Remember when we used to call them “mobile phones?” Now, they’re only as mobile as you are. So if you’re an avid cyclist or just a commuter, unless you have a good sturdy and convenient mount, your phone probably stays in your pocket or bag.The Bar Fly from Optrix looks to change that.
This handlebar mount claims to be an innovative professional-level tool for turning your iPhone 5 family device into a cycling computer. Serious cyclists are always using apps to measure their power efficiency, and the rest of us might just need to find our way home when we get lost, so easy hands-free access to our phones is important.
Weighing in at only 55 grams, The Bar Fly won’t add too much to your frameset, a statistic that racers care a lot about. They’ll pay hundreds of dollars to shave a little weight off by substituting carbon fiber for anything heavier. Mounted low on the front bar, The Bar Fly doesn’t add wind resistance and allows visibility without taking your eyes too far off the road ahead.
Designed to work alone or with the mount, this case is a secure way to protect your valuable phone, especially from rain. While it is a little bulky, it’s certainly not so big that you couldn’t slip your phone in your pocket when it wasn’t attached to the bike.
There is also a large protective lens to cover up your camera while still allowing for video recording if you want to show off where you rode or how you shredded that mountain trail. (More on that later.) Optrix also offers a line of detachable lenses to swap out for the standard lens in case you want telephoto or wide angle options.
An external set of buttons on the side allows you to control the volume while the phone is in the case, and the front screen was very responsive. Even with capacitive gloves on while I was riding, I had no difficulty navigating my way around the screen on my phone while it was in the Optrix case.
I especially appreciated how the Optrix will accept my phone while it’s still in my regular case. (Go Stanford!) Other bicycle mounts I’ve used have necessitated removing my regular case and then snapping my phone into a proprietary case that you would rarely want to remove from the handlebars. With the Optrix, you have the option of using it as a primary case on exercise days or keeping it in your regular bumper case.
The case attaches snugly to the mount by sliding the projection on the back of the case onto a flange on the mount. Actually, it was a little too snug at first as I had difficulty removing the case form the mount. A quick spray of vegetable oil fixed that right up.
Once attached, the phone can be positioned either in portrait mode (above) or landscape, depending on the particular application that you are using at the time. Once it is situated how you like it, a simple turn of a knob locks the phone in place. By loosening the two screws at the bottom, you can rotate the mount into a fully vertical mode for a look ahead camera position for videotaping. You could also turn the mount completely around if you want a high quality photo of the fear on your face as you head down that big hill.
One thing I really appreciated was the design of the mount. My road bike has aerodynamic bars that aren’t round, and I’ve cracked a few plastic mounts trying to torque them securely on the bars. The Bar Fly fits perfectly on both my bikes and is easy to swap out, so I’ll use it often,
Since it’s wintertime, you won’t want to go out to get your cycling exercise every day, so watch this spot tomorrow for some interesting products to help you get your miles in while you stay warm and dry inside.
The Optrix/Bar Fly iPhone Bike Mount is available from the company’s website.
What I liked: Ease of attachment and removal. Secure watertight case. Flexible positioning of phone for multiple uses.
What needs improvement: The mounting instructions were a little confusing and printed in very small type for old eyes like mine. Fortunately, the installation was quite intuitive.