I am curious to know your best solutions for using lights and other accessories that mount to a proprietary clip, when the correct original fitment is not available. Why? I get a lot of lights and the like donated, which will still hold charge and light up fine, but have no mounting hardware. How do you improvise to hold a block or cylinder securely pointed the right way, on a round tube?
I use a couple of hose clamps, and two rubber strips or offcuts from old inner tube.
I have also used double-sided foam tape and electrical tape, but the inner tube ones are the best.
This setup is very sturdy and can withstand heavy shaking from riding very rough terrain. I use it in my mountain bikes. I most often use regular led torches/flashlights from the hardware store, but the double hose clamp is the cheapest, most "universal" and least involved method of many I have tried.
I install it as follows:
Surround the lamp with a strip of inner tube (use a small piece of adhesive tape to temporarily hold it in place, if necessary).
Completely open the clamp that is going around the handlebar and loop it through the other one.
Tighten the second clamp around the lamp, so you fix the open clamp to the torch.
Surround the handlebar with another strip of old inner tube.
Wrap the open clamp around the handlebar and tighten.
Pros: Cheap and sturdy. Uses ready made parts, no need to build, shape or design a bracket. Only needs two tools: a screwdriver for the clamps and scissors to cut the strips of inner tube. You can adjust the vertical angle to any direction and it will hold its position.
Cons: Can be a bit fiddly the fist times you install. Depending on clamp manufacturing quality they are somewhat sharp, so you have to position them to make yourself less prone to contact those during a ride and/or a crash. Limited side-to-side adjustability, so only useful for handlebars that have enough free space on a stretch that is perpendicular to the direction of travel. You need a screwdriver to remove it from the bike. (I leave mine installed permanently, only remove the batteries for storage. Sometimes I loosen the lamp clamp to remove just the light and leave the clamps on the bike). May not work if the lamp or accessory is not similar enough to a cylinder or has an odd shape.
Other comments: You can omit the inner tube strips, but then you risk scratching the handlebar and /or the lamp, and also, you'll need to tighten the clamps more. In some counties there may be similar clamps available made of plastic or you may be able to substitute them with reusable zip ties. In a pinch, or if you can leave the lamp there semi-permanently, use regular zip ties. Maybe use 2 or 3 for each clamp.
Disclaimer: I use regular flashlights because here there are no regulations on bike lights and I do not ride with them in use in urban settings; I ride mountain bike trails or mountain roads where the conical spread of light is needed/beneficial and I also take caution not to blind or dazzle other road/trail users with my lamps. The setup is still very useful to affix a proper cycling lamp.
I use FreeCAD to produce STL files that then can be sent to the number of 3D printing services possible to find on a web, including some that aggregate multiple 3D printing providers. The benefit of this setup is zero initial investment: no need to buy a printer and FreeCAD also costs nothing, even if getting things done with it takes time. Lots of printing materials are available, from recycled PLA till carbon and even titanium. If you have doubt if the component will be strong enough, you can always select a tougher material.
This way I made an adapter to fix the middle of my front fender to the fork that has no mounting holes for this:
This second answer of mine is more a "hack" for emergency cases. This was an experiment, I tested it and think it was successful, but I do not suggest you make this on purpose for constant use.
I used an old inner tube to make a strap with two holes that are smaller in diameter than the diameter of the torch or accessory. Fit the torch trough one of the holes. Loop the strap around the handlebar and stretch it until you can push the torch trough the other hole in the strap. The experiment was somewhat successful but too weak, so I made another strap, double in length and with four holes. Fold the strap in half and do the same as described before. Now, with "two" straps the flashlight is held in place enough to ride on smooth trails and can even withstand minor bumps.
This only requires an old inner tube (10 inches or 25 cm) and scissors.
I did this as an experiment a couple months ago, trying to emulate the mounting of some lights that come with rubbery or stretchy straps, in combination with some molded block, cushion, etc.
Cons: Ugly. The lamp vibrates when riding over bumps or potholes, which can be distracting. Not sturdy
Pros: Easy to make. Cheap. Somewhat easy to install and remove.
