Surely one of the best things about riding a motorbike is the ability to shut yourself off from the modern world and all its distractions – emails, phone calls, and social media notifications. Just by putting a helmet on you can set the ultimate Out Of Office autoreply to all of them.
There has to be a bit of give and take though; for every one of the 21st century’s intrusions on your attention, there is an innovation you suddenly can’t live without. Sat nav tech on your phone, which you can use for free on your bike, is one of them. An upgrade that car drivers normally pay extra to have added to their screens.
READ MORE: Best motorcycle phone holders
That said, it can be a tricky job finding a safe and stable place to mount your phone. Out-of-the-box solutions exist but bikes come in all different shapes and sizes, with different mounting points and handlebar diameters, so what you really want is something you can tailor to your individual needs.
How does a RAM mount work?
A one-size-fits-all phone mount is a single-piece solution that assumes a certain bar diameter and phone size (within upper and lower tolerances that can be adjusted with a ratchet- or spring-tensioned fastening), so you buy one that holds your phone and attach it to whichever bit of your bike it fits.
There are two problems with this – they’re generally a bit wobbly and you’re restricted to where you can attach them, often settling for a less than optimal place outside of your eyeline or on your already cluttered bars.
RAM sells its phone holder as part of a modular system of bits that can be purchased separately – pick the mount that fits your phone, the clamp that fits the area of the bike you want to attach it, and an arm to connect the two.
In the same way that GoPro accessories all use the same fixture so you can mix and match parts, RAM employs a universal ball and socket design not unlike your shoulder joint. It rotates around to give you a wide range of mounting angles and clamps down hard so it can’t pop out. Which unfortunately is where the similarities to my shoulder joint end.
Installing the RAM mount
My Honda CB500X has a handy rail above the dials, protected behind the screen, which I’ve long thought as the perfect place to install a phone or sat nav, purely because it’s just below my eyeline – convenient enough to look down at but not distracting. Safety first.
The trouble is the rail itself is quite thin and I couldn’t find a phone mount small enough that would grip it – RAM makes a clamp though, with several different sized inserts to get the perfect fit, and a 3M sticky pad to reduce vibration. This secures to the rail with two screws, and once tightened up is so secure I reckon I could hang a rucksack on it.
Then a short double-arm socket can be attached to the clamp’s ball, while the phone mount attaches to the other end of the arm. You tighten the whole thing down with a thumbscrew, and again, it feels extremely solid while allowing you to get the phone screen at precisely the angle you want.
Actually, before attaching the mount you need to set the four pins that hold onto the sides of your phone. The others are fixed already - with the top pair attached to a spring-loaded sliding mechanism that grips hard onto your device.
Getting the side pins in the right place took a bit of trial and error because you can’t tighten the screws that hold them in with your phone in the holder, so I had to keep taking it out, guessing the position and then trying it with the phone in.
The whole installation required a bit of to and froing if I’m honest – a cheaper and simpler phone holder would screw on in seconds but then requires fiddling with every other ride. The RAM mount took a bit longer to get perfect but once that’s done the whole thing is very fit and forget.
How secure is the RAM mount?
Once I’d faffed about for 20 minutes getting it in the perfect place (I originally had the mount in the centre of the rail, but realised once I put my phone in it would be too far to the left) the clamp was rock solid. Seriously, it looks and feels OEM.
It’s also really easy to get your phone in and out of, even with gloves, because you just have to push the top two pins up to open the mount’s jaws and then your device slots straight in.
On the road there is so little vibration or movement it feels like the phone screen is built into the bike’s dashboard – not least because the mount itself is quite minimalistic in design and all the clamping hardware is hidden behind where you can’t see it.
How did you test it?
MCN’s Gareth Evans and I rode hundreds of miles from Peterborough to Cardiff for a car and motorbike launch event just after I’d installed the RAM mount and it made navigating the journey way less stressful than my previous phone holder.
That trip took in all sorts of roads – motorways, dual carriageways, town riding and country lanes and the RAM mount was faultless in all conditions.
My only real concern is the thought of someone stealing it while my bike was parked up!
The modular nature of the RAM system is deeply appealing because you can really tailor exactly where you want the phone screen to go, with a combination of clamps and connecting arms.
I was also sent a GoPro mount to test, which attaches to the clamping arm using the same ball and socket design. Now I can quickly swap my phone holder for an action camera if I want to record a group ride or use it as a dashcam, without having to purchase a separate mount.
It also means that if and when I come to swap bikes, the most I’ll need to replace is the rail clamp – and there are loads of different mounting options, from ones that attach to your handlebars to some that screw into existing allen bolts on your bars.
With a USB cable run up the back of my clocks and secured to the base of the RAM Mount, the whole set up is fuss and flapping-wire free. The best compliment I can pay this system is to say it honestly looks and works just like a second motorbike screen, not a phone.
If you want a more traditional style phone holder (i.e. not a Quad Lock that requires its own phone case/modifying your current phone case) then the RAM Quick-Grip XL and its associated mounting hardware are very easy to recommend.