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  1. #1
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    Help with sweat and phone mount

    I'm pretty new at having anything electronic on my bike. There are a few good apps so I don't get lost on new trails, so I figured I'd get my phone mounted to my mtb and give it a go.

    Fast forward to today. I went on my first ride with it. The mounting was great. No issues there. The software worked great as well. The big issue was sweat. My gloves had big issues working the screen (they are ones that are designed to do that), esp. once they were wet with sweat. I even had issues when I was going up and down hills because when in those positions, my head was in a position above the phone and sweat would occasionally drip onto the phone at which point, it would go into some crazy electronic seizure until I cleaned it off. I managed to get it somewhat working if I kept one hand bare to be able to work the screen when I occasionally needed to.

    It was a hot, humid day with temps in the mid 90s, and I understand these aren't ideal circumstances for a smart phone, let alone strapping it to an mtb.

    Are there any tricks to making it work better, sort of not taking it out in such hot conditions? Do people not use smartphones for nav?

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2
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    To answer you last question, I wouldn't dare mounting anything valuable to the top of my handlebars, considering how often my bike gets flipped its front wheel, maybe from trying to rolling steep verticals, or just for maintenance. Already did hundreds of USD of dmg to gadgets this way.

    Used nav the other day, relying on audible turn-by-turn alerts, to get to the trailhead itself through backroads. Left the phone in my pocket for the most part though.

    If I had an issue with touch screens, I'd be tempted to just cut the fingertip(s) off my glove.

  3. #3
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    I'm wondering why you need your phone unlocked or need to operate it whilst riding but I guess it's for some kind of real time navigation? I just keep mine locked while moving and it doesn't mind being covered in sweat, that is in it's life proof case.

  4. #4
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    Years ago I used cycle computers, before phones were more than phones, but I stopped because it's too risky. You know you shouldn't look at them on the move but you always end up doing it and that's a very effective way to induce a crash.

    My advice would be to look at the map, put the phone in your pocket and ride until you need to stop and check it again.

  5. #5
    since 4/10/2009
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    This is one reason why I think phones suck for use on the bike. Capacitive touchscreens often go apeshit because of sweat. Not all do, though, and I'm not sure what all the criteria are for this. But IME, even keeping it in a pack or pocket and only pulling it out when you need it only helps a little. Riding in a warm/humid environment, as soon as you pull it out, it gets covered in sweat.

    I don't usually use my phone for nav purposes, either. I do occasionally, but I use my phone for pictures and video mostly. And that's where I've dealt with this same screen problem. On my old phone (a Galaxy S5), the phone COULD be locked, but too much sweat on the screen would send it into seizures, wake it up, and make it unusable. My new one (LG V20) seems less prone to it, but I haven't had it very long yet.

    At any rate, my phone gets put away, and a Garmin Edge 520 goes on my bars. Physical buttons only. It minimizes trouble with this issue.

  6. #6
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    Phones are great for tracking rides, taking pics, and emergency uses, and overall I think they are one of the most versatile accessories to take along on a ride. Not the best for navigation although it does work for me if I happen to get a little lost.

    I keep mine in a jersey pocket and don't take it out except to take a picture or a call. It's a cheap phone so I don't worry much about sweat or water, I haven't protected it and it's been fine so far.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  7. #7
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    I love how people from dry climates comment on threads like this. This is definitely a bigger problem in more humid places than it is in drier places. I notice differences in how well the touchscreen behaves when humidity is extremely high and I'm sweating buckets compared to cooler, drier conditions where sweat isn't a problem. With excessive sweat, the screen will activate and register touches even when I'm not touching it. I have occasionally had to turn the phone off because I can't even keep the screen locked, and it will dial people and send texts and emails or just keep the backlight on and drain the battery.

    I am not kidding when I say that the phone can become completely unusable under these circumstances. And also like I said, it appears to vary by phone (which is why I mentioned models above).

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I love how people from dry climates comment on threads like this.

    I was just commenting that I think a phone is good if you aren't using it much during a ride, if you like to check out data and use navigation while you ride then a dedicated gps is obviously better.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I love how people from dry climates comment on threads like this. This is definitely a bigger problem in more humid places than it is in drier places. I notice differences in how well the touchscreen behaves when humidity is extremely high and I'm sweating buckets compared to cooler, drier conditions where sweat isn't a problem. With excessive sweat, the screen will activate and register touches even when I'm not touching it. I have occasionally had to turn the phone off because I can't even keep the screen locked, and it will dial people and send texts and emails or just keep the backlight on and drain the battery.

