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I would like to mount my smartphone on my bike's handlebar. However, I am worried about that the vibrations when cycling will damage my smartphone's internal electronics.

I am using a trekking bicycle in a city and sometimes travel longer trips with it. The surface I usually ride on is:

  • Asphalt (including rough and bumby asphalt streets)
  • Cobblestones
  • Gravel roads

I am not doing mountainbiking with it and I am aware of that having an accident with my bike will probably damage my smartphone as well. I also know that a dedicated bike computer is doing better under different weather conditions. But that are not the things I am concerned about.

My smartphone is a Samsung Galaxy S Plus, so not a special "outdoor" smartphone.

Will the vibrations during cycling damage my smartphone?

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Done 510 hours with my Xperia Active mounted on the bike, 3/4 road the rest mtb. So far so good. Mount is home made. The fact that everything is very well packed into a modern phone should help. Things moving independently of each other internally is what would be troublesome. – Ifor Apr 11 '13 at 11:18
    
@Ifor is the Xperia Active a kind of an outdoor smartphone designed for such circumstances? I just have a "normal" smartphone, I will add this to my question. – Uooo Apr 11 '13 at 11:22
4  
Make sure the mount is secure so the phone doesn't dislodge. This is probably the biggest danger to the phone, especially with things like cobblestones. If your phone has a wrist strap, I recommend that you use it as a "safety-line" for your phone. Wrap the wrist strap around the handlebars, and put the phone through the loop to secure the phone to the bars. This is a little bit of extra security if your mount manages to break or work itself loose. – Kibbee Apr 11 '13 at 12:54
up vote 14 down vote accepted

The vibrations will be hard on it. The result will not be instantaneous failure, but an increasing likelihood of failure after perhaps several hundred hours of riding.

The likelihood of damage can be greatly reduced with a resilient, shock-absorbing mount of some sort (I assume most commercial mounts include some shock-absorbing function).

Most important is to avoid mounting in a way that the device will bang against the handlebar, or rattle in its mount. A mount that is too flexible can actually increase the G force the phone is subjected to.

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1  
Agreed. I'd go with a snug hard-foam "case" (a foam block with a hole carved on it) where you insert the phone, while the foam case itself is firmly attached to the bike. Some foams (like those used in swimming pool noodles) have intrinsic damping properties. Any kind of rattling should be absolutely avoided. – heltonbiker Apr 11 '13 at 13:40
2  
I know this is a very late comment, but I'm skeptical that the vibrations encountered in road biking (even on cobblestones) would damage a solid-state device with no moving parts and very few mechanical connections (soldered, mechanical switches, etc). I think the only danger would be having it fall off the bike, which could break the screen. – Carey Gregory Sep 12 '13 at 0:36
1  
@Uooo - Sorry, but all I can offer is personal experience and some knowledge of how electronic devices succumb to failure. A modern cell phone contains almost no parts subject to mechanical wear, so vibration is low on the list of their enemies. Liquids are their chief enemy, severe shock next (being dropped), and electrical damage last (static). – Carey Gregory Sep 12 '13 at 4:20
1  
The point is that the G force on a phone can greatly exceed the G force present at the handlebar under the wrong conditions. "Rattling", where the phone is banging against a non-resilient surface, would be the worse -- essentially like dropping the phone repeatedly. There's also a slight danger of resonance, where the phone vibrates violently. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 12 '13 at 10:57
1  
I'm extremely skeptical and would need to see evidence to convince me, but the comments section here isn't the place to debate it. Not sure if I can come up with a question appropriate to bicycles.SE, but I'll give it some thought. – Carey Gregory Sep 14 '13 at 5:12

I have had my phone attached to the handlebars in a little sleeve made of gaffer tape and some clear plastic I got out of the recycle bin and it's been good for a few years (I've replaced the sleeve thingy a few times as it disintegrated). For protection it's got a strip of high density foam at the back of it so that it doesn't clunk on the gooseneck when I go over bumps.

The phone is smashed to crap, but that's from me dropping it on the ground. I've fixed the glass a couple of times and I can tell you, the innards of those wee things are packed in so tight that vibration is not going to do anything - the'yre not made of clockwork. The rain and mud might be a problem; hitting the road might too, so make sure whatever you use is secure and waterproof.

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+1 for mentioning rain/mud. – Eric Smekens Aug 5 '14 at 14:23
    
I've now graduated to a swank new holder I made out of perspex (with a clear plastic and gaffer tape cover I can put on it when it rains) – stib Sep 1 '15 at 5:03
    
I don't think you can assess the mount's effectiveness using a phone that is 'smashed to crap' – Bent Spoke Cycle Repair Feb 8 at 7:23
    
good point @BentSpokeCycleRepair. Since I wrote this I've moved to another phone, but still have a home-made holder, and no damage to the phone despite regular commuting and the occasional spot of MTB-ing. – stib Feb 8 at 22:21
    
@stib good job - and much better example. I'll +1 although I don't ride with my phone on the bars. (Scaredy cat) – Bent Spoke Cycle Repair Feb 9 at 9:37

Yes, it can.

I had my HTC One (M8) mounted to my handlebars and after only ONE RIDE the camera broke. The focus element of the camera was a moving part that just couldn't stand up to the shock. The phone still worked fine, but phones w/o cameras suck so I had to get a new one.

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Welcome to Bicycles @Jon. I edited your post to make the point clearer. – andy256 Aug 31 '15 at 7:33

I use mine filming in my Velocity Clip, and I have not had any problems yet. I have at least 40 hours of Downhill Mountain biking video. I'm using a Motorola Droid 4.

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I have been motorcycling with my iphone attached with a Ram Mount. No problems ever, and that's constant vibration. I wouldn't worry.

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I just ruined my iphone6+ after a hard mountain bike ride (much harder than I have ever done before) and I had the phone attached to the handlebars. The vibrations ruined the screen is permanently cloudy.

I have done this for many rides before but nothing like this ride.

I have learned my hard lesson.

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2  
Gidday and welcome to SE bicycles. Sorry to hear about your phone. Can you please edit your answer with further details on the mounting? Was it padded in any way? Did you dump the bike at any time, or have any single really-big impact? Does your bike have suspension? Did the problem get worse throughout the ride or did it come on suddenly? Did you have anything else inside the mounting (like an external battery) – Criggie Feb 6 at 23:12

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