Tag Archives: iPhone

Is your handlebar mount damaging your phone?

I recently found photos taken on my iPhone 11 were blurry because the autofocus wouldn’t lock on.

The phone was under warranty so I rang to have the camera fixed and was immediately asked whether I rode a bicycle or motorcycle.

When I said yes, they asked if I had a handlebar mount.

So obviously they are aware of an issue where having your phone or camera mounted to your handelbar can cause vibration issues that can damage the delicate workings of your device.

I’d be careful what you admit to as it could void your warranty.

Several handlebar mounting devices for cameras, GPS, phones, etc now come with vibration isolation attachments.

One of the most popular is the Aussie invention, Quad Lock, which offers a vibration mount for just $A24.95.Quad lock

It’s a small price to pay for the insurance of protecting your expensive device.

I have been mounting my phone to the handlebars using a Quad Lock with a wireless charger for several years without any issues … until now.

Having your phone charged while you are out on a ride is not only a convenience, but also a safety device.

If you get lost, crash or fall ill, having a fully charged phone means you can ring emergency and they can track you.

The Quad Lock is available for motorcycles, scooters, cars, bicycles and runners.

You can buy the mount (RAM, handlebar or mirror), the case to suit your iOS or Android phone, a waterproof covering if required, plus accessories such as the charging units and isolation mounts separately or as a pack to save money.

To mount your phone, hold it at a 45-degree angle until it slots into place, then twist it clockwise to a vertical or horizontal position where it remains securely in place.

To remove the phone, simply push the blue tab (or ring on the wireless charger mount) and rotate anti-clockwise.

That makes it useful if you are riding along and see something worthy of a photo – no fumbling in your jacket for your phone, just grab it and take the shot, then re-attach it. (Obviously, stop first!)

Although it is very secure, it does vibrate which makes it impossible to use the camera or video function on the move.

And as we’ve now found, that vibration can cause damage, especially if you ride on rough roads or off-road.

Quad Lock even lists a variety of motorcycles – mainly twin cylinder models – that can cause vibration issues.

Be aware that it may be illegal in your jurisdiction to even touch the phone while riding, although the laws are a bit vague, says the Australian Motorcycle Council.

If you want to access any of the touchscreen facilities, you would need to have special gloves with touch-sensitive finger pads.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Quad Lock adds wireless phone charger

Wireless charging is now available with the Aussie invention, Quad Lock, so you can more conveniently mount your phone on your bike and charge it on the run.

Quad Lock already has a $A44.95 charging accessory, but you need to plug in a USB cable which is a little messy and time consuming (like about two seconds!).

Now with this $A134.95 wireless charging head accessory that fits on the current mount, you simply attach the phone and it starts charging.

It is a bit bigger than the previous charger, but not unsightly.

Wireless charging

Having your phone charged while you are out on a ride is not only a convenience, but also a safety device.

If you get lost, crash or fall ill, your phone will still have charge so you can ring emergency and they can track you.

The company says some of the chargers already sent out to customers have an issue with the O ring becoming detached. They have provided a video of how to easily re-assemble it.

They assure us that future units will not have this issue.

I have been using a Quad Lock for several years and have been using the charger for several months without any issues.

I’m looking forward to getting a wireless charger!Quad Lock wireless charging head

They are easy to fit, discrete, quick to mount and remove your phone, robust and secure.

While the chargers are waterproof, I found with the cable charger that if you get water on the plug end that goes into your phone, it may not work until you dry it off.

The Quad Lock is available for motorcycles, scooters, cars, bicycles and runners.

You can buy the mount (RAM, handlebar or mirror), the case to suit your iOS or Android phone, a waterproof covering if required and the charging units separately or as a pack to save money.

How to fit

Quad Lock wireless charging head

They are very easy to fit with just a few allen bolts and they are very secure with the screws tightened.

The charging units sit on top of the mount with a lead that goes to your battery, a USB port or SAE connector.Quad Lock wireless charging head

To mount your phone, hold it at a 45-degree angle until it slots into place, then twist it clockwise to a vertical or horizontal position where it remains securely in place.

To remove the phone, simply push the blue tab and rotate anti-clockwise.

That makes it useful if you are riding along and see something worthy of a photo – no fumbling in your jacket for your phone, just grab it and take the shot, then re-attach it. (Obviously, stop first!)