Other comments: You can definitely do with simply tying the lamp to handlebar with an old tube. The purpose of this strap is to make it quicker to install and remove a few times. You can wrap the torch or the handlebar with another piece of rubber to prevent direct contact between torch and handlebar.
The kind of "emergency" that this is oriented to is to be able to ride/commute a few days while you wait for a proper replacement bracket to arrive, or while you finish your DIY one, or, if you are touring, it will allow you to ride to the next town where you an buy a proper thing.
I used this setup a couple of times and it served well for smooth pavement and smooth dirt trails. It survives bumps but vibrates a second or two after the hit, which is distracting. The rubber provides good friction and if the torch is placed below the handlebar, it returns itself to position. The wider the strap, the tighter it holds the accessory.
I made a couple of custom mounts for torches/flashlights as rear-lights.
- Model the light as an object in a 3D CAD software
- Model the part of the bike I want to attach to
- Add a block of solid and subtract the first two parts.
- Print in PLA
- Attach to bike and fit light - then iterate.
This example holds a common 501B torch to the rear stays of my `bent. This one also uses an existing bolt as a fixing point to prevent rotation, and a couple of zipties to hold the torch to the fitting. Its been rock-solid for ~2 years and 5,000 km now.
- You can buy the mounting hardware relatively cheaply.
- In many cases, you can buy a GoPro adapter relatively cheaply, and then avail yourself of the numerous GoPro mounts that are out there.
- Do you have access to a 3D printer? There are files you can download for at least some proprietary mounts.
- There are semi-universal mounts that consist of a block of rubber with a longitudinal recess for the light, a lateral recess for the handlebar, and a couple of velcro straps.
- In a pinch, you can attach a headlight to a handlebar with a zip tie or two.
I have in the past successfully transplanted mounting hardware from a non-functioning light onto one that works but has lost its mount.
- In the simplest case, you might be able to just unscrew a piece, and screw it onto the other light, but possibly
- adding a washer as you're using a smaller screw, and/or
- drilling out a hole in the clip.
- If you can be sure of not drilling into the battery (e.g it's removable), you can drill and tap a screw hole in the light and add mounting parts. I've even been known to use a lock carrier, and parts from broken phone mounts work well.
- Taking this a step further, and again being careful not to damage batteries, you can cut away a donor light or phone bracket until there's nothing left but the mount, then screw, epoxy, or both to attach it to the working light.
Joins can often be sealed with hot glue or bathroom sealant, but most lights aren't truly sealed anyway, especially underneath.
Light (and cyclometer) manufacturers have an incentive to develop a proprietary mount, for the same reason that even a vast Apple Inc insisted for years on using a proprietary Lightning connector, and a successful maker of many electronic gadgets (Sony) shoved for years its flash disk format on the market: there is substantial profit to be made from these paraphernalia.
This is a particularly acute problem for modern lights with Lithium-ion batteries. Moving the mount from one bike to another is tedious, and the cost of the light means it makes more sense to buy one mount per bicycle, just as it makes more sense to have one cable/charger per room.
Here are twenty mounts for twenty brands—for cyclometers; light mounts appear to be even more numerous. To my knowledge, only one mount (from Garmin) can be manufactured royalty-free. This is a critical point, because it enables creativity. A company can specialize in making versatile and high quality mounts—not least for multiple devices, say a cyclometer and a camera, or a camera and front lights.
After the EU noted that different cables and chargers become enormous pollutants, which is especially foolish given that a half-decent cable and charger can last multiple smartphone cycles, Apple yielded—even for the North American market. It is expensive to release iPhone XYZ with different connectors for different markets.
And the bike light mounts problem has been an issue for much longer, without the hint of an upcoming solution. This suggests that the only long-term solution is for Margrethe Vestager or counterparts in other substantial markets (US, China, India) to mandate the use of a specific royalty-free mount.
Notice that the use of an ordinary flashlight on bicycles will blind car drivers, even if it's pointed down. Look behind you at a cyclist using a flashlight to confirm. In the long-term this is an unsafe, BSO-style solution (though at least the flashlight itself can be used elsewhere).