There isn’t a collective noun that would adequately describe the number of mounting options available for the very popular Garmin range of cycle computers. It wasn’t that long ago that all of us Garmin users suffered through the various glitches and vices of the standard rubber band secured ¼ turn mount and found out that their Garmin was not impact resistant as it tumbled down the road. Two Garmin using BNA reviewers, Michael Bachman and James Wade, tried Tate Labs’ Barfly 2.0 mount to see if it truly was a better solution – and possibly the best solution.
‘Out front’ Garmin mounts – what’s the big deal ?
Michael: It was only once I had tried one of the out front mounts that I realised what I had been missing since I first purchased my Garmin 305, and then later the 500. There are 3 key advantages that I think are key to the success of this style of mount. These are (a) much better line of sight when riding, (b) significantly better security and no movement when pressing the various buttons, and (c) it just looks 300% better !! Then there are other considerations in a less cluttered handlebar, a neater appearance of the stem and cockpit area, and also it’s much more ergonomic to reach the various buttons.
James: Personally, I am on the other side of the fence to Michael. I considered an out front mount to be a nice to have, but somewhat superfluous accessory. Initially, I definitely preferred the look of a Garmin sitting on my stem, rather than another attachment messing with the silhouette of my bike. When I was given the opportunity to test a Barfly 2.0, I jumped at the chance… if for nothing else, I was hoping it would challenge my first impressions of the product.
The barfly mount (right side)
Barfly 2.0 Construction – what makes it different ?
Michael: Initially, the barfly 2.0 came in just one colour, a neat glossy black. There has recently been other colours released including a flouro yellow, and a blue and red for those that want to take coordination to the next level. I queried Kris Lunning of Tate Labs, the company behind the Barfly, about the materials and some of the design aspects:
Michael: What is the Barfly made from ?
Kris Lunning : The Bar Fly is made of injection molded plastic, Delrin to be specific. We’ve prototyped over 400 designs, including cycling computers, lights, smart phones, and used materials ranging from titanium, carbon, aluminum, and different types of plastic. For the Garmin mount we settled on Delrin because it is stiff, light, and durable, yet safe for a lifetime of use with the Garmin computer tabs/wings.
Michael: Your promotional material mentions a lifetime crash replacement warranty – how does that work ?
Kris Lunning : If you break it for any reason, we’ll give you a new one for the price of shipping. Busted Bar Fly’s purchased outside the US must be presented to the place of purchase or regional distributor and registered through our website to be eligible for the “buy one and you’re done policy”.
Michael: Was the mounting of the Di2 junction box a design feature from the outset, or a happy coincidence ? [a platform for Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS electronic shifting modules is integrated into the underside of the Barfly 2.0.]
Kris Lunning : The Di2 was definitely engineered into the mount; as you will notice, the cutout in the rear of the underside is specifically for the 3 port junctions box.
Michael: Is there a thought to also look at mounting a light to the unit base as well, for those without Di2 ?
Kris Lunning : We have multiple lights in the testing phase. Expect an integrated light to be released this fall at the Interbike trade show.
Comparative stem mount position.
Daily use – how does it stack up?
Michael: There are many aspects of the construction of the Barfly 2.0 that impressed me, and these included the fact that it was solid, looked svelte, and, most importantly, it mounted all of the Garmin range without any adjustment, and it mounted them SECURELY. The unique head design allows those with the Garmin 200/500 to mount it in two positions, and also allows for the bigger 510/800/810 units without an issue. That is aside from the neat inbuilt Di2 mount that has been incorporated – it’s a simple cutout, but they still made the effort.
It also fitted the bars well and was snug without any issues or hassles. Once the hex head screw is tightened, the mount did not budge even when trying with a heavily gloved hand.
James: Getting the mount on your bike is about as basic as it gets. If you know what a screwdriver looks like, you’ll be fine. But post-installation of the mount, my experience was slightly different to Michael’s. I found it took a little bit of force to get the Garmin mounted initially, almost to the extent where I had one of those “am I forcing this to the point I’m going to break this thing?” moments. Perhaps it was a tolerance issue, or perhaps I’m a clutz, I don’t know.
After initial fitment, like Michael I found the positive engagement of the Barfly / Garmin combo to be re-assuring, especially when contrasted against the fuzzy engagement you experience on the standard Garmin mount. It’s certainly not going anywhere.
Michael: The Barfly 2.0 temporarily replaced a different out-front unit that mounted directly to the stem faceplate, and I am honestly not sure if that other one will go back on. When mounted, the Garmin was nice and level with the upper plane of the stem and really easy to reach when selecting any of the function buttons, even with gloves.
What impressed me the most is the rigidity of the ¼ turn lock – it is snug and really holds the Garmin beautifully. It is easy to insert and remove your Garmin from the bike and your computer doesn’t show any sign of popping out even on the roughest section of council roadworks.
It is a definite cut above the standard Garmin mount – the stability when locked in position is light years better – worth the price just for that feature alone. The ‘crash replacement warranty’, which is more like a ‘lifetime warranty’ (how many bike components have that these days ?), makes it almost a non-event when looking at other alternatives, and this is a mount that costs less than $30!
James: When I first installed the Barfly on my bike, I left the OEM mount on my stem – such was my skepticism as to the actual functional benefit of an out-front style mount. A few days later, I removed the OEM mount.
I found when climbing out of the saddle, the Garmin was much easier to read – you know what I’m talking about. You’re riding a steep pitch and curious as to the gradient, but it’s too hard to get a glance at your screen in between the panting, swearing, and sweating out your eyeballs. The Barfly moves your Garmin that little bit more forwards where it’s in your lower peripheral vision, and you can catch that glance.
The same goes for descending; speed checks for corners on unfamiliar roads are much easier. I found that most of the time, you don’t need to move your head. Just a quick dart of the eyes and you can get a read.
The only issue I found was to do with handlebar real estate. I have a fairly large handlebar-mounted Lezyne light – it’s an all-in-one type unit. Basically, it just gets a bit squeezy trying to change menus and such. I quickly got used to it, though.
Michael : Three words sum up my thoughts on the Barfly 2.0: “It’s staying on !” A time-trial version of the mount was also supplied and, while I didn’t trial it, it exhibited all of the same hallmarks of quality in construction and design.
James : So, it turns out I was wrong; an out-front mount certainly isn’t superfluous. To the contrary, I found it to be quite useful, to the point that I’m going to be buying these mounts for all of my bikes; they’re that good. Safe to say, I definitely have no qualms recommending the product. It works.
Michael : While taking some pictures of my Garmin mounted in the various positions on the standard stem mount and the Barfly 2.0 mount (yes, I was riding along – not real safe, I know), I hit a small pothole while removing the Garmin from the Barfly mount. As a result, I took out a small part of the Barfly retainer (luckily it wasn’t the Garmin that broke), but despite this the mount still works 100% on both positions.
Technically, it could be replaced under the “buy one and you’re done policy”, but since this unit wasn’t purchased, I won’t be pushing for a replacement. For all future Barflys that I purchase, however, I’ll rest assured that I’m making a sound investment.