The wireless charger should make that a little less fiddly as there is no need to remove a cable.Quad Lock wireless charging head

Although it is very secure, it does vibrate which makes it impossible to use the camera or video function on the move.

There are various places you can mount your phone – handlebar, mirror, triple clamp or RAM mount.Quad Lock wireless charging head

The mirror fitting is especially useful for scooters which often have conventional handlebars. It also puts the phone up nice and high so you don’t have to divert your eyes far from the road ahead to see the screen.

There is also an extension arm that you can fit to raise the phone up even higher in your field of vision. And now you can also get a ball mount to match a RAM fitting.

Quad Lock mobile phone mount
Quad Lock mobile phone mount with extension

It is handy to have the phone in front of you for navigational purposes and being able to rotate it to a wide or vertical orientation is very useful.

However, if you just use your phone for calls and music, most Bluetooth devices allow you to operate the controls without touching your phone.

It can be a bit distracting when text messages flash up on our phone while riding. There is a real temptation to read them! However, you can also turn this feature off or exercise some willpower.Quad Lock charging head

Riders often criticise car drivers for texting while driving, so we strongly advise against using it for texts unless you are stopped.

Aussie riders may also find that it is illegal to even touch the phone while riding, although the laws are a bit vague, says the Australian Motorcycle Council.

If you want to access any of the touchscreen facilities, you would need to have special gloves with touch-sensitive finger pads.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

PicTrax: Ride, shoot, upload and earn!

Riders visiting swap meets, race events, their favourite cafe or just out riding scenic roads, can now earn money by taking a few photos on their mobile phones and uploading to free app PicTrax.

The Australian designed and developed photography app is creating a national catalogue of great mobile phone shots.

Not only that, it also promotes events to other riders.

Motorcycle events and riders’ favourite stretches of road are expected to be a significant section of the PicTrax app given the opportunity for creative shots inherent in interesting riding routes.

The photographer has the choice of getting credit or remaining anonymous.

Here’s how it works:

Free PicTrax app

The free Android and Apple PicTrax app geographically pins the photo to the event’s location and interfaces with directions on how to get there. 

The amateur or professional mobile phone snapper who uploads the photo to the app then earns money in direct proportion to the photo’s popularity.

Popularity is determined by the number of votes it receives from viewers. Once the photo reaches a minimum threshold of $20, the credits earned can be taken by the photographer in cash.

How many votes you will need is not yet known but it could be in the thousands.

The app also holds the photo as a personal travel and events diary for the photographer and can be shared with family and friends. Even if the phone is lost, the photographs and their pinned locations remain intact on PixTrax.

The app was conceived and created by Brisbane-based Obelia McCormack who self-funded its development.Obelia McCormack - founder of the PicTrax app

“The app brings an unrivalled level of individuality to the photos allowing the mobile phone photographer to use it for one-off events, to create a major social following, or any level in between,” Obelia says.

“PicTrax also has a 19-point, easy-to-read chart comparing its features with those of Instagram, Google Maps, Pinterest, Trip Advisor, Facebook and YouTube.

“The nearest of them has only 10 of PicTrax’s 19 dynamic features and the rest, while perhaps great for other purposes, are not even close to the design direction of PicTrax.

“We’re always using are smartphones to snap the places and events we want to remember.

“PicTrax is primarily about the impressive views, outlooks and landscapes as well as the events held there.  It’s not about a photo of a meal or a 21st birthday. That’s a keen difference between PicTrax and other apps – it’s scenery and happenings, rather than people pulling funny faces.

“We’re actually already building our own, unique, photographic libraries.Obelia McCormack - founder of the PicTrax app

“PixTrax provides a platform to share those libraries as a source of information for others as well as ourselves, and for the smartphone photographers to be financially rewarded for doing so.

“The app’s website, www.pictrax.com also includes tutorials to show how it’s done, but a key objective was to make the technology incredibly user-friendly and simple to use. We’ve been able to achieve that.

“As well as being designed for the amateur snapper, PicTrax also provides opportunity for budding professional photographers, to publish a portfolio URL and create an avenue for image sales.”

PicTrax users are required to agree to the PicTrax Terms of Service, which among other things, requires users to declare they have the legal rights to take, upload and display their photos.

The app and further details can be accessed at www.pictrax.com.

Compare features

PICTRAX

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

X2 motorcycle phone mount has power

This universal X2 phone mount comes with power attachment at just $36, including postage.