    I am not kidding when I say that the phone can become completely unusable under these circumstances. And also like I said, it appears to vary by phone (which is why I mentioned models above).

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk
    This is so true. The ride in question was yesterday in New England. Ridiculously hot and humid. My shirt was completely soaked through within about 20 minutes of only moderate effort. Every time I tipped my head down, a stream of sweat poured down from my helmet.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    I love how people from dry climates comment on threads like this.
    It can be a problem anywhere. If you carry your phone in your pocket it's in a hot a humid place whatever it's like outside.

  11. #11
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    I appreciate the replies! With the ride that I was on, I figured I wanted the phone mounted. I've never been to the trail system before and I wanted to get a good idea of the layout. There are intersections every 5-10 minutes of riding, and then once I go through one, I want to verify that I'm on the right trail. This is why only pulling it out occasionally wasn't what I was looking for.

    Alternatively, I could have just ridden for most of my ride, and then only used it to get back to the car, but I wanted to have a feel for where I was in the system for the whole ride.

    What are the alternatives? I have a few apps that I use depending on the trail system, since some are more complete on one app vs. another. I use Trailforks as well as others. I could go with a different device, like a Garmin eTrex, but can I still access as detailed trail maps there? How often do they get updated?

    My phone is a Galaxy S6, so I'm not out a ton of money if it ends up breaking, although it sounds like getting a lifeproof case with mount may be the solution I'm looking for?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctxcrossx View Post
    What are the alternatives?

    Garmin, Wahoo, Lezyne etc. A dedicated gps without touchscreen sounds like it might be a better fit for you.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctxcrossx View Post
    What are the alternatives?
    I study the area and trails on goggle earth and print out maps. Then I mark the maps with notes and directions so that I can recognize features and turns on the ground. I prefer doing that to use an electronic device because I think it's more reliable and it's easier to follow than a small screen.

    Last year I left the navigation to a friend and he didn't bother printing maps or studying the area. He assumed he'd be able to figure it out on his phone maps but it was hopeless. We spent hours going nowhere, stopping all the time while he tried to figure out exactly which trail we were on. Eventually my son and I just said 'that's it, we're heading back to the car'.

    If it's a big enough area that getting lost is a possibility I like to know exactly where I'm going before I leave the house.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    It can be a problem anywhere. If you carry your phone in your pocket it's in a hot a humid place whatever it's like outside.
    The outside humidity does make a big difference, though. IME, if my phone goes haywire in my pocket at a lower outside humidity, wiping it off can solve the problem. But when outside humidity is high, that usually doesn't work.

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Garmin, Wahoo, Lezyne etc. A dedicated gps without touchscreen sounds like it might be a better fit for you.
    Do they have the trails indicated like on the apps? The nice thing about the apps, is that they can be constantly updated, and are typically done because so many people use them. Is this the case with a dedicated GPS as well? I don't want a device that relies on maps created from 1983 or is only updated every other year or something like that.

    Do I have to ride and map them myself? Do I have to pay extra to get maps of different states/areas?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctxcrossx View Post

    What are the alternatives? I have a few apps that I use depending on the trail system, since some are more complete on one app vs. another. I use Trailforks as well as others. I could go with a different device, like a Garmin eTrex, but can I still access as detailed trail maps there? How often do they get updated?
    It depends. Everything varies. And there ARE ways to get trailforks and mtbproject stuff and others onto a Garmin or other dedicated gps.

    Sometimes i use the mapping apps on myphone. I carry paper maps extremely frequently for bigger networks and backcountry stuff. Sometimes I navigate with my Garmin.

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    The outside humidity does make a big difference, though.
    I'm sure it does.

    I friend of mine listened to music on an iPod in his pocket and one day it stopped working. He pulled the iPod apart and it was all corroded inside. The salty sweat in his pocket had killed it. I wrap my phone inside a poly bag and that has been enough to protect it from everything from sweat to getting totally soaked in the rain.

  18. #18
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    Not a consideration where I ride (Central/Eastern CT)...I don't think I've ever seen anyone with a phone mounted to their bars. Even if your phone somehow manages to stay attached the whole ride, anything but 100% focus on the trail will eventually end with you being tossed into a rock pile. Generally, there's spotty and incomplete on-line trail map data even with trails that have been around many years...that's proof that it's just not sensible for some trail networks.

    Best method is to gather whatever intel you can get on line and go ride. Just explore and learn the terrain, ask other riders what loops they are doing, etc. Not uncommon for new loops pop up from time to time on trails I've ridden for 25 years.

