Bike riders are increasingly putting their smartphones onto the handlebars — how else can they take advantage of apps and GPS and yes, even phone calls. But the case protecting a phone that’s traveling on a pair of wheels needs more than just a solid construction: it has to be designed so the phone can function as easily as if it wasn’t there. Bike2Power’s BikeConsole Power Plus Mount for the iPhone 5 does all that, and even adds in a bit of extra juice for those all-day travels.
The iPhone 5 doesn’t just pop inside a case that closes with a latch — there’s a specific sequence that must be followed to position it correctly. This also includes the method for attaching the case to the handlebars and, at first glance, the instructions/diagrams provided both on the box and in a small insert seem daunting. I decided to sidestep attaching the bracket to the handlebars and began by taking care of inserting the iPhone into the case; but I first verified that it was indeed waterproof by running the kitchen tap on the front. Drying it off, I then released the two side clamps and pulled up and out at the bottom tab. This released the front of the case so that it could swing up and back.
Since I would be using Bluetooth with a headset, I didn’t have to open the waterproof plug at the bottom and run the included headphone cable through, but I did have to lift the Lightning connector indented at the bottom up so it would more easily go into the iPhone’s bottom connector. I then placed the iPhone inside of the form-fitting inner case prior to placing it inside the main case, where it stayed in place through friction once I closed the case and closed the side clamps.
The next thing to do is attach the power module to the back — lining up contacts on it and the case and then tightening a mounting screw. The module is designed so that it can’t be charged independently of the case, so before anything else a small cap at the top must be unscrewed so the included DC cable can be connected, which then can be inserted into a USB socket. The module charges at a reasonable rate of time and will last longer than most small rechargeables as its rated at 3000mAH.
Inspecting the case, I could see it was built to withstand normal abuse (such as being dropped onto concrete from a more than a foot above, but while I did try it out without any ill effects — full disclosure is that I didn’t have my phone in it at the time. The last thing I tried out was pushing the battery pack’s side-mounted button. This causes it to charge the iPhone, and I could see the charging indicator go on. There’s also a cap at the top that unscrews for inserting a micro-USB cable which will then disgorge power from the module to any device that uses a USB input. This could be used to charge up a tablet in a pinch, although I would imagine that it would drain the battery supply more quickly than doing a phone.
Attaching the BikeConsole to the handlebars requires the use of the included bracket, and it’s pretty clever. To attach the bracket on the handlebar, I started by inserting the long plastic thing sticking off the end of the bracket that resembles a zip-tie into the slot and then inserted the allen wrench into the screw and start turning it. The assembly is like a rack and pinion screw drive – the tab advances through the slot as you turn the screw, acting like a gear rather than a zip tie. This lets you not only completely tighten the bracket down to the handlebar, but also lets you completely remove it without any damage to the bracket or the handlebar!Once in place, the phone/case is slide onto the handlebar section by aligning four tabs. As you slide them together, they snap into place very solidly to give a real strong grip on the iPhone. To remove the phone/case, pull down on the knob at the bottom of the handlebar bracket to cause the two pieces to slide apart. And while the iPhone is now completely encased and protected, the Home button and all of the ports and apertures are accessible. Plus the material on the surface of the case that lets you operate the iPhone touch features with ease.
I took the BikeConsole out for a spin and have to say that its having built-in recharging capabilities made it very handy (GPS seems to use up a lot of power). This convenience was doubled by the way that the phone stayed firmly in the case without any knocking around.
Bottom line: The BikeConsole Power Plus Mount doesn’t look fancy, but security is all about performance, not looks. Biking with an iPhone inside of this case makes for a safe ride without any learning curve. Add the battery module and it’s definitely worth having attached to the handlebars.
Charge and discharge battery power simultaneously, Integrated kickstand
Battery pack not waterproofed
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.