Many motorcycle and scooter riders now use their phone rather than a GPS to navigate, but most phone mounts won’t power your phone or electronic device.

However, the X2 will keep you powered up all day long.

It will fit just about any phone size and grips with four sprung claw-style holders plus the extra security of a rubber holders top and bottom. The back also has non-slip pads.X2 phone mount

We have tried the unit with iPhone plus sizes and the smaller XS over some bumpy country roads without the phones shaking loose.

It comes with two mounting options to fit just about any motorcycle or scooter. One is a U-clamp to go around the handlebar or wing mirror stem, the other is a bolt-down mount.

The holder has ball-link points to rotate the unit 360 degrees allowing you to position it so it is easy to see, but does not obscure your bike’s instruments.

There are many other similar phone holders on the market, but this is the first we have seen that is also powered.

It comes with 1.3m of cable to attach to your ignition or directly to the battery.X2 phone mount

The built-in USB charging port will allow you to keep your phone or other electronic device charged while you are riding.

This is important as navigation and Bluetooth connection can drain a phone quite quickly.

However, we warn riders not to use the phone screen while riding to check your Facebook status our any other distracting function.

The X2 phone mount comes standard with the clamp mount and bolt mount, two spare claws, anti-slip pads and rubber holders.X2 phone mount

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Will 5G networks make riding safer?

5G phone networks may make autonomous driving and vehicle sensors more sensitive and reliable, but will the faster networks also increase driver distractions?

A Spanish automotive company has demonstrated how 5G capability will improve inter-vehicle communication to detect vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists.

Ficosa used Barcelona’s 5G network to demonstrate its Bitax telematic platform which combines Wi-Fi and cellular technology to operate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2X) technology.

V2V and V2X uses sensors in each vehicle to detect the other, or an obstacle and then send alerts to the other vehicle to avoid a collision.

Ducati has been working with Bosch on a similar system and plans to introduce it next year.

Bosch radar warns riders of traffic autonomous 5g
Bosch radar warns riders of traffic

However, Ficosa is the first to launch the technology after connecting 500 vehicles in Denver, Colorado.

In its Barcelona demonstration, Ficosa showed how Bitax could detect a pedestrian via a thermal camera in traffic lights, a cyclist equipped with a “high-precision geolocation” unit and a car stopped by the roadside in low-light conditions.

The company says this proves the tech can also detect other vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists.5g V2V autonomous automated

“These use cases show how C-V2X technology offers a safer and more comfortable driving experience by allowing the vehicle to communicate with everything around it (other cars, traffic lights, traffic signals, pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes, etc).

“For cars to ‘talk’ to the city, however, latency must be kept to a minimum. So, it is essential to roll out 5G capabilities.”

That means they need the higher-frequency signals of the next-generation network which has shorter range but less radio interference.

5G advantages/disadvantages

However, there are advantages and disadvantages in the faster network.

Speeds can be up to 10Gbps which is about 1000 times faster than most 4G signals. It is claimed it will download a movie in 10 seconds.

That would make it even faster than the best broadband network.

Great! So drivers will be tempted to watch Netflix instead of paying attention to the road.

Distracted drivers are already a major danger to riders.

St Paul Police Department has even axed its popular motorcycle unit over distracted driving crashes.

cops distracted drivers
Image from St Paul Police Department Facebook page

Apart from Barcelona, 5G has already been rolled out in some parts of the USA, South Korea, Sweden, Estonia, Turkey, Japan and China. Australia is expected to introduce 5G next year.

Samsung and several other Android brands will release 5G phones this year, but Apple will wait until 2020.

While 5G might help with the coming wave of automated and semi-automated vehicles using VC2V and V2X technology, it may not work in remote areas where riders are more likely to travel.

However, like current 4G phones, your next-gen phone will also be able to use previous generation signals for phone calls and data use.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Neckmike headset suits motorcyclists

The new Neckmike headset should resolve the two biggest problems with wearing earphones connected to your phone when riding.

The problems are that the microphone supplied with most smartphone earphones is usually useless against wind noise on a bike and the bulky earbuds are often uncomfortable under a tight helmet.

Neckmike has a microphone that attaches to your neck and works like those fighter pilots we’ve seen in many war movies, cutting out all wind and ambient noise.

