Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sound, sans wires (kinda)

Jabra CLIPPER Bluetooth Stereo HeadsetAs the saying goes "music is the soundtrack of your life", one thing for sure, it definitly makes long distance riding a lot more enjoyable. Having gone through the trouble of building an iPhone holder for my bike and adding a cigarrette lighter to power my iphone, I figured I might as well use more features of the phone other than the maps and GPS.

After getting everything set up the way I wanted, with the holster on the handlebar exactly where I like it, and running the usb cable just right, one thing I did not want is to run another set of cables for headphones. Nor did I want headphone cables dangling from my helmet plugged into the phone. To me that would totally mess with aesthetics.

I decided that bluetooth was the way to go. The key now would be to find a pair of bluetooth headphones that fit comfortably while wearing a full-face helmet. I read up on many types of bluetooth headphones and eventually came across this review on cnet. Instantly I though this would be perfect, the Jabra Clipper was exactly what I needed. It's a bluetooth receiver that can be clipped on articles of clothing and can also be used with any headphones. The unit comes with a pair of really short earbuds that work great for some applications, but not for how I wanted to wear it.

The unit is not spring load and has a very limited range for the mouth to open. It would most likely not be able to clip to a thick belt. It works with jacket lapels, sleeves, jeans pockets etc...

Setting it up was fairly simple. Enable bluetooth discovery mode on the iPhone, then hold down the Clipper's center button for about 5 seconds and voila, the unit is now paired. In addition, the pairing button can be used to start/pause music as well as answer/end a phone call.

The other two visible buttons are used to increase and decrease volume. There is a 1/8 inch headphone jack and a micro USP jack for charging. The charger is included.

One bonus is that it also has a microphone so in a pinch,  I can pull to the side of the road and answer or make a phone call without taking off my helmet.

I clip it to the end of my left jacket sleeve and run the earbud wires up inside that sleeve as well. I find that location quite convenient as I can easily access the Clippers controls.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The incision

Picture from
I'm not big into customizing things for the sake of customizing, and when I do, I tend to lean toward subtle customizations. I like simple lines. Less is more. This is why I don't like stickers on my car or my motorcycle. Why I don't have a case on my iPhone. I love to cycle, but don't care much for bicycling clothing - all flashy with a multitude of different colors and logos.

What does this all have to do with installing a power outlet on my motorcycle? Well, figuring out where I was going to install this outlet took longer that I expected. Since I chose to go with a cigarette lighter socket rather than a low-profile powerlet, I was a bit limited when it came to finding an inconspicuous yet reachable location. What also made it difficult is that just to be on the safe side I chose a panel mount socket. This was more of a self-contained sealed outlet with a rubber cover which eased my concerns about rain and having the socket get wet.

At first I wanted to mount the socket on the top panel on the right side of the gas tank. After doing some reading, I found that a lot of heated gear are set up on the left side of the jacket or pants. I don't currently own any heated gear, but I figured I'd mount it on the left side in case I later find myself buying some.

When I finally settled on the right spot on the left side of the tank, it became apparent that if the socket wasn't low profile enough it would stick out like a sore thumb (there goes my streamline simple lines), this just wont do. Plan B.

I took measurements of how much of the socket would stick out after installation, and looked all around the left side of the bike until I settled on a final location. I also took into account how the iPhone cable would look sticking out of the USB adapter that would need to be inserted into the cigarette lighter socket. It seemed that the best location would be in the well where the front fork connects to the handlebar. I calculated an area where there would be no chance of interference with turning and felt that this would be the most inconspicuous yet easily reachable location.

Using a hole saw drill bit, I proceeded to make the incision for installation of the cigarette lighter socket. When all was said and done, I felt that this was the best possible location for this modification.

The USB adapter that I chose was equipped  with dual USB outlets. This made possible for me to power my iPhone as well as simultaneously charge my bleutooth receiver if I need to. But that's a story for another post.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Power up

  Having easy access to maps and navigation right there on my handle bar when I need it is great. What's best, is that I don't even have to remove my gloves. If there was one thing that could make the experience even better is not having worry about draining my phone's battery. 

