Each year I attend a large motorcycle event held in Northern New Jersey called Gooch’s Garlic Run. It’s for a good cause and each year a few thousand bikers show up for the annual ride to downtown Newark. You can read more about this worthwhile cause by checking their Facebook page. Anyway, I always show up about an hour before the start so that I can get a good look all the bikes and take special interest in what mounts are in use. I also noticed that the largest brand presence by far is Harley Davidson. Hence, our article about mounts for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners like to mount things on their bikes. The most popular items mounted are cell phones and GPS units. I also see some that mount cameras, satellite radios and even drinks. The most popular locations are the handlebar followed by the clutch but I have also seen some adhesive used to mount devices to the gas tank. I receive a few questions each year regarding the potential use of a suction cup on a motorcycle which I do not recommend as the vibrations can easily compromise the effectiveness of the hold of a suction cup.
Let’s discuss some mounts that are popular with Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners. The majority of Harley handlebars are 1.25 inch in diameter. Be wary of inexpensive plastic mounts made for bicycles. While some plastic bicycle mounts will work well, there are others that are too brittle for motorcycle vibrations. A good rule is that if it costs $5 and ships from Asia, it’s not a good choice for your motorcycle.
Most GPS mounts will deploy a 17mm ball at the end that will mate with the cradle that came with the car mount that Garmin uses for the windshield mount. Some of the better (but more expensive) mounts are made of metal and come with a custom cradle which your GPS will snap into. We recommend tethering the GPS to your handlebar if possible for added safety. A good entry-level mount with that 17mm ball that is marketed for motorcycle use is the Arkon Handlebar Mount for Garmin Nuvi and Garmin Drive GPS. The higher priced but better made RAM Handlebar Mount and can be supplemented with a custom cradle to fit your GPS. Both of the mounts mentioned fit handlebars up to 1.25 inches in diameter. I like the RAM entry for the metal construction of the mount plus the lifetime warranty but if you don’t feel like spending about $40 on a complete RAM kit, the Arkon entry has a 2-year warranty and for a plastic mount is well made.
A phone handlebar mount has some other requirements versus the GPS. I always recommend using a case on your phone so purchase a mount that deploys a well made universal cradle that will grip your phone very firmly and can optionally be tethered to your handlebar. Select a mount that can swivel into portrait or landscape. If using your phone as a GPS, you will likely use it in landscape but if using it for other applications, there’s a good chance portrait mode will be needed. My favorite mount for a Harley handlebar continues to be the Ram Mounts Handlebar Rail Mount with U-Bolt Base and Universal X-Grip Cell Phone Holder. We wrote a very detailed article on the X-Grip series which you can read here. These fit a 1.25 inch handlebar and carry RAM’s lifetime warranty.
I mentioned the second most popular location on a Harley-Davidson as being the clutch. Techmount manufactures a well made Harley-Davidson and Metric Control Mount Kit that features a 17mm ball. As previously mentioned that’s the same size ball that Garmin uses for the back of their GPS cradles. This part comes with stainless steel bolts that will replace the current manufacturer bolts. These bolts are somewhat similar to the manufacturer set with the exception they are longer to accommodate the added depth of the mount. You can then add your Garmin cradle to the 17mm ball. If you would like to mount a phone, you can add the Techmount Cradle to the mount. There are also several inexpensive adapters that permit the installation of cameras or even specialized adapters for the ever popular GoPro series.
I mentioned earlier that there are a lot of riders opting to mount a camera on their Harley-Davidson. There are many camera mounts available for your handlebar but they aren’t all well suited for camera use. A camera has a unique requirement to minimize vibration. Some higher end cameras have technology embedded into the software to minimize this affect. Most do not. Buying a plastic mount with a tripod screw embedded is likely to yield a very shaky video so you will want to find a mount that has vibration dampening technology. The RAM Mount Handlebar U-Bolt Base w/Round 1/4″-20 Threaded Stud has been proven over many years to be the best out there for this purpose. These fit handlebar up to 1.25 inches and facilitates very steady videos.
There are quite a few videos on YouTube that use a RAM camera mount. Here is a random video so that you can see the steadiness. Using a plastic mount without dampening features will likely result in a very dizzy viewer.