If you like your technology as much as you like your cycling, then last year the Quad Lock may have caught your interest as it let you mount your iPhone4/4s on your bike, in your car, and other places where you needed a solid mount. Since then, the longer and marginally thinner iPhone 5 has taken over and it too demands to be mounted well.
You can read our Quad Lock Deluxe Mounting Kit for iPhone 4/4s review here. We liked a number of things about the original Quad Lock:
• It was a clever system that mounted well
• The solid case could remain on the iPhone to protect it when not mounted
• It was Australian designed and funded via kickstarter
What I found missing from the original Quad Lock was a way to protect your phone from the elements. I’m the type of cyclist who uses a waterproof protective pouch for my smart phone when riding, even on bone-dry days, so this was a big no-no for me. Not long after publishing, however, a waterproof poncho was created which solved this concern.
Fast Forward – Quad Lock meets the iPhone5
Fast forward and the iPhone5 is everywhere – Australians love their Apple devices. It meant the Quad Lock needed an update and the Aussie designers went one step further than just resizing. The excellent mounting mechanism remains the same, as you would expect, but the case has been updated.
While the new case doesn’t appear to be different, rather than being a single piece of solid polycarbonate, the new case features a solid polycarbonate backing but the sides are soft. I ask the Quad Lock’s designer (and company director) Chris Peters about this.
“The iPhone 5 Quad Lock case has been re-designed from the ground up. We wanted to offer better protection, all while maintaining the strength, thin profile and pocketability that our customers love from out iPhone 4/4S case. To do so we decided to go with a composite, overmolded case design. Overmolding is a manufacturing process which allows a part to be created from two different materials. It’s a more expensive process as it requires double the amount of tooling and production processes, but you end up with a premium product that you can fine tune the desired mechanical properties of to suit the application.
Going with overmolding allowed us to have a very strong core made from engineering grade polycarbonate with a durable impact protective TPU outer skin. Unlike silicon, TPU does not attract dust or become sticky, so it maintains its smooth clean finish and is easy to slide in and out of your pocket. The TPU also makes it much easier to install and remove the phone from the case while still gripping the phone securely.”
The iPhone 4/4S Quad Lock case was certainly harder to get the phone in and out; the new case in comparison makes this a breeze and suits me as I generally prefer no case for general use. Even with the case on, the buttons are easy to access and the microphone and speaker is free as well as the front and rear camera.
Does your iPhone like water?
The good news with the Bike Mount Kit for the iPhone5 Quad Lock is that it comes with the poncho; the “weather resistant cover”. You still get a good view of the smart phone screen with it on, and can use the touch screen.
Taking a critical look at the poncho, while it fitted well and covered the top and sides, there are two parts that can potentially let water through – the Quad Lock case has a hole for the rear camera and inside the twist and mount mechanism there are some holes which could eventually let water through.
Chris Peters comments “It is designed to protect your iPhone from rain, dust, dirt, mud and sweat, however it its not fully water proof so is not suitable for fully submerging the phone in water.”
That said, in wet weather riding on a road bike or mountain bike with spray from the tires, is there a danger of water getting in?
“When using the Quad Lock in the most common installations”, says Chris, “the phone’s protected from tyre spray by the stem, and when mounted on the handle bars it’s far enough away from the line of the spray for it not to be a concern. We’ve tested it riding in heavy rain, through river crossings and through muddy MTB trails and it has protected the iPhone in all situations.”
Commonsense should prevail to keep your iPhone safe; the case and poncho isn’t designed for underwater cycling trips, though will protect your phone if you get stuck in the rain. In the case of a tropical thunder storm, if you insist on venturing out on the bike, I suggest using a completely waterproof pouch for the phone until the sun comes out.
And now for some fiddly bits
While the Quad Lock mount and case are well designed and well made, you may run into a few fiddly issues. On my road bike, the stem was the best place to mount the Quad Lock, though on my oversized stem the two supplied o-rings wouldn’t fit. The kit does come with cable-ties, which work well but take away the flexibility of easily removing the mount, for example if you ride more than one bike. On a standard sized stem however this shouldn’t be an issue.
Another issue relating to the “fit” of the Quad Lock on my road bike was that I have an uncut steerer, not so long that it looks “wrong”, but enough that the Quad Lock case touches the steerer when mounted. In my case this is not a problem, since the stem is long enough, but it’s worth considering if you don’t want to take a hacksaw to your overlong steerer.
On the plus side, one of the benefits the mount provides is the ability to mount on your handlebars or stem, and you can mount your iPhone vertically or horizontally to better suit your personal preferences.
It is worth noting that I don’t own an iPhone 5 and I was sent a “dummy” iPhone 5 for testing. As such I wasn’t able to operate the iPhone during this review, but I can’t see any difference between this iPhone 5 and the iPhone 4/4S kit we tested before, in terms of phone operatability.
A goody for fans of the Quad Lock
The company behind the Quad Lock, Annex Products, have listened to their community and released a “goody”. The standard Quad Lock mounting mechanism is black with a dominant blue ‘collar’, but realising that some people like to “pimp-their-ride”, they have made 3D printed collars available in 6 different colours. While the 3D printing isn’t as smooth as the original injection moulded collar, it is a nice touch.
The Quad Lock Bike Mount Kit for iPhone 5, with the case, mount and poncho retails for USD $69.95 and includes free shipping to Australia. You can see the details and order online: www.quadlockcase.com