One way around my mobile phone power consumption worries is to install a power outlet on the bike. One of the most prominent power sockets company out there is powerlet. They carry a wide variety of power outlet to fit what seems to be just about anything. Their powerelet proprietary system is quite versatile, however, I opted for a full cigarette lighter socket for more flexibility.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some assembly required

Start by disassembling the mic adapter. The piece that you needed is the 5/8 inch threaded bolt.

After removing the 5/8 inch threaded bolt, then disassembled the Nuvi bike mount.  I found that strap was a bit long, so using a pair of wire cutters, I cut a few inches off.

Using the wire cutters and an exacto knife, cut a notch to cradle the 5/8 inch threaded bolt. Use the screw from the Nuvi to attach the 5/8 inch threaded bolt to the Nuvi bike adapter.

With that completed, you can now attach the two pieces.

Two more steps remain, connecting the cradle from the desk stand to the apparatus and to secure the iPhone into the cradle.
The case that I chose was a simple plastic case that was flexible enough for me to easily take the iPhone out. I found that on Monoprice as well
I cut some slits on the side and bottom of the case and secured it to the desk stand cradle with some zip ties

Some additional pictures

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Genesis of my iPhone mount continued...

Picture by
    So I got a cradle for the iPhone, and a posable/adjustable multi directional swivel piece of hardware that's meant to attach cameras on to microphone stands. How do I attach it to my handle bar? Knowing that the nut size of the camera adapter was 5/8 of an inch, I search Google images for 5/8 microphone adapters and clamps. I figured there's bound to be an option to clamp the camera adapter to my bike. My search resulted in a microphone adapter that's used to mic drum sets
As soon as the piece arrived, I attached the three components (The camera adapter screwed onto the drum mic adapter and the desk stand cradle screwed onto the camera to mic stand adapter) to my handle bar. All seemed well enough, using the wing nut I secure my apparatus to the handle bar. While the adapter worked, I did not feel secure about the wing nut bearing sole responsibility for keeping everything mounted to my bike. Most importantly though, the wing nut interfered with real tight turns on the motorcycle.

Picture by
    Back to the drawing board. Looking for a more secure option and a suggestion by one of by buddies yielded this the Garmin Nuvi bike mount. But I was only interested in the strap portion of this GPS mount. To get the 5/8 inch bolt of the microphone adapter and the wrap around strap of the Nuvi bike mount, I'll have to combine the two.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Genesis of my iPhone mount

It all started when I stumbled across the On Stage camera adapter. 
As I examined the pictures, I figured I could rig a way to mount it on my handle bar as well as attach it to an iPhone case
Picture from

Several trips to the Apple Store, Best Buy, those mobile phone accessory mall kiosks, yielded no iPhone case that would work the way I envisioned.

Quite by accident while ordering some cables at MonoPrice, I found the next piece of the puzzle.
Picture from

Monday, April 11, 2011

BMW S1000RR iPhone Mount

Summer of 2010 I decided I was going to a lot more riding and maybe even dabble in track days. I decided I was going to say goodbye to my trusty 10 year old CBR 600 F4 and upgrade to litter bike.

After weeks of online research and a few trips to local bike shops, the choice was between 2010 Aprilia RSV4 and the 2010 BMW S1000RR.
Seeing as I would also be commuting on this bike, the comfort of the S1000RR won out in the end.

As I ride long distances into areas unfamiliar to me, I find myself pulling over to the side of the road, removing one glove, reaching in to my pocket, pulling out my iPhone in order to get a clue as to where I was. It was then that I started seeing the need for a GPS solution.

I knew that I did not want to carry multiple devices, so my phone was going to have double as my navigation device.

Winter quickly came and my attention shifted to finding the perfect iPhone mounting system that would fit my bike.

As it turns out, I’m very particular about certain things. None of what I found seem to fit the bill. They were either too pricey, too bulky, they did not fit exactly where I wanted or all of the above. That’s when I decided I would make my own.