Last year when I rode across India and explored various places, I felt the need for a strong phone mount which I could use to mount my phone and use it for GPS navigation ONLY! The thing about handlebar mounts is that no matter how much you spend on them, no matter how sturdy they are, your phone/ GPS device will always be at the risk of falling off. I’ve come across instances where cheap mounts are being used on many motorcycles since years and not once has the phone fallen off. I’ve also come across expensive mounts that cost about 3500 INR and above (I assume you know which one I’m talking about 😉) that couldn’t hold a phone for longer than two hundred kilometers. Well what I’m hinting at is the fact, that no matter which mount you buy, the safety of your device is never guaranteed.
On my ride from Bangalore to Ladakh and back this year, I Intended to use phone mounts as I was to pass through terrains that have no sign boards and I didn’t want to park by the side of the highway to check the GPS every time as that to me is a scary thing to do. The areas without signboards I referred to earlier are busy cities that I usually need to ‘get into’ to spend a night or two. A big thanks to Rynox for sending me the mounts- one being the 5.5 inches Croc mount and the other being the 5.5 inches Submerge mount. Both mounts use the same mechanism that fixes them onto the handlebar. Below are my views of both those mounts and some suggestions as to how they could be improved.
The Submerge mount:
Well, the reason it’s called submerge is because you could insert your phone into the case, close it and literally submerge it under water and it wouldn’t get wet. That case is completely waterproof! The case alone is actually a soft case as it is fold-able, so it does feel like using a glorified, transparent envelope while inserting a phone from the top!
Ease of use: Mounting the Submerge on the handlebar of your motorcycle is pretty easy, especially if you’re used to mounting action cameras on your motorcycle or if you’re specialised in fiddling around with a different kind of nut! It would hardly take two minutes. The waterproof case slides into the mount but it is advisable to push it hard until you hear that click else the case is susceptible to falling off. The phone can be inserted from the top of the case that can then be sealed with the help of two levers on it. Please note that this mount WOULD NOT fit on a clip on handlebar
Purpose: Since the case is waterproof, the sole purpose of it is the use of phone for navigation under rainy conditions. I splashed a lot of water on it, inserted it under rivers and lakes but not even a drop of water entered the case. As a result, I also used it to take pictures underwater! What a cool mount eh? 🙂
Build quality: The mount feels purposeful and remains fixed in place after it is tightened on the handlebar. What is important though is to keep tightening it every few days as engine vibrations may loosen it by a tiny margin and that may move it by a few millimeters. However, the screw on the mount came off on a particular day after off-roading for 4 days in the Ladakh region, that is something which needs to get sorted. Speaking of the waterproof case, well since it is a soft case, it may not prevent damage to the phone in case of a fall as there’s hardly any material to absorb the shock. I found the plastic levers on the case to be a little flimsy too, the quality of it could definitely be improved.
Practicality: This is a very purpose specific product. Even if it is slightly warm and sunny outside, the phone inside the tightly sealed mount will heat up. I got a high temperature warning on my iPhone 5s and had to wait for it to cool down and I thought only KTMs did that. The transparent sheet on the waterproof cover is glossy and reflective in nature, so you end up seeing the sun’s glare under broad daylight, especially if your phone’s brightness is not set to ‘maximum’. When I stopped often under cloudy weather to click images, I did face inconvenience in terms of removal and re-insertion of my iPhone from and into the submerge mount. Now I know why librarians get frustrated with small issues.
What I feel about the Submerge mount: Frankly speaking, there are few ‘properly waterproof’ mounts out there which come close to where this is priced at. As a mount, I felt the handlebar mount’s rotating mechanism could be modified to make it stronger. The manner in which the case goes into the mount isn’t confidence inspiring as it came off at several instances when I hit it against my tank bag while making U turns. Oh yes, I used plastic tags to strap the mount against my rear view mirror as a backup so even if the mount dropped off, it would remain hanging from my rear view mirror. This mount though, definitely enables one to use the phone under heavy rains regardless of whether it is mounted or not and that’s a big plus point for a region like the Indian subcontinent, considering the amount of rainfall it receives every year.
Price: The 5.5 inches Submerge mount is priced at INR 1450, which is fairly fine, especially since I used it in heavy rains and got some decent underwater shots. 🙂 I’m not sure if there’s a waterproof mount that’s available for a similar price.
