Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Techmount PDA Mount Review

While riding to Kenai last summer, I took a wrong turn in Soldotna and nearly ended up riding to Homer, rather than Kenai.  Once that little voice in my head that was screaming "something isn't right, here!" got loud enough, I pulled off on the side of the road and consulted Google Maps on my Android phone.  But you sure would have been nice to have the navigation at my fingertips, rather than inside a coat pocket, where I had to pull off on the side of the highway in order to retrieve the phone.

Much later last summer, I was scheduled to take a trip to San Francisco, and while I was there, I was going to rent a V-Strom and ride up to Redding, California.  If I can take the wrong highway in Alaska (there's usually only one or two highways going *anywhere* up here), I was certainly going to need some navigational help in California.  Once again, I consulted with Twisted Throttle and found this little gem.  It looked like it would be simple enough to install, even on a rental bike, so I went to my local Twisted Throttle distributor and ordered one.  Long story short, two months later, with my departure date quickly approaching, I called my local distributor, cancelled my order, and ordered the Techmount directly from Twisted Throttle.  The next day, the local dealer called me back and said the Techmount had arrived (go figure).  They were cool about it, however, when I said I had already ordered one directly from Twisted Throttle, so they will most likely get my business again in the future.  They really are good people to work with, and this is the first time I've ever had a problem getting an item from them.

Within a couple of days, I had the Techmount from Twisted Throttle.  The mount itself is a pair of semicircles that are bolted together with small allen head bolts.  Techmount includes three split-ring spacers, plastic rings about half an inch wide, with an outside diameter to match the inside diameter of the Techmount, which are used to adapt the Techmount to different sized handlebars or structural tubing on the motorcycle.

Installation was a breeze, so I won't belabour the process with a lengthy write-up.  Suffice it to say, step one is find the appropriate sized spacer for your application, and position it where you want the Techmount to be installed.  Place the bottom half of the mount underneath the spacer, place the upper half on top of the spacer, and install the allen bolts to hold them together.  After installing the mount rings, install the short mount shaft to the upper mount ring, and secure it in place with -- you guessed it -- an allen bolt.  In the photo to the left, you can see the inner spacer ring, the upper and lower mount rings and the shaft of the mount.

The top plate is actually two pieces -- an adapter and the PDA holder itself, as you can see in this photo.  The PDA holder can be mounted with a left to right orientation, as I did, or with a fore and aft orientation (landscape mode or portrait mode, respectively).  If you want to mount a GPS with standard mounting screws, you can leave the PDA holder off and mount it directly to the adapter, I believe.

Here's the cockpit view of the completed installation.

Even though it was nearly the end of the riding season, freezing conditions held off long enough for me to squeeze in a couple of rides with the Techmount and my Android.  Overall, I'm pretty happy with the purchase.  The Techmount holds the phone very securely.  Any jolts strong enough to dislodge the phone would probably dislodge me and/or damage the suspension.  The Techmount is designed to allow you to adjust the positioning in several directions, so no matter where you mount it, you should be able to get a good view of your PDA or GPS with little effort.  On the minus side, the elastic over the screen interferes with touch screen operation a little, and if I'm not careful, the lower clamp on the PDA holder tends to squeeze on the volume control on my HTC Hero, adjusting my ring or navigation volume settings.  Additionally, the location on the handlebars means I have to shift my focus from the road to the PDA -- not a good thing in high-speed or heavy traffic.  Finally, I was also slightly annoyed to find that for such a simple device, Techmount saw fit to use allen screws with three different sized heads, requiring three different sized wrenches to adjust.  Seriously, couldn't at least one of those sizes have been eliminated?

All things considered, if I had a full-sized Garmin or Tom-Tom GPS, I'd probably go with this GPS mount rather than the Techmount, since it would be more in your line of sight while riding.  However, since all I currently have is the GPS on my cell phone, the Techmount meets my needs.  If you need an inexpensive, simple, easy-to-adjust way to mount your PDA on your bike, the Techmount is a good choice at a reasonable price.

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