Sunday, August 19, 2018

Touring Tips/PSA: Handlebar Cell Phone Mounts

Ok, I needed to get on here to post a quick PSA of sorts. For the past five years or so, I've used one of those handlebar-mounted cell phone holders. They're great. They hold your phone while you ride so you're free to listen to some tunes, check your map, write a blog post, google "what are bear sounds," etc. I've advocated for them to folks in the past due of their usefulness. They've definitely made my touring life much easier.

That said, I realized a few years ago that while they're great for me they may not be the best for my phone. Now, before I continue, let me just say that nothing I'm about the write has been proven as fact, just as reasonable hunch. Additionally, I own zero stock in any bicycle equipment companies, though I do really like the folks at Nutcase.

Disclaimers aside, I'm pretty sure that handlebar-mounted cell phone holders wreak havoc on the touch screens of some cell phones. I'm not going to say which cell phones I've specifically had this problem with, just that it's happened to a variety of them, from multiple manufacturers. And I don't blame the phones, so no point in dragging them.

This thing. In the red box. I blame this thing.

But what I've noticed is that after a tour, usually within a month or two, my touchscreen goes to complete crap. It's happened to at least three phones of mine, and after the last one, I started to get suspicious. I'm real sharp like that. A tack. By "goes to complete crap," I mean that they get less responsive, less reliable, and more chaotic. And with time, the lesses got lesser, and the mores morer, until I'd have to get a new phone.

So my gut feeling is that all the potholes, rumble strips, and dirt roads shake the shit out of the inside of the phone so much that, over time, it craps out. That seems reasonable, right? Like, if you put your phone in a paint can shaker at Home Depot, and it stopped working after (even though there was no visible damage), you'd think, "yeah, that makes sense to me."

As an inquisitive person, I've taken these different dying phones apart and have found nothing wrong with them. I mean, I'm not a trained professional or a robot that could link up R2D2-style and perform a proper diagnostic analysis, but all the screws were still tight and nothing was rattling around in there. But still, the touchscreens all had similar problems. And all the problems happened after a tour. 

Does the correlation imply causation? I dunno. But I just wanted to get it out there before you broke your brand new phone. At this point, I think I would recommend one of those arm band phone holders that runners wear. Let your body absorb the shock. Alternatively, someone could come up with a shock absorbing handlebar mount. I'd pay upwards of $25 (USD) for something like that. Oooh, and give it a little waterproof rain cover as well as a sound funnel to boost the speakers. Yeah. Make that. Send me one to test and review. I'll give it 5-stars.

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