Whether for good or for ill, it’s just a fact that riders are using their cell phones in the cockpit. Audio streaming, GPS navigation, telemetry logging apps and “vlogging”, the list goes on and on. And there’s as many mount options as there are reasons to mount. From sketchy twist-grip thongs more suitable for bicycles to bolt-on industrial rigs you could install in a jet, there’s plenty of competition in this segment. We decided to take the Ciro 3D Premium Smartphone Holder for a spin and see how it holds up.
Ciro 3D Premium Smartphone Holder with Mirror Stem Mount
|Review Dates:||April 26th 2018 – May 30th 2018|
|Price as Tested:||$84.95*|
|Tested on:||2009 Kawasaki Versys 650|
*Mount with charger $59.95, black Mirror Stem mount $25.00
The Ciro 3D Premium Smartphone holder is exactly what it sounds like, a cell phone mounting accessory designed specifically for motorcycles. The mount itself consists of a rectangular frame with four protrusions in the corners that arch slightly inward. Finned rubber pads on the inside arch provide grip. The frame itself is two pieces, and a horizontal center screw provides a wide range of expansion to accommodate phone size. Mounting angle is adjusted with a ball-in-socket configuration and locking threaded collar. The frame measures 3.25 inches (83mm) vertically and adjusts from 2.5 inches (64mm) to about 4 inches (102mm) horizontally. Final gripping pressure is provided by a cam lever with offset pivot.
This version also features integrated charging, which is hardwired to the host vehicle’s electrical system. A pin-type connector provides power to the mount and energizes a standard USB port on the underside. Peak power for the charger is 1.3 amps. The harness includes sheathed and insulated power and ground wires and includes an in-line fuse holder with a 10 amp automotive type fuse.
The last component is the actual mounting solution, which in this case is the mirror stem mount. This a black anodized bracket measuring 3″ long. The bracket is designed to be installed between your mirror and stem or between the stem and perch, depending on your particular application. The end features Ciro’s universal ball mount with a hex bolt, which can be used with their other mountable accessories.
The Ciro 3D Premium Smartphone Holder is considerably more robust than a lot of other options in this space. The frame is high density plastic, rubber and stainless steel, and the bracket is machined billet with an anodized finish. No part of the mount feels flimsy or sketchy, and everything fits together in a precise manner that inspires confidence. The only exception to this is the electrical pin connector, which slips into the frame without any click or sense of engagement. It’s never failed though, even while riding on bumpy back roads or gravel.
“No part of the mount feels flimsy or sketchy, and everything fits together in a precise manner that inspires confidence.”
It’s hard to know just what to say about this. After all, the essential function of any cell phone mount is literally to do nothing. To not vibrate, not shift, not buzz, not distract. A good cell phone mount holds your phone where you can see it from the saddle, and that is all.
By that measure, the Ciro 3D Premium Smartphone Holder delivers. The rubberized pads with their grippy fins do an excellent job of minimizing vibration, while the screw adjustment and cam lock hold your phone securely in place. The ball mount and locking collar provide an excellent range of adjustment, so you can find an angle that suits you. And the mirror stem mount is especially accommodating. A lot of mounts on the market are designed to attach to your handle bars, while others attach to the steering head. And while these methods are obvious and convenient, they put your phone down far below a comfortable viewing height. The mirror stem mount allows you to get your phone right up into your line of sight.
“The ball mount and locking collar provide an excellent range of adjustment, so you can find an angle that suits you.”
The Ciro 3D offers one other feature not common to this segment, and that’s built-in charging. Search Amazon for the phrase “motorcycle cell phone mount” and you’ll return more than 2,000 products. But include the word “charger” to that search string and your results fall to just over 300. It’s a rare feature, plain and simple.
Given the type of power-intensive things you’re likely to be using your phone for on your bike, that’s a shame. GPS navigation, audio streaming, recording video, all these things demand a lot of juice. Add to that the necessity to run your screen at full brightness in direct sunlight. and we’re a lot more likely to be keeping our phones charged than trying to charge them. It’s a small but important distinction.
In this, the Ciro 3D Premium Smartphone Mount falls a little short. The 1.3 amp charger is fully capable of charging my phone if it’s not doing anything, but when I’m using navigation with the screen on it can’t overcome the draw. And while it’s probably not necessary to have the screen on all the time while you’re riding, even while navigating, that creates the need to “wake up” your phone when you do need the screen. And since this usually requires at least a button push and swipe, it’s an unnecessary distraction. A 2 amp charger would make a lot more sense, and they’re readily available on other similar products. It’s a mystery why they didn’t include it here, especially at this price point.
“The 1.3 amp charger is fully capable of charging my phone if it’s not doing anything, but when I’m using navigation with the screen on it can’t overcome the draw.”
The Elephant in the Room
We would be remiss to review a cell phone mount without addressing the obvious question of safety. Should we be making it convenient to use our cell phones while riding? Or would it be better to keep them in our pockets and not invite the temptation in the first place? Obviously, interacting with your cell phone while riding is a mistake, and potentially a fatal one. But I believe there are circumstances where having your phone visible and available can actually improve your safety.
The most obvious of these is GPS navigation. Finding your way through an unfamiliar area can be stressful, and on a motorcycle it’s even worse. Being able to use navigation is invaluable in situations such as these. Even if you have a headset, you’re still limited to voice prompts without a proper mount. That’s better than nothing, but being able to see your screen with the route plotted out can make all the difference.
“Should we be making it convenient to use our cell phones while riding?”
Audio streaming can also be improved, offering you the ability to skip or pause without having to “feel out” the right button on your headset. Caller ID can help avoid potential distractions if you’re using a headset paired to your phone. I’ve even met one rider who swears her Doppler Radar app lets her avoid cloudbursts on her daily commute. Last, but not least, being able to record live video just might help you report a dangerous driver, or prove your innocence in a collision.
Beyond these examples, there’s any number of scenarios where a cell phone mount can enhance your riding experience. A lot of riders use apps that display speed, lean angle, G force, lap times, and other telemetry data. Video blogging is a growing hobby for a lot of riders too. Finally, having a dedicated place for your cell phone will save you room in your pockets or luggage, and can improve your overall comfort.
The Ciro 3D Premium Smartphone Holder is simply a robust product. It inspires confidence with it’s solid construction and tight assembly. It’s an attractive mount, without any of the rubber thongs or weird science-fiction spindles common on other mounts. It installs easily, and offers a wealth of mounting options to fit your particular application. It offers built-in charging, which is both rare and vital in this segment. The anemic 1.3 amp charger is disappointing, but not terribly so, and the overall quality throughout makes this an acceptable shortcoming. One final point to mention is that Ciro has been a pleasure to work with, readily available to answer technical questions or provide insight. They stand behind their product in a way not many manufacturers in this segment would or did.
For all these reasons, we’re pleased to award the Ciro 3D Premium Smartphone Holder our Gold Award, four out of five stars!
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