    I would consider a mount and real time navigation in smoother terrain. I sometimes activate 'cyclemeter' app which maps out my ride but phone is always in my pack. It's a great tool to review after the ride to help me piece together new or different loops and learn how they tie together.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sturge View Post
    I don't think I've ever seen anyone with a phone mounted to their bars.
    It's not uncommon here.

  20. #20
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    Keep your gloves on and try something like this https://www.nanotips.com/ I bought some years ago and it works great.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by canadaka View Post
    Keep your gloves on and try something like this https://www.nanotips.com/ I bought some years ago and it works great.
    nice idea, but under conditions like OP mentions, it's not going to make a difference.

    OP needs to keep sweat off the phone in the first place. and not mount it on the bars.

  22. #22
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    I used to race with my phone mounted to my bars.
    It was a Sony Xperia Active and about the size of a Garmin 800 series.
    Shock proof, waterproof and the touch screen worked when wet.
    Ant+ built in so it hooked up to the HRM.

  23. #23
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    I have phone mounts that I trust on rough road rides which have 3 attachment methods for redundancy (twist lock + magnet + lanyard), but I gave up on using these for mtb. I found that I knocked into the phone too much when I was mtb riding, plus I was too busy to fiddle with it, my gloves didn't work great with touchscreens, and I was concerned about breaking my only way to contact help in a crash.

    I read about turn by turn cycle computers, but then read how much of a bother the actual turn by turn setup per trail can be (likely from above posters). So, I came up with a free low tech solution: I write turn by turn instructions down on a piece of paper before I ride. Yes... this dumb idea works quite well for me, because I have easy access to a piece of paper in my (unzipped) pocket, it works fine with gloves, I don't mind too much if I lose it (my phone is in my padded camelbak), and it forces me to plan a new route (or possibly a new route with an alternate or two depending on how it turns out). I had this idea to wrap it around my handlebars and tape it, but never bothered.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by b rock View Post
    So, I came up with a free low tech solution: I write turn by turn instructions down on a piece of paper before I ride. Yes... this dumb idea works quite well for me, because I have easy access to a piece of paper in my (unzipped) pocket, it works fine with gloves, I don't mind too much if I lose it (my phone is in my padded camelbak), and it forces me to plan a new route (or possibly a new route with an alternate or two depending on how it turns out). I had this idea to wrap it around my handlebars and tape it, but never bothered.
    Cue sheets are a fantastic system that have a LONG history of working great. You can avoid the writing by importing your course into a service like RideWithGPS' website and generate a cue sheet. Of course, that'll only work if all the turns are in RWGPS' basemap, so you'll have to have an idea of the area you're going and make edits as necessary. But speeds up the process. Randonneur riders even have these cue sheet cases that mount on their stem.

    I think eventually a dedicated bike GPS will be able to handle turn-by-turn on the trails much better than they do now. And honestly, they do work...but the limitations make the process rather annoying. I think that one tiny setting that would make a big step towards improving the way they handle it would be a threshold setting for how far off course you have to be to trigger the "off course" warning. Set it tight for road rides. Set it really wide for mtb. Even simplifying the setting by offering two options (one the same as current, the other significantly wider) would cut down on excessive "off course" warnings.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Pig View Post
    I study the area and trails on goggle earth and print out maps. Then I mark the maps with notes and directions so that I can recognize features and turns on the ground. I prefer doing that to use an electronic device because I think it's more reliable and it's easier to follow than a small screen.

    If it's a big enough area that getting lost is a possibility I like to know exactly where I'm going before I leave the house.
    Quote Originally Posted by b rock View Post
    I came up with a free low tech solution: I write turn by turn instructions down on a piece of paper before I ride. Yes... this dumb idea works quite well for me, because I have easy access to a piece of paper in my (unzipped) pocket, it works fine with gloves, I don't mind too much if I lose it (my phone is in my padded camelbak), and it forces me to plan a new route (or possibly a new route with an alternate or two depending on how it turns out). I had this idea to wrap it around my handlebars and tape it, but never bothered.

    This pretty much blows my mind. To be fair, I have to say that I am severely directionally challenged. I just don't know how this works, or how it's better. Maybe the trails are vastly different where this would actually work?

    The first problem I would have with this is the sheer number of intersections that I'd have to deal with on a single ride. I easily go through a dozen or more intersections per hour on a typical mtb ride. It's just too many to keep track of. Would you have to keep track and try to calculate that you have to take a left turn .8 mi away, right turn after .5 mi, etc?

    The second is a bigger issue. I don't know of any trails that are accurate to the maps that I have used. I have gotten to intersections that just don't look anything like the map. Or the trail system has new trails (or not even new) that aren't on the map. As soon as you mess up just one turn, you may as well toss the rest of your route in the trash, unless you're going to break out the map. But that only works once you realize that you are now off course, which won't normally happen right away. There isn't one place that I ride where the available maps are 100% accurate to the actual existing trails.

