Garmin GPS Handlebar Mount
by Arthur V. for webBikeWorld.com
Summary: A possible cheap quick
handlebar mount for GPS units that employ a ball and
socket mounting system.
Editor's Note: Arthur V., who wrote
this article, kindly donated his honorarium to a
I would crawl through 50 feet of half-inch garden hose
full of crushed glass to get my hands on one of Andy
bead-blasted custom machined stainless steel Garmin i-Series
mounts for my StreetPilot, but alas; it appears not
to be as they are no longer available. What to do…?
After staring at my Garmin i3’s socket-and-suction-cup
mount for a couple of minutes, the answer turned out to
be almost as easy as raiding the kid’s toy box.
It looked like all that was needed was a proper sized
bead, a handlebar mount and a machine screw to join the
two (Figs 1, 2, 3). So a look in the Yellow Pages
revealed a local business whose sole existence was based
on the selling of beads, and this was in a town of only
16, 000 people.
It looked like Beads-R-Us when I walked through the
door. The woman who ran the place had heard it all
before, so when I asked for a 17 mm diameter bead she
didn’t even blink. And did the nice man want it in
clay, glass, wood, ceramic or resin? How about
colours and maybe place of origin?
She advised against wood because humidity can cause
it to swell and make removal a risky job; glass and
ceramics preclude any fine-tuning such as shaping and
I settled on a bike-matching burgundy resin bead of
17 mm in diameter (in one axis it was), all from the
exotic location of Indonesia. So for $1.00 plus
tax I was on my way. Grrrr, they came 5 to a bag.
Fig 1. Confirming the ball size
Fig 2. The bead really was 17 mm on one axis.
Fig 3. A lifetime supply of leftover beads
The local fastener store recommended that I use a
stainless machine cap screw, as it would look classy
when the GPS was not mounted and at a cost of $1.23 that
fine by me.
Grrrr. They have a $10.00 minimum. Oh
well, one can never have enough Super Lube grease at
list price can one?
The handlebar mount was the only easy part.
Along with my CB900C came a windscreen with two
handlebar mounts and I was certain I would have no use
for any of it. One mount had been volunteered into
service to hold my 12-volt power tap and that left one
for this project.
I have seen many similar mounts
at swap meets and being a boater, I have found “rail
mounts” at the local chandlery (a.k.a.
West Marine), under the heading of “rail
Fig 4. The bits required to solve the problem.
The only touchy parts were the drilling of the bead
to match the diameter of the screw and the
countersinking of the hole to match the screw head.
NOTE: Wear eye protection, a dust mask as well as
skin protection. This task is not unlike sanding
I have not included screw and drill bit sizes, as
they may be unique to my situation. The advantage
to using a bead is that they already come with a pilot
hole. The goal was to make the hole large enough
that the threads would lightly touch the side so that
any temperature expansion or contraction with dissimilar
materials would not cause the bead to crack.
I started with a smaller bit and worked up, which is
an important point if your bits and drill have a built
in wobble factor like mine. Care was taken to use
slow speed so as to not heat up and melt the material.
The only heartache could be the countersinking of the
bead to match the angle under the head of the screw, as
the angle can be country specific.
An Internet search found that in the U.S., the common
countersink angle is 82 degrees, where as in England it
is 90 degrees and I am sure there are many more angles
lying in wait. I solved the problem by using a
wood screw countersink at 82 degrees and then fine-tuned
it with a Dremel.
Once the bead was mounted on the screw, kinda like a
Tootsie Pop, then the final shaping began (Fig 5).
I wound a nut up snug against the bead base and put the
screw in the chuck of a drill.
Fig 5. The “Tootsie Pop” ready for shaping after the
screw was fitted.
I must caution against over tightening the screw
because the countersunk head will act like a wedge and
split the bead before you can say über poopie.
180-grit sandpaper was used to smooth the top down to
about half way while spinning the bead at a slow speed.
I made repeated attempts to fit the bead into the GPS’s
When it looked like the socket was starting to slip
on I started to extend the shaping downward toward the
bottom half of the bead. Hint: It is quicker to be
slower with the sanding than it is to start over because
you went too far.
At one point the socket snapped on with a click but
the GPS would not tilt without binding which indicated
that the bead was still a bit fat at the bottom
restricting motion. An exaggerated example of the
proper shape would be an inverted pear (Fig 6).
Fig 6. A close look reveals two main tasks completed:
1. The shaping required on the under side of the bead
necessary for the GPS to tilt.
2. The flattening of the base where it mates with the
The bottom of the bead where it mates with the handle
bar mount was flattened with a couple of swipes of sand
paper in order to give a larger contact surface. I
bedded the screw in the bead with silicon to cushion
against vibration and then used Loctite 242 on the screw
threads when I screwed it into the mount, as no one
wants their GPS waggling around their knees in the
twisties (Figs 7,8,9).
Fig 7. All parts assembled and operational.
Fig 8. This shows overall placement and my need for a
shorter usb/power cord.
Fig 9. Ready to ride
I was robbed! Something that should have cost me
about $3.00 plus tax in anybody’s dollars ended up in
costing $15.00 plus tax. If you are lucky enough
to live/work in an area of higher population, there is a
much better chance you can assemble the parts at a much
more competitive price point.
The fiddly bit of putting it all together was a fun
exercise that cost a couple of hours and was tax-free.
Now when I hop off the bike at the end of a ride, my
StreetPilot pops off and goes in my pocket.
Just make sure you take yours with you, or it could just
as easily pop off into someone else’s pocket.
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From "J.B." (6/09): "I was looking into putting a Garmin
550 waterproof GPS as a far less expensive motorcycle solution vs. the Zumo
products. I found (these
mounts at Mount Guys) mounts and thought they would be relevant to your
review as the cost is generally quite low."
From "B.D.": "Thanks for having such a great website,
lots of good reading here!
I saw your Garmin GPS mount article. I had the same thoughts when I
was looking at all the brackety mounts made and their cost. I found a
17mm ball bearing at "Metric and Multi standard" (Irving TX) and welded it
to a mirror stem. Since I am using bar end mirrors, the stem hole was
free and I could position it there. Simplicity!
One thing I have noticed, with the cradle for my (Garmin) NUVI 200,
eventually popping it on and off has caused 2 cradles to fail, breaking off
one or more of the plastic friction parts in the cradle's socket. I
run a piece of safety wire through the cradle to the bar in case it gives.
For now I plan to keep a cradle on the ball.
here are some pics and
Another thing I found was that my Battery Tender terminals were a correct
fit for a power adapter socket I found at Wal-Mart. The adapter is
made to give you a 12v accessory (cig lighter size) socket from a trailer
light connector. It has a weather cap as well and was only a few
bucks. Quick and easy way to get a power outlet from a plug I already
From "R.T.": "The scratch made holder ... looks like it
could do serious damage in the event of an involuntary dismount. I hope I'm
wrong- just sayin'... Love your website."
Editor's Reply: Good point, perhaps tightening the handlebar mount only
as much as necessary to hold the GPS is a good idea so that the assembly will move forward in case the
rider's body hits it during a crash.
From "T.": "I own a Navman GPS and found that the
ball/socket mount was 5/8" diameter. So I made my own handlebar mount
by welding a 5/8" dia. ball bearing to a short length of 3/8" diameter steel
rod which I drilled and tapped on the other end to take a setscrew.
All that was then needed was a flat strip type of clamp to suit the
handlebar and it was done. Sorry I have no pictures to send you and I
hope you can grasp the gist of what I did."