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A Month Later: The Peak Design Cycling Case/Mount System

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In less than 15 hours the Peak Design mobile mount system Kickstarter will end. I posted about this almost a month ago as part of one of my 5 Random Things, noting that the box of prototypes had arrived, and that I’d circle back in December. Thus, this post. A quick post, since if I took all day to write it, it’d only reduce the time you have to decide. Also, of note – I learned last night you actually don’t have to commit to a given model now. The company says (as does Kickstarter) that you can apparently just put the $1 down for the Kickstarter campaign now, and then when it ships next spring, pay the difference for which case/accessories you want (but still get the Kickstarter discount).

In any case, in the photography world, Peak Design is largely known for making high quality (albeit expensive) tripods and camera clips. I see their photo gear stuff in YouTube videos and such, but frankly, just can’t justify the costs for my use case. So my interest here was more simplistic: Does the cycling aspects of the mount system work as claimed?

So for the last 27 days I’ve been using the bike mount multiple times a day on my bike as I commuted about town, racking up roughly 75 minutes of riding per day with it across the not-always-so-smooth brick bicycle paths of Amsterdam. Ultimately, while I have put this on my road bike (and others have put it on their mountain bike), for my use case that’s not really the main driver here. I have dedicated bike computers for that.

The Cycling Specific Parts:

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There’s like 11 different pieces to the Peak Design mount system, which is what makes it kinda cool. I suppose that’s the same for most mount systems. Since their site lists all those, I’m not going to dive through them all again. Plus, while I have virtually all of them, the driving ones and such didn’t really get any use since I lack a car.

Still, here’s a gigantic gallery of pretty pictures I took of the entire box worth of stuff:

Now, with that, let’s talk about the case first. In my case, it was for my iPhone 11 Pro. You can see here that it has this fabric-looking finish on the back/inside, while otherwise being a fairly thin case.

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I’ve long used the QuadLock cases on my phone, and the biggest difference here is just how much thinner it is. I know it might not look like a lot, but it certainly feels like it at first.

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Also notable is that it sits flat on a design/table, whereas the Quad Lock one spins around (that matters to some people):

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In the middle is a little divot, which is where there’s both a magnet as well as edges that the locking part of some of the mounts lock into (not all mounts have locks, just the ones where outdoors and high speeds occur).

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Meanwhile, over on the bike mounts, you’ve got the bit that sticks up and snaps into that. There’s both out-front mounts as well as a more temporary handlebar style mount (I didn’t have that one).

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On the bottom of the out-front mount you can attach a GoPro adapter, which is included in the mount. This can be used for just about every action cam, or any other accessory which uses that mount type (like bike lights, and even some Di2 junction box adapters):

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Here’s the whole kit all set up on a road bike:

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Or, you can rotate it horizontally, if you’re of that persuasion.

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And here it is on my mainstay, the cargo bike:

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Unlike the Quad Lock mount system I normally use, this doesn’t require twisting or turning the phone to get it to snap in (which makes it better for tight spots). Instead, you just place it atop, and the magnets pull it in, where the locking system (for the bike mounts) then snap it in the remainder of the way, preventing your phone from being ejected.

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In order to release it, you’ll press on either of the two buttons and then simply pull up. I haven’t had any issues with most of my daily gloves, but if you’re using giant mittens or such, I’d imagine this would be tricky. Then again, so would using your phone.

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Now, I would point out that there’s a bit more play than I would like. Not enough that it makes any noise on rough roads, but just enough to be able to airgap it relatively easily. But given this is technically prototype hardware – I’ll give them a pass for now on that. I suspect it’s coming from the case-side divot is just about ~0.5mm too deep, so it gives it more flex.

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The final piece I want to briefly mention since I thought it was frankly the coolest piece, is this little tripod doohickey. It folds up to the rough length/height as a credit card, but then somehow extends out to hold your phone in an adjustable tripod:

In a non-COVID world where I’m travelling more, I’d use this all the time to set up shots or even record bits of video with it off to the side. I love the adjustability of it, including for use both vertically and horizontally. As well as how small it folds up, it’s been in my jacket pocket most of the last month – ready for use. But more on that usage in a second.

The Verdict:

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Ultimately, I was focused on three main things here:

A) Did it ever fall off or break?
B) Did the latch become finicky?
C) How did the case look after a month?

The first one is more simplistic. Now, it never fell off or broke. So that’s positive. And the second easy as well – no, the latch feels just the same as before. Great, two down!

The third one was in some ways the one I was most skeptical on. With the texturing on the back (which I’m not sure is actually fabric but just designed to look like it), I was concerned it might look pretty rough after a while. For example, you’re eating greasy French fries or a grilled sandwich – would it leave stains on your case? Would the sweat from being in your cycling jersey make it stink? What about spilling liquids on it?

