If you’re a cyclist, you know the primary rule of cycling: if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen. And while there are multiple ways to record your rides, using your phone is probably the easiest—especially if you don’t want to pony up for a dedicated cycling computer. And that’s where Spigen’s Gearlock line comes in handy: it’s a bike phone mount that puts your phone front-and-center on your bike’s bars.
There are a few challenges that go along with mounting your expensive-and-also-fairly-fragile smartphone to your bicycle’s handlebars, of course. For one, the phone needs additional protection. Secondly, the locking system needs to be secure. Third, it needs to be as versatile as possible.
And for the most part, Gearlock nails all of those things. Spigen did a good job of looking at how cyclists use current bike computers and built a very similar-feeling system to match. While I admit that Gearlock isn’t the right solution for everyone, it’s great for casual cyclists who just want a way to track their rides and use navigation without having to go for a spendy bike computer.
But there’s also a second group of cyclists that Gearlock is great for: indoor cyclists or those who do any sort of indoor training. I’ve been using Gearlock on my iPhone 12 Mini to run the Zwift companion during indoor sessions, and it’s great. But we’ll get more into that in a bit. For now, let’s talk about how Gearlock works.
Okay, So, How Does Gearlock Work?
If you’ve ever seen a cycling computer from Garmin or Wahoo, then you already have an idea of what Gearlock is looking to recreate. There are two types of mounts available: a stem mount and an out-front mount (more details on each below). Both are extremely easy to install and use the same type of click-and-lock mechanism that interfaces with either a dedicated phone case (not included) or a universal mount adapter (included) that works with any case.
The full system—the mount and dedicated case—is the best setup in my opinion. The mount adapter that comes with both the stem and out front mounts uses 3M adhesive to attach to most existing cases, which seems to be pretty robust. If you’re looking for something a little more substantial (or permanent), then you should look at the dedicated Gearlock cases.
These cases have the Gearlock mount built in, as well as some additional padding points inside the case to further protect the phones. They’re not as streamlined as some of Spigen’s thinner cases, but they’re also not quite as bulky as something like an Otterbox or even Spigen Tough Armor. If you wanted to, you could leave the case on your phone all the time, but the back is very thick where the mount is, so they can get bulky—and interfere with wireless charging.
The biggest issue with Gearlock cases is that they aren’t available for many phones. If you don’t have a modern iPhone or Galaxy S10, you’re simply out of luck. In that case, you have to rely on the adhesive mount adapter. I would recommend buying a second case for your phone and tossing the adapter on that for the same reasons stated above. It’s bulky.
The case or mount adapter interface with the mounts using a very familiar quarter-turn mechanism, though it looks dramatically different than most cycling computer mounts. The mount actually fits into the adapter on the case (which is the opposite of most dedicated computers), then a quarter turn locks it into place. To remove the phone, you slide the locking mechanism and turn the case again (in either direction). It’s very easy and stupidly secure.
Great! But How Secure Is it?
I’m glad you asked. When I first installed the Gearlock on my gravel bike, I couldn’t figure out how to get the mount to release the case (I generally elect not to read instructions to see how difficult this stuff is to figure out for most users who also don’t read instructions. You’re welcome). I twisted the hell out of that thing. Like, to the point that I heard it pop and crack … indicating that I was doing something wrong. But you know what? It didn’t come loose.
That pretty much told me everything I wanted to know about how secure Gearlock holds your phone. In a word: very. If one of your fears about moving to a phone-on-your-bars setup is your phone falling off, you can let that go. I would even argue that you can have peace of mind running this on a gravel bike. For a mountain bike, I would worry about branches and rocks hitting the phone and dinging the screen, but not it falling off. And for road bikes, well, you’ll likely do some damage to your phone if you go down, but that’s often the case with road cycling even with your phone in your jersey pocket.
That said, I trust the stem mount a lot more than the out-front mount, especially if you do anything offroad. The out-front puts the phone in a position that’s easier to see, but the whole mounting system just feels flimsier to me. Between the two, I prefer the stem mount by a large measure.
Nice, but Who is Gearlock For?
Left: The stem mount; Right: The out-front mount, which comes with spaces for various sized handlebars.
I’m a die hard, committed cyclist who rode over 7,000 miles last year and trains six days a week. I do not consider myself to be among Gearlock’s target audience. But I have friends who ride a lot, especially during the warmer months, and love nothing more than getting out on the road and just spinning. Gearlock is perfect for these folks.
For beginner cyclists who don’t have a cycling computer, Gearlock is perfect. The relatively low cost of entry makes it a great option over a traditional computer—after all, you already have a phone. Gearlock is also a good choice for the cycling enthusiast who has a basic cycling computer but is looking for more. Most cycling apps are far more robust than basic cycling computers at this point, making Gearlock a great upgrade.
Just because I’m a more “hardcore” cyclist, that doesn’t mean that Gearlock doesn’t have a place in my life, though. I do a ton of indoor training, both with TrainerRoad and Zwift (at the same time). I run TR on a phone, Zwift on a laptop connected to a TV, and the Zwift companion app on an iPhone 12 Mini. I’m currently using the Gearlock stem mount to keep the iPhone on my bars for quick access to all the tools I need when running Zwift, and it works out beautifully.
I can also see myself using Gearlock in the future when I can travel again. I often take a bike with me on vacations so I can either ride outside in new places or keep my training up on a portable trainer. In that case, I would only run TrainerRoad (no Zwift) using the iPhone mounted to my bars with Gearlock.
Overall, I—an admitted skeptic and harsh critic of most cycling accessories from non-cycling brands—am very impressed with Gearlock. It’s stable, secure, robust, and incredibly useful in a number of situations. What more could you want?
Here’s What We Like
- Very strong lock on the phone
- Awesome for indoor training
And What We Don't
- The out front mount feels less stable than the stem mount
- Limited phone support for native cases