Upgrades the Submerge mount could receive: I feel that Rynox’s Submerge mount could be potent by a greater margin if further improvements could be made. Firstly, the case could have a sturdier support and build so that it would protect the phone in case of a fall. Secondly, the case could receive a hood on the top that deflects glare and provides shade to the transparent sheet, something similar to many of the other GPS devices out there. Thirdly, the quality of plastic used on the levers could be superior and the levers could be larger in size so that they can be operated easily with riding gloves.
For technical details about the Submerge mount, visit: Rynox Submerge Mount specs
The Croc mount:
This mount felt sturdy and solid! Besides my iPhone, there was plenty of room left inside the 5.5 inch case for things like folded charger wires, loose change, temperature gauge and some website/blog cards! Overall, it looks like a crossbreed produced after mixing a matchbox and a pencil case, much more glorified though!
Ease of use: Zips make things very easy, no wonder they’ve been used on pants and jackets since years! A zip runs around the mount that makes it feasible to open it like a book, just to insert many things! The mount though is WATER RESISTANT and not waterproof, so if it rains heavily and you’re riding with the phone in your Croc mount, do remember to chuck the phone back inside the tank bag in exactly ten seconds. If you have a Submerge mount with you as backup, then you’ll definitely do well in the family planning commission of India, just in case there is one! There’s no issue of the phone heating up too since you could keep a small gap open for the air to enter, and cool your phone. The same ‘air gap’ principle could be used on this air cooled mount to charge your device, just insert wire through the opening. The manner in which the case attaches to the mount is similar to the way in which the Submerge mounts attaches but I felt the Croc mount remains more secure than the Submerge mount after it is fastened properly.
Purpose: Since this mount is water resistant and more practical, it is can be used for all kinds of conditions that don’t involve rainfall or snowfall. The Croc mount is more of an all round mount and since my phone was accessible easily, I had it mounted most of the times. I had two plastic tags tied to this mount as well, just in case it decided to get off. It did. Making U turns was annoying, the mount kept hitting the tank bag and next moment I see it hanging off from the handlebar, thanks to my idea about the tags! Rynox should provide tags too as I’ve said earlier, no mount guarantees the protection of your phone, no matter how good or bad the mount is. The frequency at which both mounts kept dropping was not equal, the Croc mount did well there!
Build quality: The overall build quality of the mount is satisfactory. I had no issues apart from the Zip. Many a times, the runner and the zip were misaligned so even when I thought the mount was closed, it wasn’t actually closed. I also noticed that dust, mud and a little bit of rain had affected the zip, making it hard for the zip runner to run through. Apart from that, it seems fine for the price it’s offered at.
Practicality: The croc mount is actually practical in nature! The only thing that comes in the way, just like the Submerge mount is the transparent, glossy sheet on the screen that reflects sun glare. The zip was another useful feature but it needs to be smoother, a lot of my time was wasted in trying to close it but it just wouldn’t close!
Price: A 5.5 inches Croc mount costs 950 INR which is quite a bang for your money. I wish this product is developed further but the price is allowed to hover around the same range as that shall be the best deal a biker can get!
Upgrades the Croc mount could receive: Well, firstly, the mount’s screw that facilitates a 360 degree rotation needs to be tightened very often, something needs to be done regarding that. The spring and screws on my mount’s rotation plate came off! Secondly, as you all know, a long hood could be added to the mount so that it improves screen visibility. Thirdly, the zip or the runner need to be checked for faults. The faulty one could be replaced with a better option. Also, the zip runner’s tag/puller should’ve been larger so that it could be easier to operate the zip with riding gloves on.
For technical details about the Croc mount, visit: Rynox Croc Mount specs
To end it all though, I feel both these mounts are great utilities, they just need to be improved further to become that best product out there. They helped me tackle heavy traffic, helped me escape the scorching heat of Ahmedabad, the tricky areas of Haryana and the hostile environment of Srinagar despite the shortfalls they carry. These are products that are difficult to ignore as a GPS phone mount is essential today, especially the rate at which roads change their faces and also the rate at which cars are being sold today. More cars on the road= more chaos= find your way out ASAP and throttle out. Doesn’t matter if you’re a smart ass in figuring out routes or if you’re like James May, the point is that at some point or the other on a journey, you will have to most probably refer a map (if you’re wondering about Google maps connectivity, then it doesn’t work in many places. I’m referring to offline maps that you can download to your phone and save).
To be realistic, I’d prefer using one of these mounts than stopping again and again to check my position on GPS. Who knows, it might just save you from being rear ended by a taxi as you repeatedly stop by the side of a highway to check the map. I really wish Rynox make improvements to both these mounts as they have the potential to be the best out there or probably even build and develop a new mount by merging the plus points of both these mounts!