    Combining these two issues, I'd be lucky to have a 10% chance of actually following a planned route successfully. The assumption here, of course, is that it's a completely unfamiliar trail system, which was the original situation to begin with.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctxcrossx View Post
    To be fair, I have to say that I am severely directionally challenged. I just don't know how this works, or how it's better. Maybe the trails are vastly different where this would actually work?
    I can imagine situations where maps may not work well but it's worth pointing out that any navigation system can fail you. That's why I feel it's important to get an understanding of where you are going before to leave the house.

    There may not be signposts on your route but there are virtually always landmarks that you can use. Trees, rocks, even on a desert you can use a compass or head for a distant hill or something. If you say there are no landmarks you simply haven't looked or are riding on the moon! And even the moon has rocks ;0)

    To find landmarks you can use google earth or search for photos on-line. You haven't been there before but often someone else has. If it's really barren with lots of possible routes a compass might work well and would at least prevent to from going in completely the wrong direction.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctxcrossx View Post
    This pretty much blows my mind. To be fair, I have to say that I am severely directionally challenged. I just don't know how this works, or how it's better. Maybe the trails are vastly different where this would actually work?

    The first problem I would have with this is the sheer number of intersections that I'd have to deal with on a single ride. I easily go through a dozen or more intersections per hour on a typical mtb ride. It's just too many to keep track of. Would you have to keep track and try to calculate that you have to take a left turn .8 mi away, right turn after .5 mi, etc?

    The second is a bigger issue. I don't know of any trails that are accurate to the maps that I have used. I have gotten to intersections that just don't look anything like the map. Or the trail system has new trails (or not even new) that aren't on the map. As soon as you mess up just one turn, you may as well toss the rest of your route in the trash, unless you're going to break out the map. But that only works once you realize that you are now off course, which won't normally happen right away. There isn't one place that I ride where the available maps are 100% accurate to the actual existing trails.

    Combining these two issues, I'd be lucky to have a 10% chance of actually following a planned route successfully. The assumption here, of course, is that it's a completely unfamiliar trail system, which was the original situation to begin with.
    At their most basic, you can set up cue sheets totally independently of the terrain. All you need is a distance and a compass heading. I've done biological survey work off-trail using this exact method, and I've paced off the distances in the woods over rugged terrain. Road riders have long used a cumulative mileage method with their basic cyclocomputers. So at mile 2, there'd be a left turn. At mile 4.6, turn right. At mile 6.3, slight left, and so on. Road/trail names aren't really needed if someone else has done the route before and marked the cues. Though road/trail names absolutely can help with certainty. This option is a bit of an issue because you can't just give the distances without additional information in this day of GPS navigation. If someone is using a GPS-only computer or phone app, their distances WILL NOT be the same as someone using a computer with a wheel sensor (some GPS computers can use a wheel sensor to provide more accurate distances). The distances will also be off if you calculated them from plotting on a map. Especially if the underlying map of the trails they're based on is not very accurate, or if the method you use didn't "snap" your plotted route to the curvy trail/road. In the past, the only way people derived the distances for cue sheets was by driving or riding the route and measuring it. But now, there's more than one way to derive the distances, so more information is going to be important to ensure you or someone else can follow the cues.

    As you know more information about where you're going, your cue sheets can be more specific. They can include terrain or natural features (rocks, trees, peaks, valleys, passes, etc) if you know them. They can include trail names, if the trail system is signed.

    Sure, there can be confounding factors. Say the trail network is completely unmapped and unsigned, the terrain is fairly flat with no rocks. I've ridden trail networks like this before, and there's not a ton you can do to plan a route. Plugging yours (or someone else's) previous ride into a Garmin and following that will work. What I will do (and have done) for situations like that is to map the trail network. Mostly for myself, but also for others. This is best done with a handheld GPS, because it's easier to set lots of waypoints at the intersections, and put in the comments how many trails intersect there. So you can return to the intersections and follow ALL of the options. For me, the process of doing this is really all I need to learn the network. I will build a picture of the place in my mind, such that the map isn't really necessary after that. But assembling the map is key to the process, and it then becomes something I can share with others.

  28. #28
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    Just get a Garmin Etrex30x, an Edge520 (or even a GPSmap64) and put some (OSM)maps on it.
    Keep your phone in your pocket or backpack and use it as a phone.
    Modern phones can do al lot of things, but they are never the best tool for the job.
    You need the best tool.
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