by Marc Basiliere
October 15, 2013
Seeing as you already have a GPS and camera along…
As easy as it can be to brush off phone mounting accessories as riders’ inability to let go of the connected world, on second thought Tate Labs’ new BarFly mount for Optrix cases starts to make a bit of sense. Combining a hard iPhone case with a bar mount that allows for numerous mounting positions (computer-style in profile or landscape, high and low; camera style above and below the bars), when combined with a 5th-generation iPhone this case/mount combo has the potential to displace both the cycle GPS and video camera.
With the phone’s data connection switched off and the right app on, the iPhone remains perfectly capable of receiving GPS signals and collecting waypoints for later Strava upload. Switching data (if not cell service) off not only minimises distractions, doing so can dramatically improve battery life. While the ‘out front’ position preferred on the road may not be the safest position for a high-dollar piece of tech, in some cases (depending on stem style and steerer length) the mount can be reversed to place the phone over the stem.
Taking the iPhone-as-cycle computer thought one step further, the BarFly/Optrix combo will also be available with an ANT+ to Bluetooth heart rate strap. The strap not only monitors the wearer’s heart rate, but acts as a waypoint for ANT+ power metre data, ultimately passing that information on to the phone. This allows the phone to act as a GPS-enabled head unit for those watching their output.
Though bar-mounting can make for choppy videos, for the occasional videographer, the included Optrix wide-angle 175° lens should make for decent social media videos. Mounted under the bar, the camera should capture the front tyre coming into view on big hits- which is always fun. Given the case’s 30′ drop and IPX8 (33′) waterproofness ratings, the camera may well be safer on the bars than encased in a baggie and tucked in a jersey pocket. The whole setup (mount, case, internal sled) adds 139g to the weight of your iPhone. Case/BarFly packages will sell for £115/$130, adding the ANT+ to Bluetooth heart rate strap takes things to £165/$190. Both should be in shops by Christmas.
Also of interest to the mountain crowd, waaay back at Interbike Tate Labs was showing 35mm mounts for adopters of the over-oversize bar/stem standard being championed by Easton, Race Face, and others. This Bar Fly 3.35 joins the 31.8mm Bar Fly 3.0. The company is also building an out-front mount that goes some way towards addressing our complaint about the mount packaged with Soleus’ draft GPS as reviewed in August.