For better or worse – I’ve done all those things. Literally, I ate French fries and grilled cheese sandwiches for your benefit. I used it essentially daily on my workouts, both indoors and out, where sweat was the name of the game. On indoor trainer/bike rides, I was often constantly sweating on my phone/case (or holding onto it). It’s had more than its fair share of rain against it, and some mud too. And yet, as you can see below – it’s virtually no different:

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Now about the only downside is that I found I rarely used the mini-tripod, which was frankly the thing I was most excited about.

Why not?

Well…kinda simple: With COVID-19, I’m not travelling, or in situations that one would normally be even around the city, where I’d use it. For example, if I was on a vacation somewhere – I’d probably use it multiple times a day. But just commuting to drop off the kids, go to the office (which is filled with tripods/stands), and then back to home for dinner – it just isn’t getting much use right now. Our weekends are either spent quietly alone in parks/woods, or on the cargo bike (using the bike mount). The tripod itself just hasn’t gotten a ton of use. I’m bummed there.

Next, some have asked after my preview why not case XYZ or ABC instead? And some of them – like the Quad Lock I largely like. But the Peak Design system is a bit slimmer, and frankly just looks better. There’s a ton of things I don’t pay more to look nicer, but I’m willing to make an exception for the one item that I actually spend more time with than anything else. The same goes for the Topeak Ridecase that works on bikes and has a built-in tripod. That’s awesome, though again, looks a bit beefy for my likes. Ultimately, the reason there’s 95 million phone cases out there is mostly personal preference. Like I said earlier, I’m unlikely to find myself buying their are-you-crapping-me $599 carbon fiber tripod (unless it edits my videos for me), but this is more reasonable in comparison.

Still, my plan is simple – I’ve put down $1 for now on the Kickstarter as a placeholder. I don’t know what case I want (since I might upgrade my or her phone before then), or what accessories I want. But I do know that my wife has already staked her claim that she wants one, to switch from her Quad Lock cases that we normally use. So I suspect we’ll convert the whole family and bike collection over to it for then.

With that – thanks for reading!

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41 Comments

  1. Paul Tomblin

    Did you ride on any rough terrain? Do you think it would hold riding moderate off-road?

    • If jumping sidewalks and some pretty bad sections of brick work count, then yes – frequently. I’ve seen a few other people via YT that did mountain biking without issue.

      Looking at the locking mechanism, I don’t have any breakage concerns there. My only ‘concern’ noted about is the slight bit of play, but I suspect that’s just a manufacturing tolerance things in the prototype stage.

  2. Richard

    How easy is the unlatch in, with one hand whilst riding?
    All the Kickstarter videos are of latching, not unlatching!

  3. Harry Roberts

    How was the “Loop”? Seems like they should offer a POP Socket attachment.

  4. TeeeBear

    The tripod is what I’m most interested in as well but I I don’t like the case. I’m happy to see the tripod will officially work with the naked phone or a MagSafe case.

  5. Tyas

    Thanks for the quick review Ray! I just locked in $1 to keep my options open. Still loving the SP system, rugged and clean and multipurpose, but not as sexy as this.

  6. Mark Rajkovic

    Hey Ray,
    Quick question on the case.. how is it for Qi charging of the iPhone?
    Thanks, Mark

    • I didn’t have a chance to test that, I don’t tend to use a wireless charger day to day. I have them floating around the DCR Cave (an Ikea one, and another Kickstarter one), but all of them are kinda slow.

  7. Ahbe

    What about using this case with a wireless charger? Did you have a chance to test that?

  8. Nathan Budd

    How does the protection on the case compare to the Quadlock?

    I must admit that my iPhone 11 feels bombproof in the cast (my S8 wasn’t so much, where it didn’t wrap around the side of the curved screen, and sods law it landed on a kerb on that bit!)

    Quadlock is cool, but very bulky.

    • I’d agree that the Quad Lock feels more bombproof, but I’ve dropped this one a number of times on concrete and seems good.

      The front lip of the Quad Lock however is raised higher, so that would help more if we’re talking an uneven surface.

  9. JD

    Edit fix: The gallery section is not operating in slideshow mode like the other photos do.

  10. Erin

    My main question would be – does it protect your iphone enough when falling/being thrown? I’ve done several toddler tests with her throwing my iPhone 11 and my quadlock has kept the phone safe every single time with zero fail.

    • I’ve dropped it a number of times, on concrete, and it’s still alive.

    • Erin Kirsten

      If I hadn’t invested so much already in quadlock(multiple devices and attachments including wireless car charger) I would likely have swopped over or at least tried this but for now I probably also still need a bulkier case till the kids are older

  11. David W

    I have a question about the magnets built into the case- are they strong enough to mess up credit cards if you carry our phone in the same pocket as your wallet. It would be a shame if all my credit cards stopped working. Another magnetic car mount that I have has a metal plate attached to the phone and the magnets are only in the mount. So, no problem there. However, they didn’t make a bike mount.

