Welcome to GamJams Midwest Tech, where we check out new gear and gadgets designed for bike racers like you.
Much like the release of the Apple iPod and iPhone, the widespread adoption of Garmin cycling computers has given rise to a secondary industry for accessories. Just like you can get a case for your iPhone in pretty much any flavor you like, so, too, can you get one for your Garmin.
The biggest noise, though, is being made in bar mounts. Though Garmin devices are shipped with the now-standard quarter-turn mounts, which are compatible with both stems and handlebars, many riders are using mounts that place the computer in front of the handlebar — much like an SRM head unit. Despite the same essential function, prices vary wildly.
Luckily, though, there are a few options out there that don't add 20 percent to the cost of an Edge 500, which retails for $250. It starts with the Barfly 2.0, made by Tate Labs, which retails for $25. A couple of years ago, the original Barfly was among the first "out front" mounts on the market. It's been updated now to fit both the Edge 500, which is smaller, as well as the larger 510, 800 and 810. It is, essentially, a hunk of plastic that clamps to your handlebar.
SRAM released a Garmin mount over the winter called Quick View. It is also a hunk of plastic that clamps to your handlebar. Of the mounts available, it is easily the simplest design. And it retails for $20.
Setup and installation is fairly straightforward. It's a 31.8mm clamp, designed for most oversized handlebars. If you have the old skinny bars, you'll need some shims to make it fit. Where the simplicity of the design shines is the clamp shape itself. Unlike the Garmin and K-Edge versions, which have hinges to get the clamp around the bar, the Quick View is made of flexible plastic.
Why does that matter? If the screw on your Garmin or K-Edge mount falls out — screws get loose on bikes now and again — your Garmin is going for a ride. (Did you get a protective case?) If the screw on the SRAM (or Barfly) falls out, your computer will flip downward, but won't fall off. Well, at least not right away.
The only real wonky think about the Quick View is the bolt used to tighten the clamp: a Torx T-25. Huh? Why not a 3mm Allen, which every reasonable cyclist in the world has? But a T-25? I guess I'm lucky to have Avid Shorty Ultimate brakes on my cyclocross bike, which also use Torx bolts.
I was initially concerned, because I get concerned about such things, about how far my Edge 500 would float ahead of the handlebar, as the Quick View is designed to accommodate the larger models as well. As you can see, it's not really a big deal. (Also, how may different logos with white type can you spot? Eesh.)
Additionally, the other mounts place the computer unit a bit lower, vertically, on the mount — meaning the screen of the computer is flush with the top of the stem. The Quick View, owing to its simple design, does not. The screen ends up being maybe a centimeter above the stem.
That orientation is also not a big deal. After a few hundred miles, I can easily say that it doesn't matter. Stick your computer on there and go ride. For $20, the SRAM Quick View does the job you need it to do: Your computer is out front and secure. It makes a confidence-inspring "click" when you turn your computer into place and then gets out of the way.
If you want to check out a video presentation, which was not done by me (lucky you), of the SRAM-Barfly-Garmin comparison, click here. He gets a bit more hands-on with the other options out there.
We've long been a proponent of tubeless road technology, going back to our 2007-model Dura-Ace 7801-SL wheels (which are still in service, by the way). Hutchinson has a new 28c tubeless tire out, called the Secteur, which we have en route. After spending the bulk of the 2012 season on 25c tires, we're pretty pysched to check out the 28s. Why so large? Because it's like riding on a magic carpet and cornering with Velcro. Look for a review after we can get a few hundred miles on them.