The earbuds are also small and the type that slot right inside your ears to reduce background wind noise so you don’t have to turn the volume up ridiculously high to hear.

(Now we know some riders are totally against this sort of communication/entertainment while riding. However, there are other riders who love music and being able to stay in touch. Plus there are professionals who need to be in contact for work while riding such as couriers and moto-journos like me!)

Neckmike

Neckmike is the product of a two-person Swedish company that produces headsets for military and first responders.

Co-founder Carl Franzén tells us they have now developed a civilian version suitable for active use such as motorcycling, skiing, jogging and cycling.

Neckmike Case
Carl models the Neckmike

They have launched a Kickstarter crowd-funding program to help get the product to market.

There are three types of headset:

Neckmike Case
C30 unit
  • The C30 costs $US109,99 (about $A155) and is designed for use with a smartphone, although it does not have a lightning connection for the iPhone so you have to use the adapter that comes with the phone. You can also plug it into some Bluetooth intercoms that feature an external speaker socket. 
  • The C50 ($US129.99/$A180) is the same headset but with a lower volume output to meet CE requirements.
  • Top of the range is the Neckmike M4+ bundle at $US209.99 (about $295) which contains a Neckmike C20 and a M4 bluetooth intercom. It’s good value as you also get a handlebar controller for easy access to controls. 

    Neckmike Case
    Bundle comes with M4 intercom and handlebar controls

Carl says the units are completely waterproof and the earbud speakers are made with hi-fi elements from a “renowned Danish company”. 

While Neckmike can be connected to many communication devices, a number of versions with different cable sets will be released soon.

We also hope to test one of the units when they become available.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Adding action to your motorbike photos

Motorcycles are about action, yet we rarely see any motorbikes in motion in Facebook photos.

I’m getting a bit tired of the same old photos of motorcycles in car parks or parked outside cafes.

action photos
Typical Facebook carpark photo

The proliferation of these is probably because we are too busy riding and having fun to stop and think about taking some photos of our mates riding past.

But let’s do our Facebook friends a big favour these Christmas holidays and make a pledge to get more action in our shots. Your mates will appreciate your efforts.

You don’t have to be a photographer or use an SLR camera to take good shots, either.

action photos
Photo taken with GoPro on a low tripod

I started out as a photographic journalist and have for years carried around expensive SLR cameras and lenses.

However, they are too big, expensive and fragile to cart around on a motorcycle. I’ve broken several over the years from vibration and bumps on the bike.

These days I just use an action camera or a phone. Most take fantastic idiot-proof shots.

Here are a few quick iPhone tips to snap some interesting motorcycle action photos on your next ride with friends. (Android phones should have similar functions.)

Panning shotsaction photos

Action in a photo is best shown by having some blur. This is easy.

When you next stop for a coffee/toilet break, tell your mates you will leave a couple of minutes early to station yourself on a corner or scenic outlook where you will photograph them as they go past.

Park safely off the side of the road and set yourself up somewhere with the sun behind you and a good clear shot of the road as the riders go past.

Hold the phone out about 30cm from your face so you can see the live action at the same time as what’s on your screen. This will help you follow the action.

As each rider comes into view, hit and hold the “shoot” button, careful to keep the rider in the centre of the shot as you follow them around the corner.

This will create a “burst” of photos that focus on the rider and blur the background.action photos

When you check the photos, you will see the word “Select…” at the bottom of the screen.

The main photo may be blurry and not well framed, but if you click on Select, you will see all the photos from your panning shoot.

Select the best to show your mates. They will look like MotoGP starts even if they are riding slowly!

Or you can blur the bike to show speed with a nice panorama in the background.

Simply hold the phone still as the riders go past and hold down the shoot button.

action photos
Blurred riders look fast

Scenic photos

A beautiful landscape photo looks even better with a bike in the foreground.

And it doubles the attraction if you also have a moving bike in the frame.

In this shot, I’ve positioned my bike in the foreground with a mountain in the background and a fellow rider going past.action photos

Low-down action

You can also make an action shot more dramatic if you get down low to shoot the bike.

Too many people hold the camera at eye level while standing.

action photos
Low-down action

Bikes only stand a bit over a metre tall, so at eye height, most of the bike is in the bottom half of the photo.

Get down low and you will fill the frame with motorbike.

And if you can jump an adventure bike even a few inches off the ground, it looks like a whole lot more!

Now show us some of your best motorcycle photos.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com