  12. I came to specifically see if you are switching from quadlock!

    I’ve been on the kickstarter since its launch for two specific things: bike mount and tripod. I’ve always hated the quadlock. The case feels bulky and the mount is ugly on my bike. I’m glad to see that you are going to switch, that makes me feel good about backing the product and looking excited to try it myself!

  13. Toby

    Nice to see an alternative to the Quadlock case – which I have also used for a couple of iPhone generations now. However Quadlock (since the iPhone 11) has become too chunky and does notallow wireless charging on some charging pads. Hopefully this case doesn’t have any problems with wireless charging?

  14. Patrick R

    What did you mean by airgap? Just that you can see a gap? Or that the air blows the phone up when you are riding causing it to rattle a little?

  15. Patrick

    If you want to get two cases, but can’t commit now (bc probably upgrading phones), do you have to pledge $1 twice from different kickstarter accounts? Or does just once work?

  16. Andrew M

    ” Literally, I ate French fries and grilled cheese sandwiches for your benefit.”

    I appreciate your sacrifice on this issue, Ray.

  17. Marco

    Nice review! But why is the Cargo Bike talking German to you? 😉
    Stubborn Bosch motor? haha

  18. Yup, a few spam messages slip through each day out of the thousands that attempt. I typically knock them out as soon as I see them (or, wakeup in this case).

    Cheers!

  19. Reggie

    For what it’s worth, I’ve used the Peak Design Pro Clip pretty extensively, and it’s an extreme robust product. I’ve hiked across Corcovado National Park in southern Costa Rica – the long way, about 18 miles – fording rivers, and climbing and descending, with a Nikon D500 and 300mm f/4 PF lens attached and it was rock solid all the way across.

    PD make a high quality product.

  20. MAGNUS

    Ive wanted a quad lock for a number of years but never bothered to purchase… I really like the look and function of this case… I’ve never backed anything on Kickstarter but went ahead and pulled the trigger… Did the full pledge.

    Thanks for the heads up Ray.

  21. Thanks for this. I’ve been using the system as well and am really impressed with it. I love the tripod mount for reading and seeing notifications on my phone while at my desk. The case they shipped me doesn’t fit my phone but I’m using the universal adaptor and it works well. I do a lot of my work on my bike and the bar-mount is easy to get on-off and it’s been reliable too. I’d definitely recommend the system to other folks.

  22. will

    I find this one very item from peakdesign to be expensive crap. Why? Because I use a garmin mount.

    Sram garmin arm = 9USD
    Garmin 3M puck = 2USD, up to 8USD if US-shipped
    Flex case (or any you like!) = 10USD

    – i used it for 2 years and never had the phone calling (that’s garmin..)
    – i can put an actual garmin OR a phone without changing mounts
    – i can use the case i want, not peak design’s
    – i can use a case where you can pop the phone off easily (in case you dont.. want a case if you’re not biking) and that’s awesome (I use a flex case)

    Did i mention this is MTB? This includes jumps, drops, rock gardens, you name it. Oh and crashes too.

    All the alternative you mentioned are terrible in comparison (topeak ridecase, quad lock, etc.) I can’t believe that you wouldnt know of the garmin mount you can stick on a phone case…

    • I’ve known about that Garmin quarter-turn option well before you started using it*, but ultimately, it’s not a terribly great slim phone solution, due to the Garmin 3M puck sticking off the back. Not to mention that the quarter-turn mount requires…quarter-turning…which depending on where you mount it on your handlebars isn’t actually viable in many cases. Even an out-front mount will have that limitation depending on your phone size/design.

      Like I said in the post, nobody is saying it isn’t expensive. I’d find it funny you’d say all the others are terribly, since I suspect you’ve never tried them. Ultimately, you do whatever makes you happy, but I don’t really understand getting all angry because other people like a slimmer solution.

      *Here’s the most recent version: link to dcrainmaker.com
      ** But before that, there was an Edge 705-style mount that I used from SRAM.

  23. DW

    One thing I wonder about is batter life. I’m not sure why but I’ve had problems using a phone with an app like Strava running in cold weather during cold weather (to the point where I get <30min). A couple of years ago in temps ~10F, I had shutdowns within 20 minutes at those temps, and then this weekend cycling in the low 40s – everything seemed at least OK until I started tracking using Ride with GPS (screen off) where I'd esimate about 30 minutes of battery. I shut my phone off when I got a warning and later in the ride when it was warmer and with tracking off, it looked more like 70% battery life remaining. Makes me question using a phone outside of a moderate temps. Do people have these issues with other cycling GPS devices? or have suggestions?