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The Grind is a weekly column on all things gravel.
News flash: Metal computer mounts are generally better than plastic ones. I’ve experimented with a number of different computer mounts — stock mounts, integrated mounts, bolt-on mounts — and here are my take-aways as to what works best for gravel riding.
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- Battery & elevation test: Garmin Edge 830 v Stages Dash v Wahoo Elemnt Roam
Stock computer mounts usually aren’t great
All GPS computers for cycling come with some type of mount. At minimum, you get the little rubber-band option that wraps around your stem or handlebar. Often, with a nicer Garmin or Wahoo unit, you get a bolt-on mount that positions the computer in front of the stem where it is more secure than the rubber-band mount — and easier to see.
Many of us are using larger and larger computers for gravel, for improved battery life and navigation, but these by definition come with more girth and weight. Combine that with rough surfaces and you often get a jiggly computer that’s hard to see at best, and — in the case of the rubber-band mounts — has the potential to fall off.
The Wahoo Elemnt Roam and the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus and Edge 830 are great options for gravel riding, but the first two in particular are enormous. The Roam wobbles up and down on its stock mount on rough roads, and the buttons can be hard to press as the platform flexes. The Edge 1030 and 1030 Plus come with a stock out-front mount that is sturdy — and enormous. Maybe it’s the snooty roadie in me, but I think attaching a $600 computer to an expensive bike with a giant chunk of plastic doesn’t look great.
Integrated is cleaner than non-integrated, but…
Having a mount incorporated into the bar/stem area, however, does look great, and frees up handlebar space for bags, lights, and your hands, as well as your eyes.
Easton has a cheap out-front option that looks sharp — but is easily overwhelmed by a larger computer. I had to wrap a Garmin rubber band around the arm of the Easton mount to prevent an Edge 1030 from flapping around loudly on it over rough roads. (See the story’s main image above.)
The new Specialized S-Works Tarmac I recently tested (not a gravel bike, I realize!) has an excellent metal mount made by Bar Fly built into the front of the stem. You can swap out inserts for various computer brands, and affix a GoPro or light mount beneath. This is what a high-end computer mount should be!
Halfway in between is Trek’s Blendr mount system, that snaps onto the bar inside the stem face plates. It’s plastic, but thick and sturdy, and the angle is adjustable. It is only available for Garmin and not Wahoo computers. You can also attach a separate light/GoPro mount tidily beneath.
And F3 makes a cool FormMount option that attaches to the front of most stems via long bolts. Similar to the Blendr and Bar Fly options above, this centered mount also works with a light or a GoPro.
Metal is generally better than plastic
Plastic mounts can be made well. I’m a fan of the Elemnt Bolt mount and some of the options from Bar Fly. But really there is no way around the fact that metal mounts are stronger, less wobbly, and svelter options than their plastic counterparts.
For my money, I go with the K-Edge mounts, which you can get for about $50.