer to put the phone in place than with other mounts I've used.
With the phone installed, I was able to put it in a position where I could see the screen easily, to follow a route. The clamp stays very firmly in place on either the handlebar or the stem, but the ball-joint is less easy to lock in position – I found that even after screwing down the plastic collar as hard as I could, it could still be moved around with a bit of force, despite its rubberised finish. It might move a bit if you knock it, or ride over a big bump, but it won't let go.
You can, if you like, leave just the clamp and the rubberised ball attached to the bike, removing the jaws, silicone sheet and screw collar. I certainly wouldn't want to leave the whole thing in place unless I was using it; it's hardly unobtrusive.
Unlike some other bike phone mounts, there's no weather protection at all, so it's for dry days only unless your phone itself has water-resistance. There's no reason why you couldn't combine the Cyclomount with a zip-lock bag or dedicated phone case to provide protection from the elements.
It's not device-specific, so if you change phone there's no need to change your mount. I normally use the road.cc patented Garmin hack to hold my phone, which is rather less obtrusive but does require you to bond the bracket either to your phone or to a tight-fitting case. That's a price I'd pay to have the phone mounted equally securely but much more sleekly to the bike.
So while it's hardly going to win awards for simplicity or beauty, the Oso Cyclomount does what it claims to, holding on firmly to any smartphone. If you've spent £500 or more on a phone, that is likely to be a primary requirement before you'll consider fixing it to your bike. I'll happily go back to my Garmin hack, but if you don't like the idea of sticking something to the phone, this could be an alternative.
Somewhat clunky looking but it does a decent job of holding on to a wide range of smartphones
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Make and model: Oso Velo X Cyclomount Bike Mount Holder
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Oso says: "OsomountBike Mount Handlebar Holder for Smartphones"
Mostly made from plastic, the ball-joint is rubberised to help it stay locked in place, and the red strap is made from silicone.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
– Hold any device from 55 – 93mm wide. Including iPhone 4 / 4S, iPhone 5 /5S, iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S range, Samsung Galaxy Note Range, HTC's, Nokia's & many more.
– Easy & Secure mounting mechanism. Silicone strap provided to ensure tight grip while riding.
– Fits phones with & without cases.
– Universal handlebar mounting fits all types and sizes of handlebars on bikes & motorbikes.
– Strong ball joint allows horizontal or vertical positioning of your smartphone.
– Covered by Osomount's Free 2 Year Warranty
Yes it's almost all plastic, but it's fairly tough plastic with decent quality silicone parts. No obvious point of weakness.
Holds a phone securely, with the added security of the silicone sheet gripping the corners. You have to really tighten the ball joint to lock its position, though.
I've pulled and pushed it around and can't identify anywhere where premature failure is likely, but obviously plastic and silicone will have a finite life so I wouldn't suggest it'll last for years and years.
£20 for a collection of moulded plastic parts might not seem like stonking value, but they are reasonably tough and well made. There's a two-year warranty, too.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It did the job well enough. Key, obviously, is not allowing your phone to fall to the floor and be smashed, which was managed without issue, but I didn't feel it held it in position as rock-solidly as some alternatives.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
High confidence that it wouldn't drop my phone, thanks to dual retention methods.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Quite a cumbersome and inelegant way of doing it.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No – I'm very happy with the 'Garmin hack'.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your score
It's well made and fulfils its function well, but I didn't really like how high it held the phone and it does nothing for your bike's aesthetics.
Age: 37 Height: 190cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Commuter - something with disc brakes, drop bars and a rack My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.